The “Wall of Welcome” in front of European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 14, 2015 (Photo by Wiktor Dabkowski for dpa via AP Images).

In 2015, more than 1 million people, mostly from Syria but also Eritrea, Sudan and other countries wracked by conflict and economic turmoil, found their way to Europe in search of asylum, where they struggled to rebuild their lives, often in the face of xenophobia and exclusion. Those were the lucky ones. Thousands of other refugees and migrants died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, a tragic waste of human life that was symbolized in a photograph of the lifeless body of a four-year-old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, which washed up on the shore of a beach […]

Migrants stand outside their makeshift tents on the perimeter of the overcrowded Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece, Jan. 28, 2020 (AP photo by Aggelos Barai).

In mid-February, the United Nations issued a statement calling for the immediate evacuation of the Moria refugee camp, on the Greek island of Lesbos. Initially designed to hold fewer than 3,000 people, the camp’s population had increased from 5,000 last July to roughly 20,000. With ships bringing new arrivals every day, medical experts feared a looming public health crisis. Malnutrition was widespread, hygiene impossible to maintain and health care workers completely overwhelmed, leading many residents to die of treatable conditions. A regional government official called Moria “a powder keg ready to explode,” and a volunteer doctor told The Guardian that […]

Albin Kurti, the newly elected prime minister of Kosovo, waves after a new government was elected, in Pristina, Kosovo, Feb. 3, 2020 (AP photo by Visar Kryeziu).

“The citizens of Kosovo voted massively for change,” said Albin Kurti, the country’s newly installed prime minister. “Kosovo is ready to turn a new page.” He may be right, but will they and their neighbors throughout the Balkans actually see that transformation, if their leaders can’t put the 1990s and the troubled years since behind them? In exclusive comments to WPR, Kurti said that countries in the Balkans “are still suffering from the past while struggling to build the future.” A few years ago, Kurti was leading his fellow lawmakers in setting off tear gas amid a protest in Kosovo’s […]

A masked couple walks on the empty Trocadero next to the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, March 17, 2020 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Europe is now the epicenter of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Health Organization. The continent has more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, outside China. In response to the outbreak, European Union leaders held an emergency summit via video conference this week, agreeing to temporarily close all external borders to non-essential travel. COVID-19 is clearly the most urgent of the many issues facing EU leaders, but it is not the only one. The Brexit process with the U.K., a migration crisis on Greece’s border with Turkey, and an inability to come to […]

Slovakia’s incoming prime minister, Igor Matovic, arrives for an interview a day after the general election, in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 1, 2020 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

After a surprise victory in Slovakia’s parliamentary elections late last month, the enigmatic Ordinary People and Independent Personalities party, known as OLANO, will lead a diverse majority coalition in the legislature. President Zuzana Caputova is scheduled to swear in the new government on March 21. Many Slovaks have welcomed the change after the nationalist and populist Smer party governed the small eastern European country for most of the past 14 years, with increasingly authoritarian tendencies. OLANO has pledged to clean up the “Mafia state” that allegedly flourished under Smer, following an election that was overshadowed by mass protests over the […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses lawmakers during a parliamentary session in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 4, 2020 (Sputnik photo via AP Images).

In the most sweeping reshuffle of his government since he took office last May, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired his Cabinet and appointed a new prime minister earlier this month. The announcement comes at a tricky time, as the government is considering several reform measures that are seen as important to winning much-needed investor confidence. In an email interview with WPR, Steven Pifer, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, discusses the factors behind Zelensky’s move and why the new Cabinet will need to work hard to prove it can bring about real […]

Migrants run to avoid tear gas thrown by Greek police during clashes near the Pazarkule border gate in Edirne, at the Turkish-Greek border, March 2, 2020 (AP photo by Darko Bandic).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Elliot Waldman talk about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s escalating military confrontation with the Russian-backed forces of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and how Erdogan’s decision to wade into the Syrian conflict is coming back to haunt him. They also discuss the refugee crisis that erupted this week along Greece’s border with Turkey, and its echoes of the 2015 European migrant crisis. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our […]

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attends the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 15, 2020 (Photo by Alexey Vitvitsky for Sputnik via AP Images).

If you thought judicial appointments were an explosive issue in the United States, just look at Armenia, where over the past year, the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has declared war on Armenia’s senior judges. Most recently, Pashinyan has called a popular referendum for April 5 to remove seven of the nine judges on the Constitutional Court, whom he accuses of blocking his reform agenda. The government sees this as a last-ditch measure to clean up a corrupt justice system that Pashinyan inherited from former President Serzh Sargsyan. For the judges, it is an assault by politicians on the […]