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On the merits of this article, Radio France International contacted me last Thursday to do a telephone interview on the EU debt agreement, for a piece that aired on Friday. So far the deal hasn’t been entirely outrun by events, but it looks like that might soon be the case. I’m tempted to say that without a solid European growth horizon, no virtual package is going to do the trick. On the other hand, eventually the numbers will be large enough to cover the basic math of the crisis, because it feels like the political tipping point regarding a European […]

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I had the pleasure of participating in France 24’s panel discussion program, The World This Week, last Friday. The other panelists were the IHT’s Anne Bagamery, AFP’s Dave Clark and RTL 4’s Stefan de Vries. Topics included the EU debt crisis agreement, Tunisia’s elections and the emergence of democratic Islamism in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, and the end of NATO’s mission in Libya. Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here. It was a fun and informative discussion. I was especially surprised to learn from Stefan, who was in Brussels covering the EU summit, […]

The violent Basque separatist group ETA recently declared a definitive end to its armed activity, 52 years after its founding. The declaration came in response to an appeal made on Oct. 17 by a group of international peacemakers, led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, that gathered in San Sebastián, Spain, for a carefully choreographed peace conference to help bring a close to what the group called “the last armed confrontation in Europe.” The phrase, and the presence of the peacemakers, irritated many in Spain who see ETA’s actions solely in terms of terrorism and have long considered the organization […]

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series examining the European Union’s approach toward the integration of the Balkans into the union. Part I examined the record of EU integration to date. Part II examines the road ahead. With the global spotlight focused on the European Union’s ongoing debt crisis, the European Commission’s recently issued reports on the progress Western Balkan countries are making toward accession may seem marginal. But for these nations, the achievement of EU membership is an essential symbolic and practical goal. As the reports indicate, this goal is still a long way off, even […]

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In an apparent throwback to the Cold War era, Germany recently arrested a married couple suspected of acting as a sleeper cell on behalf of Russian intelligence. The news flew mainly below the radar of the English-language media, and it remains to be seen how German-Russian relations may be affected. But the arrests mark the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall that suspected Russian spies have been arrested on German soil. For Ben Judah, a London-based policy fellow and Russia specialist with the European Council on Foreign Relations, that highlights an evolving challenge facing the Russian intelligence […]

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European Union leaders have yet again come up with a detail-free plan to address the European debt crisis, with the hope being that this one with be massive enough to have the needed “shock and awe” effect to calm markets. Whether or not it will be enough to have more than an immediate impact remains to be seen. How will European banks recapitalize without consolidating their holdings, at a time when bank shares have been falling? Who will actually pony up the money to reinforce the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF)? How realistic is the Greek austerity budget? And how […]

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Anti-Roma riots erupted in Bulgaria last month, following a death linked to an alleged Roma crime boss. In an email interview, Martin Kovats, a special adviser to the European Commission on Roma issues, discussed the European Union’s Roma policy. WPR: What are the main areas of concern regarding the Roma in Europe, from the perspective of both human rights advocates and national governments? Martin Kovats: For human rights advocates, the persistence of disadvantage among and discrimination against the Roma raises questions about the utility of rights to deliver social change. National governments have a range of perspectives, as the political […]

The battle to define the lessons of the Western intervention in Libya began almost as soon as the first Tomahawk missiles started hitting that country’s air defense network back in March. Many of the arguments have focused on the viability of the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine of international humanitarian intervention and how it might apply to such countries as Bahrain or Syria. However, defense analysts also subjected the military character of the campaign to scrutiny, with some now suggesting the fight in Libya indicates that airpower has finally fulfilled its decisive promise, having matured to the extent that it can […]

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series examining the European Union’s approach toward the integration of the Balkans into the union. Part I examines the record of EU integration to date. Part II will examine the road ahead. The European Commission’s (EC) recent progress reports on the Western Balkan countries, released in October, mark the latest stage in a long process designed to bring a region devastated by post-Communist conflict into the European fold. The European Union’s influence on the Balkans over the past decade has certainly been positive, drawing the countries away from armed conflict and […]

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Thousands staged demonstrations against the power of banks and for greater democracy in German cities on Saturday, while several thousand Spanish teachers and parents marched in the capital Madrid to protest against austerity measures. This report by the Russian government-owned Russia Today examines the protests.

Last year, the European Investment Bank, the European Union’s major development arm, invested a record $3.6 billion in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and other southern Mediterranean countries to demonstrate support for sustainable growth and job creation in the region. But despite these economic initiatives, the EU lacks a political strategy for dealing with the Arab Spring. Nowhere is this clearer than in the continuing debate over whether Brussels should establish official relations with the Muslim Brotherhood. What has prevented an objective appraisal of this question, in addition to a long-standing fear of Islamists, is that the Arab Spring has led many […]

A new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has shed light on one of most important developments in the international arms trade market of the past 10 years: the decline in Russian arms sales to China. While diplomatic relations between the two powers remain relatively strong, their trade in arms has collapsed since the middle of the last decade. The cause of this collapse stems not from any substantial political conflict between the two, but rather from “ordinary” tensions that afflict great power relations. While the greatest immediate impact of this development will be felt by Russia and […]

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Turkey’s energy minister announced earlier this month that the state-owned gas company BOTAS would not renew a gas deal with Gazprom when it expires in December due to a pricing dispute. In an email interview, Hasan Selim Ozertem, a researcher at Turkey’s International Strategic Research Organization, discussed Turkey-Russia energy relations. WPR: What is the nature of Turkey and Russia’s energy relationship, including gas and nuclear energy? Hasan Selim Ozertem: Russia is Turkey’s main energy supplier, with their energy relationship dating back to the Cold War period. In the post-Soviet era, relations have been positive, particularly in the area of natural […]

The reaction in much of the Western press to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s proposal of a Eurasian Union at the beginning of October was more or less predictable to longtime Russia watchers. Familiar accusations of Russian neo-imperialism and wild claims about a “new Soviet Union” abounded, feeding into a general narrative of Russia as a looming threat that must be contained. These fears are premature, to say the least. As Richard Weitz pointed out in his WPR column last week, the idea of some form of overarching supranational organization for the post-Soviet states has been a hallmark of Russian […]

China-Russia relations took another step forward during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing last week. With the Arab Spring throwing the two governments into an unexpected alliance at the United Nations this year, the visit marked the continuation of attempts to build a deeper and less volatile bilateral relationship. The two sides signed off on trade deals worth $7 billion, demonstrating a tangible effort to move beyond energy-based economic ties, while Putin suggested a greater focus on China for the Kremlin’s foreign policy after the recent period of rapprochement with the U.S. This suggests that, although mistrust and suspicion […]

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The re-election this week of Poland’s pro-market and pro-European Prime Minister Donald Tusk made headlines for marking the first time in the nation’s post-communist era that a ruling party has won two consecutive terms. The victory confirms Tusk’s place at the forefront of a Polish political landscape still burdened by last year’s horrific national tragedy that saw President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of other top political and military leaders perish in a plane crash. But it also reflects Tusk’s success at positioning Poland as a key intermediary within Europe’s greater geopolitical landscape, says Jana Kobzova, the coordinator of the Wider […]

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