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  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At an April 3 news conference in Tehran, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad unexpectedly announced the decision to release fifteen captured British marines and sailors. In a theatrical gesture that included assailing Western policy in the Middle East and accusing the British crew of entering Iranian waters, he pardoned the detainees to mark both the Prophet Muhammad's birthday on March 30 and what he reportedly called "Christian Passover." (In Farsi, "Pesah" means Passover and "Fash" means Easter. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency report of his remarks, the president used Pesah instead of Fash.)
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 23, at 10:30 a.m. local Iraqi time, fifteen British naval personnel were seized by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the northern Persian Gulf. The British personnel -- eight from the Royal Navy and seven from the Royal Marines -- were in two light craft returning to the frigate HMS Cornwall after successfully inspecting a merchant ship for goods being smuggled into Iraq. Iran has accused the personnel, who include one woman, of illegally entering Iranian territorial waters, and has threatened to put them on trial. The incident is a diplomatic and military embarrassment to Britain. Meanwhile, fears of escalation in the Gulf have contributed to a global surge in oil prices.
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Britain, Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Linda Jakobson
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China has in a very short time span embraced multilateral mechanisms to address a broad range of issues and avoided confrontation with the United States. Both stances have shaped Asian and European views of a rising China. At present, Asian and European leaders take China's word regarding its peaceful intentions as a rising power. However, Asian and European policy-makers tend to refrain from confronting China too strongly on issues sensitive to Beijing (poor implementation of intellectual property rights, disregard for human rights, etc). The more prosperous China grows, the less influence any other country will have over Beijing's policies. A rising China is a challenge to others because of its sheer size, its great need for imported energy, and the environmental degradation it causes due to its ongoing industrialization. The troubled relationship between China and Japan is one of increasing concern and could lead to aggravated tensions in East Asia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Daniel Gros, Stefano Micossi
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The European Union is suffering a deep crisis: disdain, disillusionment and distrust top the list of prevailing sentiments towards the European institutions, as was brought home dramatically by the failed referenda on the Constitutional Treaty in France and the Netherlands.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Moldova, Middle East, France, Georgia, Netherlands
  • Author: Eneko Landaburu
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The answer to the question posed in the subtitle is yes, indeed, there are concrete alternatives to enlargement. As there must be. Enlargement has been a key tool in projecting stability across our continent. But it is a reality that the EU cannot expand ad infinitum – everything has its limits. We must honour our present basic commitments, while strictly insisting on the criteria. One of these criteria is our own absorption capacity – it is clear that in some member states the pace and scale of enlargement is approaching the limits of what public opinion will accept. To overstretch, rather than consolidate, the Union would be detrimental not only for us but also our partners. These are all issues with which our leaders will struggle in Vienna in a few months time.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Development
  • Political Geography: Europe, Vienna
  • Author: Sebastian Kurpas, Justus Schönlau
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The assertion that the enlarged EU will become dysfunctional under the current treaty provisions has been one of the strongest arguments in favour of the Constitutional Treaty. Also after the two 'no' votes to the text, political leaders continue to see the necessity of institutional reform. Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair, neither of whom is keen to resume the ratification process as such, have stressed independently that the issue needs to be addressed in the near future. The British Prime Minister argues that the EU cannot function properly with 25 member states under today's rules of governance, adding "Having spent six months as EU president, I am a good witness of that." His French counterpart even predicted that the status quo would eventually "condemn the EU to inertia and paralysis."
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Rym Ayadi
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Following seven years of painstaking and demanding negotiations, European bankers and regulators breathed a sigh of relief when the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) finally got through the European Parliament on 28 September 2005, and was formally approved by the Council of Ministers of the 25 EU member states on 11 October 2005. The new CRD will finally apply the complex, risk-sensitive Basel II capital adequacy rules to some 8,000 European banks and some 2,000 investments firms in two stages, the first in January 2007 and the second one year later.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: James C. Capretta
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Although Social Security reform appears to be off of the national agenda for now, real funding problems remain for America's popular retirement program that policymakers need to address. The payroll taxes that support Social Security's “pay–as-you-go” system will begin to fall short of outlays in 2017 and will be sufficient to finance only 74 percent of scheduled annual benefits by 2041, when the Social Security trust fund is projected to be exhausted.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With Romania's expected entry into the European Union in 2007, the EU will share a border with Moldova, a weak state divided by conflict and plagued by corruption and organised crime. Moldova's leadership has declared its desire to join the EU, but its commitment to European values is suspect, and efforts to resolve its dispute with the breakaway region of Transdniestria have failed to end a damaging stalemate that has persisted for fifteen years. Young people have little confidence in the country's future and are leaving at an alarming rate. If Moldova is to become a stable part of the EU's neighbourhood, there will need to be much greater international engagement, not only in conflict resolution but in spurring domestic reforms to help make the country more attractive to its citizens.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Moldova, Eastern Europe, Romania
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Southern Serbia's Albanian-majority Presevo Valley is a still incomplete Balkan success story. Since international and Serbian government diplomacy resolved an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001, donors and Belgrade have invested significant resources to undo a legacy of human rights violations and improve the economy. Tensions are much decreased, major human rights violations have ended, the army and police are more sensitive to Albanian concerns and there is progress, though hesitant, in other areas, such as a multi-ethnic police force, gradual integration of the judiciary, and Albanian language textbooks. Ethnic Albanians appear increasingly intent on developing their own political identity inside Serbia and finding a way to cohabit with Serbs, something that should be encouraged and supported. Nevertheless, the Kosovo status process threatens to disrupt the Presevo Valley's calm.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Kosovo, Balkans, Albania, Southern Serbia
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On January 1, Russia became the chair of the Group of Eight (G-8), the exclusive group of the biggest industrial democracies. This chairmanship raises many eyebrows. Russia was originally included in the G-8 to help lock in its democratic reforms, 1 but Russia is no longer even semidemocratic. Last year, US senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman sponsored a resolution urging President Bush to work for the suspension of Russia's membership until the Russian government accepted and adhered to “the norms and standards of free, democratic societies as generally practiced by every other member nation of the Group of 8 nations.” Jeffrey Garten ( Financial Times , June 28, 2005) has called Russia's chairmanship “farcical,” saying, “Two trends are changing the world for the better—freer markets and democratization. . . . But, alone among the summit member Russia is moving in the opposite direction. . . . Moscow's leader - ship of the G-8 reduces the credibility and the relevance of the group to zero.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Joshua Muravchik
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: No sooner had Israel raised its hand in self- defense when Finland, speaking as the rotating president of the European Union, denounced it for “the disproportionate use of force.” This position, echoed by France, Spain, the United Nations, and others, is wrong legally, morally, and strategically. From a legal standpoint, Israel is the victim of multiple unprovoked aggressions. It withdrew entirely from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005. (Both of these occupations had come about as acts of self-defense: the former against rocket fire from Lebanon in 1982, and the latter against a war of annihilation declared by Egypt in 1967.) From the time of its withdrawal from Gaza, not a single day had passed without rockets being fired into Israel. Now from the north as well as the south, Israel finds hundreds of rockets being fired across its border. Even if these were aimed at military installations, it would be a clear-cut act of war. To make it worse, these rockets are aimed randomly at cities and other civilian population centers, making them not only acts of war but war crime.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Finland, France, Gaza, Spain, Lebanon, Egypt
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On February 2, 2006, the International Atomic Energy Agency will meet in Vienna to discuss the nuclear crisis in Iran and, in all likelihood, refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for being in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's safeguards agreement. Such a referral will mark a turning point in a decade-long saga. Europe's engagement with Iran has failed. The United States and its European allies have been resolute in their condemnation of the Iranian government decision to resume uranium enrichment. In contrast to previous diplomatic impasses with Tehran, neither Washington nor its European allies appear willing to make further concessions. On January 23, U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said, “I don't see much room for further discussion in any format [with Iran].” At a January 13, 2006, press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel, George W. Bush condemned Iran. “Iran, armed with a nuclear weapon, poses a grave threat to the security of the world,” Mr. Bush said. “We will not be intimidated,” Ms. Merkel added. Already, though, there has been one casualty of the diplomatic crisis: the European Union's policy of engagement.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Tehran, Germany, Vienna
  • Author: F. Stephen Larrabee, Jeffrey Simon, Jan Neutze, Steven Pifer
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since his inauguration in January 2005, Ukrainian President Viktor Yush-chenko has repeatedly stated that his foremost foreign policy goal is his country's integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions. “Joining Europe” today, be it preparing a country for a bid to enter the European Union or NATO, is an extraordinarily complex business. It will require the development of a consensus on a Euro-Atlantic policy course among the country's political leadership. It will also require an effective and coherent policy coordination structure. As the experience of other Eastern European countries has demonstrated, integration into the European Union or NATO is not just the responsibility of the foreign and defense ministries. It also requires coordination with the ministries of economy, justice, agrarian policy, transportation and communications, internal affairs – indeed, virtually every ministry in the Ukrainian Cabinet.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: Martin Baldwin-Edwards
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: South Eastern Europe (SEE) has been under great pressure from the European Union (EU) to modernize and improve its border management, while simultaneously trying to facilitate cross-border flows and good neighborly relations in the region. The forthcoming accession to the EU of two countries from the region, Bulgaria and Romania, and recently opened negotiations for the accession of two more, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, have the potential to damage both cross-border flows and regional stability. One of the principal factors influencing this potential is the requirement for acceding countries to implement the Schengen regime – in particular, the so-called “black list” of countries whose nationals require visas to enter the Schengen area. At this time, from the Balkan region only Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania are not on the “black list”.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Balkans, Romania, Macedonia, Croatia
  • Author: Colonel Christine Stark, Michael Dziedzic
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: International policing has undergone a profound transformation as a result of the introduction and widespread use of stability police units (SPUs). Since their initial deployment by NATO in Bosnia in 1998, demand for this heavy-duty policing capability has expanded to the point that SPUs now constitute almost half of international police personnel. This growth has been most dramatic in United Nations' missions. As of November 2005, the number of Formed Police Units (FPUs) fielded by the UN stood at 27, accounting for 3105 of its total of 7160 police personnel.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, International Organization, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Europe, Bosnia
  • Author: Ulf Hedetoft
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Danish controversies over multiculturalism and integration can be enlightened by a fresh look at the ostensibly polarised differences on these questions between Denmark and its closest neighbour Sweden. Danish integration policies appear to be assimilationist in effect, if not in intent, while Sweden has openly pursued an official multiculturalism towards its ethnic minorities for over thirty years. Differences rooted in history and political tradition are real, but there appears to be some evidence of convergence today. Multiculturalism in Sweden looks increasingly unviable as a compromise, and vulnerable to the current political atmosphere, while in Denmark local policy implementation and pragmatic international adaptation to 'diversity management' belie the hostile tone of national politics. Both countries are wrestling with the adaptation of long standing traditions and institutional forms – particularly those of the welfare state – in a difficult international environment. The convulsions over multiculturalism are typical of the adaptive politics and symbolic difficulties of small states in the face of wider global transformations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Demographics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Denmark, Sweden
  • Author: Ruud Koopmans
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: I compare the outcomes of Dutch integration policies in a cross-national European perspective. The Dutch approach is of wider theoretical and practical interest because it stands out for its far-reaching state support for multicultural group rights, which were intended to combat the socio-economic marginalization of immigrants. Contrary to these intentions, I show that the Netherlands performs worse than most other European immigration countries in various domains of socio-economic integration, including the labour market, education, residential segregation, and crime levels. I identify three mechanisms that can link multicultural integration policies to these outcomes: insufficient language and other cultural skills among immigrants; discrimination and white flight; and a lack of intercultural contacts. I also discuss why multiculturalism seems to be especially counterproductive in the context of highly developed welfare states. The dilemma of multiculturalism that I identify is that it aims to achieve socio-economic equality by way of maximizing immigrants' opportunities to develop and maintain their cultural difference. The analysis suggests that it is not always possible to have it both ways.
  • Topic: International Relations, Demographics, Migration
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Ulla Holm
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Abroad, Denmark is for the time being considered an ugly duckling in international politics because of the publication of the cartoons on Mohammed. This perception of Denmark has shocked the political establishment and the population, because Denmark has had until now a very good reputation in international politics. This brief argues that the construction of Danish national identity as a homogeneous, harmonious ethnic entity makes it difficult for Danish governments to conduct foreign policy that takes into consideration other cultures. The Danish vision of being morally superior to other countries because of its welfare state and egalitarian politics enhances this attitude to other countries. The question is therefore how Denmark may become a swan again.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Nancy Snow
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Anti-Americanism has emerged as a term that, like “fascism” and “communism” in George Orwell's lexicon, has little meaning beyond “something not desirable.” However it is defined, anti-Americanism has clearly mushroomed over the last six years, as charted in a number of polls. This phenomenon is, everyone agrees, intimately tied to the exercise of U.S. power and perceptions around the world of U.S. actions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe