chapter  14
20 Pages

PEACE at Odessa


The Odessa PanEurAsian Council for the Economy (PEACE) of 29-30 September 2031 can congratulate itself. Even after the near-demise of the EU, the ESDP continues, and to remarkably good effect. Before elaborating, I’ll report on the award, which took place in the margins of the meeting, of a prize to a young academic from the Azerbaijan branch of the European School of Planning (AESOP). There was a small fracas over his impetuous suggestion in his word of thanks that the issues on the table of PEACE needed to be considered against the backdrop of an overall spatial framework for the balanced development of the EurAsian continent. The occasion for the award was the discovery by the laureate of a dusty document in the archives. With Azerbaijan owing so much to the ESDP, he was interested to learn that there had once before been an ESDP in the 1990s, called the European Spatial Development Perspective. It is hard for us to imagine conditions in the late twentieth century. The breakthrough in nanotechnology achieved at the Delft University of Technology in 20061 gave us the quantum computer and realtime Translation and Contextual Interpretation (TCI), but the creators of the ESDP confronted language divides with their bare hands, so to speak. The DMR (distorted meanings rate) must have been awesome – and we are only too well aware that noise is still a problem, as in the case of the blind woman from Samoa being fined for illegally visiting the pay-as-you-see virtual Louvre. Our Azerbaijani got curious about the ESDP Mark 1. His father had spoken Russian, so he could at least appreciate what the Slovene version was about. What had once been the EU Documentation Services, still headquartered in Brussels, but in fact one of many cottage industries in rural areas where former EU interpreters eke out a living, were of inestimable assistance. The young man delivered a report, self-evidently, in Azerbaijani. The Baku ESDP anchor informed his Odessa counterpart on secondment from the private security and risk management conglomerate GLOBSTRAG, successor to the UK private military company, AEGIS2 of Iraq fame. Having been involved in the Strategic Plan for Barcelona, the anchor made a casual mention of the report to the PEACE President. The President decided to award the young Azerbaijani the prize mentioned above. The occasion was to be the informal dinner, always sure to hit the newscasts, on the evening before the delegates would retire to the decision room,

to remain there in conclave until at least two-thirds of the agenda was dealt with. (The President may have wanted to distract from the appearance of Lord Tony Blair of Basra, still looking young, and still controversial, as honorary guest of the Ukrainian hosts.) The prize is in convertible euros, the internal euro being of little value since a succession of pension crises forced the European Central Bank to devalue it.3 The convertible euro, of course, alongside the yuan and the dinar, is public tender in Azerbaijan. The laureate was allowed to address the meeting. My trusted Babel Fish, being the nickname of our earplugs laden with nanotechnology,4 rendered this account:

Madame President, Distinguished Delegates, I wish to thank you for this award. Your generosity will allow me to go more deeply into the pre-history of the ESDP. There are still people around who were involved, and there should be secondary literature, not the least because in those days academics were expected to generate as many papers as possible. (One is alleged to have done 27 papers on the ESDP.) As you are aware, I am not talking about the ESDP as we know it. I am talking about the puny efforts of the member states of the EU of old to formulate a spatial framework, an effort that floundered, ultimately because they could not square the circle of wanting a common framework, but not wanting to relinquish control. So they could not make sense of the projects and policies of the EU of old. As a result, infrastructures cut landscapes into ribbons, destroying, to name but one example, one of the last remaining bear habitats in the process; grants went to places where business was already good and people were drifting like flotsam after jobs in iterant industries, leaving desolate regions behind them. One Dr Kunzmann seems to have been particularly critical of all this, but I still need to verify this. We may ask ourselves whether the troubles of the past decades have at least partially been the result of not heeding the message of the ESDP Mark 1. More to the point, the 10,000 Friends of EurAsia,5 of whom I am a member, humbly submit that you are in danger of going down the same path. In deciding on the issues before you, you should rather avail yourselves of a framework, a EurAsian Spatial Development Perspective (EASDP). . . .