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  • Author: Matti Pesu, Henri Vanhanen
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In his recent op-ed, President Sauli Niinistö reintroduced the idea of an Arctic summit. The timing of the meeting could be favourable. As the 50th anniversary of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act is approaching, Niinistö also hoped for a revitalization of the “Spirit of Helsinki”. The aim is hampered by global tensions, however.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Arctic
  • Author: Vuk Vuksanovic
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: What challenges the new American administration will face in the Balkans, and how should it approach them? Read in the latest analysis of BCSP researcher Vuk Vuksanović. When Joseph Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 US presidential elections, the Balkan countries were not neutral on that race. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić made a failed bet on Trump, hoping that under Trump, he will get a less painful settlement of the Kosovo dispute and an opportunity to finally make Belgrade a partner of Washington, after several decades. Vučić still congratulated Biden for his win alongside several other Balkan leaders who were probably happier about Biden’s win than him. US foreign policy towards the Balkans under Trump has been marked by transactional logic and disdain towards the European Union, best symbolised in the economic normalisation agreement between Belgrade and Priština brokered in September 2020 by Trump. Many policy hands, including Nicholas Burns, former US diplomat and one of Biden’s advisors, now expect that Biden will display US leadership in the region while cooperating closely with the European Union. The US foreign policy will have to deal with three sets of challenges: the unresolved Kosovo dispute, democratic backsliding in the region, and the presence of non-Western powers like Russia and China. While US power is a necessary element in resolving these challenges, the Biden administration will not be able to offer quick fixes.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Governance, Elections, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Luka Steric, Maja Bjelos
  • Publication Date: 12-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: BCSP researchers Maja Bjeloš and Luka Šterić analyzed how media in Serbia reported about Chinese, Russian and EU help during the pandemics. Because the pandemic was used as a framework for an excessive pro-Chinese campaign, the research examines how pro-Chinese narratives in mainstream media during the pandemic were used to position China, displacing Russia as Serbia’s main non-Western partner, while simultaneously propelling the anti-EU narrative of incompetence and hypocrisy. The analysis was carried out for the period between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 and focused on two key events – media coverage of the first shipments of medical supplies to Serbia and media reporting of the supply of vaccines. Media monitoring included data collection using social listening software from the online portals of most-watched televisions (TV Happy, TV Prva), the most visited news portals (Blic, Kurir, Politika, B92 and Nova.rs), and the most circulated online portals of tabloids (Informer and Alo). Chinese medical aid to Serbia during the COVID-19 pandemic attracted unprecedented foreign media attention and much speculation about a shift in Serbia’s foreign policy. Many foreign and domestic policy experts have interpreted the enthusiastic acceptance of Chinese aid by Serbian politicians as a departure from Serbia’s proclaimed accession to the European Union. Since Serbia did not greet Russian assistance with the same enthusiasm, this sparked speculation that Serbia is replacing Russia with China as its preferred eastern partner. In Serbian media, the narrative of a ‘brotherhood’ has long been reserved for describing relations between Serbia and Russia. Serbia’s ruling political elite voluntarily promoted President Putin and Russia in the mainstream media to increase political support among pro-Russian votes and at the same time exaggerating Russia’s influence in Serbia as a bargaining chip with the West over its political goals. Due to the silent crisis of relations with Moscow, Belgrade officials saw the partnership with China as a stronger card to play ahead of the 2020 elections to convince voters that the government was capable of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, as well as acquiring a new ally in the East to leverage in the West. Consequently, China emerged as a ‘savior of Serbs in trouble’ during the pandemic overshadowing roles of both Russia and the EU.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, European Union, Media, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia, Serbia
  • Author: Robert Cox
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Amid the toil and trouble of their own politics Americans might have a moment to note the self-flagellation of their closest European ally. There’s more to come – and the US is going to be drawn into it, whether it likes it or not. Coronavirus has now temporarily obscured the Brexit issue while arguably inflicting upon the European Union the greatest strains since its creation. A stricken EU helps nobody.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, European Union, Brexit, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, United States of America, North America
  • Author: Peter Bridges
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: In 1981 I was assigned to our Rome embassy as the deputy to the ambassador, Maxwell Rabb. The Red Brigade terrorists had been active in Italy for some years. They had been responsible for perhaps thousands of violent actions and had killed many people, most notably former Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978. One day before I left Washington, my colleague Gary Matthews said “You are going to carry a weapon in Rome, I assume.” “Why, no. I don’t have one and I don’t plan to buy one.” “Go down to the Department armory and they’ll fix you up.”
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Weapons , Memoir
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Bob Baker
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: In a November 1973 nationally televised press conference, President Richard Nixon denied his involvement in the Watergate cover-up and declared “I am not a crook.” In the U.K., where I was working in the U.S. embassy, British television showed the scene repeatedly as part of its daily coverage of the Watergate break-in scandal. As an assistant cultural affairs officer in the London embassy, part of my job was to improve the U.S. image and British understanding of our policies. I did not agree with all of our policies, but focused my work on the best in U.S. policy and culture. That included keeping British support for NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, our main alliance in the cold war with the Soviet Union. For months, President Nixon twisted on television every day as investigations led toward him. He wanted to avoid blame for his role in the burglary at Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. His almost daily interviews on television had eroded British trust in the United States. How could Brits trust the U.S. as a strategic partner in NATO if the President was a crook?
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Memoir, Richard Nixon
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Christopher Datta
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: When I was a young man in the 1970s two friends and I went on a student tour of Europe. We landed in Luxembourg on New Year’s Eve and checked into a pension that catered to students. It was run by, what to me at the time, was an elderly woman (today I am probably 20 years older than she was at the time). My friends and I went out on the town to celebrate the New Year, and got back to the pension at about 1 am. The owner was up and waiting for us, and I thought we were going to get chewed out for staying up so late and forcing her to keep the doors open. Instead, she smiled at us and waved us into her dining room, where she opened a very nice bottle of white wine and then poured all of us a glass. This was certainly not the level of service I was expecting. I think we were paying $5 a night to stay there.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Memoir
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Adam Traczyk
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Zbigniew Rau, who was appointed foreign minister on August 26, will help align the trajectory of Polish diplomacy with the government’s general line. His appointment fits into the logic of a larger government reshuffle, expected this fall, which aims for a greater centralization of power. His higher standing in the governing PiS party may, however, halt the gradual loss of relevance of Poland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland, Belarus
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Following the announcement of hosting an international summit on February 13 and 14, 2019, Iran has launched a diplomatic offensive against Poland, where one of the conference main elements will be how to respond to the Iranian interventions in the region. In addition, Iran has also begun to take preemptive moves both to send messages to the powers concerned with the repercussions of those interventions and to tout its ability to contain the pressures of US policy. These moves include attempts to pivot to the East, particularly towards some neighboring countries, and hints at its ability to withdraw from the nuclear deal and resume its suspicious program again.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Poland, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thomas Gomart, Robin Niblett, Daniela Schwarzer, Nathalie Tocci
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will severely degrade regional and global security. His decision has increased the risk of war and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and beyond. He has undermined attempts to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons through multilateral diplomacy, as unilateral withdrawal equals non-compliance with a legally-binding UN Security Council resolution. This is a rejection of the UN as arbiter of international peace and security, as well as of international law as a lynchpin of international relations. The steps that Europeans now take will have serious consequences for their alliance with the US, for security in the Middle East, as well as for their relations vis-à-vis China, Russia and the wider world.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Although most of the parties concerned with developments in the Syrian conflict do not expect the Quartet Summit held today in Istanbul -with the participation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian president Vladimir Putin, French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel- to make a breakthrough in the efforts to reach a political settlement of the crisis, this in its entirety does not diminish the anxiety of Iran, which is the most prominent absent at that summit.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Iran, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, France, Germany, Syria
  • Author: Wu Fei
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: UK has far-reaching strategic objectives to expel Russian diplomats for espionage. It has been aggressive to Russia for fear of a huge fall in its geopolitical status. Britain issued an ultimatum to the Russia after Skripal, the former Russian double agent, and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned and unconscious in Britain on 12 March. With no response from Russia, the Britain Prime Minister Theresa immediately announced that they will expel 23 Russian diplomats and command their departure in a week after report to Congress. Russia just indicates that they will take the same move as well.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Intelligence, Geopolitics, Soviet Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, United Kingdom, Europe, France
  • Author: Daria Kazarinova
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: t the end of the second decade of the 21st century, problems of global security have become the main issues on the agenda of all regions of the world. Russia’s relations with the West have already entered the stage of the so-called new Cold War “with the elements of arms race, remilitarization and the split of the European continent, under the severance of political and economic contacts between the leaders of rival countries and the degradation of diplomacy”.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia
  • Author: Simon Kyte, David Goodger, Helen McDermott
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: A “no-deal” Brexit would cause a 5% drop in UK outbound travel and tourism trips in 2020, because of the stifled economic backdrop and impact of a weaker pound. Ireland and Spain would be the hardest hit from fewer UK visitors. In contrast, the weaker pound could mean that UK tourism inflows are 4% higher in a “no-deal” scenario, provided there is no travel disruption. But lower levels of domestic tourism mean that we would expect UK travel and tourism GDP to be 2% lower than our baseline forecast in 2020.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Tourism, European Union, Brexit
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe