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TOPIC: europe


Where Altman Meets Macron: The Quest For AI Alignment, Between Private And Public

The inventor of ChatGPT is in Europe to try to force leaders on the Continent to face hard questions about what artificial intelligence is bringing to our world, whether they like it or not.


PARIS — Six months ago, Sam Altman’s name was only known to a small circle of technophiles. Earlier this week, when he came to France, he was received by President Emmanuel Macron and the Minister of Economy, and he is back in Paris on Friday to make other connections. On his Twitter account, he described his trip as a "World Tour," like a pop star.

Altman is the CEO of OpenAI, the U.S. company that created ChatGPT, the natural language artificial intelligence tool that has literally shaken the world. With 200 million users worldwide in just six months, ChatGPT has broken all sorts of records for the speed of technology adoption.

The world of Tech is prone to trends, and not all of them last. However, to quote Gilles Babinet, co-president of the National Digital Council in France, who has recently published an essay on the history of the internet titled Comment les hippies, Dieu et la science ont inventé Internet ("How the Internet Was Invented by Hippies, God and Science"), we are currently facing an "anthropological break."

In other words, a qualitative leap that will impact all human activities, and even the political organization of our societies — with both positive and negative results.

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Alexandroupoli, How The Ukraine War Made This Sleepy Greek Port A Geopolitical Hub

Once neglected, this small port in Thrace, northeastern Greece, has become a strategic hub for transporting men and arms to the shores of the Black Sea. Propelled by ambitious infrastructure and gas projects, the region dreams of becoming an alternative to the Bosphorus strait.

ALEXANDROUPOLI — Looks like there's a traffic jam in the port of Alexandroupoli.

Lined up in tight rows on the quay reserved for military activities, hundreds of vehicles — mostly light armored vehicles — are piled up under the sun. Moored at the pier, the "USNS Brittin," an impressive 290-meter roll-off cargo ship flying the flag of the U.S. Navy, is about to set sail. But what is all this gear doing in this remote corner of the sea in Thrace, in the far northeast of Greece?

Of all the geopolitical upheavals caused by the Russian offensive of Feb. 24 2022, Alexandroupoli is perhaps the most surprising. Once isolated and neglected, this modest port in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly known for its maritime connection to the nearby island of Samothrace, is being revived.

Diplomats of all kinds are flocking there, investors are pouring in, and above all, military ships are arriving at increasingly regular intervals. The capital of the province of Evros has become, in the midst of the war in Ukraine, a hub for transporting arms and men to the shores of the Black Sea.

“If you look north from Alexandroupoli, along the Evros River, you can see a corridor. A corridor for trade, for the transport of goods and people to the heart of the Balkans and, a little further, to Ukraine," explains the port's CEO, Konstantinos Chatzikonstantinou, from his office right on the docks. According to him, the sudden interest in this small town of 70,000 inhabitants is explained by "geography, geography, and… geography.”

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Simple Takeout To Hipster Fusion: Chinese Cuisine In Paris Gets Chic

Forget about Cantonese fried rice and spring rolls, new-look Chinese restaurants have been multiplying in Paris. They attract French people with increasingly diverse tastes… and a growing number of Chinese tourists.

PARIS — “It's a spicy pot that numbs the palate, with an explosion of flavors and a euphoric 'come-hither' taste.” Patrick El Khoury's eyes light up when he talks about málà xiāngguō, the dish he boasts of being the first to serve in France at his restaurant in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, which opened last June.

“It's not well known in Europe, but it's become very popular in China over the past 15-20 years. In one bowl, you choose the veggie elements, in another the meat, then you pay by weight and indicate your level of spiciness,” explains the Lebanese chef, who fell in love with this dish during his exchange year in Beijing when he was a student at the HEC school of business.

After becoming a consultant in Paris, he started to look for this dish in every European capital where he was sent for business. But he did not find it. He then decided to leave his company, went to China to learn more, then enrolled in one of the schools of French chef Thierry Marx. He organized big dinner parties at home to let people taste different versions of the málà sauce, the base of this dish, made of fermented black beans, and an oil infused with ten spices: red and green Sichuan berries, cloves, star anise, orange peels, and more.

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"The Idiot Has Started A War" — A Secret Meeting With Exiled Russian Author Dmitry Glukhovsky

Dmitry Glukhovsky, the Russian author of Metro 2033, is currently standing trial in absentia in Moscow for speaking out against Putin. He has gone into hiding in Europe, where Die Welt has met up with him in a secret location in Berlin.

BERLIN — "It’s happened, the idiot has started a war..."

Founded in 1909 by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the Ballets Russes had been traveling all around Europe to perform. Fokine and Balanchine choreographed pieces for the company, Nijinsky danced for them, Satie composed music, as did Stravinsky – the ballet company performed his masterpiece The Rite of Spring – Cocteau wrote libretti, while Bakst, Matisse and Picasso designed the sets.

It was an explosion of the avant-garde. In 1917 the artists were caught off guard by the October Revolution. They were cut off from returning home. They stayed in Europe, in most cases for the rest of their lives. Diaghilev died in Venice in 1929.

In hindsight, this episode seems like an ominous foreshadowing of the reality facing many Russians today.

In the nondescript lobby of a Berlin hotel, the author Dmitry Glukhovsky reflects on this history as he speaks about his own forced exile in Europe. He is currently on trial in Moscow, accused of “knowingly spreading false information about the Russian army.” The likely sentence will be 15 years in a penal camp.

So he has gone into hiding, and is cautious about meeting strangers. In the lead-up to our meeting, we exchanged messages on an encrypted app.

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Pierre Haski

Turkey Elections: The Risk Of Escalation Has Multiplied

Both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his challenger, Kamel Kilicdaroglu, have cast doubt on the first round results. Heading into the second round on May 28, recalling recent examples, in the U.S. and Brazil, we may again see what happens when a populist is faced with giving up power.


On the one hand, Turkey's 90% voter turnout is enough to make tired European and American democracies green with envy. Yet this desire to participate, to have a voice — the very hallmarks of citizenship — has not prevented an instant crisis in confidence following the first round of Turkish national elections.

Already Sunday evening, when the early results were announced, both sides launched accusations, and mistrust had taken hold.

It was bound to happen, with the same party and the same man, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ruling the country for two decades. He considers the state his property, and has instilled the idea that he is indispensable, the only person who can govern legitimately.

Meanwhile, his opposition has finally united around a strong candidate, Kamel Kilicdaroglu. And they too, feeling the winds of change rising, have convinced themselves that only fraud could prevent their party from winning.

In the end, after hours of suspense, tension and emotions, a second round seems to be the only option. Erdogan himself even admitted it, after trying to proclaim himself winner of the first round. The next two weeks will be fraught in the divided country, which must make a very real choice between two distinct political paths and individuals. The risk of escalation is immense.

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Pierre Haski

"It's Complicated" — How The Franco-German Power Couple Preps For A Europe Of 35

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and her German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock have issued a strong and united call on Beijing to pressure Russia to end its war in Ukraine. It is a reminder of the potential of European power. But the "European Project" is as loaded as ever.


PARIS — The political relationship between France and Germany has had its ups and downs. Just a few months ago, the tide was low and there was tension between the two countries. But now, the Franco-German relationship is very much back on track, marked by Wednesday's appearance by the head of German diplomacy, Annalena Baerbock, as an invited guest at the table of the French Council of Ministers at the Élysée Palace in Paris — as if she were a French cabinet minister.

It's a strong sign of the intimacy that binds the two countries. Though it is little known, there are French diplomats at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Germans at the Quai d'Orsay foreign ministry, integrated into the teams like nationals, who have access to the same information as their colleagues.

Baerbock referred to France as Germany's "best friend" and displayed her strong relationship with her counterpart Catherine Colonna.

At the moment, there is also a clear interest from Paris and Berlin to consult and come to an agreement in a Europe shaken by the war in Ukraine and other new dynamics around the world. The two main European economies want to drive the agenda rather than being subject to it.

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Vincent Collen

If Erdogan Loses, Will Turkey Revive Its Bid For EU Membership?

An opposition victory in the elections would be good news for the currently disastrous relations between Ankara and the European Union. But the 27 EU members may not yet be ready to consider Turkey's integration into the EU.

BRUSSELS — In the seat of the EU, and in other European capitals, leaders are eagerly awaiting the results of the Turkish presidential elections — hoping for a victory of the opposition.

Still, all remain cautious about the prospect of the end of the longtime reign of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Whether Erdogan retains power or the opposition wins, this will not radically change relations between Turkey and the European Union, at least initially," says Benjamin Couteau, a researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute.

A win for the opposition led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu would undoubtedly improve relations between Ankara and the EU, which have become atrocious since Erdogan's authoritarian turn.

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Sean Lang

Why The King's Coronation Is (Still) A Celebration Of The British Empire

The coronation ceremony of King Charles III reflects how the monarchy has developed since Saxon times, but it still carries many vestiges of Britain’s imperial past.


LONDON — In the 18th century, the royal title changed from “King of England” to “King of the United Kingdom”, as successive Acts of Union joined England, Scotland and Ireland into one political unit. However, the biggest change in the royal title came in 1876, when the Royal Titles Act made Queen Victoria Empress of India. This gave her authority even over those areas of India which were not formally subject to British rule.

To give this change of title a formal announcement in India, the British authorities staged what became the first of three durbars – ceremonial events held in the British Raj to formally proclaim the imperial title. Queen Victoria’s was held in 1877, the year following the act, but Edward VII’s and George V’s were held in conjunction with their coronations.

The viceroy of India in 1877, Lord Lytton, concocted the original durbar from a mixture of Persian, Mughal and English ceremonial traditions, as a formal proclamation of the queen’s title. When her son became Edward VII in 1901, a bigger durbar was organised to proclaim his imperial title – although, like his mother, Edward remained in London.

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Juan Manuel Ospina

The Rise Of China Does Nothing To Fix What's Wrong With The West

The West and its brand of modernity may be waning in favor of an ascendant China, but is it offering anything besides replacing market forces with brute force.


BOGOTÁ — It's a bedlam out there. We can feel around us the dissolution of all that seemed, just yesterday, so solid and permanent.

Some say the West is in decline, in a process that began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the United States burst onto the stage before compounding its power after 1945. It put an end to the last days of Europe's imperial splendor.

Observing events today, we may feel that the American years were in fact the West's last, magnificent chapter, and the East is regaining a long-lost supremacy, reshaped this time by communist China.

The American Way of Life, as that shallow version of Western civilization is called, barely had time to mature and define itself. It simply appeared as the rule of materialism and economic power, with a motto to chase money at any cost, even at the expense of living a life.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Yury Panchenko and Nadia Koval

No Compromise: What's Driving Poland's New Hard Line On Russia

"We are realists, and therefore we do not believe in the possibility of a compromise between freedom and slavery..." Poland's foreign minister has outlined what the country's foreign strategy will look like in the coming years, built on support of Ukraine and steadfast resistance to the Russian aggressors.


WARSAW — In 2023, Poland’s six-year foreign policy strategy came to an end. Last week, Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau presented a report on the new goals and tasks for Polish foreign policy over the coming years.

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And not surprisingly, Ukraine is by far the most mentioned topic in Rau's report. It has its own section, but it also affects how Poland views the level of cooperation it should have with foreign countries.

That level depends on the position they took in the Russian-Ukrainian war, especially the non-European countries.

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Nicolas Barré

Europe Must Not Be America's "Vassals": The Full Macron Interview After His China Visit

Translated in full from French, here is the exclusive interview French President Emmanuel Macron gave to three reporters on his way back from his trip to China, in which he insisted that Europe needed more autonomy from the United States.

PARIS — "For too long, Europe hasn't built strategic autonomy. Today, that battle has been won.”

In an interview with Les Echos as he returned from his much-publicized visit to China, French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized that Europe must strengthen its position in the world. “The trap for Europe would be the moment when it clarifies its strategic position, but then gets caught up in... crises that aren’t Europe’s.”

For the French President, strategic autonomy is crucial to avoid European countries being just “vassal states” rather than a third superpower, on the same level as the U.S. and China. "We do not want to engage in a bloc-to-bloc logic," added the French President, who also spoke out against the “extraterritoriality of the dollar.”

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Pierre Haski

China, The West And Macron's "Third Way" For Cooling Global Tensions

The French President begins a three-day visit to China. He has the difficult task of forging a "third way" for Europe between U.S. and Chinese interests in an increasingly polarized world.


PARIS — Do not send the wrong message.

This is the main issue at stake in French President Emmanuel Macron's three-day visit to China. He must not send the wrong message about Ukraine but instead pretend to believe in Chinese mediation. He must not misunderstand the more global issue of China-Europe relations at a time when Beijing and Washington are increasingly at odds with each other.

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Emmanuel Macron chose to invite Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, to join this trip. This is obviously an important gesture because it avoids a bilateral trap between the Chinese giant and each of the 27 European states, where the balance of power with the European Union is more favorable.

The moment is decisive. The country that the French president is returning to, after three years of absence due to the pandemic, is no longer the same. It has taken off and now places itself as the opposing superpower to the United States, as the only country capable of standing up to a hegemonic America. Russia appears to be weakened by its war in Ukraine, forced to recognize that it is China that now embodies the dissident pole against the West.

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