For all the ways that Kosovo’s declaration of independence on Feb. 17, 2008, was a seminal moment, it changed little. To be sure, it marked the beginning of a fundamentally new phase in Kosovo’s political life and led to material as well as symbolic changes in its international status. Many powerful states recognized Kosovo as independent, and its altered international standing quickly allowed it to reach new heights of political autonomy. Yet many of the underlying political challenges and divisions that made Kosovo such a political flashpoint in Europe in the first place remained in place. Its early post-independence years […]

BELGRADE, Serbia — The arrest of Ratko Mladic offers Europe some closure on a horrific period of its recent history, and is a substantial boost for Serbia and its president, Boris Tadic. But obstacles remain ahead for Serbia on its long journey back to the European family. After 16 years of evading near misses and false leads, Mladic came quietly. The former head of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) was found not in a mountain redoubt in Bosnia, but in an innocuous town on the northern Serbian plains. Mladic has been indicted on 15 counts, including genocide and crimes against […]

VIENNA — Last week was an eventful one for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. With popular uprisings across Syria showing no sign of abating, international condemnation of the Syrian government’s violent repression of the demonstrations intensified. On the eve of his highly anticipated speech on the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama announced sanctions against Damascus. And in an unprecedented move, the U.S. Treasury Department added Assad himself to its list of individuals under targeted financial sanctions. On Monday, the European Union, too, imposed its own set of sanctions. Yet amid the domestic political earthquake that is shaking Assad’s rule, another […]

Seventy years ago yesterday, the Royal Navy battlecruiser the HMS Hood was destroyed by the German battleship the Bismarck, striking the British national security apparatus with panic. Although the Hood was 20 years old when it faced off against the Bismarck, it was still one of the largest, fastest and most powerful warships in the world. It was also the most visible symbol of British naval power, having conducted many “show the flag” cruises during the interwar period. The loss of the Hood inspired an intense, emotional desire for vengeance on the part of the Royal Navy, as well as […]

Just more than a week ago at the United Nations saw the close of the Meeting of Governmental Experts on the Implementation of the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects — an elaborate name for an initiative whose progress has been marred by bureaucratic chaos, slow implementation and unequal state capacities. The Program of Action, created in 2001, is a series of recommendations on small arms and light weapons, ranging from destruction of surplus arms to changing national laws to regulate the arms trade. The […]

Debates over space policy typically concern three themes: national security, civil space and commercial space. National security discussions have historically focused on threats to space systems and the proper steps to either preclude, or respond to, those threats. Over the past several years, however, those discussions have grown more sophisticated, moving on to the broader issue of U.S. dependence on and use of space to enhance its military, economic and political power. In civil space, policy discussions address questions of resources and priorities: how much to spend and what to spend it on. Roughly every decade, civil space programs experience […]

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May 1 marked the end of a transitional period for the European Union, after which all existing members were required to fully open their labor markets to eight countries that joined the union on May 1, 2004. In an email interview, Herbert Brücker, an expert in European integration at the Institute for Employment Research in Germany, discussed the opening of the EU labor market. WPR: What was the logic behind the labor market restrictions that were recently lifted? Herbert Brücker: According to the “2+3+2” formula, the European Union agreed to suspend free labor mobility for up to seven years for […]