Thursday 25 May 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 25/5/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: ROS/Brussels Forum

Opinion / Carlota Rebelo

Marshalling support

When the German Marshall Fund was created 51 years ago, its main goal was to promote dialogue between North America and Europe. Fast-forward to today and that mission has never been so crucial. As the public-policy think tank wrapped up its Brussels Forum (pictured) yesterday, the war in Ukraine – and what the country’s reconstruction might look like – took centre stage. As Ukraine’s deputy minister of communities, territories and infrastructure, Oleksandra Azarkhina, pointed out, rebuilding is “the way to victory”. It’s easy to understand why: doing so during the war ensures that people can stay in the country and that cities are more resilient when the fighting stops.

It was a sentiment echoed by Miguel Eiras Antunes, Deloitte’s global smart cities and urban transformation leader. His company has been acting as a convener of private-sector players for projects in Ukraine. “Ukrainian cities can become the benchmark for the rest of the continent,” Antunes tells The Monocle Minute. “We can build cities that are more efficient and more sustainable, and with better transit.”

But the question of where the money will come from remains. A large chunk will be from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). “We are the largest institutional investor in Ukraine at the moment and already were so before the war,” says Odile Renaud-Basso, EBRD’s president. In previous years, the financial institution invested about €1bn a year in the country; that figure has jumped to an annual €1.7bn since the war began.

It might seem paradoxical to embark on an investment push for reconstruction at the same time as other members of government continue to plead with international allies for more weapons and military support. This twin-track approach is a mammoth undertaking but only by having these conversations simultaneously can we ensure that Ukraine is given the best chance to emerge victorious – both on the front line and the home front.

Carlota Rebelo is Monocle’s senior foreign correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Reuters


Le Pen is mightier…

Far-right French politician Marine Le Pen (pictured) was put over the coals at the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon as part of a parliamentary committee inquiry into foreign interference in politics. But this wasn’t a grilling by a rival party. The inquiry, chaired by the National Rally’s Jean-Philippe Tanguy, was launched internally to prove that the party no longer has links to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. While the inquiry’s findings are expected to be published in early June, recent polls suggest that Emmanuel Macron’s waning popularity has placed Le Pen at a clear advantage: if they were to face each other in a run-off, she is predicted to win 55 per cent of the votes. However, according to Paris-based journalist Agnès Poirier, this won’t be enough to cement a future victory. “Le Pen might be popular in the polls but she still has to change the widely held perception that she is a friend of Putin,” Poirier tells The Monocle Minute. “Moreover, she still has to present a convincing project to the French people for the next presidential elections.”

For more on Marine Le Pen’s hearing, tune in to ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio at 07.00 London time.

Image: Shutterstock


Second time lucky

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, is on his second diplomatic tour of Africa since the Russian invasion of his country. The aim of Kuleba’s visit, which began in Rabat with a meeting on Monday with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita (pictured, on right, with Kuleba), is to win the support of a continent that has historically had good relations with Moscow.

“Kuleba’s Africa tour is designed as a diplomatic counteroffensive against Russia’s sustained manoeuvres across the continent,” Phil Clark, a professor of international politics at Soas University of London, tells The Monocle Minute. “The visit shows that Ukraine is deeply worried about widespread African support for Moscow. Kuleba’s Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, has made several tours of the continent in the past year, offering military and economic deals in exchange for leaders’ support. This explains why 15 African states abstained on the most recent UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” The announcement of an African peace delegation visit to Moscow next month makes Kuleba’s visit all the more timely.

Image: Shutterstock


Chips off the old block

Apple signed a multibillion-dollar deal with fellow California-based technology company Broadcom on Tuesday as part of a move to source fewer parts from China and become less reliant on its suppliers. Under the agreement, Broadcom will develop 5G and wireless connectivity components for Apple at several US sites, including a large facility in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The deal builds on an already lucrative relationship between the firms: Apple is the chip-maker’s biggest client and accounted for about a fifth of its sales last year. “India now makes some iPhones and AirPods have been made in Vietnam for a while,” David Phelan, Monocle’s technology correspondent, tells The Monocle Minute. “At the same time, Apple is doing everything it can to rely less on outside companies and might be trying to create its own Bluetooth and wi-fi chips, though these components are probably several years away.”

Image: Nelson Kon


Cultural exchange

Italian fashion house Bottega Veneta is in São Paulo this week as part of its new cultural programme, The Square. The project explores square architectural forms, using them as meeting points between artists and the general public. Rather than selling fashion, the brand’s aim here is to generate engaging conversations. After creating custom square structures in Dubai and Tokyo last year, Bottega Veneta is now taking over São Paulo’s Casa de Vidro (pictured), a modernist glass house built by Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi.

Working with curator Mari Stockler, the brand has put together an 11-day exhibition showcasing the work of local artists alongside Bo Bardi’s writings and original furnishings, demonstrating how the architect interacted with Brazilian culture. According to the fashion house’s creative director, Matthieu Blazy, the project aims to celebrate the transformative power of design and culture, while highlighting the enduring appeal of Bo Bardi’s work. And by pursuing such projects and staying away from social media or large-scale fashion events, Bottega Veneta is preserving its own cultural relevance.

Image: Attaboy

Monocle Radio / The Menu

Mixers and shakers

Monocle’s US editor, Christopher Lord, speaks to the founders of one of the world’s most renowned cocktail bars, Attaboy, on New York’s Lower East Side. Plus: Sophie Monaghan-Coombs catches up with the founder of Beak Brewery, Danner Tapper, and Faber’s marketing director, Katie Hall, to discuss their new beer-can collaboration, while Markus Hippi heads for a tipple with Arnd Heissen in Berlin.

Monocle Films / Gairloch

Outpost News: Britain’s smallest radio station

Located in the north-western corner of the Scottish Highlands, Gairloch is a coastal village of about 700 people that known for its mountains, sea loch and rugged landscape. Monocle paid a visit to Two Lochs, reportedly Britain’s smallest commercial radio station, which is nestled on Gairloch’s shores, run by a handful of volunteers and has built a loyal fan-base of global listeners.


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