Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CX: Andreas

Andreas blogs about EU politics and Eastern Europe under the nick "kosmopolit" on www.kosmopolito.org together with some of his friends. Lately he got involved in projects such as th!nkaboutit (www.thinkaboutit.eu) and bloggingportal (www.bloggingportal.eu) that both aim at establishing political blogging on a European level. In his offline life he is working on a PhD on EU foreign policy at a UK university. He is a social media fan so you can follow and contact him also via twitter (www.twitter.com/kosmopolit).



What made you decide to start blogging?

I started writing on EU topics after I moved to Brussels for a job. However, this job had nothing to do with EU affairs which somehow was the reason why I decided to move to Brussels in the first place. So thought blogging is a good way to keep myself updated on EU politics and that is how it all began....


What is your best blogging experience?

Surprisingly, I found blogging to be very social. I met a lot of interesting people, got engaged in quite a number of fascinating projects and learned a lot from other bloggers.
It was also quite cool to be one of the first bloggers that revealed the fake Karadzic website. Another remarkable blogging experience happened just a few days ago when I convinced a friend of mine who is living in Moldova to write a few posts about the political protests in Chisinau. This eye-witness account really showed the potential of social media and political blogging.


And your worst?

The worst blogging experience is my laziness. Especially at the moment, I rarely get into the blogging mood, which is partly due to a very interesting job that already involves a lot of writing but partly also because of my laziness.


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Usually it is the posts that nobody else is interested in. I think especially some longer 'academically inspired' posts contained a couple of good arguments about the problems of EU debates (http://www.kosmopolito.org/2008/11/11/the-problem-of-eu-debates/) or the regionalisation of the European Neighborhood policy (http://www.kosmopolito.org/2008/05/22/the-regionalisation-of-the-eu-neighbourhood/)...


Favourite blogs?

As I am blogging a lot about Europe and the EU, it would definitely be Jon Worth (www.jonworth.eu) and Nosemonkey (http://www.jcm.org.uk/blog/) (who was probably the inspiration behind the idea to start blogging a couple of years ago) And of course everything on www.bloggingportal.eu, a new blog portal I helped develop. We are trying to promote the best blogs that write about EU politics with the aim to establish political blogging scene in Europe although there is still a long way to go...


What do you think will be the long term effects of France rejoining NATO
?

Well, at the moment it is very difficult to say anything with the word "long term" included. France was never really out of NATO, they contributed financially and militarily, now they just decided to rejoin military command structures. No doubt, it is a political signal which shows that Sarkozy is pragmatic in his approach to European security. But I am an optimist: the return of France and the new Obama administration represent a window of opportunity to strengthen EU-NATO relations and develop a better European coordination in military and security issues, especially with regards to the Berlin Plus agreement.


How would you define the Belgian blogosphere?


Frankly, I have no idea. Although I used live in Belgium for a while, I never got into the Belgian blogosphere due to my poor knowledge of French and Dutch. Usually I am engaged in the pan-European blogosphere which is probably even smaller than the Belgian one.


How do you see the EU's relationship with Eastern Europe within the next few years
?

Technically that would mean the relationship between the EU and the Eastern European countries outside the EU - namely Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. As long as Lukashenko is in power there will not be too much change in EU-Belarus relations, despite the latest rapprohement signals. Ukraine is deeply divided politically and economically, which makes it quite difficult for the EU to make up its mind. Moldova is an interesting case though, but without solving the conflict in Transnistria there will be not much improvement in the bilateral relations. For all three countries Russia is a determining factor, so a lot will depend on EU-Russia relations and on how Russia will use its power position in all of those countries. Enlargement will not be on the menu for quite a while, I think, for different reasons, not only are countries ill prepared and the EU learned from past experiences, but many EU members are not particularly keen on further enlargement. The only Eastern country that has a realistic chance to ever get into the EU is probably Moldova if it manages to solve Transnistria somehow...


Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

Yes, definitely. Never really been out of Europe...so that makes 99.999% of our planet I suppose.


Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

I have been traveling a lot in Eastern Europe and I really enjoyed being in Romania where I also used to live for quite a while. And I like the landscape in Scotland - a place I definitely would love to revisit.


Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

No. As a political scientist I try to look at people/politicians in a distanced manner.


Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Another one of those questions that keeps you awake at night... I think I do not take inspiration from individuals but more from events and processes. The fall of the Berlin Wall is one of those moments that are quite inspiring - the political and societal processes that led to it but also the impact it had on almost everything in today's Europe.


Favourite Bond movie?

The more gadgets the better. Impossible stunts and good one liners are necessary. And Desmond Llewelyn and/or John Cleese should be in it. Difficult to say really... although it would be easy to say "From Russia with Love" or "Goldfinger" I might as well go with the 1967 version of Casino Royale!


Favourite Doctor Who?

Well, honestly I never really got into Doctor Who and I haven't lived in the UK for long enough to find it interesting. And it was not on TV in Germany when I was younger. However, I quite like the theme tune (there are a couple of great remixes around) and these Daleks.


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Always Chocolate - preferably Belgian or Swiss. But without the Chili and pepper experiments.


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?


I am a concert lover so this is difficult to answer. Would have been exciting to see The Doors or the Velvet Underground or other bands in the 1960s and 1970s. Still sorry that I had to give back a Nirvana ticket in April 1994 for obvious reasons... At the moment I am looking forward to seeing Spiritualized and Jason Lytle later this year!


In terms of visiting for the weekend, Brussles, Antwerp, or Liege?

Antwerp I guess although I have only been there once or twice. Never really liked Brussels, although it is growing on me since I do not work there anymore. Never really been to Liege but never felt the need to go there either. However, as I live in the UK now, I do enjoy visiting London.


Favourite national newspaper?

Printed Newspapers? Strange question for a blogger as I read tons of online news via a RSS reader in which I have never manage to see the "You have no more items to read" message! Especially if you are interested in EU/pan-European issues one newspaper is not enough either...

But OK let's try to be more specific: As I am living in the UK at the moment I do read the "Guardian" from time to time, mostly the weekend editions. When I am in Germany I try to get hold of "Die Zeit". In Belgium or at work I look into the "European Voice". Recently I discovered "Lettre International", a magazine that is published in several languages and always comes with an amazing selection of essays about political and cultural topics.


What would you say your hobbies were?

At the moment not too much as I am quite busy working on my PhD. But generally I enjoy music and theater. I like traveling, going to the cinema. I tend to go to a lot of modern/contemporary art exhibitions and I am interested in modern architecture.


And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Now I feel like the guy in "High Fidelity". Three favorites always depend on context so this Wednesday evening I would select these 3 songs:

Grandaddy - He's simple, he's stupid, he's the pilot
The Dandy Warhols - The Legend of the last of the outlaw truckers aka the ballad of Sheriff Shorty
John Cale - Paris 1919

I read too many academic books at the moment so not much time for literature. Anyway, why would anyone mention the Bible or Shakespeare in this context? Maybe I understand Shakespeare but I don't think people read the Bible for pleasure and it is also not very well written! I used to like plays by Brecht and novels by Kafka - especially impressed by "The Castle". I also enjoy short stories but cannot put it down to a specific author now.

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