Opinion / Balkans, former Yugoslavia

Russia: Now What?

Vladimir Putin wins a landslide victory! Six more years! Even Vladimir Zhirinovsky complains that Russia is no longer a democracy, and he should know! Once upon a time there was a Cold War. We all knew where we were amidst ‘East-West (sic) relations’. Responses to policy moves could be fine-tuned. […]

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Do You Want Our Money?

Back in November I wrote about the logic and reality of sanctions: One last genre of sanctions is ‘conditionality’. Yes, we’ll give you development assistance, but on conditions. One of which is that if you use our assistance to promote extremism we’ll stop supporting you. This issue comes up periodically […]

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#IranProtests – How to Respond?

What is President Trump to make of this latest turmoil in Iran? He looks at how the new President Obama responded to a wave of protests across Iran in 2009: Huge crowds in Iran are demanding minimum standards of transparency, fairness and democracy.  You know, the sort of thing we in the […]

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Slobodan Praljak

Slobodan Praljak today killed himself by taking poison in the dock at ICTY as his sentence was delivered for war crimes 24 years ago. His Wikipedia page gives the basics, including the interesting factlets that (a) he was a prominent Croatian TV and theatre producer in Yugoslavia, and (b) his […]

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The Logic of Sanctions

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT looks at sanctions. Crime? Punishment! Thus: Back in the day when I was paid to do diplomacy, it was a refreshing if not a bracing bucketful of icy water to hear Russian diplomats talking about their professional discipline. I remember one telling me about a […]

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Catalonia and First Principles

As one might have expected, the Catalonia problem is getting problematic. Spain HQ aka Madrid is gearing up to take away Catalonia’s powers in some sort of direct rule power-play. No rebellions allowed! After an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday morning, Rajoy said he was invoking article 155 of the […]

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Catalonia – Your Questions Answered

Baffled by the goings-on in Catalonia? I answer your basic questions. Can Catalonia be an independent country? In principle, why not? It has a population of some 7.5 million people, so as an independent state it would be comfortably in the top half of the world’s country population league rankings […]

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Building Peace in Bosnia

Right. Here is a major contribution by me to the oral history of the modern Balkans, in the form of a discussion with Susan Coleman of The Peace Building Podcast. Susan and I met when we did some training workshops for senior Afghan women in Tajikistan last year. Susan is […]

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Diana, Princess of Wales: Bosnia

As we approach the twentieth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on 31 August and the world pores over its memories, it becomes appropriate to describe what happened during her visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina if only for the sake of historical exactitude. Let’s set the scene. […]

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Being Honest With Your Boss

A really difficult and sensitive issue in ‘management’ and ‘leadership’: how do junior colleagues tell senior colleagues that they’re (perhaps) not getting it right? One of my own most powerful life lessons on this came back in the early 1980s when I was a mere Second Secretary at the British […]

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