Opinion

Article 50 Triggered

Trigger warning! Any second now TEU Article 50 is to be triggered. Brexit! Wait. What’s Article 50? Always a good idea to read the original, so here it is: 1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. 2. A Member […]

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How to Start a Speech (Continued)

I’ve previously given you the extensive benefit of my free advice on How to Start a Speech (or Presentation). The authorities agree. You start STRONGLY. One good idea is to treat the opening formalities, greetings and expressions of gratitude as not part of the speech. Depending on the occasion they […]

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Writing in English

One of the absolutely hardest things to do is write flawlessly and well in another language. It’s one thing to speak a foreign language to an astonishing level of accuracy and accent, to the point that even native speakers might think you’re one of them. It’s quite another to write […]

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Poland Stands Alone

Remember the noises emanating from Brussels and Warsaw last year over concerns that Poland was slumping away from core European democratic rule-of-law principles? Help! The (sic) Polish Threat to Europe! The European Commission threatened to ‘take action’ against Poland because Warsaw under the Law and Justice party was changing the […]

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Interfering Ambassadors

Trump! Russians! Russian ambassador! Trump! In all this hubbub about who did or did not ‘meet the Russian ambassador’ in Washington and when and why, let’s look at what diplomats actually do before an election in a country to which they’re posted. When an election looms, diplomats get a little […]

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Oscars Fiasco? Details!

NOTE My first version of this post had an irrelevant and (it turns out!) wrong explanation of a protocol calamity perpetrated by the British Embassy in Warsaw during The Queen’s State Visit. That passage now removed! + + + UPDATE + + + More gory details are emerging. Never underestimate […]

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Russia and Montenegro: What’s Ours?

My latest piece for the Telegraph (££) opines on the startling news that Russian intelligence agents have been found to be implicated in a plot to kill former Montenegro Prime Minister Milo Djukanović last year: The Kremlin has strongly denied any involvement, and the Montenegrin special prosecutor has publically stopped […]

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Balkan Borders (2)

What about the ideas raised by Sir Ivor Roberts for Serbia/Kosovo land-swaps? How to start analysing this? Some considerations as I consider them. First, the ‘international community’ simply does not care where Balkan borders (to be precise here, the borders between former republics and autonomous provinces of the dead Yugoslavia) […]

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Balkan Borders (1)

Here is my former colleague (ex-ambassador to Belgrade, Dublin and Rome) Sir Ivor Roberts opining on Balkan borders: Sir Ivor said that while multi-ethnic states might be the ideal, in practice the exchange of the Presevo Valley in Serbia for land in Kosovo north of the river Ibar might be […]

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More Chess and Diplomacy

A canny reader spots a fine reference to chess in Sir David Omand’s evidence to the Iraq Inquiry (pp 56/57): The second point that strikes me is that greater care is needed in threatening the use of military force to back up diplomatic measures. It is quite an easy thing to […]

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