Rescued from a long-dead blog

A dramatic few days.

I spent the weekend in Belfast at MeCon, my first ever science fiction convention. Greatly enjoyed it; long conversations with Scottish socialist author Ken MacLeod, brief hallos with Belfast based author Ian McDonald, which was the aim of the trip. Also made friends with a good group from Dublin led by Pádráig Ó Mealóid. Very much committed now to going to OctoCon in the autumn.

So on Tuesday I opened my email and saw a job advert from ELDR which made me think, hmmm, perhaps I could be persuaded to leave CEPS for the right money; so I forwarded it to Anne. On the way home I was stuck in a traffic jam and pulled out my phone to see if she had got the email, and saw that I had missed a call from a vaguely familiar number a few minutes earlier while I must have been in one of the tunnels. I called back and was answered by Gareth Evans, who basically offered me the job of Director of Balkan Programmes at the International Crisis Group.

After some discussion with him later on, with Anne listening in, we decided to accept. The money is much better than CEPS, and the work at a somewhat more exalted level. So much cause for celebration. Karel and Daniel at CEPS were sad but not really surprised. Michael is in Cyprus and I didn’t manage to talk to him until yesterday (Thursday).

And then the next excitement was the agreement between Serbia and Montenegro. A dubious piece of work, this, with lots of serious questions left unanswered. My NGO friends very upset about it because it looks bad for Djukanovic. My European Commission friends very upset because it looks good for Djukanovic. I think it’ll fall apart before the end of the year, and Djukanovic’s challenge is to make it look like someone selse’s fault.

Weekend! Hurrah!

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Rescued from a long-dead blog

An excellent evening this evening with the Brussels and Luxembourg Lib Dems hosting a dinner with John Alderdice. JA very much feeling at home among Lib Dems of a European bent. He completely won the hearts of those present. I remembered just how exciting it was to work with this man in the mid-1990s. Which makes me realise that it’s over five years now since I left Belfast, and despite the occasional desperate call from University Street I am really not plugged in there any more. When I talked with John Cushnahan the other week about the relative fortunes of SF vs SDLP, he (having left NI in 1989) was sure that Mark Durkan could pull the SDLP round. I (having left in 1997) think they probably can’t. John Alderdice (still living there) is sure they can’t.


The Montenegrin talks troggle on, and I am ready to give an optimistic spin to the final settlement if it deserves it. I emailed Paddy Ashdown, newly appointed High Rep for BiH, about organising a seminar for him at CEPS in the near future; he gave a 70% positive response. Meanwhile I got a distressing email from the Macedonian President asking if I could come to the seminar scheduled in Skopje for 23 March, but on 6 April instead. Since that is the day of Julie and Garth’s wedding I told them I couldn’t. A humble email came back asking if the first or the second weekend in May would suit. Since the Romania conference I thought I was going to this weekend is actually the first weekend of May, I opted for the second.

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