Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Turkey decoded" by the Swedish diplomat Ann Dismorr

The Swedish diplomat Ann Dismorr has published an interesting book titled “Turkey Decoded” (Saqi Books, 2008, pp. 184). She was the Swedish Ambassador to Turkey from 2001 to 2005. In this period the prospect of EU membership helped Turkish governments to achieve substantial democratic reforms which led to the start of accession negotiations with Brussels in October 2005. In her book she examines the implications of Turkey's affiliation with Europe and its role in the Middle East against the broader concerns of the widening gap between the West and the Muslim world, terrorism, and the struggle for human rights and democratization.
The concluding sentences of the book seem to summarize its main argument: "President [Abdullah] Gül and the AK Party government face a historic challenge to demonstrate that Islam and democracy are compatible. Turkey has come a long way in proving that.… The EU is facing a historic choice of how to deal with Turkey -- the most liberal and well-developed democracy in the Muslim world of 1.2 billion people. The world is watching."

Ambassador Ann Dismorr is Head of the International Department of the Swedish Parliament. She has served as a diplomat with the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs for over 25 years. She was Ambassador of Sweden to Turkey from 2001-2005. She has also lived in Saudi Arabia and served as Ambassador of Sweden to Lebanon and Azerbaijan.
She was Private Secretary to the Swedish Foreign Minister in 1992-3 during the final stages of Sweden's EU accession.
From 1995-9 she was human rights expert at the Swedish mission to the UN.
She has an academic background in political science from Stockholm University, Gothenburg University and Yale University.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gharekhan and "The Horseshoe Table"

Chinmaya Gharekhan, former Permanent Representative of India to the UN is the author of the book 'The Horseshoe Table: An Inside View of the UN Security Council' (Pearson Longman, 2006, pp. 328). The book provides an inside view of the functioning of the United Nations Security Council which is a vital instrument at the service of the international community but over which the same international community has hardly any control. In this unique, unprecedented and intimate account, Chinmaya Gharekhan takes the reader through the meetings of the Security Council as it debated such issues as emergency situations during the first Gulf War; Iraq's WMD programme and the work of the special commission set up to eliminate them; the beginnings of the Oil-for-Food programme; the Balkan War of the early 1990s; the Rwanda Genocide, and the Lockerbie disaster involving Libya.

Chinmaya Gharekhan is a former Indian diplomat who served in Egypt, the Congo, Laos, Vietnam, and former Yugoslavia. He has has been posted several times to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations. Later as Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office and the Specialised Agencies in Geneva, and lastly as India's Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York for over six years.