Tuesday. 2/4/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Venetia Rainey

Positive outlook

With Greece’s economy on the mend – growth is steady and unemployment is dropping – the country truly has a spring in its step. However, there’s a danger that multinationals will be the main ones to profit from this return to the spotlight.

With US model Bella Hadid on the cover, Vogue hit Greek newsstands on Sunday for the first time in seven years (its original publisher, Lyberis, went bankrupt during the Greek crisis in 2012). Then, yesterday, the restored Four Seasons Astir Palace began welcoming guests. Located on a prime beachside spot in the upscale Vouliagmeni neighbourhood, the €650m investment is just the latest bit of good news for the Greek tourism sector: about 150 new luxury hotels opened their doors in 2018.

International brands such as these show renewed confidence in the country and send a positive signal to uncertain investors – but care should be taken to make sure they don’t take all the spoils. Vogue’s partnership with local daily newspaper Kathimerini is one that we’d like to see replicated so that the media, hospitality and other Greece-based businesses also benefit from the revival.

Politics / Turkey

Losing control

Turkish citizens delivered a strong message to Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the weekend. Although his Justice and Development party claimed an overall victory in local elections, it lost control of the mayoral seats in Ankara and Istanbul. While the country won’t go to the polls again until its general election in 2023, some are saying that Sunday’s result is a canary in the mine for Erdogan’s leadership. The president has taken illiberal steps to cling to his throne in recent years, notably granting himself special executive powers and instigating a crackdown on dissent. This, and his mismanagement of the economy, is likely to have adversely affected his approval rating. Executive powers or not, Erdogan’s future has never been less certain.

Image: Getty Images

Geopolitics / France & Germany

Better together?

Just when you thought France and Germany couldn’t get any cosier (diplomatically), this month the pair will form the first “dual presidency” of the UN Security Council. France held the presidency in March – and Germany was due to take over this month – but Macron and Merkel (Merkron?) thought it would be better to chair the council together, in what the former describes as a “twinning” arrangement. While moves of this kind might put noses out of joint among other EU leaders, Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford University, thinks it could just as well serve as a reminder of the commonalities shared across the bloc. “This is very symbolic as populism rises in Europe,” he says. “The overriding impression that they want to give off is that they can work together”. Vive la difference.

Image: Shutterstock

Society / Japan

Fresh start

Yesterday a nation was rapt as the name of the new imperial era – or gengo – was announced in Japan. The era, which will coincide with the ascension of Prince Naruhito to the Chrysanthemum Throne on 1 May, will be called Reiwa. The name originates from two characters in Japanese: rei means order and good fortune, while wa means peace and harmony. Sir David Warren – who was the UK’s ambassador to Japan between 2008 and 2012 – told The Briefing on Monocle 24: “It’s very important news in Japan because the name of the imperial era is a symbolic time, when the philosophical concept behind this period of time in history becomes apparent.” Order, good fortune, peace and harmony might be a tall order for most countries, but perhaps not for Japan.

Media / Global

Same wavelength

Europeans believe what they hear – according to a new report by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The Trust in Media 2019 report claims that 85 per cent of Europeans trust what they hear on the radio (the same number as last year). Meanwhile trust in social media and the internet have fallen consistently in the past five years, with western Europeans trusting social-media networks the least of all mediums. Director-general of the EBU Noel Curran, speaking at the 10th annual Radio Days Europe summit in Lausanne, attributed the confidence to quality journalism and good reporting: “We can maintain those trust levels if we continue to invest in our programming,” he said.

M24 / The Urbanist: Tall Stories

Pittsburgh’s bridges

This week we head to the steel powerhouse of Pittsburgh, which happens to be the proud home of 446 bridges.

Film / Global

Hospitality lessons

Be it an airport lounge or a cinema, feeling at ease is hugely dependent on your surroundings. Monocle films meet with the design experts crafting the warmest welcomes.

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