Tuesday. 15/2/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Opinion / Christopher Cermak

Benign intervention

Olaf Scholz, Germany’s new chancellor, has long been known as someone with little regard for the 24-hour news cycle. Rather than being the first to be heard, he prefers to work behind the scenes and gather all the facts before taking a public position. It’s a laudable characteristic but not necessarily one suited to heads of government, who often need to make split-second decisions without all of the facts at hand. And in the case of Ukraine, Scholz’s patient approach has been taken to an extreme.

In theory, it could prove to be a masterstroke of diplomacy: the German chancellor visited Kyiv yesterday and is in Moscow today, just as talk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine reaches a fever pitch. If war is avoided this week, Scholz (pictured, on left, with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky) could reap the benefits of delaying his intervention – even as so many other world leaders have stepped into the void over the past two weeks. The trouble, however, is that frustration with Germany has become well-entrenched in his absence: people I spoke to in Kyiv had little understanding for Germany’s refusal to provide even defensive weapons to Ukraine – and don’t get them started on the Nordstream 2 pipeline.

German officials will readily retort that they have provided more financial support to Ukraine than any other nation over the past eight years. But what good is money for rebuilding when your country faces the threat of an actual military invasion? During his visit, Scholz has promised more of the same: additional financial aid but no defensive weaponry (though they’ll consider night-vision goggles). And he hasn’t come bearing a particularly novel diplomatic approach. Leaders who trade in nuance are all too rare in politics these days but Vladimir Putin requires a different kind of treatment.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / Turkey & UAE

Banner year

Plenty of nations have seen their flags illuminated on the UAE’s Burj Khalifa but the recent feature of Turkey’s crescent on the world’s tallest building carries some diplomatic heft. Its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, began a two-day trip to the UAE yesterday, his first official visit in nearly 10 years. The two nations have spent years backing opposing sides of just about every Middle Eastern conflict, from Yemen and Syria to Libya, but now appear ready to turn the page. Turkey is grappling with a severe debt and currency crisis, and cash-rich Abu Dhabi is scaling back what many analysts have called its over-extension in regional affairs. A pledge by the Emirates to invest $10bn (€8.8bn) was the highlight when Mohammed bin Zayed (pictured, on right, with Erdogan), the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, visited Ankara in November after a similarly long hiatus. Token gestures aside, the question today is whether Erdogan’s trip is all business or part of a wider diplomatic reset.

Image: The Nippon Foundation

Shipping / Japan

No hands on deck

How would you feel about travelling or sending cargo on an autonomous ship? Over the next month, the Nippon Foundation’s Meguri 2040 project, a joint effort by five Japanese consortia, is trialling a series of boats equipped with the world’s first fully autonomous navigation systems. It comes after Mitsubishi Shipbuilding and Nihonkai Ferry Co successfully completed a demonstration of the autonomous capability of the Soleil, a large, high-speed coastal ferry.

The 222 metre-long Soleil berthed, unberthed and navigated for 240km at speeds of up to 26 knots (50km/h) in northern Kyushu. Another boat, Sunflower Shiretoko, successfully operated without a crew for 18 hours, travelling 750km from northerly Hokkaido to Ibaraki. An unmanned ship might sound alarming to us landlubbers but the project aims to prove that this advanced Japanese technology can solve crew shortages and improve safety. Infrared sensors can detect other ships in the dark and help a vessel to berth in tight spots that even manned craft would find difficult.

Image: Governo do Estado de São Paulo/Flickr

Culture / Brazil

Birthday of modernism

This week marks the centenary of Brazil’s “Semana do 22”, a festival that many consider to be the birth of Brazilian modernism. Having first taken place in São Paulo’s Municipal Theatre in 1922, the city’s annual Semana de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Week) has since seen a group of artists, writers and creatives organise exhibitions, poetry recitals and musical performances in the city centre. The centenary week this year will pay homage to the founders of the movement and to key artists such as Anita Malfatti, Oswald de Andrade, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti and Tarsila do Amaral (pictured), whose experimental works and innovative spirit altered the course of the country’s creative scene. We recommend tonight’s roundtable on modernism at the Municipal Theatre and the improvised showcase Esta Noite se Improvisa!, which will feature music, theatre and poetry readings at the nearby Praça das Artes. While a century has now passed since the movement started, this is one festival that will remain an important part of Brazilian history for years to come.

Image: Alamy

Transport / Hungary

Platform views

Budapest has embarked on an ambitious public-transport project that could transform how citizens traverse the Hungarian capital. The city’s network has long been outdated, particularly beyond its inner reaches, with a lack of connections between different lines and modes of transport. As a result, just three out of 10 people in its outer districts use public transport. In response, the recently approved Budapest Railway Node Strategy aims to upgrade inner-city, suburban and even international connections over the next 20 years. The last point is perhaps the most eye-catching: Budapest’s prized location on the Danube means that three trans-European rail routes pass through the city – but the lack of a modern network means that it can’t currently handle demand from abroad. “The city is in a special position,” Budapest Development Agency CEO Dávid Vitézy, told Railway Gazette. “It could become the centre of a Central European high-speed network and not an obstacle – if we prepare for it.”

Image: Paul Ferrara

M24 / Meet the Writers

Anne Morrison

Jim Morrison (pictured), frontman of The Doors, was just 27 when he died in 1971. A Guide to the Labyrinth: The Collected Works of Jim Morrison is a vast new collection of his never-before-seen poetry, songwriting and personal diaries. Georgina Godwin speaks to Anne Morrison, the singer’s younger sister and the co-executor of his works, about this revelatory and intimate anthology.

Monocle Films / London

Yinka Ilori’s 3D-printed basketball court

Designer Yinka Ilori discusses the design inspiration behind his temporary installation in London’s Canary Wharf and the importance of play in adulthood. Hear more on ‘Monocle on Design’ on Monocle 24.

/

sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now

Loading...

/

15

15

Live
Monocle 24

00:00 01:00