Spain: EU as part of the political discourse and an annoying Rajoy

I’m just watching the evening debate between Mariano Rajoy and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero just ahead of the elections of this weekend. It’s all about the Partido Popular or Partido Socialista, the Spanish politics in time of national elections in this sense is quite simple. It’s the first face-to-face debate after 1993, but watching the second debate makes me understand why. But first let’s deal with the EU in the debate. Continue reading “Spain: EU as part of the political discourse and an annoying Rajoy”

Britain and the EU – a brilliant post by the Economist

This is one of the most difficult subjects to blog about or discuss in on-line political forums. There are always enough ardent supporters to get you bored. They want the UK to quit and have a free trade area with the EU and would not listen to your arguments about why this is not such a simple and good idea. Continue reading “Britain and the EU – a brilliant post by the Economist”

Slovenia comes in 2nd: Lisbon Treaty Ratified, but left unreadable

So, a glorious 2nd place. I’m only happy that we’ve managed to beat the French. Sarkozy was arrogantly sure that they will ratify before anyone else does. Wanting to be first is intellectually questionable in the first place. This is no Olympic games, you don’t win by doing it first. Continue reading “Slovenia comes in 2nd: Lisbon Treaty Ratified, but left unreadable”

Slovenia: internal notes leak & how not to react

A rather innocent issue was all over the news recently in Slovenia: an internal note from a meeting of high-officials from the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and representatives of the US State Department leaked out of the Ministry (source Dnevnik). The meeting took place in Washington on 24th December 2007, just before Slovenia took over the EU Presidency. The content was basically: we (the US) want to see Kosovo independent & you (Slovenia) will chair the EU and should help us in doing so. Why so much fuss over this obvious positions? Continue reading “Slovenia: internal notes leak & how not to react”

Serbia gest one step closer to the EU – speculations about the story behind

EU Foreign Ministers (sitting in GAERC meetings) have met (for the first time under the Slovenian Presidency) today in Brussels. Besides Pakistan, Middle East and others there was one dominant issue on the table – much discussed in the media recently – Serbia. Minister Rupel has long been advocating a fast-track access to the EU for Serbia, under specific conditions. While this hasn’t been well accepted in some parts of Europe (above all in Belgium and the Netherlands), I have to give him credit for the persistence. Since Serbia will lose Kosovo once and for all in few weeks time, somebody has to give them a sweetener. As a strategy, it is quite transparent: Serbia loses Kosovo, but the EU gives Serbia a special status to get over the hangover. Continue reading “Serbia gest one step closer to the EU – speculations about the story behind”

An early season of transfers – setting the stage for autumn elections

My memory is not the best one. I tend to forget (or forgive?) politically funny moments of the past, which is a shame, since even in such a small place we have plenty of stories to tell. Many currently active politicians have switched sides in the past, many of them quite recently actually. Just remember the former Prime Minister Tone Rop leaving the Liberals and jumping on the boat of soon-to-be-winners Social Democrats. Well, he was not the only one then, it was a more serious issue that followed the near dissolution of the Liberals in March 2007.

But there is my all time favourite: Rupel‘s jump from left to right in 2004. Our current foreign minister was in fact part of several left-leaning governments before under the leadership of Janez Drnovšek (who just recently left the political scene, after handing the President’s post to Türk). And while Rupel today might claim that he was kicked out of the government, he for sure was not forced to join the other side. Now only a distant memory to some, for me this represented a crucial moment of my political education. How could someone change sides so easily? Enemies one day will be your friends…Anyway, this is not the point of today’s entry. But it’s a nice intro. Continue reading “An early season of transfers – setting the stage for autumn elections”

Slovenia – 3 weeks into the Presidency

So, Slovenia has just covered the first 3 weeks of the Presidency. Too little to make a decent judgement, but enough to give it a try…

First, the glamour. Obviously the names of Janez Janša or Dimitrij Rupel do not attract the same amount of media attention as French I-can-do-everything President Nicolas Sarkozy or his foreign minister Bernard Kouchner. Especially if Nicolas dates Carla Bruni (Urška is nice as well though) and launches uncoordinated initiatives every day. He’s a constantly all over the place, enough for the socialist leader in the European Parliament Martin Schultz to say: “Instead of the European Union focus being on important political challenges, it is on the private life of Mr Sarkozy.â€? Absolutely true, there has been little delivery on substance by Sarkozy. Sorry, not completely true. He divorced few months ago and managed to catch Carla Bruni. Quite a delivery. Continue reading “Slovenia – 3 weeks into the Presidency”

Apple goes air – I have to admit defeat

I’ve always tried to argue about Apple products. Not so much because I wouldn’t like them, but mainly because I had a friend that would put his hand into fire for any Apple gadget. It was a point of principle and a bit that Apple always seemed elitist, while we should care about bringing IT technologies to the masses.Hm, how credible could that sound as an argument really? To a very large extent my friend has always been right, look at whet Steve Jobs delivered in the last years: iPods all over the place, Macbooks Pros, iMacs, Mac Minis, Apple Cinema displays, iPhone, Apple TV and now MacBook Air & Time Capsule! They are all fantastic products. Ever held one in your hands? The best build quality ever…It’s tough to argue against. Continue reading “Apple goes air – I have to admit defeat”

Slovenia at the forefront of EU politics in 2008

Happy new year everyone. For the introduction into 2008, a short article I wrote for The New Federalist on-line on the 31st December.

Slovenia at the forefront of EU politics in 2008
Slovenian EU Presidency 2008

Monday 31 December 2007

Slovenia takes over the chair of the EU on 1 January 2008. For 6 months this small republic, until 1991 part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, will be at the political forefront of the Union of 27 member states and almost 500 million people. For Slovenia this represents a move towards the most active role in EU affairs since the entry in 2004 and of course political prestige. For the EU this is greatly symbolic: one of the younger kids gets to host the party. Continue reading “Slovenia at the forefront of EU politics in 2008”

From wise-men to reflection group

So, Sarko’s idea has been properly watered down. The initial idea of the “wise-men” group was first properly renamed not to sound discriminatory and then also weakened substantially. It will now NOT discuss: institutional issues, existing policies (=enlargement) and financial arrangements. So what is there left for it to do and what is there for Sarkozy to be happy about?

OK, there is a long list of things like: energy and climate questions, European social and economic model, Europe’s role in the world…But isn’t this all “existing policies” and isn’t thus the mandate a bit contradictory? And the groups is only supposed to report back in 2010. I bet these “cosmetic” changes to Sarko’s idea have been done by coincidence… Continue reading “From wise-men to reflection group”