Kiev City Ballet Châtelet Rehearsal

The men of Kiev City Ballet rehearse the original piece “Boys from Kiev” during a visit by the AAPA. Since our meeting several of the men have returned to Ukraine to join the fighting.

On June 9, Ivan and Katja Kozlov, Directors of the Kiev City Ballet, invited us to attend a rehearsal at the Chatelet Theatre's Pavlova  studio. The company was performing in Paris when Russia invaded Ukraine...and found itself unable to go home. The AAPA was instrumental in helping the dancers obtain temporary residence at the Chatelet and living assistance. The company has been able to perform around Europe during the summer, with the proceeds  going to Ukrainian relief organizations.

1. Ivan and Katja on stools - Kiev City Ballet's Ivan and Katja Kozlov spoe with AAPA members following a rehearsal in the Chatelet Theatre's Pavlova studio. Ivan, a former Mariinsky Ballet principal dancer, founded the ballet company in 2012. Katja was a dancer with the company before assuming administrative duties.

Interpol chief warns of surge in illegal weapons from Ukraine conflict

A surge of illegal weaponry into Europe and beyond from the Ukraine-Russia war is looming, Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock told AAPA members on June 1. "This is inevitable," Stock said, adding that the high availability of weapons "will result in a proliferation of arms in the post-conflict phase, empowering organized crime groups in the region." The European Union and Scandinavia will likely be choice markets for illegal weapons, he said, and not just small arms. Organized criminals already have designs on the masses of military grade weapons that are sure to come onto the black market, urging countries to access Interpol's database of missing weapons. "No country can deal with it in isolation," he went on.
At the meeting that was kindly hosted by Bloomberg, Mr. Stock reviewed the crime-fighting issues that Interpol's member governments are grappling with today. He answered questions about the Lyon-based organisation's governance, stressing that Interpol is strictly neutral, can't be used as a political tool and its role is to share information among members. He touched on efforts to clamp down on cybercrime, noting that criminals are quick to take advantage of special situations to make money illegally. He noted that organized crime groups with deep pockets have been profiting from the covid pandemic by funding struggling small and medium-sized companies, and have been exploiting sectors such as agro-food, medical products, transportation and waste disposal.

The rise of the far-right in France is no accident

Just 10 days before the first round of the presidential election, the AAPA met Dominique Reynié, founder of the think tank Fondapol, on April Fools’ Day.

Summarizing recent political history in France, Reynié dismissed the widely vaunted idea that each improved election performance by the far-right was an “accident”. On the contrary, “something was happening.” In its disappointment with the left, the working class had turned to the far-right.

And the Socialist Party has done nothing to win back its historic base, Reynié said. The difference between the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections was that Macron himself was outside the system and Le Pen was anti-system for the first time. This time Le Pen is still anti-system, but Macron “is the system.”

With a presidential victory behind him, it would be “perfect” if Macron’s party, now named Renaissance, and some allies won a parliamentary majority. “He would (at least) be able to govern, even if it is difficult.”

Reynié was not worried by the demise of the traditional left or right. Much more serious for him is the lack of any political party in France capable of functioning democratically. This means ensuring that all interests are represented among the candidates fielded for the legislative elections and the party manifestos.

Reynié was critical of governments right and left that had failed to tackle France’s huge public debt. The public reproaches governments for not reforming the country, but they «want reform that only affects their neighbor»

Paris 2024 Olympic Committee shows off its HQ

Our first meeting with the Paris 2024 Olympic Committee was held on Thursday, May 5, at their state-of-the-art, high-tech, sustainable headquarters in Seine St Denis, called "The Pulse." Tony Estanguet, President of the Olympics organizing committee, told us about the committee's three objectives: celebrating sports, engaging with people, and the legacy.

He said their 3.9-billion Euro operating budget was entirely funded by the private sector (organizations and individuals), adding that public funds were allocated only for infrastructure, 95% of which had been built previously.

Russia invades Ukraine: now what?

On Feb 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, we held an on-the-record discussion, Russia-Ukraine-Europe: What Now?, via Zoom with two experts:
Prof Marie Mendras, Russian specialist from Sciences Po, Paris and Prof Emeritus Douglas Webber, Political scientist & Europe specialist from INSEAD.
Prof Mendras opined that Russian President Vladimir Putin's shocking and unanticipated move into Ukraine was evidence of continued mental and physical deterioration.
Prof Webber said the invasion would have a tremendous and rejuvenating effect on the EU and NATO, and was concerned that potential Russian aggression into the Baltic states could be a defining challenge to NATO.

Freelancer seminar: avoiding payment delays

To help free-lance members develop a strategy for heading off such problems and for confronting them when they arise, the AAPA held a zoom conference on 22 March on recovering payments.
Leading the discussion were Hans de Keijzer, Group Head of Organisation & Change – Policy Management at Euler Hermes Group, and Caroline Harrap, a co-founder of the Society of Freelance Journalists, formed at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and now counting more than 2,000 members.
Hans de Keijzer reminded us that the cheapest form of credit comes from paying suppliers late and encouraged freelancers to lay down their own terms and conditions when starting work for a new client and agreeing on the rules for when to send invoices.
Caroline Harrap said the Society of Freelance Journalists includes an online forum for exchanging experiences and views between freelancers and provides some guidance on setting payment rates.

US Congressmen discuss Ukraine and US-France relations

More than a dozen AAPA members got to sit down with the two leaders of a US Congressional delegation to France on April 19th at the US ambassador’s residence.

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), who is on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI-01), who is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told us their eight-member delegation had a busy two days in France meeting French officials, UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, the US ambassador to the OECD, and French groups welcoming Ukrainians fleeing the war there.

Ukraine was, unsurprisingly, the subject of many of the questions for the pair. Senator Coons called the Russian invasion “completely unjustified”.

There was discussion of weaponry being sent, and concerns expressed about Russian accountability for war crimes. UNESCO is documenting the destruction of heritage sites, they said.

Other topics raised included climate change and Covid. Despite our best efforts, they would not be drawn on the then-upcoming second round runoff of the French presidential election

Russian Sanctions: Economic Weapons

The unprecedented barrage of coordinated economic sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine is already having an impact on Russian quality of life and could ultimately undermine President Vladimir Putin politically, according to Sciences Po economics professor Sergei Guriev. He spoke to the AAPA via Zoom on March 24, 2022.

A former financial "insider" in Moscow, Guriev was Rector of Russia's New Economic School before emigrating to France in 2013. He served as Chief Economist for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 2016 to 2019 and is currently active in several international economic organizations.

Guriev believes Putin will face a serious domestic backlash when sanctions impact his ability to pay his soldiers and local police.

Additionally, he thinks the Russian leader was surprised that the invasion of Ukraine failed to be a "quick win" (a combination of bad intelligence and insufficient military power) and is determined to use all available means to stay in power, including the use of chemical or possibly nuclear weapons.

However, GURIEV believes a negotiated settlement remains within reach, and, when asked to compare Putin to Hitler, suggested that the lessons learned from the 1930s have prepared the rest of the world to stop him.

Who is cancelling whom? French sociologist, Michel Wieviorka, discusses the Woke craze in France.

WOKE: a nebulous catchall word that refers to cancel culture, "Islamo-leftism", intersectionality, anti-colonialism, etc. A concept supposedly imported from American universities that, according to some of France's highest authorities, is contaminating France, maybe quicker than the Covid virus. Hardly a day goes by that it is not referred to in French media, especially as we approach French presidential elections.

AAPA invited the internationally renowned sociologist, Michel Wieviorka, specialist in social movements, democracy, terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism, to speak about this word - and the ideas behind it. What is going on in France?

According to Wieviorka, much of the tension in French society today is due primarily to the question of Islam and immigration -how they are perceived by French citizens and how they have been exploited by politicians and the media. He rejects the idea of a "clash of civilizations" as described by Samuel Huntington. The French ideal of Universalism and "la République" are at odds with today's reality of multiculturalism and inherent inequalities. Intellectual debate has become polarized: "neo-McCarthyism" according to the right, "néo-réactionnaires" for the left. The question is, who is cancelling whom?

Wieviorka's attitude as a sociologist dedicated to research, is to reject both extremes. However he expresses concern regarding the present "droitisation" of French politics and the temptation of authoritarianism, though "the worst is not certain" he says.

By Thomas Haley

Presidential candidate Michel Barnier meets with AAPA

The Anglo-American press club met with former minister, EU Brexit negotiator and presidential candidate Michel Barnier on December 8. Fresh from the campaign trail, Barnier spoke of his enthusiasm for nominee Pécresse, and her ability to win the race. He says he hopes to be a part of her campaign and government.
We also discussed the fallout from Brexit, Franco-British relations and France’s upcoming presidency of the EU.