Connect with us

Europe

Inverting Queen Elizabeth II’s Steady Glass Cage Leadership Style

Published

on

It is tough being a leader, especially a woman in a glass cage  as was the recently demised Queen Elizabeth ll ;overseeing an immensely wealthy global empire. Particularly when such an incredibly remarkable woman is there leading   not  necessarily because she wants to    but due to family tradition dating back hundreds of years .It was  then Princess Elizabeth’s turn  since  there were no males left  in the family lineup.  Afterall, her uncle the King  decided to abdicate for the sake of being in love leaving her father to become his reluctant successor  . When her father died she  served as she promised  she would as her father did; that is , until her last breath no matter how long or how short it would be to come around.

It would be a 70 years journey we will never know very much about ; mostly , the public pomp and circumstance , the Queen’s  gracious smiles and compassionate encouragements;  her public decrees, and  seemingly countless photo ops with the rich and famous and with conveniently posing commoners. And of course there is and will be the gossipy press and  royal family biographers, as a lucrative cottage industry,making their  matter of fact and sensational claims shooting in the dark most of the time since rarely do royal family  members break the circling of   secrecy wagons.

What she did as ultimate sacrifices as the supreme  symbolic though profoundly influential State leader, the Queen,  incarcerated in her  crystal clear glass cage,was  answering a family calling for public good service. To her, her family  calling meant serving  without partisan  public opinion about anything or anyone .Her inclination was to say and do  things  hidden from public view to such an extent we are hard put to know how she really felt about major events and circumstances which came to define her era.

She inherited a  family calling  of leadership over an ancient rather archaic  global and domestic patrimonial ,that is, ceremonial  family State  institution not made for the social media and otherwise digital era with its sense of lost of privacy and making family shortcomings and stumbles fodder for the tabloids ,prime time news, and reality shows. And neither  did she allow herself to  publicly blurt out her hurt about  or defense of family members who went astray.

She is now  transitioning to her  grave with her lips sealed before she died   for an eternity at least when it comes  to the itching prying  ears of the media driven public about her intimate family problems made so embarrassingly public .Never  letting   public outsiders know how much her  favorite grandson Prince Harry  hurt her so badly   with his mother  Princess Diana , her daughter-in-,law  doing the same . And his father, now King Charles III, her  eldest son,also deeply  hurting her though  finally reaching the throne  by  family tradition after her demise  tarnished by an adulterous past the British and global public shall never forget as they look into his still guilt ridden eyes.She was a Mum afterall with family issues so common but just the same could not murmur a word and had to keep her tears in her heart because of the family calling making  her wear that public stoic expression.

As the anti-colonial peanut gallery now is reminding us while  coldly indifferent to decent space for a time of compassionate family and public mourning, her Majesty the Queen, accomplished her astounding family calling without once condemning publicly the sins which through the centuries the British Crown has done to millions in enslavement,  genocide, stealing land, delegitimating indigenous cultures,  and taking their natural wealth and material arts and declaring them as their own. Yet her’s was the kind of public leadership done in silence so you know what she believed not in what she said but what she did; by  when she gets out of the way  of things happening or  by getting in the way. She could have allowed her son Prince  Andrew to get away scot free of his alleged scandalous sexual  behavior with a minor   when instead he was  by  her  authorization, ,stripped  of  most of his royal privileges with his  settlement bill being paid for with or without public funds.She could have blocked now  Princess  Meghan from marrying Prince Harry but welcomed her into the fold and even  gave her more than usual  daughter in law privileges. 

She could have refused to agree with Harold Wilson’s 1960 Winds of Change speech, one of her favorite  Prime Ministers ,but did not.  And  certainly, she would not have bothered to visit  the Crown’s first freed African country, Ghana the following year, let alone dance with President Kwane Nkrumah. Or why welcome President Nelson Mandela to Buckingham Palace over 30 years later?And she certainly could have denied her eldest son, now King Charles III ,permission to spend so much time focused on educational access to the disadvantaged and becoming an icon in the environmental justice movement. Actions speak louder than words and in fact ,are your words if due to policy or personal disposition you keep your views to yourself while  just staying steady at the helm of your leadership job.

I am far from a royalist and am well versed enough in British colonial history to know how much over the centuries the Queen’s ancestors plundered to  the highest degrees. Such  grotesque crimes against humanity  have  allowed her and her family , both immediate and extended ,to live such splendid cloistered  lives in the clutches indeed belly   of such a sadistically  cruel global and domestic sociopolitical and economic institution. It needs to be gotten rid of and as soon as possible. But it will take the sort of   dedicated steady  work ethic  Queen Elizabeth ll  possessed to do so. And it will demand  much more than  the 70 years  she devoutely clocked in each day. 

 Do anti-monarchists and anti-colonialists in Britain and around the world have that level of stamina let alone stomach and backbone   and more than that, the deepest  depth of will to stand , speak , organize, and effectively  act until the walls of empire come tumbling down in favor of genuine justice and peace for everyone? Or shall we merely look and comment after Queen Elizabeth ll is eulogized and buried next to her parents and sister  and soon to be exhumed husband as much as we looked and commented  before her demise to go spend eternity with her Jesus while doing nothing but barking criticisms, writing books, going to conferences,  and making empty fancy sounding proclamations we know can’t really work?

Meanwhile as Queen Elizabeth ll enters into her well deserved eternal rest let us all no  matter how we felt about her, give her  credit where it  is due in being such a remarkable lasting, steady leader tinkering with the system here and there. And those opposed to what she stood for, match and surpass her  resilient decades of loyalty to her institution and change it to meet the calls for  enduring justice  and peace for all characterizing what this century is  becoming all about. Even if it takes 70 plus more years to accomplish. 

My deepest condolences and prayers to the family of Queen Elizabeth and to her subjects of Great Britain and those others around the world now in mourning. And may we be forever grateful for her remarkable steady, resilient leadership gifts and talents. We must  more firmly employ what she taught us about  what steady persistent discreet and not so discreet  leadership is  to bring about the needed changes to heal the wounds of injustice her beloved family  institution has cruelly  caused millions and bring them and their descendants the deserving  enduring justice and peace only authentic wealth distributions and otherwise restorative justice  long steps with reparations outcomes  can render. 

Director ASARPI: The Institute for Advanced Study of African Renaissance Policies Ideas Mauritius and South Africa former University of Mauritius SSR Chair of African Studies

Continue Reading
Comments

Europe

Smile Diplomacy: From Putin to Macron

Avatar photo

Published

on

Photo:kremlin.ru

In the world of politics, what should be done when things don’t go according to plan? The answer of Talleyrand, the French politician of the 18th and 19th centuries, was simple: organize a conference!

Perhaps it is due to this lesson from the French politician and diplomat that Vladimir Putin held his conference under the title of “Economic Boom of the East” in the port of Vladivostok, and French President Emmanuel Macron is going to start his conference under the title of “Political Council”, Europe” next month in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

Let’s talk about Putin first. No matter how we look at it, the course of things is not as intended. The war in Ukraine is practically frozen in a north-south line. The pitched battles, the use of heavy artillery, the high casualties, and the ever-increasing logistical problems are more reminiscent of the First World War, or even the Crimean War than modern 21st-century war.

Last week, the first sign of Putin’s desperation to fully win this war appeared. In a short televised address, the Russian president claimed that his goal was to preserve the “Russians” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In other words, it has moved away from its initial portent of removing Ukraine from the map as an independent country. Is he now calling for a limited deal that would put parts of eastern Ukraine under Russian control forever, if ever? No one knows the answer to this question, except maybe Putin himself. But, surprisingly, neither Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, nor his American and European supporters have shown any attention to this possible retreat of Putin.

Failure in the war is not Putin’s only concern. Contrary to his claim that Western sanctions have not affected the Russian economy, it can be seen that things are not going as planned on that front either. Of course, Russia has been able to find new customers for its oil—customers like India, China, and Turkey, which have reduced their purchases from Iran and Iraq by receiving significant discounts to take advantage of the Russian auction.

However, double-digit inflation, the closure of hundreds of factories, widespread shortages of many goods, a 25 percent drop in viewership of Putin’s state television, and the flight of tens of thousands of middle-class citizens show that the sanctions are having little effect.

The Vladivostok conference was formed with the slogan “The future is from Asia”. Putin’s message was: “Asia builds the future, while the West falls.”

Of course, we heard this slogan in the 1950s, during the last years of Stalin’s rule over the Soviet Union. Stalin spoke of “Young Asia and the West of Fertut”. Today, Putin plays the same music with notes from the Tsarist Imperial Symphony added.

According to Khmiakov, the Pan-Slavist guru, Russia is a “two-headed eagle”: one head looks to the East and the other to the West.

In the beginning, the double-headed eagle was the symbol of the kings of Hayatele in Asia Minor; But after a few centuries, the Byzantine emperors usurped it. In 1471, Ivan III, Tsar of Russia, married Princess Sophia, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor, and the symbol of the double-headed eagle was assigned to Russia. Today, Putin is bringing this symbol, which was abandoned during the Soviet Union, back to the scene.

However, an eagle facing east is nearsighted. Out of 49 Asian countries, only 17 countries appeared seriously in this game. None of the heads of Asian countries were present at Putin’s show. The highest-ranking foreign personalities were the Prime Ministers of Armenia and Mongolia. General Ming Aung Heliang, the leader of the Myanmar (Burma) coup plotters, was also present. But China was represented by Li Zhangsu, the third leader of the Communist Party. Even the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, did not accept the suffering of a trip to Vladivostok. Major Asian economic powers such as Japan and South Korea, or even Taiwan, were not present.

Putin’s hope is to develop the “Eurasian” bloc, which was formed years ago to compete with the European Union, but it never got anywhere. However, even if the participants in the Vladivostok conference were to join the bloc, they would collectively account for nearly 20 percent of global GDP. Currently, almost all of them are closer to the European Union and the United States than to Russia in terms of foreign trade. Russia’s own share of trade with bloc countries does not exceed 12%.

From any angle, the Vladivostok gathering is one of those shows that are referred to as “posturing” in the diplomatic dictionary. In this show, the host appears as the leader of a large group, but in reality, there is no group. The choice of Vladivostok, which means “ruler or emir of the east”, maybe a coincidental sign of Putin’s illusions to lead Asia.

It is interesting that in Vladivostok there was no mention of the war in Ukraine. None of Putin’s entourage was wearing a T-shirt with the letter Z, and his bulletproof car did not have a Z mark.

The participants of this show undoubtedly know that Moscow is closer to Berlin than Vladivostok and whatever the underbelly of history, Russia’s national and cultural orientation is to the West, not to the East. Alexander Herzen, a 19th-century Russian writer, wrote: “Russia looks to the East to remember what dangers threaten its existence, and looks to the West to find out how to neutralize those dangers.”

Currently, Putin is not the only leader who is trying to polish his political image by playing the conference game. French President Emmanuel Macron is also busy organizing Smile Diplomacy. The Prague conference for the formation of the “Political Council of Europe” is a platform for introducing Macron as a strong European leader. With Britain mired in crisis, Germany governed by a floundering coalition government, and Italy on the brink of an election with uncertain results, Macron hopes to present France as the anchor of Europe’s stormy ship.

Macron’s failure to win an overwhelming majority in the parliamentary elections has limited his possibilities to exert power in the domestic political scene. Therefore, like many politicians in a similar situation, he turns to show his power in the foreign policy scene.

But Macron’s show, many analysts believe, will not have a better result than what Putin achieved in Vladivostok. In a sense, Macron’s show may even be harmful. Trying to prevent Turkey’s participation, under the pretext that a large part of Turkey is located in Asia, can deepen the gap between Western powers and Turkey.

Turkey’s exclusion from the Prague show could help re-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan as president. Using an anti-Western discourse and being closer to Russia along with claiming to be the leader of the Islamic world, Erdogan is trying to distract Turkey’s public opinion from its failure in economic and social fields. In the last two decades, this is the first time that Erdogan is on the verge of an electoral defeat. Macron’s anti-Turkish stance could be a bitter irony that guarantees Erdogan’s victory.

Macron’s proposal has other disadvantages as well. First, one should ask what is the need for another “conference” in Europe. Aren’t the “European Security and Cooperation Organization” and “Council of Europe” which include all countries of the continent enough? After all, didn’t Britain leave the European Union under the pretext that it does not want Europe to participate in the regulation of London’s policies? Is the “Brexit” government willing to participate in a new grouping, with unknown goals and criteria, after leaving an established union with clear goals?

Currently, a growing trend across Europe, from Poland to France, is to move away from continental groupings. Even the European Union has lost some of its legitimacy and popularity at this time. The growing trend in most European countries is towards limited nationalism within the borders of each country, emphasis on national sovereignty, and striving for self-sufficiency. In other words, the globalism of the past two or three decades is receding and bilateral relations are becoming more acceptable.

You might say that Smile Diplomacy in Vladivostok or Prague wouldn’t hurt anyway. Unfortunately, this assessment of yours is not correct. Smile Diplomacy masks the fact that Russia and Western Europe do not currently have the ability or will to emerge from the crisis caused by war, economic stagnation, inflation, and environmental threats. Smile Diplomacy offers sideshows instead of serious policies.

Dramatic games allow Putin to mask his failure on the battlefield. On the other hand, Macron and other European leaders hide their inability to stop the war in Ukraine with the Prague show. Both sides are still dreaming of “victory”. Unaware that war never has a winner, because in every war both the victor and the vanquished will be losers in the end. Zelensky seems to think that defeat is better than surrender because it at least offers the badge of hero and martyr. On the other hand, Liz Truss, the new British Prime Minister, speaks of “victory”. The demonstrations in Vladivostok and Prague prevent these irresponsible positions from being seriously discussed.

Continue Reading

Europe

In a Crisis-Laden World, Serbia Should Think Green

Published

on

Countries around the globe are facing persistent economic headwinds. Trade and supply chain disruptions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and extreme weather, have led to surging food and energy prices. Inflation is increasing at an alarming rate in many countries and economic growth is slowing. Policy makers around the world face difficult challenges and complex trade-offs. They need to maintain fiscal sustainability and rebuild economic buffers depleted during the pandemic; but also cater for the needs of the most vulnerable, who feel the impact of higher food and energy prices. As winter is approaching, countries in Europe are scrambling to secure sufficient energy supplies to keep homes warm and factories running. In this challenging context, the urgency of actively expanding renewable sources of energy, pursuing greater resource efficiency, and transitioning away from energy and emission-intensive industries is greater than ever.

Growth outlook

The World Bank expects global economic growth to slow in 2022 to 2.9 percent, from 5.7 percent in 2021. A small and open economy like Serbia will feel the impact of the global slowdown. For Serbia, in 2022, we project an economic growth rate of 3.2 percent, following a 7.4 percent expansion in 2021. Serbia is equally feeling the impact of rising inflation: the NBS expects an inflation of nearly 14 percent in the third quarter of this year.

Higher energy prices have put pressure on current account balances for energy importers around the world. Serbia has also been affected. Its utilities have incurred exceptionally high costs of importing electricity and natural gas on the wholesale markets. While the government has financially supported these companies, it has so far only partially passed these additional costs on to consumers.

Mitigating the impacts of the energy crisis remains the biggest challenge for the new government. Serbia entered the current crisis in a strong macro-fiscal position, but fiscal space is limited. Short-term measures to support households and small and medium enterprises will need to be targeted, time-bound, fully budgeted, and transparent.

Despite the pressures, it is essential that policymakers do not lose sight of structural reforms that would boost Serbia’s potential rate of economic growth over the medium-term, including steps to increase market competition, reform state owned enterprises, raise human capital and productivity, and improve the efficiency of public spending.

Green Serbia

Sustaining long-term growth and resilience also requires putting the ‘green agenda’ at the center of policymaking. The country can do more to increase energy efficiency and lessen the impact of pollution on the health of people and the environment. Staying ‘brown’ runs the risk of slowing down Serbia’s accession to the EU, compromising access to finance, creating trade barriers, limiting the take up of modern technology, and failing to boost productivity. Going ‘green’ would be beneficial on all these fronts. It would also facilitate the structural transformation of the economy through the adoption of new technologies and knowledge. All this will require measures to facilitate a ‘just transition’ for workers and communities who depend on polluting industries for their livelihoods.

Serbia is a signatory to the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, aiming for a climate neutral world by mid-century. The Government recently published its updated Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by 33.3 percent compared to 1990.  Accompanying plans and strategies are under preparation, but the direction of travel is clear: Serbia urgently needs to boost domestic renewable energy production, increase energy efficiency, and gradually lower dependency on fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, for power generation, heating, and transport.

The World Bank is supporting Serbia’s progress on all these fronts both through financial and technical assistance.

Op-ed originally published in Kurir daily via World Bank

Continue Reading

Europe

Media-saturation challenges trust in European democracy

Avatar photo

Published

on

BY KEVIN CASEY

Media is this layer that exists everywhere in our lives’, said Dr Tanya Lokot as she explained the term ‘mediatized’ to Horizon Magazine. It gives her the title of the seven-country research project she leads from the School of Communications, Dublin City University (DCU).

‘It’s not just something we do for an hour or two.’ We are drenched in media. In our personal, work, social and family lives, media has a meaningful role to play.

MEDIATIZED EU is examining the role of media in society and how it influences people’s perceptions of the EU and the European project. It does so by analysing media discourses in the EU Member States of Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, Estonia, Hungary, Spain, and non-member Georgia.

The researchers are monitoring and assessing the media coverage and conversations which mention European democracy and the European Union in the target countries of the study. ‘We wanted to investigate how people think and form beliefs about the EU. How do people become Europeanised? What does it mean to be more European or less European?’ said Dr Lokot.

‘Putting all of these countries together and looking at how different but also how similar the concerns are among policymakers, among media professionals, among the public has been really enlightening for us,’ she said.

Public conversation

When 90% of the EU’s population have access to the internet, media is ubiquitous. TV provides 75% of Europeans with their news. Altogether, taken collectively, all the media devices in the world create something intangible, a public conversation, which enables opinions to be formed and exchanged.

‘In a way, media are co-creating the space where people come to interpret what it’s like to be living in Europe, what it means to be European, to share European values and to be part of the European Union,’ said Dr Lokot.

The first step in learning to live with our media-saturated environment is to ‘acknowledge that media, not just social media but any kind of media, play an extremely important role in societies,’ said Dr Lokot.

From the research so far, the sense is that the idea of Europe is “a constant work in progress”, and perceptions of Europeanisation are shaped by media, as well as by political elites and public opinion, Lokot revealed. There is also widespread concern about the spread of disinformation. Alongside constructive discourse, the media has plenty of room for promoting extremism and polarising views.

People in every EU country have sophisticated concerns about the risks of media manipulation. ‘They understand the connection between disinformation that is being spread by malicious actors in the media and the threat to democracy,’ said Dr Lokot.

Spiral of cynicism

Populism and media manipulation can lead to a ‘spiral of cynicism’ in any media debate. As a result, even in countries with high levels of trust in media such as Ireland, Spain and Portugal, people often don’t know where to place their trust.

‘It’s because the way disinformation works has also changed,’ said Lokot. The new type of information warfare doesn’t try to persuade or convince people, but sets out to destroy public trust. It works to convince you that ‘there is nobody here who will tell you the truth,’ according to Dr Lokot.

Generating mistrust originates with outside actors but also from within the EU at times. In this climate, people ‘stop believing that a ‘European idea’ that unites people exists, and then they become lost,’ said Dr Lokot.

‘Once you stop believing in some sort of shared values, you don’t really know what else you have in common with these people who are living on the same continent with you.’

While each country has specific topics of concern, one major new trend unites them all. ‘Until Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Georgia and Estonia were much more concerned with Russian disinformation than the other countries in our project,’ said Dr Lokot.

‘Since February, concern has gone through the roof everywhere.’

The disinformation campaigns targeting Estonians and Georgians, along with their Ukrainian neighbours, insinuate that they were better off under the Soviet regime, that the EU is weak, they belong to Russia’s sphere of influence and not the European community. The conclusion of that thought process is stark.

‘Now we get to the point where not only is Ukraine, for instance, being told, you’re not a European country, they’re being told you’re not a real country at all,’ she said. ‘You’re actually part of Russia and nobody cares about you if you stop existing,’ said Dr Lokot.

‘We’re seeing such escalation of disinformation narratives across the region.’

Doomscrolling

But should people exercise personal responsibility for their media activity? Consuming the news of terrible events over endless hours of ‘doomscrolling’ has been identified as unhealthy behaviour.

The constant barrage of news and disinformation hits home for Dr Lokot who is a Ukrainian native working in DCU in Ireland for the past seven years. ‘I’m Ukrainian and I’m living in the EU. So, you know, I’ve been doing nothing but doomscrolling not just since February, but actually since 2014 because my country has actually been at war much longer than just for the past six months,’ said Dr Lokot.

A constant stream of bad news is exhausting ‘and so it’s also about how we structure media diets,’ said Dr Lokot.

Might there be a need for social media companies to make their algorithms more transparent?

Businesses like Meta who own Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp need to create a space where people can access information and exchange opinions in a healthy, constructive way, argues Dr Lokot. ‘They need to realise the impact that the media ecosystem has on people and on people’s lives,’ she said.

Online citizens

Good online citizenship where you verify sources and reserve some amount of scepticism over content is important in a democratic environment. Regulation also has a role to play with, for example, laws about transparency in political advertising.

It’s not about control or unrestricted access either. ‘We want people to understand that as citizens, they have rights, they have responsibilities, but they also have agency,’ she says.

The next step is to conduct in-depth research into the other elements of the triangle MEDIATIZED EU has identified as composed of a relationship between citizens, media, and the elites. Speaking to media editors and policy makers, as well as conducting public opinion surveys, the researchers will seek to understand the media’s role in shaping perceptions and opinions of the EU from their points of view and how everything is connected.

The research could help to inform policy makers at every level. Thinking ahead, the imaginary ideally informed EU citizen of 2035 could be living in a media environment with a more democratic flow of information – one which leaves little fertile ground for disinformation. Hopefully, ‘we will also be living in a Europe that is much less polarized than it is today,’ Dr Lokot concludes.

This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine. 

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Eastern Europe46 mins ago

Ukraine war-induced crisis affecting women and girls disproportionately

A new UN report reveals how the Ukraine war and its global impacts on food, energy, and finance are affecting...

World News5 hours ago

Ireland: Rights experts call for redress for 50 years of systemic racism in childcare institutions

UN-appointed independent human rights experts on Friday called on Irish authorities to provide adequate redress for victims of racial discrimination and...

World News7 hours ago

UN experts strongly condemn death of Mahsa Amini

UN independent human rights experts on Thursday strongly condemned the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody...

Terrorism9 hours ago

A Virus Yet to Be Eradicated

Much as everything in this world, human memory knows its limits. Increasingly receding into a background of the past, episodes...

Eastern Europe12 hours ago

Untying the Ukrainian Knot: The Continental Union Project

As the fighting in Ukraine rages on, people continue to die, and infrastructure is being destroyed. This means that the...

Middle East14 hours ago

Middle Eastern Geopolitics in The Midst of The Russo-Ukrainian War

Russia’s national interests have been harmed by the West’s efforts to obstruct Eurasia’s integration and provoke conflict. Support from the...

Russia16 hours ago

The Alliance of Downtrodden Empires

There are many commonalities and differences, to the point of contradiction, in the Russian, Iranian, and Turkish political and economic...

Trending