Showing posts from June, 2014

Slovenia and the Return of History

For nearly six years the alleged bribery in the case of procuring Patria armored vehicles from Finland has been the No.1 topic in Slovenian political discourse. It has had a strong impact on elections in 2008, 2011 and 2014, because the accused is Janez Janša, key political figure in Slovenia, leader of (usually) the opposition and former prime minister. But lacking convincing evidence against him this is no longer the case of alleged bribery. The case is increasingly about the rule of law and democracy in Slovenia. Known unknowns and known knowns No, I was not there when they were buying the Patria armored vehicles and do not know what was really going on. Was anyone bribed or were there business-as-usual consultancy fees, markups, margins etc? No, I did not read the 20,000 pages of the Slovenian legal case nor the additional 7000 documents that were used in the procedure in Finland (and where  all accused of bribery were acquitted ). And no, I was not present at any of the court hear

Echoes of the Past in the Future of Europe

  Lecture at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at John’s Hopkins University, Washington DC, May 28th, 2014. Full version with introduction in  PDF . Some people compare Europe to a bicycle. In order to maintain its balance, a bicycle has to keep moving. And in order to be stable, Europe has to keep moving. At least this is what we are led to believe. No other country or continent so often contemplates is future as Europe. The Future of Europe is a subject of visions, reflections, and strategies as well as political maneuvering among its institutions. Civil servants in Brussels can either be occupied with  day-to-day execution of policies , deepening the common market, distributing structural funds, passing directives, regulating anything from vegetable sizes to Google …  or with a grander task of building “an ever closer Union”. Trumping peace, prosperity and democracy It is not easy to find a sequel to the success the Union had – with bringing peace, prosperity and democracy to t

To Russia with Courage

Not far south of Brussels is the village of Waterloo. In the museum of the battle there is one painting that should touch the heart of even the most cynical Eurosceptic. It depicts the French cavalry attacking one of the diamond-shaped British infantry positions. The field in front of the diamond is so thickly covered with bodies that the horses are unwilling to charge, refusing to step on the corpses. The historic achievement of the European Union is that it brought lasting peace, prosperity, democracy and respect of human rights to a continent whose nations waged wars with each other for centuries. Only in the last two centuries blood was shed in the Napoleonic wars, Franco-German wars, Balkan wars, and Crimean war, not to mention the massacres of the First and Second World Wars. Since 1945 most Europeans have been enjoying the longest period of peace in its history. In a sense the European Union put an end to a thousand year old problem on how to divide the Lotharingia part of the C