Monday 8 April 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 8/4/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Centre stage: Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Delphi Economic Forum

Image: Shutterstock

Geopolitics / Andrew Mueller

Greece the wheels

When previewing the annual Delphi Economic Forum, which the team from Monocle Radio’s The Foreign Desk will attend this week, it is difficult to contrive a run-up that does not make portentous reference to the location. The Delphi of ancient times was where the bearded sages of the period would commune with an oracle, generally ponder the state of things and admire the view down the valley to the Itea Gulf.

Last year’s event was heavily focused on the then-looming presidential election in Turkey. Though it is safe to surmise that this vote did not go as most of those present would have preferred, this year’s delegates will be free to concentrate on other subjects. And given Greece’s perilous and propitious geographical location beneath the Balkans in the Mediterranean, there will not be a shortage of these.

The overarching theme of this year’s event is “The Great Transition”. While this could, and doubtless will, mean more or less anything, it is a concept that Greece can reasonably say much about. The country has, in recent years, made a great transition of its own, from a pitiable basket case that threatened to haul the entire European project into its largely self-dug hole to one of the EU’s better-performing economies.

The conversations around maritime security should be especially instructive. Though Greece is a smallish country of a little more than 10 million people, it controls 21 per cent of the global merchant fleet in terms of tonnage. It therefore has a keen interest in the continued viability of Red Sea shipping routes, recently menaced by the Iran-sponsored Houthi militias of Yemen. When Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, spoke to The Foreign Desk at the Munich Security Conference in February (we also spoke to him in the latest issue of Monocle magazine), he acknowledged that Greece needed to carefully consider the future of naval deterrence. The 2024 Delphi Economic Forum might well offer some hint of the direction of thinking on this front.

Andrew Mueller is a Monocle contributing editor and the host of Monocle Radio’s ‘The Foreign Desk’. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Politics / Japan & USA

United front

Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, lands in the US today in a bid to bolster military co-operation with Washington. Kishida, who is due to address Congress later in the week, will hold a joint press conference with Joe Biden on Wednesday and take part in a trilateral summit with Philippines president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, on Thursday. Japan and the US are cautious about potential threats from China, particularly in the South China Sea. All of this is driving the nations to improve joint defence capabilities in the region, as well as foster greater information sharing and tactical cohesion between their ground, maritime and air forces. But not everyone is celebrating this new era of co-operation. Nippon Steel’s recent €13bn acquisition of US Steel has tested a few lawmakers’ mettle, who have lamented the loss of a homegrown titan.

Trade / France & Morocco

Mutual benefit

France’s foreign trade minister, Franck Riester, touched down in Morocco over the weekend for a relations-strengthening mission. He was looking to re-establish dialogue and consolidate economic ties between the two countries, which have traditionally been close. But relations between France and its former colony have become increasingly tense in recent years, culminating in a frosty response from the North African nation to French offers of aid after a September 2023 earthquake caused widespread destruction.

Image: Alamy
Image: Alamy

Despite the wobbles, Morocco remains France’s largest trade partner in Africa; last year, trade between both countries reached a historic record of €14.1bn, twice as much as in 2015. “Through economic and commercial issues, we can bring this relaunch of our relationship with Morocco to life and deepen it at a pivotal moment when there are a large number of challenges to meet together,” said Riester last week. A reset of relations would clearly be in the interest of both nations.

Image: Alamy

Affairs / USA

Chasing shadows

A total solar eclipse will sweep across the US and Canada today. Schools and offices across the US are closing to allow people to observe the rare celestial phenomenon – and even the incarcerated are determined to get involved. A state-wide prison lockdown in New York, set to take place during the eclipse, has caused outrage.

Six inmates at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility promptly filed a lawsuit against the New York Corrections Department, alleging that the lockdown violated their religious freedom. The plaintiffs, who come from a mix of faiths, including Islam, Baptism and Santería, claimed that the eclipse provided an opportunity for them to come together and celebrate their common humanity. And it seems that New York State agreed, permitting a group of inmates to watch the event. Some might call it a total eclipse of the heart.

Beyond the Headlines

In print / Issue 172

Second act

Monocle meets Luke and Lucie Meier, the husband-and-wife duo behind Jil Sander, a brand that has proved resurgent under current owners, OTB Group. We head to the fresh and smart-feeling new shop on London’s Bond Street, designed by Olaf Kneer and Marianne Mueller, the architects behind the city’s White Cube gallery and several Saint Laurent runway sets.

Travertine and marble are used throughout the new London shop

Image: Benjamin McMahon

Spring 2024 designs

Image: Benjamin McMahon

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Monocle Radio / The Stack

Turning a page

We speak with ‘Fortune’ executive editor Alex Wood Morton about the magazine’s editorial expansion in Europe. Plus: Melinda Stevens on her new book with Assouline, ‘Secret Stays: Pioneering Hosts of the New Chic’. And Serge Ricco and Stéphane Darricau on their new book, which delves into the history of influential German magazine ‘Twen’.


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