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  • Author: Krševan Antun Dujmović
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: The general elections held in Montenegro on 30 August 2020 has once again drawn the attention of the Western Balkans to the smallest, measured by population, among seven nations that emerged after the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This attention is due to a number of factors. Back in May of 2018 Montenegro has opened the last of the thirty-three chapters in the negotiation process with the European Union, making it a harbinger among Western Balkans nations on the path to Euro-Atlantic integrations, especially as the country had joined the North Atlantic Alliance in June 2017. Other countries in the region linger behind Montenegro – Albania and North Macedonia, both NATO members, are still waiting for the opening of the negotiations with the EU. Serbia has no intention to join NATO, and in spite of EU negotiations and ambitions, sees itself in balance between the West on one side, and Russia and China on the other. Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina are far from NATO membership and have merely the status of potential candidates for EU membership. This is why all eyes of the region and of the advocates of continuation of EU enragement policy are on Montenegro. The second factor are strong historical ties of this country on the Adriatic coast with its northern neighbor Serbia. Serbian minority makes up to one third of Montenegro’s population, and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC- Srpska Pravoslavna Crkva) plays a vital role in Montenegrin society, as this country does not have its own autocephalous Church recognized by other Orthodox Churches in Eastern Christendom. This gives Serbia and the SPC a significant clout within borders of its southern neighbor. The third factor is the involvement of global players in this country. The United Sates has advocated strongly to include Montenegro in NATO in order to stretch the line of NATO’s southern flank in the Northern Mediterranean from the Iberian Peninsula to the west to Greece and Turkey in the east. On the other hand, Montenegro’s authorities accused Russia of meddling in the general elections held in October 2016 when the alleged coup d’état occurred on the election day. Many feared a similar scenario on the eve of 30 August 2020 election, fathoming the outbreak of riots and violence that could ignite the powder keg in the Balkans. Although none of these happened, Montenegro is not ceasing to be the subject of the geopolitical chessboard. Considering these factors, the attention of neighbors to the events in this Balkan country is understandable. The unfolding situation after the elections in which the government of Montenegro is backed by a very thin majority in the Parliament (Skupština Crne Gore) and with no clear vision nor strategy for further political and economic development of the country, is only fueling the wariness of its neighbors and of Brussels about Montenegro as a success story.
  • Topic: NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Elections, European Union, Transition
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans, Montenegro
  • Author: Fatma Yilmaz-Elmas
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: Addressing a close relationship between the EU’s role as a global actor and migration management, this article covers the 2016 EU-Turkey migration deal and endeavors to go beyond simple criticism of its efficiency. Following a review of the relevant literature and critical analysis of recent migration management process, interviews with field experts and policymakers were utilized to assess the policy dilemmas of the EU’s approach to the pressure from migration. The pressure the EU has long been experiencing is not a challenge that can be solved by asymmetric cooperation with third countries, characterized by an ignorance of divergences in perceptions and expectations. This may have subsequent impact on the EU’s enlargement policy and thereby on the stability of the region.
  • Topic: Migration, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Refugee Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Sarah Brichet, Hugo Chouarbi, Marie Dénoue, Valérian Frossard, Armony Laurent, Nicolas Libert, Anne-Flore Magnuszewski, Pauline Maillard, Juliette Rolin
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: The launch of the European Defence Fund is a true step forward. Its objective is to facilitate the emergence of a European defence industrial and technological base through cooperation between European industrialists and thus reduce European "capability bottlenecks" in the field of military equipment while attempting to increase the Union's "strategic autonomy". With a budget of €7 billion under the EU's new multi-annual budget, a new Directorate General, DG DEFIS, will be responsible for its management, under the supervision of the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton. At the heart of European institutional and conceptual transformations, its operation and management are of particular importance.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Regional Cooperation, Science and Technology, Governance, Industry
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Christine Hübner, Jan Eichhorn, Luuk Molthof, Srđan Cvijić
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: France is one of the European countries with the highest rates of popular disapproval of countries in the Western Balkans joining the European Union. What is this disapproval based on, and how important is the issue of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans for people in France? Using a combination of 2020 survey data representative of the adult French population and in-depth focus groups with French voters, this report offers a comprehensive insight into the views of the French on whether or not the countries of the Western Balkans should join the European Union.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, European Union, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Balkans
  • Author: Camille Grand, Matthew Gillis
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The credibility of any alliance depends on its ability to deliver deterrence and defence for the safety and secu- rity of its members. Without capability, any alliance is deprived of credibility and exists only on paper. De- spite a rocky history – up to and including the current debate on burden-sharing – capability lies at the heart of NATO’s success. There is good cause to draw opti- mism from the Alliance’s accomplishments throughout its 70 years in providing a framework for developing effective and interoperable capabilities. However, the future promises serious challenges for NATO’s capabilities, driven primarily by new and dis- ruptive technology offering both opportunities and threats in defence applications. Moreover, develop- ments in these areas are, in some cases, being led by potential adversaries, while also simultaneously mov- ing at a pace that requires a constant effort to adapt on the part of the Alliance. On the occasion of NATO’s 70th anniversary, the future outlook requires a serious conversation about NATO’s adaptability to embrace transformation and develop an agile footing to ensure its future relevance.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Collective Defense
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Jeffrey H. Michaels
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In the Declaration that emerged from the Decem- ber 2019 London Leaders Meeting, NATO Secre- tary General Jens Stoltenberg was tasked to present Foreign Ministers with “a forward-looking reflection process under his auspices, drawing on relevant exper- tise, to further strengthen NATO’s political dimension including consultation”. This new tasking has been largely attributed to French President Emmanuel Ma- cron’s remark the previous month that the Alliance was suffering from “brain death”. Speaking at a press conference alongside Stoltenberg, Macron elaborated on his comment, complaining the Alliance was overly focused on “cost-sharing or burden-sharing” whereas too little attention was being placed on major policy issues such as “peace in Europe, the post-INF, the re- lationship with Russia, the issue of Turkey, who is the enemy?”3
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Collective Defense
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, Turkey, North America
  • Author: Can Kasapoglu
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In three decades, Ankara’s strategic agenda in Syria has considerably changed. First, back in the late 1990s, Tur- key’s primary goal was to put an end to the Hafez al-As- sad regime’s use of the PKK terrorist organization as a proxy. To address the threat at its source, Ankara resort- ed to a skillfully crafted coercive diplomacy, backed by the Turkish Armed Forces. A determined approach – championed by Turkey’s late president Suleyman Demi- rel – formed the epicenter of this policy: it was coupled with adept use of alliances, in particular the Turkish-Is- raeli strategic partnership. In October 1998, Syria, a trou- blesome state sponsor of terrorism as designated by the US Department of State since 19791, gave in. The Baath regime ceased providing safe haven to Abdullah Oca- lan, the PKK’s founder who claimed thousands of lives in Turkey. The same year, Damascus signed the Adana Agreement with Ankara, vowing to stop supporting ter- rorist groups targeting Turkey. In the following period, from the early 2000s up until the regional unrest in 2011, Turkish policy aimed at reju- venating the historical legacy. During that time, Ankara fostered its socio-cultural and economic integration efforts in Syria – for example, cancelling visas, promoting free trade, and holding joint cabinet meetings. Turkey’s foreign policy was shaped by then Foreign Minister and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s thought, popularly formulated in the concept of “Strategic Depth”. Refer- ring to David Laing’s anti-psychiatry school, Davutoglu claimed that the nation was alienated from its roots and embraced a “false self”. To fix the “identity crisis”, Tur- key pursued charm offensives in the Middle East. This ideationally motivated stance even led to speculative neo-Ottomanism debates in Western writings.2 From 2011, when the Arab Spring broke out, there were high hopes as to Turkey’s role model status. In April 2012, before the Turkish Parliament, then For- eign Minister Davutoglu stated that Ankara would lead the change as “the master, pioneer, and servant” of the Middle East.3 Five years later, the Turkish administration dropped these aspirations. At the 2017 Davos meeting, then Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek stated that the Assad regime’s demise was no longer one of his gov- ernment’s considerations.4 In fact, by 2015, Turkey had to deal with real security problems on its doorstep, such as the Russian expedition in Syria, ISIS rockets hammer- ing border towns, the refugee influx, and mushrooming PKK offshoots.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, Turkey, Syria, North America
  • Author: Jens Ringsmose, Mark Webber
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO has for seven decades seen its share of crisis, argument and division. Still, few would dis- agree that the presidency of Donald Trump has added a new layer of discord and unpredictability to what the late Michael Howard once described as “an unhappy successful marriage”.1 Germany, France, and Denmark have all been brow-beaten by the US President, and even the UK, America’s staunchest ally, has been taken aback by Trump’s behaviour.2 But there is something far worse going on here than a marital argument. By calling into question America’s commitment to Article 5 and even to NATO membership itself Trump has, in effect, threatened a divorce.3 True, Trump’s words are often at odds with American actions. US ma- terial commitment to NATO remains strong, evi- dent in the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), and US participation in exercises such as Trident Juncture and Defender Europe 20. But words still matter, particularly when spoken by a President with a maximalist interpretation of his prerogative powers. Europeans governments may not welcome it, but Trump has raised the possibility of American abandonment. So, the Allies have been forced to consider their options. All European capitals rec- ognize there is no realistic alternative to “Plan A” – a credible American security guarantee – but many are beginning to think of a “Plan B” outside of NATO that supplements the fragile transatlantic link. This sort of reaction to the “Trump shock” is understandable but ill-conceived. Hedging in this way might end up triggering exactly what the Eu- ropeans wish to avoid: the US walking away from its European Allies. There is a risk, in other words, that the hedge will become a wedge. The Europe- an Allies should instead up their game in support of NATO and return to the idea of a European pillar in the Alliance. A stronger and more coher- ent European contribution to defence and securi- ty that straddles both NATO and the EU would demonstrate to a sceptical audience in Washing- ton that NATO-Europe is pulling its weight in the trans-Atlantic Alliance. “Plan A” is still alive, but it could do with a bit of life support.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Collective Defense
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Chloe Berger
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In the spring of 2020, the Atlantic Alliance’s “large pe- riphery” to the South, which extends from the Sahel to the Asian borders of the Arabian Gulf, remains in a state of dangerous instability. The health and con- tainment measures taken by the authorities against the COVID-19 crisis have put popular claims to rest. The case of Lebanon shows, however, that the urgency of the pandemic has not made the demands of the pop- ulation disappear. Beyond managing the health crisis, there is no doubt that the future of the region’s lead- erships1 will largely depend on their ability to miti- gate both the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the political ones. In this “broader MENA” region, whose confines and internal cohesion are unstable, the challenges are ever more complex. Despite the relative consensus between NATO and its Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) and Is- tanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) partners on the deep-rooted causes of the structural instability, the po- tential solutions are much debated. NATO’s “Project- ing Stability” concept raises as many questions with the partners, as it does within the Alliance, since a desired end-state has yet to be defined. While all efforts con- tributing to an increase in stability are a priori welcome, the Alliance and its partners must agree on the conditions of stability in order to identify and implement effective means suited to the local context.
  • Topic: NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Collective Defense
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, Asia, North America, Gulf Nations
  • 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