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  • Author: Flavio Fusco
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Located at the heart of the Middle East, connecting the Levant to the Persian Gulf, Iraq has always been at the centre of regional dynamics. Yet, the country is today reduced to a quasi-failed state fundamentally damaged in its political, social and economic fabric, with long-term consequences that trace a fil rouge from the 2003 US-led invasion to the emergence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) and the country’s current structural fragility.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, European Union
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Vedran Džihić, Paul Schmidt
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In societies devastated by the pandemic, the EU needs to leave its conventional tool-box behind and urgently speed up the Europeanisation of its neighbours in Southeast Europe. The coronavirus pandemic has deepened the vulnerabilities affecting Western Balkan countries and exposed the weakness of their state institutions, especially in the health sector and social protection. At the same time, related to the limited effectiveness of the EU enlargement process over the past years, the progress of reforms has stagnated and some countries have even experienced concerning regressions in the rule of law. The outbreak of the coronavirus crisis has meanwhile increased the presence of other geopolitical players in the region, mainly in the context of competition over vaccinations, not only of China but also of Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Awareness is growing that the EU and the West is not the only available partner. As other powers not known for their democratic practices use or misuse the Western Balkans to promote their interests, the vision of a free, democratic and truly European Balkans is no longer self-evident.
  • Topic: European Union, Institutions, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Nicoletta Pirozzi
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Union is struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has swept through European societies and economies, causing more than 500,000 deaths (and counting) and a GDP downturn of –6.4 per cent in 2020. This is the third big crisis – and possibly the most dramatic – to impact the EU over the last 12 years, following the economic and financial crisis in 2008– 2010 and the extraordinary influx of migrants arriving on European shores in 2015–2016. All these crises produced asymmetrical consequences on the member countries and citizens. The already marked differences among member states have been exacerbated, making a unified response by EU institutions difficult in the process and suboptimal in the outcome. Indeed, especially during the first wave of the pandemic in Europe, the actions and statements of national leaders revealed a deep rift within the EU and the Eurozone, leading to nationalistic moves in border control and the export of medical supplies. Citizens were therefore exposed to the negative consequences of a Union with limited powers in sectors such as health and crisis management. Meanwhile, important decisions such as the approval of the Next Generation EU package and the new budget for 2021– 2027 risked ending in failure due to the opposition of some member states.
  • Topic: Regional Integration, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Makysm Bielawski
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Razumkov Centre
  • Abstract: Maksym Bielawsky, the leading expert of energy programs at the Razumkov Center, provided answers to the TOP-12 questions about current model of Ukraine’s natural gas market.
  • Topic: Markets, Gas, Tariffs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Oleksiy Melnyk
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Razumkov Centre
  • Abstract: The current reaction of the West to provocative threats by Russia is both prompt and concrete, but for political statements to reach the desired effect, they must be supplemented by substantial practical steps.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Erekle Iantbelidze
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: The transfer of the international political reality to a new multi-polar prism makes geopolitics, as one of the directions of interdisciplinary education, more important in the current situation. The development of digital and scientific technologies has moved the phenomenon of the balance of power to a new stage and for a number of states and intergovernmental organizations, the term geopolitics has become the flagship of security strategy, cultural domination and democratic processes. In terms of the new “geopolitical commission,” the action plan of Ursula von der Leyen rests on two main principles – Europe’s climate and digital transition (European Parliament, 2020). Therefore, in the conditions of a war of values, geopolitics and digitalization, technological development has become a super-important component that the European Union is attempting to bring to the forefront as it wrestles with the world’s foremost states (China, India, Russia, Turkey). As the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, stated, Europe must not become a playground for other great powers and it must take the role of a geopolitical leader in the world (Barigazzi, 2019). It must also be pointed out that the geopolitical nature of Europe also envisages the development and gradual expansion of its neighborhood policy. That said, the associated partners within the Eastern Partnership (EaP) format (Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine) have bigger ambitions and goals than the development of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and the full implementation of the Association Agreement (AA) (European Commission, 2019).
  • Topic: Science and Technology, European Union, Geopolitics, Free Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Megi Benia
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: NATO is a major military organization responsible for security in the Euro-Atlantic space. Consequently, the current security environment in the world and, especially, in Europe stimulates debates about NATO’s readiness to resist an armed attack. However, these debates are normally held around the Alliance’s Article 5 as a key component of collective defense and in this process, the principles of Article 3 are ignored, something which is a wrong approach. NATO’s Article 3 states that: “In order to more effectively achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack” (NATO, Resilience and Article 3 2020). Therefore, fulfilling obligations under Article 3 is a crucial part of the organization’s main idea of collective defense as it enables NATO to fulfil the obligations of Article 5. However, one must remember that in today’s unpredictable security situation, “capacity to resist armed attack” (NATO, Resilience and Article 3 2020) means not only military readiness. To be able to deploy rapidly during operations or a potential armed attack, military forces need the support of transport systems, satellite communications and power supplies, etc. However, it is a well-known fact that these systems are highly vulnerable during an attack in both peace and war.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Infrastructure, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Tyson Barker
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The EU and the United States are expected to launch a Trade and Technology Council (TTC) on the sidelines of the US-EU Summit in mid-June, which could present a rare opportunity to jumpstart the EU-US technology relationship. Against the backdrop of rapid technological change, a transatlantic digital technology community could be a 21st-century answer to the Coal and Steal Community – a big democratic project that reaches across borders, knits like-minded communities together in a manner that reinforces shared values, and codifies standards of market access, increased interdependence, and intensified political dialogue.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Governance, European Union, Democracy, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Shahin Vallée, Daniela Gabor
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The ECB has been forced – in part by the COVID-19 crisis – to review its bilateral arrangements with foreign central banks. But the recent changes made by the ECB fall short of the European Commission’s ambitions to boost the international role of the euro. We suggest the ECB should put in place an alternative three-pillar framework to improve the international role of the ECB and cement its pivotal role in the international financial system.
  • Topic: European Union, Banks, International System, European Commission
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anna-Lena Kirch
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Overall, as the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, the EU proved capable to act. Crisis management addressing the pandemic benefited from the fact that Germany held the presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2020 and could build upon its traditional approach: developing European capabilities, including all governments, and being prepared for the unexpected. Now, going forward, Germany needs to use its experience with complexity and uncertainty to help form a strategic doctrine for the EU.
  • Topic: European Union, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Miriam Heß
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The European Union should actively address the problematic use of counterterrorism by non-European states – especially Russia – and make it a permanent aspect in developing counterterrorism strategies and agendas. Failing to address the misuse of counterterrorism sends the wrong signal not only to those with reason to fear geopolitical interference by their countries of origin, but also to states that pursue “anti-terrorist-operations” in the form of abductions and executions abroad.
  • Topic: European Union, Counter-terrorism, Geopolitics, Risk
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Markus Jaeger
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The Biden administration has just issued its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. The guidance document states the need to “build back better at home” and acknowledges that “international economic policies must serve all Americans” – a theme often referred to as “foreign policy for the middle class”. While the interim guidance does not preclude cooperation with China in selected policy areas, it is unambiguous in considering China a strategic competitor. The prospect of intensifying China-US geopolitical and (geo)economic competition is bad news for Germany, which has high value trading and investment relationships with both countries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, National Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Milan Nič, Julian Rappold
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The next months will show whether Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán can retain his influence in Europe even outside its largest political family. Having left the center-right European People’s Party before his party was finally pushed out, Orbán is now trying to regroup and unite the populist and Euroskeptic forces in European Parliament. What looks like a defeat could still be turned to his advantage if it leads to a lasting reshuffle of political alliances and strengthens illiberal voices.
  • Topic: Politics, European Union, Populism, European Parliament
  • Political Geography: Europe, Hungary
  • Author: Klaus-Jurgen Gern
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: This EUROFRAME Report presents an assess- ment of the economic outlook for 2021 focuses on the euro area based on a synopsis of the fore- casts of EUROFRAME institutes. Perspectives for UK and CEEs countries are described in Boxes A and B, respectively. In the Focus section, we discuss a special topic, based on work done in the EUROFRAME insti- tutes. This time, we discuss the impact that the COVID-19 crisis had on labour markets in Eu- rope and policy responses to this challenge, based on the experience in the countries hosting EUROFRAME institutes.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Regionalism, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: The German economy is picking up speed again. After the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic had interrupted the economic recovery in the winter half-year, GDP will expand at a fast pace in the further course of the year and exceed its pre-crisis level again. With the removal of the pandemic-related restrictions, activity will rebound, especially in those areas that were previously particularly burdened. Retail trade and contact-intensive services in particular are likely to benefit from the rebound in private household consumption. For the time being, however, the recovery will be delayed in the manufacturing industry. The strong global recovery has brought with it multi-layered supply bottlenecks that are noticeably hampering production in many firms. Despite the very good order situation, production in the manufacturing industry will therefore probably only gradually return to its recovery path in the second half of the year, provided that the supply bottlenecks then gradually ease. With the supply bottlenecks, price pressures have also increased, especially as economic momentum is high worldwide. Thus, prices for raw materials, intermediate goods and transport services have recently been on a broad upward trend. All in all, GDP is expected to grow by 3.9 percent this year and by 4.8 percent in 2022. Consumer prices will rise at a much faster rate of probably 2.6 percent this year and by around 2 percent in 2022.
  • Topic: Economics, GDP, Economic Growth, Pandemic, Industry, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Jon Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: When the Wall fell in 1989, I was the U.S. Embassy political counselor in East Berlin. We immediately realized something new would replace the Cold War, but one of my few certainties was that if Moscow released its grip on the Warsaw Pact, Hungary – Eastern Europe’s freest and most economically diverse society — would be quickest to integrate smoothly into Western Europe. President George H.W. Bush’s goal of a “Europe whole and free” has come closer, but we are not there yet, and Hungary, where I held a similar position earlier, has lagged. Respected observers Freedom House and Transparency International chart a course that puts it dangerously close to, even within, the autocratic zone. Worse, it champions a nationalist populism and “illiberal democracy” directly challenging key principles to which the European Union (EU) of which it is a member and the U.S., its ally in NATO, subscribe. What should be done?
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Nationalism, Bilateral Relations, Populism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Hungary, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kjell Engelbrekt
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: In the opinion surveys leading up to the elections, the same three biggest parties as in April enjoy support somewhere between 16 and 23 percent each, with another three-four trailing far behind and one hovering just at the 4 percent threshold. Few observers believe that the outcome will differ much from that produced on April 4th, which distributed 240 parliamentary seats among six parties. Ostensibly, the main problem in current Bulgarian politics arises from the unnecessarily sharp disagreements and mutual recriminations among the leaderships of the three main parties competing for power, aggravated during electoral campaigns. When the results were in, each of the three parties decided to reject cooperation with the other two and thereby precluded the establishment of a government tolerated by the parliamentary majority. The two top contenders are Boyko Borisov’s center-right GERB party, which has ruled the country almost uninterruptedly since it garnered 40 per cent of the popular vote in mid-2009, and There Is Such a People (Ima takav narod or ITN), run by TV personality Slavi Trifonov. The electoral campaigns ahead of either poll have largely revolved around Trifonov’s sweeping accusations of corruption directed at Borisov and his party, with the ongoing pandemic and the country’s weak economic performance featuring as issues more in the periphery. The corruption charges were also directed at the third frontrunner, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) with roots in the old communist elite. After Trifonov’s ITN party had reiterated that it would under no circumstances work with the BSP, two of the smaller parties with anti-corruption platforms similarly refused even initial consultations. From that point on the BSP was out of options as well. At a deeper level Bulgaria’s troubles stem from being a relatively small country with the lowest GDP per capita in the European Union (EU), frequently exposed to cross-pressures from Brussels, Moscow, Ankara, Washington DC and Berlin. This especially applies to the energy sector, where the country’s geographic location in the corner of southeastern Europe makes it a significant player. While the EU and NATO have repeatedly urged Sofia to align with collective approaches designed to reduce the continent’s reliance on individual providers, Russian energy corporations have skillfully utilized regional relationships and ties to Bulgaria’s political class to assertively negotiate terms that above all are favorable to Moscow. Germany, a sponsor of the Nord Stream I-II pipelines, has not been in a position to object.
  • Topic: Corruption, Elections, Leadership, Disinformation, Rivalry
  • Political Geography: Europe, Bulgaria
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Among the most signifcant events in Russia in 2020 were the Covid-19 pandemic, reactions to the protests in Belarus, and the poisoning of top opposition politician Aleksey Navalny. Te frst two were clearly events of international signifcance, but so was the medical treatment given to Navalny, frst in Omsk and then in Berlin, after he suffered from symptoms of poisoning dur- ing a flight from Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow in August. In December, a joint study by the investigative journalist groups Bellingcat and The Insider, along with CNN, Der Spiegel and Naval- ny’s FBK Foundation, showed that it was difficult to find more con- clusive evidence of the Kremlin’s involvement in the assassination attempt by a chemical weapons- related poisoning group under the FSB that had been following Na- valny for years. This kind of op- eration would hardly have been possible without the blessing of high-level intelligence. Te ques- tion of whether the FSB leader- ship was proactive in resolving the “Navalny problem” or whether the order came from the Kremlin is irrelevant. Te revealed pattern confrms the long-standing trend of the strengthened role of the se- curity services, especially the FSB, in Russian politics. It is consistent with Putin’s approach to political processes being increasingly seen as issues of national security. Navalny’s self-confidence and style in the revelation videos related to the investigation, receiving ap- proximately 45 million views in less than a month, underscore the extent to which the FSB failed. The target did not die or become paralyzed, but recovered relatively quickly and bounced back, playing for higher and more radical stakes than before. Navalny’s role and reputation as the Kremlin’s most prominent critic has been based on the political pressure on the Kremlin generated by expos- ing elite corruption. While the will- ingness of citizens to see Navalny as an alternative to Putin varies consid- erably – with the majority indifer- ent to politics as a whole – Navalny’s numerous revelations have created an alternative to Russia’s ofcial re- ality, the political potential of which the regime obviously fears.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Conflict, Regionalism, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Saila Turtiainen
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The ratification process for the EU’s new investment agreement with China is expected to be very difficult. Although the aim is to improve EU-China relations, the process of getting the agreement approved in the EU will end up causing further tensions with China as the EU tries to strike a balance between promoting its values and economic interests.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, European Union, Conflict, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • 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: Okko-Pekka Salmimies, Saila Turtiainen
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU’s new trade strategy instrumentalizes trade policy more forcefully in order to promote EU values such as democracy and human rights. A value-based and more defensive trade policy can lead to conflicts spirals, especially with China. The EU also needs to be prepared for potential setbacks in developing the transatlantic relations.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Regionalism, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Arkady Moshes, Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Belarusian Revolution challenged the Lukashenka regime but did not bring it down. It is, however, clear that the structural factors behind the revolution have been sustained. The West should increase efforts to achieve political and economic transformation in the country.
  • Topic: Development, International Cooperation, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Revolution, State Building
  • Political Geography: Europe, Belarus
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Maintaining the ruling party’s overwhelming majority was an obsession for the Kremlin, regardless of the growing dissatisfaction. The election result, achieved through blatant fraud, further undermines the Kremlin’s connection with citizens.
  • Topic: Corruption, Governance, Authoritarianism, Elections, Democracy, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Katja Creutz
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Finland will be a member of the UN Human Rights Council, whose task is to promote and protect human rights. The outlook seems gloomy for the upcoming three-year period, with human rights coming under increasing pressure. Finland needs to be active, and to consider taking the lead on the situations in different countries.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Cooperation, United Nations, Leadership, UN Human Rights Council (HRC)
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland
  • Author: Tyyne Karjalainen
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Crisis management forms an integral part of the expanding toolbox with which the European Union (EU) reacts to external crises. This FIIA analysis aims at understanding the strategic approach of the EU to crisis management as it develops from the interplay between growing institutional infrastructure and member states’ reactions to crises and conflicts in their neighbourhood. In particular, this analysis investigates the creation of objectives for Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) interventions. Drawing on a series of expert interviews, the article challenges a tradition in European studies of analysing EU strategy based on strategic documents alone. Instead, it explores the strategic approach as it has been developed, practised and interpreted by practitioners working in the CSDP framework. The research argues that the development of the EU’s approach is characterized by experimentalism and emergence, which are enabled by repetitive processes of intergovernmentalism and institutional learning in the framework. At the same time, discrepancies in the Integrated Approach and decision- making are found to limit the capabilities of the EU as a strategic actor. Finally, three trends are argued to curtail the EU approach to crisis management at present: a decreasing level of ambition, squeezing between other instruments for foreign and security policy, and a rhetorical shift from external to internal security.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, European Union, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Katarína Svitková
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Associate Research Fellow Katarína Svitková writes about challenges facing cities today, tracing the concept of urban resilience throughout the last decade, explored in her recently published book (Resilience and Urban Governance).
  • Topic: Governance, Urban, Cities, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Europe, Czech Republic
  • Author: Luka Steric
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Foreign direct investments are the cornerstone of the current government’s economic policy. In their statements, the officials call them drivers of development, saying that they have enabled the revival of the economy and turned Serbia into the “economic tiger of Southeast Europe.”1 The fact that the value of the investments Serbia has managed to attract is greater “than what was achieved by all the countries of the Western Balkans put together” 2 is often mentioned as the key measure of success. However, the story of brilliant success quickly loses its lustre when one considers the long-term effects and all-encompassing consequences of this policy. Due to the way they are contracted and implemented, foreign direct investments represent one of the key mechanisms for capturing the state. Hiding behind the stories of a better future and new jobs, the government is breaking down the system of legal regulations and statutory procedures, promoting private interest to the detriment of the public one, and using foreign investments as propaganda ammunition to legitimise unlimited power. The results of such policy are a number of negative consequences for the state and the citizens, such as the increase of public debt, dramatic violation of workers’ rights and alarming problems with environmental pollution. In order to mask the negative consequences and legitimise the policy of attracting foreign investors based on the above described pattern, a complex narrative has been developed presenting foreign investments as a successful, and the only possible, model for state development. This meta-narrative about progress, which media are building up every day, is based on four basic component narratives: on the economic revival, on the efficiency of personal rule, on transparent contracts and on the opponents of Serbia’s development who ‘unfoundedly’ criticise the government’s economic success. In the analysis of the narrative we will focus on the statements of officials made since 2012, which is when the regime led by the Serbian Progressive Party came to power. Many of the described mechanisms, such as non-transparent, harmful contracts and unjustifiably high subsidies, also existed during the previous government.3 However, the capture of the state, carried out - among other things - with the help of foreign direct investments, has reached completely new dimensions under the current regime, while the narratives that accompany it have been significantly ‘improved’.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Direct Investment, Drugs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia
  • Author: Marija Pavlovic, Bojan Elek, Milos Jovanovic
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: How the narrative of the fight against organised crime is used to capture the state? Find out in the latest BCSP analysis. The objective of this report is to analyze the narrative of the fight against organised crime, i.e., the story the authorities are offering the public concerning this topic, for the purpose of establishing how it is used to capture the state. More precisely, the analysis attempts to explain how the polygraph was abused during the declared war on mafia to suspend judicial institutions, ‘cleanse’ some in the eyes of the public or criminalise others outside the statutory criminal procedure, and to identify the consequences of this approach to fighting organised crime. The so-called war on mafia officially began on 19 October 2020, when the President of Serbia used his Instagram profile to announce the final showdown between the state and organised crime. Set forth after a series of unsolved murders that had taken place on the streets of Serbian cities – characterised by experts mostly as mafia-style terminations – it initially looked like a marketing move that preceded the constitution of a new Government. Such understanding was supported by the fact that this was not the first time that government officials declared war on organised criminal groups. Former Minister of the Interior [MoI] declared a similar war almost four years earlier, under similar circumstances. One hero particularly stood out in this war. It was the lie detector, the omnipotent polygraph, used extensively in the previous months as the supreme arbiter of truth. Instead of lengthy court proceedings, complex investigations and obtaining evidence acceptable to the court, the polygraph was used by the highest state officials as a simple tool to directly prove to the citizens whether someone was telling the truth or lying, and to unmistakably determine guilt or innocence. Trials were replaced by media performances involving debates on who passed the lie detector test and who refused to take it, while politicians kept offering to be subjected to it or calling each other out for not doing the same thing, all in the name of the alleged fight against organised crime.
  • Topic: Media, Rule of Law, Police, Judiciary, Organized Crime
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia
  • 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: Marija Ignjatijevic
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Military cooperation between Serbia and the United States is the topic of the latest analysis by BCBP researcher Maria Ignjatijevic. Serbia and the United States have had intensive cooperation in the field of security and defense for years, members of the armed forces have participated in over 70 military exercises in the last ten years, and the United States is one of the largest donors to the Serbian defense system. However, if we follow only media reports in Serbia, the intensity of this cooperation will not be so obvious. Defense cooperation with Russia gets far more space in the media than activities with the US and NATO members. Thus, for example, the military exercise “Slavic Shield” completely occupied the public’s attention before and after its organisation in October 2019. Although undeniably a significant activity between the two armed forces, to which Russia brought its S-400 and Pantsir systems, it gained a disproportionately large space in the media compared to other exercises that took place that year with other partner countries. Apart from the image being sent to the public through media and various foreign policy moves, a very dynamic and practical defense cooperation with all partners takes place behind the scenes. The United States is one of Serbia’s important partners in the field of defense, and cooperation with the US Department of Defense has been achieved in various fields. Every year, Serbia and the US conduct about 100 different bilateral activities. In the eyes of the Serbian public, perception of relations with the United States, and especially perception of military cooperation, is burdened by the NATO intervention in 1999. In order to avoid losing political points at home and endangering relations with Russia, the political elite in Serbia avoids talking about cooperation with the United States and other NATO members, and the pro-regime media report accordingly. Regardless of the fact that military cooperation is often used as a foreign or domestic policy tool, it is important to discuss the practical aspects of this cooperation, benefits for Serbia and the US, their defense systems, but also the citizens. At the online discussion “Serbia and the USA: Together we are safer”, specific examples of military cooperation between Serbia and the US and practical benefits for our defense system and its members from this cooperation were discussed. Defense cooperation between Serbia and the United States takes place on several levels, through joint exercises, cooperation with the Ohio National Guard, a student exchange program, as well as donations.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Maja Bjelos, Bojan Elek
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Based on an analysis of top officials’ speeches, this text will show how officially promoted narratives about Kosovo serve to capture the state. This analysis has shown the mechanism by which the Serbian authorities, by controlling and strategically using narratives on resolving the Kosovo dispute, manage to increase their own discretionary powers while simultaneously abolishing control mechanisms. In other words, under the pretext of resolving the Kosovo issue, the separation of powers and democratic decision-making are being abolished, leading to an even greater level of state capture. The analysis is divided into five thematic units. The first chapter shows how the executive power instrumentalises Kosovo and, using the media, creates a false impression in the public that, when it comes to Serbia’s membership in the European Union, Kosovo is more important than the rule of law, thus putting a false premise before the citizens: that their choices are either Kosovo or a future governed by the rule of law. The second part of the analysis shows how the government in Belgrade traded stability for democracy and ensured the tacit consent of the West in preserving political stability in Serbia for the purpose of reaching a final agreement with Pristina. The third and fourth parts point to the absence of real social dialogue on Kosovo, and reveal how the President of Serbia and a narrow circle of his associates strive to increase their discretionary power to decide on Kosovo beyond the Constitution and democratic institutions, all under the pretext of protecting national interests. Finally, in the last part, the authors will provide additional evidence for understanding why citizens of Serbia cannot come to terms with the loss of state control over Kosovo, that is, why the opinion of the majority of Serbian citizens – that Kosovo should not be recognised – is still relevant.
  • Topic: Security, Media, Leadership, State Building, State Capture
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia
  • Author: Bojan Elek, Giorgio Fruscione
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: We are presenting you the Dossier on organized crime in the Balkans, produced in cooperation between the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and Belgrade Centre for Security Policy. In some of the countries of the Western Balkans, criminal groups and political elites have grown increasingly interdependent. In particular, Serbia’s and Montenegro’s societies have suffered the most from these links. The two countries have long been considered frontrunners in the EU integration process, whose final completion, however, is difficult to foresee. Similarly, Albania’s EU negotiating process has also been delayed for years, in part because of the country’s role in global drug trafficking schemes. The crime-politics nexus is contributing to the erosion of the rule of law in several Balkan countries, where the risk – or reality – of state capture is increasingly worrisome. In light of recent events, Serbia appears to be the most concerning case as its authoritarian drift currently seems hard to reverse. Which consequences does the situation in Serbia have on other Balkan countries? What impact does state capture have on regional stability? And what is changing for the region’s integration prospects with the EU?
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Rule of Law, Organized Crime, State Capture
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia
  • 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: Bijana Karovska Andonovska
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF)
  • Abstract: The analysis reflects the current state from the viewpoint of legal solutions, but also from the viewpoint of real problems seen in practice, which come in part as the result of inconsistent and insufficiently precise legal provisions. Thus, a special emphasis was put on the provisions that do not fully serve the reform priorities and the segments that do not correspond to international documents and the practice of European courts. The analysis offers alternative solutions and concrete recommendations to overcome the evident weaknesses in some of the existing legal provisions. This is especially true for several segments underlined in the text (provisions on interception of communications without the mediation of OTA; provisions on metadata; certain aspect in the interception of communications in the interest of security and defense; security of data; as well as the provisions on oversight and control over the interception of communications). The structure of the document is comprised of an introduction, approach to the reforms, analysis of the legal framework, opportunities and challenges, and conclusions.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Communications, Law, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Luca Franza
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Dolphins are being spotted in harbours, canals in Venice have never looked so clean and the temporary ban of corridas has spared the lives of a hundred Spanish bulls. Looking at the bright side of things is an admirable quality, but we should not get too carried away with the idea that COVID-19 is good for the planet. Besides the anecdotal phenomena quoted above, the collapse of mobility and economic activity induced by COVID-19 are generating meaningful short-term consequences for the environment. These include a sharp reduction in Hubei’s and Northern Italy’s air pollution levels and a likely reduction in global CO2 emissions in 2020. Rejoicing over such news rests on a short-sighted view. The interlinkages between COVID-19, energy and climate issues are so complex that we are actually looking at a mixed bag of consequences.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Pollution, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Francesca Ghiretti
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The bilateral relationship between Italy and China is back in the spotlight one year after the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on China’s Belt and Road Initiative. To date, Italy is the second hardest hit country by COVID-19 pandemic after China. Despite strict measures in place to limit the crisis, numbers keep rising, placing the national health care system under severe strain.
  • Topic: Health, Bilateral Relations, Foreign Aid, Propaganda
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Italy, European Union
  • Author: Alessandro Marrone
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Italian armed forces need to adjust to a changing operational environment, whereby threat levels are on the rise and the United States is more reluctant to lead military operations than in the past.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO, Armed Forces, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Elisa Murgese
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: China’s 2018 import ban on mixed “recyclable” plastic waste revealed deep-rooted problems in the global recycling system and uncovered the wasteful and harmful nature of the recycling trade. Repercussions have been global. In April 2019, Greenpeace East Asia took a closer look at the top plastic waste importers and exporters globally. This data details the 21 top exporters and 21 top importers of plastic waste from January 2016 to November 2018, measuring the breadth of the plastics crisis and the global industry’s response to import bans. Two core trends emerged from China’s ban and the Greenpeace analysis.
  • Topic: Crime, Environment, Trafficking , Waste
  • Political Geography: Europe, Malaysia, Asia, Italy
  • Author: Nicola Bilotta, Alissa Siara
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: One of the key priorities of the new European Commission is to enhance the EU’s geopolitical credentials and “learn to use the language of power”, as stated by the incoming EU High Representative Josep Borrell. The EU’s ambition is two-fold: to increase the Union’s ability to project power and influence at the global level, including through increased integration and coordination among member states, and secondly to enhance the EU’s strategic autonomy from the US in the political, military and economic domains. Both objectives, ambitious in the best of circumstances, are today under severe strain by the COVID-19 crisis. Implications will be long-lasting and multidimensional, and for Europe, its impact will have a direct bearing on its ambition for strategic autonomy, touching each of the three pillars outlined above.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Economy, Autonomy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Alessandro Marrone
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic will negatively affect the defence field from a budgetary, industrial and politicostrategic point of view, particularly in Europe. Depending on the pandemic’s duration, its economic consequences and national and EU responses, effects may range from contained damages to a much wider European security crisis.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Crisis Management, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Daniele Fattibene
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development stands at a crossroads. While Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have progressively entered the political discourse and agendas of numerous states, without long-term financial investments, building a more just and sustainable future will remain little more than a rhetorical embellishment.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, United Nations, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Elena A. Korosteleva, Irina Petrova
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Resilience has recently emerged as a possible solution to address the increasing dysfunctionality of national and global governance, strengthening its ability to deal with the frequenting crises and the adversity of VUCA – the more vulnerable, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – world around us.
  • Topic: Politics, International Relations Theory, Institutions, Coronavirus, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Tommaso Emiliani
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The killing of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by a US drone strike on 3 January 2020, followed by the Iranian retaliation on US military bases in Iraq, left many Europeans wondering how – if at all – the European Union can foster de-escalation in the Middle East. The EU is presently stuck between a deepening strategic rift with its US ally and its inability to advance its independent interests and policies vis-à-vis Iran. It is now clear that Europe cannot protect its relations with Washington while also salvaging the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iranian nuclear deal. Borrowing from an old Persian proverb, Europe cannot have both God and the sugar dates.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Military Affairs, Trade, Transatlantic Relations, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, United States of America, European Union, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Luca Barana
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Commission’s Joint-Communication “Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa”, published on 9 March 2020, envisioned the beginnings of a new and more equal partnership with the African Union (AU).[1] Meanwhile, COVID-19 has had an unprecedented disruptor effect on the world scene. Its impact dramatic and long-lasting, the crisis may also be an opportunity to move beyond policy principles and actually consolidate the EU–AU relationship. The Commission aspires to structure this new course of EU–AU relations around five thematic partnerships and ten actions so as to concretely step up cooperation. A common thread emerging from the Communication is the need to strengthen multilateralism and the rules-based international system.
  • Topic: Migration, United Nations, Multilateralism, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, European Union, African Union
  • Author: Nona Mikhelidze
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: On 25 March, one month after Russia registered its first confirmed case of Coronavirus, President Vladimir Putin announced a week of paid national holiday and invited Russians to stay home in a televised address to the nation. Further measures were subsequently introduced to limit the spread of the virus, while authorities prepared emergency plans to safeguard socio-economic conditions in the country. Initiatives included providing a new support package to businesses hit by the pandemic, a monthly bonus to medical personnel and the construction of new hospitals, following the Chinese model. Meanwhile, the constitutional referendum meant to extend Putin’s term limit as president was postponed. Originally scheduled for 22 April, this delay is due to Putin’s concern for public health and the multidimensional impact of the pandemic, a perfect storm involving quarantine measures, declining living standards, inflation and a weakened exchange rate, rising prices and increased job insecurity. Taken together, these challenges could jeopardise the outcome of the referendum. A recent poll conducted by the Levada Center in March highlighted a very slim majority (45 per cent) in favour of Putin’s constitutional amendments.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Soft Power, Coronavirus, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Italy
  • Author: Nicoletta Pirozzi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Every era has its symbols. In 1984, Mitterrand and Kohl held hands on the battlefield in Verdun, coming to symbolise the importance of peace in the pursuit of European integration. Today, in times of COVID-19, the so-called “Coronabonds” could have emerged as the symbol of a new Europe, one that is ready and able to do what it takes to collectively overcome the present crisis. Yet, what some member states consider an indispensable emblem of European solidarity, namely debt mutualisation to face an unprecedented symmetric crisis brought about by COVID-19, is regarded by others as an ultimate excuse for moral hazard. As a result, Europe could end up with a politically more digestible European Fund, as proposed by Commissioners Paolo Gentiloni and Thierry Breton, designed to issue long-term bonds.[1] Or, as outlined by the Eurogroup, a Recovery Fund that is “temporary, targeted and commensurate” to the extraordinary costs of the current crisis, helping to spread them across time.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis, Governance, Finance, Economy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Manfred Gerstenfeld
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: An important tool in understanding the dynamics of antisemitism is the identification of moments when its boundaries shift. This occurred with the Trump Peace Plan, the antisemitism crisis in the British Labour party, the UN’s first World Conference against Racism, the huge outburst of antisemitism in France in 2000, and the German welcome policy for refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Topic: Politics, Ideology, Peace, Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: As tens of thousands more refugees are shunted by Turkey toward Europe and a new phase of the brutal Syrian war unfolds, Russia, Turkey, the EU, and the international community are being handed the bill for a flawed short-term approach to the nine-year conflict that lacked empathy for the millions of victims and was likely to magnify rather than resolve problems.
  • Topic: War, Refugees, Syrian War, International Community
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Anne Herzberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: UN treaty bodies are increasingly violating their mandates as part of discriminatory anti-Israel campaigns. In March 2020, the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) embraced this disturbing trend by adopting a BDS agenda after being convinced to do so by the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).
  • Topic: Human Rights, Politics, United Nations, BDS, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Norway, Palestine
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Though analysts tend to portray Russia’s foreign policy as truly global (that is, independent of Europe, the US, and China), the country is plainly tilting toward Asia. The Russian political elite does its best to hide this development, but the country is accumulating more interests and freedom to act in Asia than in Europe or anywhere else.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Geopolitics, Global Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Tony van der Togt
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: A global multilateral rules-based order, supported by a pro-active and interventionist United States, is gradually being replaced by a more fragmented world, in which geopolitics and geo-economics are becoming the dominant factors and universal rules, norms, and values are increasingly questioned. For the EU such developments are particularly challenging, as it has long perceived itself as a post-Westphalian soft power, mainly projecting its norms and values in its relations with both its direct neighbors and the world at large. A more isolationist US, a more assertive Russia, and the growing global influence of China have raised questions about the EU’s place and role in the world, which become even more pertinent after Brexit. Therefore, Commission President Von der Leyen intends to lead a “geopolitical Commission” and we are hearing calls for European strategic autonomy or even strategic sovereignty.
  • Topic: International Relations, European Union, Geopolitics, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: András Rácz
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Political leaders could abuse the coronavirus crisis to undermine democracy. Europe’s biggest risk is Hungary. In late March, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán could use his two-thirds majority in parliament to push through a law that would empower him to rule by decrees with no specified time limit. If he succeeds, it will undermine the European Union’s core principles, making the EU even more fragmented and difficult to manage once the pandemic is over.
  • Topic: Government, Authoritarianism, European Union, Democracy, Coronavirus, Pandemic
  • Political Geography: Europe, Hungary
  • Author: Katerina Davidova, Vít Havelka, Jana Juzová, Christian Kvorning Lassen, Danielle Piatkiewicz, Zuzana Stuchlíková
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Experts from EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy comment on the State of the Union address (SOTEU) given by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on 16 September 2020. Topics of the commentaries: Christian Kvorning Lassen: General Impressions – A Visionary Speech Challenged by Political Reality; Christian Kvorning Lassen: A Stronger European Health Union is Needed; Christian Kvorning Lassen: Migration – Ambitious rhetoric, dubious feasibility; Danielle Piatkiewicz: Multilateralism: Europe’s Call to Global Action – Taking the Lead; Kateřina Davidová: EU’s climate momentum not quashed by the pandemic as new target is presented; Jana Juzová: European Neighbourhoods – Vague Reassurances, Economy First; Zuzana Stuchlíková: Next Generation EU, Rule of Law and Conference on the Future of Europe; Vít Havelka: The EU and the UK fights over blame for Brexit fiasco
  • Topic: Climate Change, Health, Migration, European Union, Multilateralism, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Christian Kvorning Lassen
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Christian Kvorning Lassen, Deputy Director of the EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, comments on the US presidential election. The US elections will come down to the wire, and will be determined by mail-in votes. While this was fully expected during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was also the worst-case scenario given Trump’s persistent attempts to delegitimize mail-in votes, despite lack of clear evidence of their fraudulence. Much like 2016, the key battleground states are Pennsylvania (20 EC votes), Michigan (16) and Wisconsin (10), with mail-in votes deciding their outcome. As of this writing, Pennsylvania has counted 700.000 out of 2.5 million mail-in votes, of which Biden has won 71.7% of them to Trump’s 21.3%. Michigan has counted 425.000 out of 2.48 million, with Biden winning 65% to Trump’s 33%. Finally, Wisconsin still needs to count 1.3 million mail-in votes. Should the trend of Biden winning 2/3 of all mail-in votes, Biden will be a clear election winner, giving the Biden camp cause for optimism.
  • Topic: Elections, Donald Trump, Pandemic, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jana Juzová
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Wednesday’s Summit of EU and Western Balkans leaders was long-anticipated following the efforts aimed at reviving the EU enlargement process. The Summit was originally planned to be organized in Zagreb, under the Croatian EU presidency, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was held as a videoconference. Nevertheless, the fact that the Summit was realized despite the current global situation, even on the scheduled date, demonstrates that the Western Balkan region represents a priority for Croatia as well as the rest of the EU, and that the EU genuinely wants to revitalize the enlargement process. It was expected that the Summit in Zagreb would follow up on the positive developments in the past months, those being the positive decision of the European Council on opening the accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, and the adoption of a new enlargement methodology (i.e. set of rules leading the accession process). However, the Summit’s agenda was naturally influenced by the current COVID-19 pandemic and the central topic was eventually the assistance provided by the EU to the Western Balkan countries and a larger plan for their economic recovery.
  • Topic: Reform, European Union, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Vít Havelka
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: On Friday, EU leaders met online to discuss the newest proposal by the European Commission on the future MFF and Next Generation EU recovery fund. As expected, the meeting was devoted to a mere assessment of Member States’ starting negotiation positions, meaning no significant progress has been made. The leaders only agreed to finalize the negotiations as soon as possible, targeting at mid-July during the German presidency. The introduction of Next Generation EU fund rewrote the dividing lines in the EU manifesting during the previous MFF negotiations. Some groupings, such as Frugal Four remain more or less intact, whereas the group of “Friends of Cohesion” disintegrated into several blocks, which makes the negotiations less lucid. Southern Europe supports the new Commission proposals; Czech Republic, Hungary and several Baltic State express reservations. Nevertheless, the good news is that no country vetoed the Commissions proposal and there is a good chance to reach an agreement. Whether this will happen before the summer break remains to be seen. The member states positions are now far away from each other, and the leaders will have to manifest good negotiation skills in order to conclude the negotiations within one month.
  • Topic: Governance, European Union, Economy, Recovery, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Christian Kvorning Lassen
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: Christian Kvorning Lassen from EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy together with Jan Kovář from Institute of International Relations Prague wrote a commentary "Czechia: This Covid-19 environment is not conducive to external solidarity" for the EPIN Report publication, concerned with EU external solidarity at the time of Covid-19. EU member states have been discussing how to collectively deal with the socioeconomic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. As major debates continue to take place about internal solidarity, the question arises how the EU and its member states wish to support third countries, outside the EU, in tackling their health and economic emergencies. On the one and, the EU wishes to become a geopolitical power, which requires that the Union and its member states step up their role and support on the global scene. On the other hand, there are signs of ‘coronationalism’ with some national political parties questioning EU external aid at a time when member states themselves are struggling. Based on expert contributions from a representative cross-section of thirteen member states, this report delves into the question of whether and how external solidarity has been part of the political or public debates in Covid-struck Europe. It finds that, for now, neither ‘coronationalist’ nor geopolitical ambitions dominate the relatively little politicized debates about international cooperation and development aid.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Foreign Aid, European Union, Geopolitics, Economy, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Christian Kvorning Lassen
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: As Germany assumes the presidency of the Council of the EU, the Union is facing the “biggest test of its history” according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and a severe economic recession could not be more extraordinary. The weight of expectations on Berlin to assume a European leadership role during the presidency are as extraordinary as those challenges. What exactly do other member states expect from Germany and how do they set their policy priorities? To answer this, the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN) has compiled an analysis of 15 different national perspectives. Czechia hopes that Germany will forge a compromise that ensures more funding for the cohesion policy and more flexibility to use those funds, including those allocated to the European Green Deal. Czechs look towards the German presidency in hope that the salience of the Green Deal will fall, arguing instead that the pandemic requires a delay – or even abandonment – of a principally green-based restructuring of the economy. The fact that studies based on the previous financial crisis indicate that green investments are ideally positioned to spur economic recovery is ignored; the resistance towards climate neutrality in Czechia is ideological rather than empirical.
  • Topic: Climate Change, European Union, Economy, Recovery, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Joseph de Weck
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Do you want to know how Beijing would like Europe to act? Take a look at Switzerland. Switzerland and China have been close for decades. It was the first Western nation to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in January 1950. Bern wanted to protect investments in the new People’s Republic from nationalization and hoped Swiss industry could lend a hand in rebuilding China’s infrastructure after the civil war. Being friendly to China paid off, but only 30 years later, once reformer Deng Xiaoping took the reins of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In 1980, Swiss elevator producer Schindler was the first foreign company to do a joint venture in China. Today, Switzerland is the only continental European country to have a free trade agreement (FTA) with China.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Switzerland, Sweden
  • Author: Geoffrey Sloan
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: This essay draws on the author’s previous work, specifically: The Geopolitics of Anglo-Irish Relations in the 20th Century. The greatest failure of the European referendum campaign in 2016, which can be attributed to both sides, was the inability to articulate an understanding of Britain’s geopolitical relationship to Europe. By geopolitics, I do not mean its current usage: interpreted merely as a synonym for international strategic rivalry. I refer, instead, to classical geopolitics, which is a confluence of three subjects: geography, history, and strategy. It draws attention to certain geographical patterns of political history. It fuses spatial relationships and historical causation. It can produce explanations that suggest the contemporary and future political relevance of various geographical configurations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe
  • Author: Alexander Luck
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On June 6, the Wall Street Journal set off an avalanche of commentary by reporting that U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a drastic reduction in U.S. troops deployed in Germany within a space of only six months. The move was met with significant pushback in Washington and Brussels, causing Congressional Republicans to raise their concerns in letters and public statements. Trump’s announcement, however, was in fact an extension of earlier plans mooted in June 2019, when the administration first suggested moving at least 1,000 troops from Germany to Poland. At the time, Trump suggested that the proposed move was to “affirm the significant defense cooperation between our nations.” Washington picked up this potential troop move again in a rather unrelated context following a spat over the German refusal to participate in a naval mission in the Persian Gulf to deter Iran, reinforcing the notion Trump keeps using American deployments in Germany as a bargaining chip for any interaction on foreign policy with the Merkel government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mikael Barfod
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Donald Trump has regularly chipped away at multilateralism during his three years in power: climate change, trade wars, immigration, withdrawal from international conflicts, ambiguity about defence alliances, and even suspension of the US budget for the World Health Organization, to mention a few. EU policy, on the other hand, has always supported the UN and the multilateral approach. A traditionally open and liberal EU has a clear self-interest in preserving multilateralism. Could the EU (as I have previously argued[1]) still take the lead in forming effective international alliances to reactivate and possibly even reform multilateral structures? How can Europe take “its destiny into its own hands” as Angela Merkel suggested recently? Well said, but she is retiring in a year and a half. And meanwhile, what has the coronavirus done to Europe’s destiny? Let’s look at today’s main challenges and opportunities.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Immigration, Multilateralism, Trade Wars, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • 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: John R. Deni
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Over the last month, an array of analysts and experts has attempted to ascertain what the post-pandemic world might look like from strategic, policy, or institutional perspectives. Several of these assessments feature dramatic predictions of a new world unlike what existed just months ago. It’s reasonable to expect change following a global crisis, but the near breathlessness detectable in some of these analyses evinces a lack of nuance or an appreciation for stasis. Moreover, few of these or other analyses have addressed the implications in a transatlantic context, or suggested specific mitigation steps. This brief essay reflects a more balanced attempt to fill these gaps, identifying recommendations for the US Army and Department of Defense to leverage the crisis and mitigate the damage across the transatlantic community.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Transatlantic Relations, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Hironori Fushita
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in Russia has been slower than in other European countries, but the number of infected people has surged since late March, especially in Moscow, and has exploded since April. As of April 14, the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in Russia was 201,122 (up 2,774 from the previous day), with 1,694 recovering and 170 dead1. The following article will provide an overview of the spread of the novel coronavirus infection in Russia and the government's countermeasures, as well as the impact of this infection on the future of Russian politics
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Governance, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: n this study, commissioned by the Computer and Communications Industry Association, we explore the economic and social impacts of digital services in Europe, and identify the actions digital services providers are taking to tackle illegal and harmful content. We conclude by suggesting points for the European Commission to consider as it develops its upcoming Digital Services Act. The rapid growth of digital services has had a transformative impact on daily lives and economic activity across Europe. Much of Europeans’ online activity is enabled by a dynamic and innovative network of online platforms. These sustain jobs and revenues themselves, and support economic activity amongst the ecosystems of businesses and individuals who use them. Even more importantly, digital services enhance economic competitiveness. They reduce barriers to growth for SMEs, enabling them to access infrastructure and customers, and to trade internationally, without making large up-front investments. Digital services also create value for consumers, delivering more choice, convenience and lower prices, and other benefits which are more social in nature. However, the technologies have been misused by some users for purposes which are harmful or illegal. Providers recognise this challenge and have developed a range of individual and collective initiatives to address it.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Digital Economy, Internet, Digitalization
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Carina Böttcher
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Civilian CSDP missions rely on EU member states to staff them with skilled experts via the instrument of secondment. But the rate of seconded personnel in missions has decreased notably over the last ten years. The key to reversing this trend is addressing obstacles at the national level that hinder the recruitment and deployment of civilian experts with specialized profiles. Targeted incentives could help overcome some of these obstacles.
  • Topic: European Union, Finance, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Martin Sieg
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: In Moldova, the weakness of the Eastern Partnership has been over-reliance on incentives, rather than a lack thereof. Veto players who hid their true interests by claiming allegiance to the European cause hijacked the EU’s soft power. The EaP’s shortcoming was lack of means and readiness to make these key opponents of political reforms keep their commitments. Its core challenge is how to overcome the resistance of these veto players who have been obstructing transformational goals.
  • Topic: Reform, European Union, Partnerships, Soft Power
  • Political Geography: Europe, Moldova
  • Author: Claudia Schmucker, Stormy-Annika Mildner
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Today, trade policy is used more and more often to achieve geopolitical goals. To defend European interests in this new geo-economic environment, the EU must recalibrate its unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral trade toolbox. While the EU needs to counter the increasingly unlevel international playing field, self-sufficiency is not a viable option. The strength of the EU depends on its openness and integration in world markets.
  • Topic: Economics, Reform, European Union, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Heinrich Brauß
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: President Trump wants to withdraw US troops from Germany because it spends too little on defense. US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, however, is trying to present the decision as the result of a strategic analysis. That seems grotesque. The withdrawal not only weakens NATO, but also the security of Europe and America’s ability to act. The Europeans must finally close their capability gaps, and Germany must make its armed forces fully operational earlier than planned.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Armed Forces, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, North America, 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
  • Author: Roderick Parkes
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Brexit talks have entered extra time. If the UK is to leave the EU in an orderly manner, it needs a deal in the next four weeks. The trouble is that, as the prospect of leaving becomes more concrete, the government has finally recognized that it needs to honor the promises it has made to voters. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is struggling to reconcile his vague pledges with real world constraints – both internationally and domestically.
  • Topic: Politics, European Union, Brexit, Negotiation, Boris Johnson
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe
  • Author: Julian Rappold
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Ursula von der Leyen’s first ‘State of the Union’ speech is an opportunity for her to reassert her political agenda under the conditions of COVID-19 and to set the tone for her four remaining years in office. The summit agreement in July on a recovery strategy was perceived as a leap forward for the EU but fell short of von der Leyen’s ambitions. Fault lines between member states are deepening, and interinstitutional cooperation is on the wane. This is a make-or-break moment for the Commission President.
  • Topic: European Union, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Claire Demesmay, Milan Nič
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s European policy is to improve the position of his country in the Eastern European member states of the European Union. Although this is not a change of strategy, but only a new method, it creates favorable conditions for intensified Franco-German dialogue on European strategic issues
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, European Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, France, Germany, Baltic States
  • Author: Cristina Gherasimov
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Despite welcoming signs from the recent EU-Ukraine Summit, the underlying problems still loom large in this special relationship. The EU is running out of tools to incentivize more difficult reforms, and Ukraine is running out of arguments why it is unable to tackle corruption, oligarchs, and consolidate rule of law. With growing geopolitical turmoil in the region, a further strengthening of this partnership should be a priority. The risk of an increasing anti-Western backlash in Ukraine should not be underestimated.
  • Topic: International Relations, Corruption, European Union, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Roderick Parkes
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: British political institutions have shown resilience during the Brexit crisis. London apparently believes it has the scope to put EU talks behind it and recalibrate its position in the world. The British government is carrying out an integrated review of defense, aid, and foreign policy and preparing its presidency of the COP26 climate talks and G7. By contrast, its neighbors are gripped by the notion of Britain’s further constitutional deterioration. Their perceptions could well become self-fulfilling.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Climate Change, Politics, Brexit, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe
  • Author: Roderick Parkes
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: A crisis can bring out the best in Germany’s European policy, resulting in its selfless embrace of deeper integration. But sometimes crises require Germany to lead from the front rather than melt selflessly into the background. On such occasions, Berlin has seemed a little too keen to stress that it is taking action under severe constraints. While Germany’s EU presidency showcased both tendencies, its shift toward crisis-driven realism risks overshadowing its strides for a better Europe.
  • Topic: Politics, Domestic politics, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Predrag Petrovic, Jelena Pejic Nikic
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Report on state capture in Serbia is BCSP genuine and pioneering work aiming to document and deconstruct ongoing process of state capture in the security sector through presentation of mechanisms, actors and consequences of this process. For several years now, various international indexes have been measuring the stagnation and decline of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms in Serbia. Although the country is still formally in the process of European integration, the European Commission noticed back in 2018 that there are elements of state capture in the entire Western Balkans region. Due to the significance and ubiquity of this phenomenon in Serbia, the BCSP has embarked upon a pilot research project that aims to establish the main factors and conditions, as well as the mechanisms and actors, involved in state capture in the security sector. The capturing of the police, the security services and the defence sector in Serbia is analysed in this early study. Furthermore, it was necessary to situate the analysis in the country’s political context, and special chapters cover parliamentary oversight and control and the security sector financing. The research was conducted from May 2019 to April 2020 and is based on insights gleaned from both primary and secondary sources.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Democracy, Rule of Law, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia
  • Author: Maja Bjelos, Vuk Vuksanovic, Luka Steric
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: According to a public opinion survey Serbian citizens identify Russia and China as their greatest friends. As the country's most important foreign policy priorities, citizens recognize preserving Kosovo as part of Serbia, strengthening cooperation with neighboring countries and strengthening cooperation with Russia. More than half of the citizens do not support Serbia's membership in the EU. Most respondents (40%) perceive Russia as Serbia’s best friend, and 72% believe that Russia’s influence in the country is positive, which is an increase of 11% compared to the results of the survey from 2017. Only two percent of people believe that Russia’s attitude towards Serbia is hostile. After Russia, second place on the list of friends is reserved for China (16 percent of respondents). The growth of positive attitudes towards China is especially visible after the beginning of the pandemic, which is proved by the fact that 75% of respondents believe that China provided the most assistance to Serbia in the fight against the pandemic, although there are no official data on the amount of Chinese aid. According to available data, the largest donor was the European Union (EU), and only 3% of Serbian citizens recognize that. In addition, almost 90% of respondents believe that the Chinese influence in the country is positive, which is an increase of over 30 percent compared to the survey from 2017. Although EU membership has been a strategic goal of Serbia since 2005, only 9% of respondents believe that it is the main foreign policy priority of Serbia. Citizens recognize the preservation of Kosovo as part of Serbia, strengthening cooperation with neighboring countries and strengthening cooperation with Russia as the three most important foreign policy priorities. Although Serbia is a candidate for EU membership, only 20% of respondents believe that the state should harmonize its foreign policy with Brussels. The results of the survey show that the majority of 51% do not support Serbia’s membership in the EU, compared to 46% of respondents who would opt for membership. This result indicates that the number of opponents of European integration has increased since 2017, when only 35% of citizens voted against EU membership. The number of respondents who believe that Serbia is surrounded by mostly friends in the region has almost doubled compared to 2017 and now is over 40%, but there is a slight increase in the opinion that Serbia has more enemies in the neighborhood, which now think a little less than 50% of citizens. When asked who Serbia’s biggest enemy is, 30% of respondents identified Croatia, 20% Albania and 13% the United States. Slightly more than 70% of the respondents believe that there will be no outbreak of armed conflict in the Balkans in the next five years, which is an increase of 20 percent compared to 2017. The powerful emotional pull of the Kosovo dispute is also demonstrated by the fact that 52% of respondents believe that Serbia should intervene militarily in Kosovo in the case of a conflict and 47% of respondents would personally join their compatriots in the case of conflict. In contrast, 69% of respondents said that Serbia should not intervene if the same situation occurred in Montenegro, and 58% if the conflict broke out in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the majority of citizens would not get involved in those conflicts. It is encouraging that two thirds of those interviewed believe that lasting peace between Serbs and Albanians is possible, and half of all respondents think that it is possible to achieve this only in the case of a peaceful settlement of the dispute over the status of Kosovo. Public opinion survey was conducted by CeSID for the needs of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) in the period from September 15 to October 5, 2020, on a representative sample of 1,200 citizens of Serbia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Governance, Public Opinion, Leadership, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia, Balkans
  • Author: Marija Pavlovic
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The main finding of this study is that the Serbian public have conflicting views on national and personal security and their relationship with the country’s institutions. On the one hand, people instinctively recognise that the main security threats are internal and are related to poor governance – such as organised crime and corruption and low levels of trust in institutions that serve the interests of politicians – which is why they rely on themselves and their own good conduct, from which they derive a sense of personal security. On the other hand, under the influence of media messaging and dominant narratives about threats to national security, presenting a maelstrom of great power rivalry and adversarial actors in the region, they continue to believe that hard power is the best response to security issues. Therefore, they see solutions mainly in the continued strengthening of the country and investment in the security sector. Moreover, it is important to bear in mind that public opinion is diametrically opposed to the threats and risks defined by the official National Security Strategy and Defence Strategy adopted last year. Both documents place (the relatively unlikely events of) armed aggression and separatist tendencies within the country in first place on the list of threats to Serbia’s security – threats that only appear in the lower half on the list of priorities in the eyes of the public, who see human security issues as the priority problems. This discord between public perception and the strategic documents is a consequence of the almost complete lack of public debate during the adoption process of these documents. At the same time, it is testimony to the wrongheaded priorities of Serbia’s security policy, which is clearly at odds with the needs of the public, even though the National Security Strategy cites their subjective feelings in defining national security.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Corruption, Crime, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia
  • Author: Srdan Hercigonja
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The public opinion poll conducted by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) in October 2020 shows that the society is divided, both when it comes to measures taken in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and regarding the reaction of the competent institutions to the health crisis. Although no less than a third of the Serbian citizens do not believe in or have serious doubts about the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of them are of the opinion that the health crisis will have serious economic consequences, while a third are convinced that it has affected the level of democracy in Serbia. Most people see the pandemic as a threat to human and national security, but they are divided over how this crisis has affected their everyday lives. Polarisation was identified in relation to the level of trust in state institutions. Citizens trust the health care system the most, which is not surprising since the health care system commonly occupies a very high position in general surveys conducted to measure trust in all institutions. The reason for the high level of trust in the health system is the fact that it is the entire health system – not just the specialised COVID departments – that is bearing the brunt of the pandemic. As for other institutions, the percentage of trust in the President of the Republic and the Crisis Task Force for the Protection of the Population from the Infectious Disease COVID-19 stands at almost fifty-fifty, which again reflects the broader picture of citizens’ (dis)trust in these permanent and temporary institutions. One of the reasons for the division in the perception of disease as a threat to the personal safety of citizens is poor informing and reporting on the course and consequences of the pandemic (frequent contradictory messages provided by the Crisis Task Force and the authorities), which has been identified in the survey as one of the biggest problems of pandemic management. An enormous number of citizens perceive China as the largest financial and humanitarian donor during the period of the pandemic, which also influences – in the general survey – positive opinions about foreign countries, where China ranks first. Despite the fact that it was in fact the European Union that helped Serbia the most in the fight against the Coronavirus, in both financial and humanitarian terms, in the eyes of the citizens China still convincingly holds the first place.
  • Topic: Security, Public Opinion, Health Care Policy, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Serbia
  • Author: Julia Hamann
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: More fragmented than ever, Europe is at a crossroads, making the 2019 European Parliament election an immensely political event. Stakes are high for Emmanuel Macron, Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orbán, all of whom could shake up the balance of power in the EP. Macron has lost much of his initial vigor, and the disruptive potential of Salvini and Orbán is significant. If played well, their combined power could send shock waves across all European institutions
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Europe Union
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Julia Hamann, Sara Jakob
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: For many young people in France, President Macron’s reforms failed to alleviate their social anxieties. Unemployment remains high, employment conditions precarious, and what started as a protest against new fuel taxes quickly spilled over to other reform areas including social policy. Macron will need to gain the youngsters’ trust ahead of the European Parliament election – not least because its outcome will decisively shape his domestic credibility, and consequently, his political fate
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Lee Willett
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Russia’s Syrian campaign has demonstrated the returning challenge the West faces in the underwater domain. Combat operations in Syria have been an opportunity for Russia’s military forces to prove on operations a new generation of capabilities, just as Operation ‘Desert Storm’ in 1991 saw the United States demonstrate its own new generation of military technology. One of the first weapons fired in ‘Desert Storm’ was a Tomahawk sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM), launched on the first day from several surface combatants. Two days later, a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) became the first submarine to fire Tomahawk in combat.[1] The USN’s re-roling of its SSNs as primary power projection platforms in the 1990s/early 2000s underlined the shift in Western focus in the underwater battlespace away from the primary Cold War task of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) to counter Soviet naval activity. Simply, the strategic collapse of the Soviet Union saw what was a significant submarine threat disappear almost overnight, and with it – for that moment, at least – the Western requirement for ASW capability. Today, the underwater threat is back. Since 2008 – which saw both Russian naval forces engaged in the Georgia campaign and the re-emergence of regular deployments by Russian submarines (and surface ships) south of the Greenland-Iceland-UK (GIUK) gap – naval power has been central to Russia’s strategic resurgence.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Weapons , Maritime
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria, Mediterranean
  • Author: Guilhem Penent
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: It is a classic exercise to imagine what today’s world would be like if all satellites were shut down. The exact consequences of such a scenario, which is not unlikely given the inherent vulnerability of space systems to natural, accidental and deliberate interferences, are however difficult to appreciate, even for specialists. In the smartphone age, much of what we take for granted is provided by space technologies. They are so effective at delivering essential, though unseen, services (e.g. positioning, navigation and timing signals, geographic information data, and broadcasting relay and amplification) that many aspects of our modern society have become reliant upon them. As emphasized by Florence Parly, the French minister for the armed forces, in last September: “From rural to urban areas, from the very small to the large companies, every day, more than 10 satellites on average accompany us and help us in our daily lives.”
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Space, Autonomy
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Ferdinando Nelli Feroci
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: A few months after the European Parliament elections, and a few weeks before a new European Commission is fully operational, the European Union is facing old and new challenges, both domestic and international. Internally, the EU will soon be testing these new institutions. In the recently elected European Parliament, nationalist and Eurosceptic political forces are a minority, but pro-European mainstream parties, which have the numbers to control the proceedings of the Parliament, have not been able to consolidate a stable and comfortable majority. The new European Commission has encountered setbacks in the confirmation procedure of three of its members and will therefore fully assume its responsibilities with some delay on 1 December.
  • Topic: Government, Nationalism, Politics, Elections, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Nicoletta Pirozzi, Francesco Musi
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The civilian dimension of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict stabilisation has long been prominent in EU crisis management missions. From 2000 onwards, the EU has developed its monitoring, capacity-building, strategic advice and training tools, deploying a total of 22 civilian missions beyond its borders. Currently, there are 11 active civilian missions, stretching from the Balkans (EULEX Kosovo) to the Middle East (EUBAM Rafah, EUPOL COPPS, EUAM Iraq), from Eastern Europe and Caucasus (EUAM Ukraine, EUMM Georgia) to Africa (EUBAM Libya, EUCAP Sahel Mali, EUCAP Sahel Niger, EUCAP Somalia). Their main tasks include policy reforms on the rule of law, the fight against organised crime and security sector reform.
  • Topic: Politics, Reform, Budget, Crisis Management, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Nicola Casarini
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Should the EU enforce a containment policy towards the People’s Republic of China (PRC – or simply China), joining efforts undertaken by US President Donald Trump, who has unleashed a trade and technological war against Beijing with the aim of permanently subordinating the Asian giant to the West? Or should the EU continue its engagement policy towards Beijing – and even seek to maximise Sino-European ties to put limits on those US unilateral policies that are detrimental to Europe’s interests and fundamental values? What would be the best policy mix of engagement and containment for EU–China relations? And to what extent should the EU align its China policy with that of the US?
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Institutions
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Jiri Valenta
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The revolution that took place in the Czech Republic thirty years ago was not just the work of Vaclav Havel and his Charter 77 followers. The spark was a KGB coup directed by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. A Kremlin coup also helped spur revolutionary change in Germany. The late 1980s saw unprecedented power struggles within the Soviet elite and Politburo under Gorbachev.
  • Topic: History, Geopolitics, Coup, Revolution
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Czech Republic
  • Author: Katerina Sokou, Aristotle Tziampiris
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The challenging geography of Greece makes it hard for the country to take full advantage of its natural resources and expand its energy grid. Though it has doubled its share of renewables, it needs to redouble those efforts to reach the EU’s ambitious goal of covering a third of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. The Greek islands that have been at the forefront of the migration and refugee crises would particularly benefit from a targeted policy to reach that goal, as the transition would increase their energy security, reduce their energy costs, and diversify their economies. Greece has the potential to be a model of sustainability that would enhance the stability of the entire Eastern Med.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Refugee Crisis, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Mediterranean
  • Author: Manfred Gerstenfeld
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Berlin has surpassed Malmö as Europe’s antisemitism capital, with a wide variety of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes on display. They include dozens of cases of physical aggression against Jews, including rabbis. Jewish pupils have had to leave public schools. Thirty-five percent of Berliners view Israelis as analogous to Nazis. An Al-Quds Day march takes place annually that calls for the destruction of Israel. Both the municipality and the federal government are two-faced about the problem of antisemitism.
  • Topic: Politics, Judaism, Ideology, Anti-Semitism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Germany
  • 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: Eline Rosenhart
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: Eline Rosenhart analyzes the way that the CAR has become an arena for the competition of interests between France and Russia. The Central African Republic (CAR) has been described as the “periphery of peripheries,” a country which seems to be of very little interest to the rest of the world. Although rich in natural resources such as diamonds, gold and uranium, the government of CAR is unable to make use of them in such a way that would benefit the economy of the country. Landlocked, ravished by bloody civil wars, and heavily dependent on foreign military support, CAR has become synonymous with disaster.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Military Intervention, Crisis Management, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Europe, France, Central African Republic
  • Author: Robin Simcox
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Determining precisely what factors lead to radicalization is a pressing challenge. In fact, beyond the violent Islamist threat, the influence of political Islam and varying shades of Salafism are also growing across Muslim communities in Europe. This, too, has harmful social consequences. The scale of the problem facing Europe was exacerbated by the decision made by Germany in 2015 to open its borders to refugees fleeing conflicts in Muslim-majority countries. While security threats undoubtedly entered with the refugee flow (or individuals were radicalized and became threats once in Europe), the refugee issue has also introduced social and cultural questions relevant to overall cohesion and integration in Europe. This essay looks at these issues from the perspective of four European countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and France. Islamist terrorists have attacked each country in the last two years, and each has taken differing approaches to preventing extremism and facilitating integration. Dozens of conversations with government officials from across Europe have informed my conclusions.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Government, National Security, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Ideology, Islamism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, France, Germany, Sweden
  • Author: Yuri Yakymenko
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Razumkov Centre
  • Abstract: Summary of Analytical report of the Razumkov Centre, prepared for the project “Coalition Agreement for the new Ukrainian Parliament”, jointly implemented by the Razumkov Centre and Ukrainian Office of Konrad Adenauer Foundation
  • Topic: Elections, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Jakub Pieńkowski, Tomasz Żornaczuk
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Initiated at the end of 2017, the Varna Quadrilateral is a forum for cooperation between Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Romania. It is intended to improve coordination of cross-border infrastructure and energy investments between the largest countries in southeastern Europe. Meetings to date also show that collaboration can have clear political elements. However, a half year after the inauguration of the new initiative, its future is in doubt due to the great differences between its members.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Fritz W Scharpf
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The performance of EMU member economies is shaped by different and structurally entrenched “growth models” whose success depends on specific macro-regimes – restrictive for export-led growth, accommodating for demand-led growth. These two types of models cannot be equally viable under a uniform macro regime, and their divergence threatens the stability of the EMU. The present attempt to enforce structural convergence in the eurozone appears economically ineffective and lacks democratic legitimacy on the national and the European level. Assuming that complete integration in a democratic federal state is presently unattainable, the paper presents the outline of a more flexible European Currency Community that would include a smaller and more coherent EMU and the member states of a revised “Exchange Rate Mechanism II” (ERM) whose currencies are flexibly linked to the euro. It would restore the external economic viability of autonomous domestic policy choices, and it would protect its members against speculative currency fluctuations.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe