Tuesday 9 April 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 9/4/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Ready or not: Hanno Pevkur (on left) at a Spring Storm Nato exercise

Image: Getty Images


People power

As European governments debate whether or not to introduce conscription, there’s a growing understanding that an effective defence against Russian aggression will require civilians as well as professionals in uniform. Ukraine has taught us a valuable lesson: more than two years since the full-scale Russian invasion, the resilience of its people remains crucial in resisting the invader. Would neighbouring countries be capable of making similar sacrifices? This is a question that looms large in the Baltic states, which have been bolstering their armed forces but also their civilian crisis planning.

During a recent visit to Tallinn, I interviewed Hanno Pevkur, Estonia’s defence minister. He told me that a Russian invasion was very plausible but his country wasn’t overly worried about the effect that having Donald Trump in the White House might have on the region – because, he said, it needs to be ready, whoever wins the US election. The minister surprised me with his sober approach to civil defence. Pevkur described how Estonians were already running first-aid and emergency-planning training courses in corporations and at schools. Implementing such a strategy without an immediate military threat demonstrates a level of maturity in governance that other states, such as Poland, should replicate.

The Polish government is late to this particular party. Warsaw only proposed an updated version of its civil-defence law last month and the country doesn’t have enough bunkers or trained civilians to safely secure its population in the event of a Russian invasion. As the security risk in Europe increases, compulsory training might return in some form. Training civilians to establish emergency communication channels, lead groups to safety or manage stocks of food and water are invaluable skills, not only in times of war but during peacetime too. Though governments might want to avoid accusations of fear-mongering at a time of heightened threat levels, there’s no such thing as being too prepared.

Mateusz Mazzini is a journalist based in Poland. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Fires of dissent: Relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages at a protest in Tel Aviv

Image: Getty Images


Losing his grip

Six months since the 7 October attacks that killed 1,200 Israelis, the pressure is rising on Benjamin Natanyahu’s government to reach a ceasefire deal and recover the country’s hostages. Protesters gathered this week in about 50 locations across Israel, calling on the prime minister to change his strategy in Gaza, where the ongoing conflict has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians and reduced much of the territory to rubble.

Daniella Peled, managing editor of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, tells Monocle Radio’s The Briefing that this level of protest amid an ongoing conflict is unprecedented in Israel. “There has been direct criticism both of Netanyahu for failing to secure the return of the hostages but also of how the country’s standing in the international community has hugely deteriorated,” she says. “The latter is interesting because it has always been one of Netanyahu’s key offers to the population that he alone can represent Israel in the face of international hostility.”

For more on the protests in Israel, tune in to Monday’s edition of ‘The Briefing’ on Monocle Radio.


Right on time

The fourth edition of the Swiss horology industry’s biggest annual trade show, Watches and Wonders, returns to Geneva today. Since its launch in 2020, the fair has become an occasion for high-luxury brands such as Cartier, Tag Heuer and Rolex to announce new timepieces. Some 43,000 visitors filed through the doors of the Palexpo exhibition centre last year and the fair is anticipating even more buzz this week, having expanded its public programme. Members of the public can now access the fair in its final three days, up from two in 2023. Alongside start-ups and brands, students from the École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne will also be presenting projects on the future of watchmaking at the new LAB exhibition. Beyond the fair, events including talks and concerts take place in downtown Geneva. Watches and Wonders runs until Monday.

Time to heal: Kengo Kuma in Wajima with Shigeru Sakaguchi (on right, with Kuma)

Image: Alamy


Out of the ashes

Renowned architect Kengo Kuma visited the earthquake-ravaged city of Wajima on the west coast of Japan yesterday, where he met its mayor, Shigeru Sakaguchi, to discuss reconstruction efforts. When 7.6-magnitude tremors shook the country on New Year’s Day, Wajima was hit particularly hard: its once bustling Asaichi market was engulfed in fire, destroying some 200 shops and many other buildings. The market’s history can be traced back 1,200 years and it was home to many shops connected to Wajima-nuri, the region’s highly specialised lacquerware. Historic tools were lost in the disaster; there are fears that ancient skills will be lost along with them.

Kuma, who the city has appointed as an adviser to the rebuilding project, was also involved in the reconstruction that followed the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The architect, who has worked with Wajima-lacquer craftsmen in the past, said that he was shocked to see how much the city had changed. Many hope that something positive will emerge from the ashes, such as fresh commissions for new wooden buildings that will incorporate the city’s best-known craft.

Beyond the Headlines


Fine print

Twen is widely acknowledged to have been among the most influential German magazines of the 1960s. Now a new book by Hans-Michael Koetzle, Serge Ricco and Stéphane Darricau, Twen (1959-1971), delves into its history. Monocle Radio’s The Stack speaks to Ricco and Darricau about the magazine’s legacy and how 21st-century publications continue to find inspiration in its innovative content and design.

How revolutionary was ‘Twen’?
Ricco: If you had to choose one publication in the world with which to tell the story of magazines, it would have to be Twen. And in terms of magazine culture, the 1960s was a golden age, especially in Europe. The decade followed years of tragedy. In a way, Twen showcased the new face of the continent.

You describe the magazine’s art director, Willy Fleckhaus, as the Miles Davis of magazine design. How important was he for the title?
Darricau: Every magazine art director today with a little knowledge of the craft has Twen as a model and Willy Fleckhaus as a mentor. It’s as pervasive as that.

What about the typography of ‘Twen’?
Darricau: Fleckhaus was very clever when it came to establishing the visual identity of the magazine. He basically aped Swiss lettering styles and made them Twen’s main fonts. He used them in a very expressive and spectacular way. After establishing the magazine’s visual identity, Fleckhaus loosened up a bit and used other kinds of typefaces.

For our full interview with Ricco and Darricau, tune in to the latest episode of ‘The Stack’ on Monocle Radio.

Image: Sam A Harris

Monocle Radio / The Menu

‘Good Eggs’, Daphnis and Chloe herbs, and Kim Mikkola

Food writer and cookbook author Ed Smith joins us to discuss his new book, Good Eggs: Over 100 Cracking Ways to Cook and Elevate Eggs. Monocle’s Hester Underhill meets Evangelia Koutsovoulou, whose brand, Daphnis and Chloe, is dedicated to bottling up the best Greek herbs to be shipped to keen cooks around the world. Plus: Petri Burtsoff is in Tallinn to learn more about Michelin-starred chef Kim Mikkola’s new venture: chicken burgers.


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