Monday 19 February 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 19/2/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Pride of place: Members and supporters of the LGBT community celebrate

Image: Reuters

Society / Emmanuil Papavasileiou

Greek revival

Greece’s decision last week to pass a landmark bill legalising same-sex marriage was significant both for the country’s citizens and for its soft-power credentials. Over the past 14 years, the country’s government has had to contend with a staggering debt crisis and financial stagnation. The rise of political parties such as right-wing Golden Dawn and leftist Syriza was a symptom of a fractured society. But Greece has made a herculean effort to emerge from the economic crisis and set the foundations for a more inclusive future.

Over the past 10 years, the incumbent New Democracy party hoped that its market reforms would bring in foreign investment. The government, led by centre-right prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, banked on reducing austerity measures to plug the holes – and it worked.

Despite roadblocks put in place by the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s economy is finally improving. Greece is also pushing to bolster its position on the world stage, intensifying its efforts to win a seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2025-2026 term. In Athens a major urban regeneration development, The Ellinikon Project, is under way. All this starkly contrasts with the city that I left behind in 2008, whose streets were littered, businesses closed and shops shuttered.

“My goal has always been to make Greece a truly European country,” Mitsotakis tells Monocle. “And why not try to set an example in areas where we can be a protagonist?” Legalising same-sex marriage signals Greece’s ambitions to become an equal partner in a progressive Europe.

Emmanuil Papavasileiou is Monocle’s newsletters editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Diplomacy / Japan & Ukraine

Show of support

Representatives of Japan and Ukraine will meet at an event in Tokyo today to discuss how the former might help to rebuild the war-torn nation. The Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Reconstruction intends to facilitate investment in Ukraine from Japanese companies including Kubota, Sumitomo Corp, Kawasaki Heavy and Rakuten. Alongside a previously reported ¥15.8bn (€98m) aid package, the Japanese government is expected to relax travel restrictions to Ukraine. Some Japanese firms believe that they are currently hindered by official guidance advising against journeys to the European country. The new plans would allow business trips to Ukraine at the discretion of the government in Tokyo. Japan has been criticised for being the only G7 nation not to supply weapons to Ukraine but these initiatives make it clear that it remains a crucial partner.

Looking up: China’s Ba Yi Aerobatics Team perform at a Singapore Airshow preview

Image: Shutterstock

Aviation / Singapore

Up, up and away

More than 1,000 companies from over 50 countries and regions will gather at Changi Exhibition Centre tomorrow for the ninth Singapore Airshow. Asia’s largest aviation fair is among the world’s most important aerospace and defence exhibitions. “Commercial aviation is set for a really strong 2024,” Murdo Morrison, head of strategic content at Flightglobal, tells The Monocle Minute.

Problems with supply chains and materials have recently affected aviation manufacturers but demand remains strong. Thai Airways has placed an order of 45 widebody aircraft from Boeing, while Airbus is set to deliver 800 aircraft in 2024. A good year is also expected for makers in the electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft sector, particularly with Chinese company EHang going into service with its range of autonomous aerial vehicles. “The appetite in the Asia-Pacific region for these novel aircraft is really high,” says Morrison. “It will certainly be an early adopter of this technology.”

Living the wood life: A rendering of The Phoenix

Image: Human Nature / Periscope

Urbanism / UK

Wood intentions

Plans to develop the UK’s largest mass-timber neighbourhood in Lewes, near Brighton, have been approved. The South Downs National Park has given permission for the construction of 685 homes, collectively known as The Phoenix, on the former North Street Industrial Estate in East Sussex. The project will be overseen by development firm Human Nature, whose team includes Kathryn Firth, director of master-planning at multinational design firm Arup.

The Phoenix will be powered by renewable energy and its public spaces will include gardens, dedicated community buildings and a mobility hub for electric cars, bikes and shuttle buses. While there has been some local opposition to the demolition of existing warehouses on site, the plans could serve as a benchmark for other developers who want to create communities that are in tune with the local climate and environment.

Beyond the Headlines

In print / Issue 170

Rising force

Aspen has long been celebrated for its breathtaking scenery and winter sports. But now its cultural scene is on the up too. Monocle meets a new generation of collectors and institutions who are reviving its status as a mountain mecca for art.

Stephanie Soldner in her father’s house

Image: Benjamin Rasmussen

Powers Art Center

Image: Benjamin Rasmussen

The Soldners’ beehive studio and Aspen Art Museum

Image: Benjamin Rasmussen

Colorado constructivism and brushing up

Image: Benjamin Rasmussen

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Image: YSL

Monocle Radio / The Stack

Saint Laurent’s bookshop

Fashion giant Saint Laurent has opened a bookshop in Paris. We find out more. We also speak with the co-founder of ‘This is Badland’, a title about art and design from the Balkans, and head to Manchester to speak with the co-founder of ‘Proper’ magazine.


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