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Showing posts from May, 2013

The spectacular -evil- greed of Tony Blair

I see Tony Blair is intending to be one of my successors as an advisor to the next government of Albania .  I was previously unaware of his interest in the land of the Eagle. So -it seems- was he, until somebody offered him money After I was approached to advise the Albanian government 10 years ago, I met with Prime Minister Berisha several times and also the then President Mosiu. I tried to give the government the benefit of my experience and my knowledge as an investment banker active in the region. With over twenty years being involved in the region I was also able to open up connections to other countries- like Estonia- who could advise and help. I developed a detailed knowledge of the relative merits of dams on the rivers Shkumbini and Drin, and the impact of one road route from Tirana to Elbasan versus another. I helped create links that supported the low tax policies which did so much to stimulate investment. I can understand the history, the economics and the politics

The SNP tries to have its cake and eat it

When is a separate state not a separate state? Apparently, when it is proposed by the SNP.  A leading luminary of the party, Andrew Wilson, is making the case that because British identity- a more or less positive thing in his view- comprises more than the political ties between the nations of the UK, that identity would survive the end of the common state . For me this is the central dichotomy in the argument for separatism: for many, if not most, Nationalists, the belief in self determination stops short of a situation where border posts are erected at Berwick. At the same time, the proposals that they put forward make it almost inevitable that Scotland would face much great isolation from the rest of the UK than the SNP says it wants. In recent weeks the Separatist argument has been utterly undermined by the total lack of honesty about what the price of independence would actually be. Even if you believe that Scottish independence is a desirable outcome, you have to accept tha

Send a gun boat

"Japan needs to be taught a lesson" Thus opened a conversation with a significant figure in China. A successful businessman with global interests and an international outlook, yet such sentiments are now a commonplace in modern China. With some justification, the Chinese point to their history as a non colonial power to suggest that their country is not aggressive, yet that is increasingly not the way that China's neighbours see it. The country, whether the People's Republic or simply the Republic of China (Taiwan), has disputes with more or less all of its neighbours. Whether it is territorial claims in the South China Sea, which challenge Vietnam, the Philippines, and even Brunei and Malaysia, or the land borders with India, or of course the growing tension with Japan over islands in the East China Sea, the Chinese are newly assertive and even- say their critics- aggressive. A growing problem is that increasingly the Chinese do not regard the US alliance with

The price of China

I have been travelling so, as usual, blogging is light. In fact I am currently in Hong Kong- my first trip out of Europe for some years, and my first back to this region in over 16 years. The ant hill of Hong Kong is a contrast to the calming silence of unpolluted Estonia. In fact it is what Estonia does not have that makes it a richer place than this city, where money making is the only imperative. Estonia does not have grey skies and pollution, it has crystal clear blue skies and Tallinn has the cleanest air of any capital city in the world. Estonia does not have people, it has silence and unspoiled nature. Estonia does not have congestion but it does have the first complete network of electric car charging points.  A few days ago I went over the border to Shenzhen- and whatever Hong Kong is, Shenzhen is now more: more people- over ten million- more pollution, more industry. Shenzhen is not even the biggest city in Guangdong Province, that dubious honour goes to the capital, Guan