The Party of Regions, the governing party of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, is on track to retain control over parliament after claiming victory in elections held over the weekend. The results of the widely criticized polling reflected the persistent fault lines that divide the country’s moderate center, its European-leaning western region and the pro-Russian east. “The good news is that Ukrainians voted in large numbers and that the parliament will now be more diverse,” Alexander Motyl, a professor of political science and deputy director of the Division of Global Affairs at the Rutgers Newark College of Arts and Sciences, told […]

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko threatened last week to allow illegal migrants into the European Union in retaliation for new sanctions the bloc has placed on his country. In an email interview, Jana Kobzova, a policy fellow and coordinator of the Wider Europe Program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, discussed EU policy toward Belarus. WPR: What is the current state of political and economic relations between the EU and Belarus? Jana Kobzova: Icy is the word that best describes the political relationship between the two today. Relations were mildly better in 2009-2010, when the two sides talked about expanding […]

In a meeting in Paris last week, President François Hollande of France and President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico pledged to move their countries’ battered bilateral relationship beyond the controversial case of Florence Cassez, a French citizen imprisoned in Mexico, with Peña Nieto promising to respect the Mexican Supreme Court’s ruling on the case. In an email interview, Roberto Domínguez, a Jean Monnet researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, discussed France-Mexico relations.* WPR: How extensive are relations between France and Mexico in terms of trade and diplomatic ties? Roberto Domínguez: Relations between France and Mexico take place against […]

In a reshuffling of the constituencies that elect board members at the International Monetary Fund, Colombia has left a group led by Brazil for one led by Mexico, while Western European countries opted to give more say to smaller European economies. In an email interview, Edwin M. Truman, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, discussed the changes in IMF constituencies. WPR: What prompted the reshuffling of voting groups at the IMF? Edwin M. Truman: The reshuffling of voting groups, or constituencies, on the 24-seat IMF executive board was prompted by two developments. First, at the Seoul G-20 […]

Yesterday’s regional elections in Spain’s Basque region have demonstrated again the strength of blood ties and the resurgence of localism in a time of globalization. People are increasingly seeking protection close to home, an urge that seems light years away from the European Union’s postmodern supranational ambitions. The good news is that, these days, the push for local autonomy comes without violence. But if the Basque country has moved beyond the separatist terrorism of the ETA, the strong showing by the pro-independence party Bildu means that assertive regionalism now means taking over real political responsibility. It is no longer a […]

Irish President Michael Higgins visited Argentina, Brazil and China this month in an effort to boost economic ties with the region. In an email interview, Frank Barry, chair of international business and economic development at Trinity College Dublin, discussed Ireland’s trade strategy. WPR: What are the key sectors and partner countries for Irish trade? Frank Barry: One needs to distinguish between exports of Irish-owned (indigenous) companies and those of the foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) that use Ireland as an export platform from which to sell primarily into the European Union. Some 80 percent of total Irish exports are accounted for […]

On Tuesday, the British government announced that it would not extradite British hacker Gary McKinnon to the United States, marking the first time an extradition has been halted under the 2003 Extradition Act between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. McKinnon, who is accused of serious crimes including hacking American military databases, has fought extradition for the past 10 years. But in light of new evidence about his health, British Home Secretary Theresa May, the government’s top authority on domestic affairs, cited McKinnon’s human rights as her main consideration. Extraditing McKinnon would put him at high risk of suicide, she […]

Russia announced last week that it would cease cooperation with the U.S. under the highly successful Nunn-Lugar nuclear security program. In an email interview, Brian Finlay, a senior associate and director of the Managing Across Boundaries program at the Stimson Center, discussed Russia’s decision to withdraw from the program. WPR: Why is Russia withdrawing from the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program? Brian Finlay: In the immediate wake of the Cold War, dire financial need and insecurity across the Russian Federation mandated cooperation with the United States to protect the vast stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet […]

Last month, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Uzbekistan meeting with government officials, think tank researchers, university faculty and other members of the country’s national security community. We shared frank assessments on Uzbekistan’s relations with Russia, China, Afghanistan and other neighboring countries, as well as with the United States. Judging by the size of its population and the strength of its military, Uzbekistan is potentially the most powerful of the five Central Asian countries. In addition, its pivotal location bordering all the other Central Asian countries as well as Afghanistan give Uzbekistan great geopolitical and economic importance […]

Editor’s note: WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, was quoted by the Associated Press in the run-up to French President François Hollande’s trip to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, this weekend to attend the Francophonie Summit. The following is the full, lightly edited version of his emailed comments.Almost every French president enters office promising to reset relations with Africa, and in particular to put an end to the historical postcolonial system based on corruption and clientelism, with little regard to democracy and human rights. Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, declared the same thing, and actually managed to update most of the defense […]

In a decision that came as a surprise to most, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week. The announcement quickly shifted attention from a development that had dominated the European news just days before: the failed merger between defense giants EADS and BAE, which could also be considered the death knell of strategic Europe. In light of this missed opportunity for Europe to rise to a global defense role, some observers had only cynical remarks for the prestigious peace award. The failed EADS-BAE merger marks the second unsuccessful effort since 1997 to move the European defense […]

During a visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Moscow earlier this week, the two sides announced that Iraq has signed contracts to purchase up to $4.2 billion worth of Russian weaponry. The news was quickly followed by a diplomatic contretemps between Russia and Turkey, when a Syrian Airlines plane that had departed Moscow for Damascus was forced to land in Ankara. The Turkish government subsequently announced that the ostensibly civilian flight had been carrying military equipment. Combined with the news that a visit by President Vladimir Putin to Turkey scheduled for this coming Monday had been postponed, it […]

At the European Union-China Summit in Brussels last month, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao urged EU leaders to end the EU embargo on arms sales to China. In an email interview, Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, discussed the EU arms ban on China. WPR: How is the ban currently affecting relations between the EU and China? Richard Bitzinger: Since being enacted in 1989, the ban has stood as an irritant to EU-China relations, but it has not harmed the relationship much, either when it comes to […]

The government of Cyprus is seeking a new, multibillion dollar bailout from Russia, which said last month that it would only grant additional loans in coordination with the European Union. In an email interview, Andreas Stergiou, a lecturer in modern European history and politics at the University of Crete, discussed Russian-Cypriot relations. WPR: What is the recent history of Russia-Cyprus relations, and what has driven ties on both sides? Andreas Stergiou: Cyprus’ position at the crossroads of three continents has historically lent strategic importance to the island. As a result, Soviet and postcommunist Russia have maintained a consistent policy of […]

Last month, the Russian government ordered the U.S. Agency for International Development, the aid-administering arm of the U.S. State Department, to cease operations in Russia. In an email interview, Daniel Treisman, a professor of political science at UCLA, discussed Russia’s ejection of USAID. WPR: What is the motivation behind Russia’s ejection of USAID? Daniel Treisman: The closing of USAID’s Russian office is just the latest in a series of moves on the part of the Kremlin aimed at weakening the political opposition and obstructing its efforts to forge a nationwide coalition behind democratic reforms. Other moves include the toughening of […]

When Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili took to the air to concede his ruling United National Movement party’s defeat in the country’s Oct. 1 elections and announce the UNM’s plans to head into the opposition, it signaled the end of the Rose Revolution era. That the revolution’s leaders were shown the door through the ballot box and not by street protests marks a significant advance for Georgia and the region. If it has not quite achieved mature democracy yet, Georgia has at least reached an unprecedented level of political competitiveness for the post-Soviet world outside the Baltic states. Among the many […]

The announcement last week that Peer Steinbrück would be the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate in Germany’s next general elections in September 2013 came as a surprise, given the SDP’s insistence over the past month that the decision on the party nominee would be taken closer to date of the actual polls. The party had promised a campaign based on programs, not personalities, even if it was clear that one of the SDP’s ruling troika — party chief Sigmar Gabriel, head of the parliamentary group Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Steinbrück, a former president of the North Rhine-Westphalia lander and finance minister […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 221 2 Last