Monday 2 October 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 2/10/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

City on fire: the 2013 anti-government protest in Ankara

Image: Reuters

HUMAN RIGHTS / Hannah Lucinda Smith

Losing the rights

For six years, Osman Kavala, a Turkish philanthropist, has been watching birds migrate from the exercise block of an Istanbul prison. Last week the courts upheld his life sentence, handed down in connection to his part in the 2013 anti-government protests – despite a European Court of Human Rights ruling that his trial had been flawed and he should be released.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was drafted in 1950 and currently has 46 signatories. It was designed to ensure the upholding of values including the right to a fair trial, freedom of speech and religion, and protection against torture. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, a wave of eastern European states signed up, keen to leave their repressive pasts behind. Until now, Russia is the only country to have been expelled, due to its invasion of Ukraine. Greece briefly withdrew during its era of military dictatorship in the 1970s.

Most violations of the convention occur in the eastern member states, notably Ukraine and Romania, as well as Turkey. But the rise of nationalism and the emergence of migration as a key election issue are now prompting governments in the west of the continent to either ignore or openly criticise the ECHR. The British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has touted the UK’s withdrawal while politicians in the Netherlands and Belgium, fellow founding signatories, have also recently criticised it. Populist politicians are realising that nativism is a vote winner and that the ECHR, easily caricatured as part of a faceless and unaccountable supranational bureaucracy, makes an easy target. Kavala might be the first victim of many.

Hannah Lucinda Smith is Monocle’s Istanbul correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Defence / Poland

Hindsight for Warsaw eyes

The 2022 iteration of the Warsaw Security Forum (WSF) buzzed with a distinct sense of urgency, in part thanks to its location just a short drive from Poland’s border with Ukraine. This year’s forum, which begins on Tuesday (and which Monocle Radio will be attending), is set to be similarly preoccupied by Russia’s absurd war.

The line-up of speakers is notably heavy on defence ministers, generals and Nato boffins. Though Ukraine will be the inevitable focus, plenty of attention will be paid to longer-term threats to Europe, with forums contemplating democratic resilience, and climate and energy security. All fields touch upon a key theme of the past 18 months: that, when it comes to Russia’s long-suffering neighbours, this has been a “We told you so” moment. The report accompanying the conference is entitled Central and Eastern Europe as a New Centre of Gravity. It’s an idea that western Europe will have to get used to.

Image: Designblok

Culture / USA

Back in action

Following the conclusion of the Hollywood writers’ strike after a total of 148 days, studios are now looking to secure a deal with actors and recommence production on a raft of halted productions. In a joint statement, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (Sag-Aftra) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) announced that they will meet today to resume negotiations. Both sides are quietly optimistic that a deal will finally be reached.

As Hollywood’s largest union with approximately 160,000 members, Sag-Aftra commenced its action in July following calls for higher pay and safeguards against the use of artificial intelligence in film and television. With writers also putting down their pens, studios have had to grapple with mounting costs and multiple shutdowns. According to economists, the strikes have cost the US economy $5bn (€4.7bn). When the cameras begin rolling once more, the industry will be looking to make up for lost time.

Image: Designblok

Design / Prague

Moving display

The 25th edition of Prague-based design festival Designblok 23 begins on Wednesday at a number of venues, from the city’s Trade Fair Palace to Prague Castle. Linking together these spaces is a shared theme: journeys. According to festival co-founder Jana Zielinski, this not only refers to journeys into the past but also those into the future. It’s why new collections by the likes of Moser, Rückl, Bomma, Benedikt and many other national and international companies will be on display. The organisers’ main aim is to promote Czech design both at home and abroad. Often the best way to spread the word about something is to gather people in the same place at the same time.

In print

Education / Global

Learning curves

It’s not just what you learn – it’s also where you learn it. From a school that’s open to the elements to an unconventional nursery, architecture can help to give children a head start in life. Monocle visits three educational institutions with designs that pass with flying colours.

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Bright idea: fabric shades above a courtyard at Jacques Chirac School in Rabat

Image: Ben Roberts, James Mollison, Aiste Rakauskaite

The Iris Nursery School in Guastalla is inspired by the ribs of a whale and the form of trees

Image: Ben Roberts, James Mollison, Aiste Rakauskaite

The Peledziukas kindergarten has become a communal hub

Image: Ben Roberts, James Mollison, Aiste Rakauskaite
Image: Caitlin Isola Caprio

Monocle Radio / The Menu

Forza Wine, Dorli Muhr and the Los Angeles food scene

This week we are joined in the studio by Bash Redford and Michael Lavery, who run the renowned Forza Wine in South London. Also on the programme, Monocle’s Milan correspondent, Ivan Carvalho, ventures to the Carnuntum region of Austria to meet vintner Dorli Muhr. Plus: Monocle Radio’s head of production, Sam Impey, chats to chef Tyler Gugliotta at his restaurant Baran’s 2239 in Los Angeles and also shares her highlights of the city’s food scene.


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