EU Anti-trust Regulator Challenges Hollywood's Pay-TV Deals (7/23)

By James D. Spellman, Strategic Communications LLC

spellmanIn another move to break down barriers to a single digital market, the European Union’s anti-trust crusader accused six of Hollywood’s largest movie studios and the British satellite broadcaster Sky of signing country-specific deals with pay-TV providers that obstruct competition to the disadvantage of consumers.


Book Review: "They Eat Horses, Don’t They? The Truth About the French" By Piu Marie Eatwell

Reviewed By Laura Kayali, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

French Children Don’t Throw Food,” “French Women Don’t get Fat,” and “A Year in the Merde…” Our French culture, way-of-life and worldwide known flaws have been extensively dissected by Anglo-Saxons in effort to grasp what makes the French so … French.

As a French citizen, I was very interested in reading a foreign perspective on France. External points of view are often magnifying glasses and, as I am currently discovering a different culture myself, as an intern in the United States, I was curious to know what it was like for a Briton to live in my home country. I was also expecting to be annoyed by another Brit making fun of French customs and culture. But I have to admit that Piu Marie Eatwell did her homework and I developed a grudging respect for the book, which could easily have degenerated into tired clichés --just another futile effort by the English to understand their neighbor. This book, highly irritating at times, will probably not be loved by the French, but it will likely command respect.


Great Britain Heads to the Polls (5/6)

michaelmosettigBy Michael D. Mosettig, former Foreign Editor of PBS News Hour

In contrast to the American model of computer generated projections and losing and winning candidates speaking to supporters in separate rented hotel ballrooms (or in the case of Barack Obama in 2008, an entire city park), elections in the United Kingdom are low key affairs.

From thousands of polling stations, paper ballots are gathered in town and borough halls. As the candidates and their local agents watch, clerks assemble stacks of ballots marked usually in pencil for each House of Commons candidate in a constituency. (Only two constituencies across the entire country vote directly for the person who could become prime minister) As the count goes on, the candidates can tell by the size of the stacks if they are going to win or lose. And then in displays of stiff upper lips, they go on stage together in the late night or early morning hours to hear the town clerk officially announce the results. The process is as charming as it is technologically out of date, but then again, it has never produced anything as disastrous as the Florida U.S. presidential ballot count in 2000. On a national level, the television networks try to project which party will win, but those exit polling projections have been notoriously wrong in the past.


Perspective: Azerbaijan’s Foreign Policy Shift and the Threat of Isolation (4/30)

Armen Sahakyan

 By Armen V. Sahakyan, Master of Arts candidate at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

Over the course of the past 18 months a new foreign policy doctrine has emerged in the Republic of Azerbaijan. This shift was formally codified on December 3, 2014 in a largely unnoticed 50-page Russian language memo penned by Ramiz Mehdiyev – the long-serving chief of President Ilham Aliyev’s Administration – who calls primarily for a distancing from the West because of the latter’s “unfair” criticism of Azerbaijan and “unthankful” attitude for all the sacrifices that Baku has made.

This shift comes at a troublesome time, as the deterioration of relations between the West and Russia have placed Baltic, Eastern European, and South Caucasian states alike on heightened alert due to the increased unpredictability and volatility of the geopolitical situation. Azerbaijan is no exception.


France’s Approach to a Nuclear deal with Iran (4/28)

By Laura Kayali, European Affairs Editorial Assistant
In contrast to guardedly optimistic comments of the U.S. president and Secretary of State on the “framework agreement” with Iran, the reaction of French political figures has been decidedly more tentative, insisting on the fact that the agreement is not yet final. “The real deadline is in June. (…) There is still work to do” said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius while President Francois Hollande stated that “France will be watchful (…) to ensure that a credible, verifiable agreement is established.” This tempered enthusiasm echoes Paris’ posture throughout the negotiation process: a posture which has been, surprisingly, tougher than that of the U.S.

Perspective: Can Politico Europe Find “Hot” News in Brussels? (4/27)

mzeiner01By Markus Ziener, Professor of Journalism in Berlin and former Washington and Moscow Correspondent for German Business Daily Handelsblatt

For a reporter, generating exclusive news or “hot” stories in Brussels can be quite a challenge. It is relatively easy to share a drink at the bar with a EU bigwig, to have chicken and pommes frites even with a EU commissioner in one of the restaurants at the Place du Luxembourg or to get invited into one of the many background circles where the latest inside stories are traded. Compared to Washington where access to hardcore news is more limited to established channels, Brussels is an open book.

This is nice for journalists freshly descending upon Brussels because they are in the loop relatively quickly. But it’s bad for those who want to do nothing less than shake up the whole place.


Greek Finance Minister Comes to Washington (04/17)

mosettig sm-285x255By Michael D. Mosettig, former PBS News Hour Foreign Editor

It may have been a first for Washington, a visiting Greek cabinet minister filling two large onference rooms at a Washington think tank. But the appearance of Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was a widely anticipated event at the Brookings Institution, especially coming back to back with his principal interlocutor and sometimes adversary in debt and Euro negotiations, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble.

The immediate consensus among policy wonks in the audience was that neither minister offered many specifics in the talks that face a series of deadlines between now and June to determine if Greece can avoid debt default and remain in the Euro currency zone.


Battle of Gallipoli — 100 Years Later (04/14)

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By Michael D. Mosettig, former PBS News Hour Foreign Editor and Adjunct at SAIS

From thousands of miles they came, the Australian miners and sheepherders, the New Zealand shop assistants and carpenters, to a Turkish peninsula, then barely known to them, but that would become their defining national myth--Gallipoli. And now, a hundred years on from the April 25, 1915, pre-dawn amphibious landing, Australians and New Zealanders from the Antipodes, across Asia, to Turkey and Europe and to 13 U.S. cities will observe an anniversary wrapped in solemnity and intense emotion.