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  • Author: Peter Valente, Matthew Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Last year’s MS Westerdam cruise ship fiasco - in which 1,455 passengers and 802 crew were turned away from five different ports before being welcomed by Cambodia - raised many questions regarding how governments and the international community can improve their responses to global health crises. It also offers a window into the Cambodian government’s response to a global health crisis in the context of an important bilateral relationship — U.S.-Cambodia relations. Shortly after 700 new passengers boarded the Westerdam in Hong Kong on February 1 the cruise ship found itself stranded in the Indian and Pacific oceans ping-ponging between Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and Thailand until February 13, when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen allowed the Westerdam to dock in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The incident serves as an interesting window into how domestic regime security considerations combined with mixed motives in international relations influenced Cambodian decision making. One of the more bizarre facets of the Westerdam’s story was the in-person, relatively unprotected meet-and-greet between the Westerdam’s passengers and the Cambodian prime minister immediately after docking and amidst a global health crisis over the highly contagious COVID-19 virus. There has been much speculation by the media on the motivations of Cambodia’s decision and the prime minister’s personal welcome. Some of the various theories appearing in Western media include: diplomatic motives toward home countries of the passengers and crew (particularly the United States), Chinese political influence causing Cambodia to play down the dangers of COVID, or some combination of domestic and international politics.
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Cambodia, North America, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Abdullah Al-Arian
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Prof. Abdullah Al-Arian discusses how Islamist movements have historically viewed diplomacy as important to their activist missions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, Diplomacy, Politics, History, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Egypt, United States of America
  • Author: Marcin Przychodniak
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The policy of repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang has become a significant element of criticism of China in the world. In March this year, the EU, U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on China over the matter. Moreover, the Netherlands, the U.S. and Canada described China’s actions as genocide. For China, however, its actions involving Uyghurs are a key element of domestic politics, which is why it presents accusations as disinformation. It has imposed counter sanctions, including on the EU, and their wide scope indicates that for China, Xinjiang is more important than, for example, the ratification of the Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI) with the EU.
  • Topic: International Relations, Genocide, Human Rights, European Union, Uyghurs
  • Political Geography: China, United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, Asia, Netherlands, United States of America, Xinjiang
  • Author: Karol Wasilewski
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU intends to implement a new model of relations with Turkey based on phased, proportional, and reversible engagement. The Union’s plans are a consequence of a dilemma: although Turkey often acts like an adversary, EU members want to maintain close relations with it due to the convergence of interests in areas such as migration and the economy. The Union’s new approach creates the opportunity to strengthen its influence on Turkey. Yet, different expectations about the future shape of relations will keep EU-Turkey relations tense.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, European Union, Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The year 2020 was characterized by the intensification of US-China confrontation and strategic competition, which had been pointed out in the Strategic Annual Report 2019, in all areas from military and security affairs as well as dominance in advanced technologies and supply chains to narratives on coronavirus responses. Amid this confrontation, the rules-based international order faced even more severe challenges; the multilateral framework established after World War II with the United Nations at its core lost its US leadership and fell into serious dysfunction. While the international community is struggling to cope with the rapidly expanding outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China has been moving to expand its influence through increasingly authoritarian and assertive domestic and international policies on the rule of law and territorial issues, as well as through economic initiatives such as the existing “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and its responses to the pandemic. The confrontation with the United States is becoming more and more pronounced, and the Indo-Pacific region is turning itself into divided and contested oceans. In this transforming strategic environment, expressions of support for the vision of a rulesbased “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) that Japan has been promoting for the past several years, or announcements of similar visions have followed one after the other. The year 2020 also saw significant strengthening of the cooperative framework among four countries – Japan, the United States, Australia, and India (QUAD) – together with the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between countries in this group. At the same time, progress was also made in a regional cooperation framework that includes China with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement in East Asia. The Strategic Annual Report 2020 looks back at major international developments since last year’s Report through the end of 2020, focusing on the transformation of the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific region and the response of the international community.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Multilateralism, COVID-19, Destabilization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Middle East, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Kwaku Arhin-Sam, Alia Fakhry, Victoria Rietig
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Despite a seemingly close partnership between Europe and Ghana on migration, their relations are full of pitfalls. Ghana’s interests in the diaspora, labor migration, and regional free movement are often at odds with Europeans’ focus on irregular migration and return policies. This report provides German and European politicians, policy experts, and practitioners with concrete and actionable ideas for how to aim for more informed migration discussions with their Ghanaian counterparts in the future.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, Diaspora, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Germany, Ghana
  • Author: Claudia Schmucker
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The European Union must position itself in a new geo-economic environment in which the United States and China are increasingly using their economies to shape international relations, as well as regional and global regulatory structures. Although the EU has a good grasp of the challenges that this new environment poses, it does have vulnerabilities in its bilateral and multilateral channels that require attention.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Environment, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Geopolitics, Regulation, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Dina Abdel Fattah
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The relationship between the European Union and Egypt on migration is as uncomfortable for Europe as it is unavoidable. The EU’s goal of reducing irregular migration by working with actual and potential transit countries around Europe has provided Egypt with greater leverage over its European neighbors – a development that worries not only human rights advocates, but many actors who follow the actions of the country’s authoritarian regime.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Migration, Authoritarianism, European Union, Refugees, Borders
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Yuki Tatsumi
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Abe Shinzo is the longest-serving prime minister in post-World War II Japan. Having occupied the office since December 2012, Abe has attempted to leverage his stable tenure to increase Japan’s international presence. In particular, Abe has tried to reshape the way Japan conducts its foreign policy, from being responsive to proactive. “A proactive contribution to peace with international principle” or chikyushugi o fukansuru gaiko (diplomacy that takes a panoramic view of the world map) symbolizes his government’s approach, part of an earnest attempt to remain relevant on the international scene even as the country grapples with irreversible trends including population decline and aging.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Giorgio Bilanishvili, Zurab Batiashvili, Nika Petriashvili, Giorgi Surmava
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: After the occupation and annexation of Crimea in 2014, the epicenter of hostilities shifted to eastern Ukraine, specifically to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Russian-speaking population was not loyal to Kyiv even before that but the events in Crimea and the Russian assistance invigorated the local separatists who, along with adventurers backed by the regular Russian troops, managed to gain control over parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The fighting turned out to be quite bloody and long lasting. There were large casualties on both sides, including civilians. Coupled with a high-profile incident of the downing of a passenger plane, it caused a wide international reverberation and world interest in resolving the conflict. The efforts of the leading OSCE countries had led to a certain agreement and the cessation of intense hostilities by September 2014. A quadripartite agreement (Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine) was achieved on the separation of the parties and a ceasefire. The line of contact was divided into sectors and precincts where a group of OSCE military observers began to monitor the “silence” regime. Since then, the intensity and scale of the hostilities have been significantly reduced. However, every now and then the situation would worsen which was followed by a new agreement on a ceasefire and the establishment of a “silence” regime. It should be noted that since March 2021, the number of incidents has increased dramatically. At the same time, regular Russian troops began to gather along Ukraine's eastern borders and Crimea.
  • Topic: International Relations, National Security, Military Affairs, Conflict, Separatism, Annexation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Crimea