When 200 leaders from the world’s financial, diplomatic, government, and corporate sectors convened at Meridian’s Global Leadership Summit on Friday, October 18, 2013, there was one consistent theme–that the world is changing its mind.
The negotiations of the Partnership Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union started in 2007, was re-defined as the Association Agreement in September 2008, and was practically ready for signing by the end of 2009. Following the election of Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, the process slowed down, and since 2011 the issue has gradually become a hot contest between Russia and the West. Finally, in a dramatic eleventh hour move, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov suspended the preparation for signing of the Agreement on November 22nd, demanding outrageous financial aid from the European Union.
There are just six months to go until the European Parliament elections. Imagine the buzz that you would hear six months before a U.S. presidential election, and indeed consider a typical national election anywhere across Europe. You would know the parties and candidates; you would see daily gossip in the press on policies and personalities; and you would read regular polling updates. European elections are a little different.
In a victory for diplomacy, world leaders announced early Sunday that a deal had been struck with Iran over its disputed nuclear program. In what U.S. President Barack Obama called an "important first step" toward addressing the world's concerns over Iran’s motivations and actions and opening a path out of a three-decade long standoff, the deal will curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions away from a bomb and toward a civilian capability, in exchange for limited relief—for now—from strict sanctions that have devastated the Iranian economy.
The Diplomatic Courier sat down with Thierry de Montbrial to discuss the ongoing negotiations with Iran, the impact of any deal on their nuclear program, and U.S. strategy in the Middle East. Mr. de Montbrial is a French economics and international relations specialist, President of the French Institute for International Relations, and the founder of the World Policy Conference.
Burma, at least on the surface, is entering an unprecedented time. More and more political prisoners are released each year by Burma's quasi-civilian government. The 19-member committee set up by President Thein Sein to identify political prisoners recently recommended that 63 political prisoners be freed as soon as possible. Thein Sein has opened the country up for investment, with numerous major foreign companies entering the Burmese market. The World Bank predicts that Burma's economy will grow by 6.8 percent in 2014, putting it in the pantheon of South East Asia's top performers. Khwima Nthara, the World Bank’s senior country economist, claimed that Burma's above average growth forecast "is very much attributable to the new wave of reforms.”
On Friday, October 18, 2013. More than 850 global leaders attended the 45th Annual Meridian Ball, setting a new attendance record for this landmark event in the nation’s capital.
The twelfth annual gala at the Embassy of Switzerland marked another year of Swiss-American diplomacy and the importance of Swiss culture. Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States, Manuel Sager, welcomed esteemed guests to his residence in Woodley Park to enjoy an evening of Swiss culture and to celebrate the countries latest achievements in innovation. The evening was accompanied by Swiss music which was performed on two separate stages. Traditional Swiss cuisine, such as raclette and grilled sausages was served along with fine wine and spirits. Part of the evenings celebrations included the presenting of the Tell Award which is given to individuals who represent and support Swiss-American relations. This year the award was presented to Bertrand Piccard and Andrew Borschberg, founders and pilots of the first solar-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse.
Probably nowhere else in the world do cities matter as much as in Latin America, highlighted by the statistical fact that four-fifths of Latin America’s 589 million people reside in cities. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, Latin America is more urbanized than any other region in the emerging markets world. The region boasts 198 cities harboring a minimum population of 200,000, generating 60 percent of all of Latin America’s GDP output. The urbanization trend is only moving forward, with the United Nations forecasting that by 2050, 90 percent of Latin America’s population will be living in cities or towns–an amazing phenomenon indeed, but with an unintended consequence: inadequate housing for the low-income population.
What are the global implications of gridlock in Washington? What should President Obama do about Syria? Why are our world leaders failing to lead and who can hold them accountable? These are a few of the issues addressed by Dr. Ian Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group, in an interview which coincided with the very first day of the U.S. government shutdown.
With the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, the European Parliament was granted significant law-making powers, making it the EU’s co-legislator along with the Council of Ministers for almost all areas of EU competence. Whereas the European Commission remains the EU’s agenda setter and the Council has to give its consent on all pieces of binding legislation, the European Parliament now has the ability to amend, accept, reject, or at least advise on legislative initiatives ranging from energy policy and information technology to international trade agreements and the EU’s budget. The significance of the European Parliament has undoubtedly been increased in legislative terms, but whether the drafters of the Lisbon treaty have successfully reduced the ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU it is still unclear. Now with European elections approaching, a high voter turnout rate would be a good indicator to assess this.
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