Monday 22 April 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 22/4/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Image: Reuters

Diplomacy / Hannah Lucinda Smith

Ever-closer union?

The European Union’s relationship with Turkey is complicated. The country has been a candidate for membership since 1999 but accession talks were frozen in 2019 as a result of its deteriorating human-rights record and souring relations with several of the bloc’s members. Yet Europe relies on Ankara to stem irregular migration and has handed it €6bn for that purpose. Now the relationship seems to be on course for a reboot. That would be a good thing for both Turkey and Europe.

EU leaders gathered last week for a special summit on bolstering the bloc’s economic competitiveness. In the case of Turkey, which is already in a customs union with the EU, that would take the form of a new kind of association focused on security and trade, rather than eventual membership. In a report produced last year, Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, recommended modernising the customs union and allowing the European Investment Bank to restart operations in Turkey. A more transactional relationship would suit the pragmatic style of the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, bringing economic benefits while allowing him to maintain independence in domestic and foreign affairs. For the EU, it would build goodwill that could be used to maintain maritime stability in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.

Nonetheless, Europe remains cautious. Borrell’s report noted that Ankara must halt its role as a sanctions-busting middleman for Moscow (there are plans for a gas hub in Turkey that would allow Russian energy to keep flowing into Europe). In his letter inviting member states to last week’s summit, Charles Michel, the European Council’s president, noted that any development of the EU’s relationship with Turkey should proceed in a “phased, proportionate and reversible manner”. Europe might not want the nation to become a full member of its club but it doesn’t want it on the outside either. Rebuilding trust is important, as Turkey is and will remain crucial to the EU’s security, as well as an important trading partner. That won’t be easy or quick, however.

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

The Briefings

Image: Getty Images

Defence / Ukraine

Going the distance

Ukrainian firms are reportedly developing drones to enhance the country’s capability to hit oil refineries within Russia. Ukraine is already using the aircraft to attack Russian energy sites but the new models will be able to fly further with heavier payloads. The move comes despite warnings from the US that Ukraine should focus on military targets instead.

Russia is the world’s third-largest producer of oil but is now importing petrol due to recent Ukrainian strikes. The White House has expressed fears that such attacks might cause global petrol prices to rise. Ukrainians, meanwhile, have hailed the latest technological developments while questioning the West’s hesitancy to provide them with long-range weapons. Faced with an existential threat to their state, they are opting to take matters into their own hands.

Image: Juliana Tan

Design / Singapore

Far away, so close

During the latest Milan Design Week, Singaporean design duo Genevieve Ang and Clement Zheng unveiled their interactive ceramic technology, Reciproco. They presented sculptures that make use of haptic feedback to explore the human side of technological change: place your hand on one of them and another, whether it’s across the room or on the other side of the world, will heat up in response.

“It’s about being able to remotely experience someone else’s warmth,” says Ang, whose eureka moment came while holding a steaming mug of coffee and reading Zheng’s research paper on ceramics with built-in electronic circuits. Ang’s background in clay and creating glazes perfectly complemented Zheng’s know-how; the result is a project that optimistically suggests that well-designed technology can break barriers, rather than reinforce them. We’re keen to see what the duo come up with next.

For more on Reciproco, pick up a copy of Monocle’s dedicated ‘Salone del Mobile Special’ newspaper, which is available on select newsstands across Europe and online.

Media / Australia

Backing out of the Outback

The global decline of local newspapers is well chronicled: reliant on classified advertising and print sales, they were swiftly gutted by online media. But there is something especially melancholy about the closure of the Barrier Truth, an independent paper that has covered the remote Australian mining town of Broken Hill since the late 19th century. Broken Hill is home to some 17,000 people and is a long way from anywhere. If a local newspaper doesn’t report on Broken Hill, nobody else will. The latest/last Barrier Truth headlines are an anthology of what will be lost: a story about scammers targeting local markets, an article enticing budding Australian Rules football umpires and pieces on other topics that matter to the isolated community. During the coronavirus pandemic, Australia’s government assembled a package of relief measures to sustain local media through the short-term crisis – but the longer-term problems facing the sector remain unaddressed. Things don’t have to be this way: in Norway, for example, news has been subsidised for decades and the number of local newspapers has remained stable since the 1960s. It’s a model that other countries should consider adopting.

Beyond the Headlines

In print / Issue 172

Different class

The North Bennet Street School has been helping to keep American craft alive since the 19th century. Monocle travels to Boston’s historic North End neighbourhood to meet the students stepping away from screens and turning their hands to traditional craftsmanship.

Wood for good

Image: Tara Rice

Carpentry instructor Michael Burrey and cloth for bookbinding

Image: Tara Rice

Furniture-making students at work

Image: Tara Rice

Subscribe to read the full article or log into your account if you’re already a subscriber.

Monocle Radio / The Stack

Pristine print

We speak with Wildsam Magazine editor in chief Taylor Bruce, talk to the founder of Paper Café in Nairobi and visit an exhibition on Japanese music books at Japan House London.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00