Friday 24 June 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 24/6/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Christopher Cermak

Ready when you are

The EU’s 27 countries unanimously backed Ukraine’s official candidacy for membership of the bloc during a summit in Brussels yesterday. The implications of this, particularly for Ukraine’s own psyche in the midst of war, should not be underestimated. There is also broad public backing for the idea: a Eurobarometer poll released last month found that 66 per cent of EU citizens believe that Ukraine should join the bloc “when it is ready”. But when exactly will that be?

There’s a cautionary tale here. The prospect of EU membership has long served as a motivator for countries to reform their institutions but only if they’re convinced that EU membership genuinely lies at the end of the process. By contrast, a nation such as Turkey struggled for years to meet the EU’s terms of entry before turning its back on the bloc as the country’s authoritarian tendencies returned. Many western Balkan nations, in various stages of accession talks, will also roll their eyes at the phrase “when it is ready”.

It’s telling that Russia has put up little resistance to the granting of formal candidate status to Ukraine. Perhaps that’s because Moscow recognises that today’s development is symbolic and won’t have any material effect on its fortunes – unlike the 2014 EU “association agreement”, which brought practical benefits and prompted a then Moscow-friendly Kyiv to attempt to block it.

This is why a proposal by Emmanuel Macron (pictured) to create a “European political community” shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. The idea would be to offer candidate countries incentives, binding them into some of the EU’s decision-making processes (tying Ukraine into its common defence goals would really get Putin’s blood boiling). The EU has struggled to keep prospective members on side as the negotiation process is inevitably drawn out over many years. More than ever, the bloc needs to ensure that this doesn’t happen with Ukraine.

Christopher Cermak is Monocle’s news editor.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Myanmar

Rule by fear

Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi (pictured) has been moved from house arrest to a prison cell in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw. The 77-year-old Nobel laureate for peace has appeared in front of a number of secret hearings since she was deposed in a coup in February last year but the latest move by the country’s ruling junta means that she is unlikely ever to be released from detention. “Aung San Suu Kyi is revered across the country and is still the pre-eminent voice of the opposition,” Ronan Lee, the author of Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide, tells The Monocle Minute. “But the military treats her as a common criminal because it is fearful of her influence. The situation in the country is shocking and her detention in a military prison is designed to strike fear in the hearts of the rest of the population. If she can be treated like this, the junta can suppress any political dissent.”

Hear more from Ronan Lee on today’s edition of ‘The Briefing’ on Monocle 24.

Design / Italy

Just rewards

Awarded annually by the Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (ADI), the Compasso d’Oro is the most important prize in Italian design. With a host of categories, the winning designs are added to the archive at the ADI Design Museum in Milan. This week a raft of new works went into the collection, following the annual awards ceremony. Those selected include new projects, such as Flos’s Belt light, designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, and enduring products such as Boffi’s Minikitchen (pictured), a compact unit designed by Joe Colombo that contains essential cooking and storage functions in one cubic metre.

The lasting relevance of items such as the Minikitchen, designed in 1963 and still being manufactured today, is a reminder that Italy is a cradle of design. Perhaps the awarding of prizes such as the Compasso d’Oro and their celebration by the wider public help to keep the designers and brands here on top.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Indonesia

Caught in the balance

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, will travel to Kyiv and Moscow next week to meet his counterparts, Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Indonesia has been performing a balancing act, refusing to take an explicitly Western line and impose sanctions, as Japan, South Korea and Singapore have done.

The country’s foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, said that Jokowi (pictured) will “push for the spirit of peace” and discuss the food crisis caused by the war. Indonesia is the current chair of the G20 group of advanced and emerging economies and will host its summit in Bali in November. Jakarta has argued that it must remain impartial in response to Western pressure to exclude Russia, a G20 member, from the summit. In an attempt at a compromise, Indonesia has invited both Russia and Ukraine, which is not a member. Such deft diplomacy will be essential for November’s summit to be a success.

Image: Dan Wilton

Arts / UK

Young pretenders

London’s Royal College of Art (RCA) graduate show opens to the public tomorrow. The outgoing class of 2022 will exhibit works ranging from fashion to sculpture, textiles and paintings until 30 June. Part of the show is being held in the Rausing Research and Innovation Building (pictured), the freshly opened structure designed by Herzog & de Meuron, a short distance from the RCA’s flagship Dyson building in Battersea.

“We wanted to root it down here and cement the neighbourhood for the RCA,” John O’Mara, Herzog & de Meuron’s UK studio director, tells Monocle in our July/August magazine. The new building includes research spaces for subjects such as robotics, design and manufacturing, as well as larger spaces that feature polished concrete and moveable walls for maximum multifunctional use. “It’s quite rough and tough in here,” RCA vice-chancellor Paul Thompson tells The Monocle Minute. “The industrial feel is appropriate to how our students want to work.”

Read more about the newly designed space by picking up a copy of the July/August issue of Monocle on newsstands or subscribe today.

Image: Getty Images

Monocle 24 / The Foreign Desk

Belgium returns Lumumba’s tooth

Belgium has returned a tooth, the last remains of the murdered Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, to members of his family. Andrew Mueller explains why.

Monocle Films / Lisbon

Meet the Photographers: John Balsom

The Jogos da Lusofonia are an Olympics-style sporting event for people from the world’s Portuguese-speaking nations. We dispatched John Balsom – a photographer known for his powerful portraits – to the 2009 games in Lisbon. In our latest film, Balsom shares his memories of the assignment and how he captured such a fast-paced sports story on vintage film cameras. Discover more with The Monocle Book of Photography, which is available to buy now.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00