The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 22 May 2018

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Rousing the rabble?

Turkey’s president is touring Europe to win support from his diaspora – to the chagrin of some of his neighbours.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been on the road campaigning ahead of the 24 June elections – but not in Turkey. On Sunday the incumbent spoke at a rally in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where more than 10,000 Turks gathered from as far as Belgium. Germany, the Netherlands and Austria have barred Erdogan from campaigning on their soil but he seized on close ties with Bosnia’s Muslim leader Bakir Izetbegovic to gain a podium in Europe. The Turkish president urged his foreign supporters to take active civic roles in their adoptive nations and emphasised the cultural, religious and historic ties between Turkey, Bosnia and the Balkans. It rings worryingly of ‘neo-Ottomanism’: Turkey is tightening its hegemony in the Balkans and rousing ideas of nativism among the Turkish diaspora, which EU leaders are rightly concerned is tantamount to meddling in foreign affairs.

Retail

Image: Getty Images

Playing the long game

Rather than striking while the iron’s hot, one Toronto-based retail outfit is plunging it into cold water.

Toronto’s independent retail sector has grown enviable over the past few years. Many homegrown shops, which sell everything from Toronto-made menswear to homeware and cosmetics, have become well-known names and expanded their operations in the process. But the decision by one of Toronto’s most familiar outfits to scale back has raised questions as to how swiftly a brand should translate success at home into a national (or even international) presence. The Drake General Store, an offshoot of one of the city’s most familiar hospitality groups, which now includes hotels, restaurants and a bar, has announced that it is to close two of its retail properties in Toronto. According to a statement from the firm, the move is aimed at allowing the group to expand more thoughtfully. The rush to capitalise on homegrown successes may be tempting but long-term planning in bricks-and-mortar retail should not be looked upon lightly, particularly if the goal is to cement a diverse independent retail sector.

Government

Thinking Capp

Improving liveability isn’t just about impressive architecture projects – Melbourne’s new lord mayor also wants to fight city hall.

Melbourne regularly tops global liveability rankings and the Australian city’s new leader plans to keep it that way. Sally Capp was elected lord mayor on Friday after campaigning to build a €213m elevated walking path along the Yarra River, partly inspired by New York’s High Line. The former businesswoman, who ran as an independent and previously worked for a real estate lobby group, also backed Heritage Victoria’s pre-election decision to preserve the city’s historic Queen Victoria Market. Her predecessor Robert Doyle initially proposed the ambitious regeneration plan but the wheels came off soon after he was forced to step down in February amid allegations of sexual harassment. Capp has vowed to change the culture at Melbourne Town Hall alongside enhancing the built environment, although she has ruled out a booze ban at official functions – good news for supporters attending her swearing in ceremony on Thursday.

Transport

Image: West Japan Railway Company

Cute route

Already known for its punctuality, Japanese officials are improving high-speed rail travel even further by introducing a Hello Kitty-themed train. Purrfect.

Train travel in Japan tends to be famous for its punctuality so next month’s launch of a Hello Kitty-themed high-speed train is bound to add a big splash of colour to these predictable journeys. West Japan Railway Company’s 500 series Kodama Shinkansen, painted in the fictional character’s signature pink, will carry intercity commuters and tourists between Osaka and Fukuoka. While one car will be kitted out with a shop and exhibition space, another will be strictly zoned for die-hard fans of Kitty (who attends school in the UK and is presumably more used to rail delays and cancellations). If the onboard experience isn’t enough, a visit to the Hello Kitty café at Hakata Station where the train terminates should round things off nicely.

From Monocle 24

‘Effigies of Wickedness’

Sunday Brunch

We look at a play bringing back cabaret banned by the Nazis and discuss a visual opera coming to London. Plus: James MacManus on the affair between General Eisenhower and his driver in the Second World War and we discuss the Palme d’Or.

From Monocle Films

Zurich: The Monocle Quality of Life Conference

This year we’re in Zürich and discovering all the city has to offer from dips in the lakeside pools to post-event escapes in the mountains. Prepare to be challenged and inspired by a host of thinkers who will be reimagining urban living and exploring our key theme: ‘made in the city’. Book your ticket here.

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