Javier Solana at the 2012 SDA Presdient's Dinner, Brussels, Belgium, May 27, 2012 (Security and Defence Agenda photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

World Politics Review’s Maria Savel had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Javier Solana regarding the European Union’s relations with China, ASEAN and Asia as a whole. Dr. Solana is president of the ESADE Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics and previously served as the European Union high representative for the common foreign and security policy, NATO secretary-general and Spanish foreign minister. The following is a condensed version of their conversation. World Politics Review: Germany-China ties indicate a lot of the fault lines in the European Union and its approach to China in terms of balancing national and European interests. […]

An often neglected but fundamentally important victim of conflict is the physical manifestations of a community, a people, a nation—their heritage. The cultural heritage of France and Belgium was utterly devastated during World War I, epitomized by the burning of the medieval library at Leuven and destruction of the cathedral of Rheims. A century later conflicts in states such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria continue to be characterized by the destruction of cultural heritage. So how far have we come in protecting cultural heritage from the devastating effects of war? Over the past century, surprisingly far, and at the same […]

A supporter of French comic Dieudonne Mbala Mbala displays a t-shirt with his image, Nantes, France, Jan. 9, 2014 (AP photo by David Vincent).

PARIS—The recent attacks against synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses on the margins of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France have shocked many, both here in France and beyond, despite being only the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents and violence in the country over the past few years. Nevertheless, the most recent attacks have been in some ways sensationalized and distorted, especially in the American press. While alarming, they do not represent a generalized sentiment of anti-Semitism in France; they have been rightfully condemned across the French political spectrum and by many in the communities in which they took place. More important, […]

French police officers detain a suspected jihadists during a raid in Strasbourg, France, May 13, 2014 (AP photo by Jean Francois Badias).

Europe’s strategic situation is simultaneously precarious and curiously comfortable. From eastern Ukraine to northern Africa, conflicts crowd in on the European Union (EU). Yet the bloc’s security may actually benefit from the ongoing instability in cases such as Ukraine, Mali and even Syria. The longer these conflicts absorb the energies of potential foes, ranging from Russian President Vladimir Putin to various Islamist radical groups, the less likely they are to menace the EU directly. Europeans have little or no appetite to get involved in these wars, leading critics to grumble that they refuse to fight for their interests. But it […]

President Barack Obama speaks about escalating sanctions against Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine at the White House in Washington, July 16, 2014 (AP photo by Charles Dharapak).

It is axiomatic that almost any foreign policy action taken by President Barack Obama will be reflexively criticized by the Republican opposition. What is striking is how, in recent months, congressional Democrats and former Obama administration officials have been more willing to publicly voice their own critiques of the president’s performance. Even his first-term secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, now positioning herself for a possible 2016 run to succeed him as chief executive, has begun to lay out her differences with Obama on how he has handled the national security portfolio. Most of the critiques follow a common narrative: that […]

Neo-nazis, rightwing extremists and white supremacists march under police supervision on their annual demonstration in memory of a young skinhead who was killed in 2000, Dec. 11, 2010 (AP Photo by Fredrik Persson, file).

Rising immigration, failed integration and the violent radicalization of a small minority of young Muslims have fueled the ascent of populist parties across Europe. Sweden is not immune, although it is different from its neighbors. Of all the Nordic countries, Sweden has the highest proportion of immigrants, and yet it has consistently registered the lowest level of support for nationalist, anti-immigration parties. That Swedish exceptionalism, however, is unlikely to last given the high levels of immigration and ongoing problems with integration. Despite having less than 2 percent of the European Union’s population, Sweden last year took in almost 20 percent […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 12, 2014 (AP photo by Eduardo Di Baia).

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to South America earlier this month was overshadowed by events in Ukraine and the Middle East, it did garner considerable attention in the South American and Russian media. Even in Washington, commentators saw Putin as seeking to circumvent the Western opposition to his policies in Ukraine as well as retaliate for U.S. involvement in Moscow’s neighboring states with a tit-for-tat display of influence in Washington’s strategic backyard. Putin began his visit in Cuba on July 11, where he finalized plans to eliminate 90 percent of Cuba’s Cold War-era debt to Russia—more than $30 billion […]

A woman walks at the site of the crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, eastern Ukraine, July 18, 2014 (AP photo by Dmitry Lovetsky).

Last week, I observed that the most striking feature of the Ukrainian crisis was “just how limited it remains to date.” This proved to be a grotesquely untimely remark. My basic point remains valid: Although Russia seemed ready to mount a full-scale incursion into eastern Ukraine as early as April, it avoided such an open challenge to the West. The U.S. and Europe reciprocated by limiting sanctions against Moscow in the second quarter of this year. But these signs of restraint have given way to chaos. Since roughly one week ago, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have responded increasingly aggressively […]

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the World Cup soccer match between Ghana and the United States, Natal, Brazil, June 16, 2014 (AP photo by Julio Cortez).

The United States missed out on a rare geopolitical opportunity this past week. Vice President Joe Biden, who has emerged in Barack Obama’s second term as more of an alter ego for the president on both the domestic and international stages, should have taken a short trip to Brazil for the World Cup final. Sure, the U.S. team had already been eliminated, but as the fabled “reassurer” who travels to different parts of the globe to shore up American commitments, Biden still had a plausible excuse to drop in at the close of the tournament: to congratulate Brazil on a […]

A woman walks at the site of the crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, eastern Ukraine, July 18, 2014 (AP photo by Dmitry Lovetsky).

Yesterday’s downing of Malaysian commercial airliner MH17 near Donetsk, killing 298 civilian passengers and crewmen, marks a shocking turn in the ongoing conflict over eastern Ukraine. New information is still coming out, but as of this writing we know that some of the passengers were researchers and activists heading to an international AIDS conference in Melbourne.* At least nine nationalities were represented on board, ranging from the Netherlands to the Philippines, and possibly, though the State Department has yet to confirm, some number of Americans. While nothing has been conclusively proven, all signs point to a surface-to-air missile launched by […]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, July 7, 2014 (Kyodo via AP Images).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in China last week, where she visited Chengdu, in the west of the country, and Beijing. This marks Merkel’s seventh official trip to China since she took office in 2005, a further sign of the growing importance of Berlin’s special relationship with Beijing. Germany and China have been steadily boosting ties since the late 1990s, when Gerhard Schroeder was chancellor. In 2012, then-Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, while visiting Berlin, announced the goal to increase bilateral trade with Germany from $180 billion to $280 billion by 2015. Trade between the two reached $193 billion in 2013, […]

Military visitors from OSCE participating states wait at a checkpoint between Ukraine and Crimea, Armyansk, Ukraine, March 6, 2014 (OSCE photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution - No Derivative Works license).

Is Ukraine a promising model for the management of future international crises? At first glance, it looks like nothing of the sort. Kiev is in the middle of a bloody military campaign to regain control of towns and cities in the east of the country from pro-Russian rebels. More and more civilians have been caught in the crossfire. As Janek Lasocki of the European Council on Foreign Relations has noted, roughly 200,000 Ukrainian citizens have registered as internally displaced persons inside the country or moved to Russia. “In the past week alone,” he adds, “over 10,000 more have formally registered, […]

Ukrainian then-President-elect Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin Ouistreham, France, June 6, 2014 (AP photo by Christophe Ena, Pool).

After the end of the Cold War, there was a palpable sense of optimism that the Euro-Atlantic community could be expanded at little risk and without significant cost. It was assumed that Russia would either itself seek to join the West or be too weak to oppose the process if it soured on the project. U.S. and European policymakers, however, had not considered the possibility of a Russia both hostile to Western expansion and with sufficient strength to stymie such plans. Now the unfolding end game in Ukraine is challenging the core assumptions of European security that have guided policymakers […]

FSA rebels cleaning their AK47s, Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 19, 2012 (photo via Wikimedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).

Almost all European Union member states have seen some of their young citizens, often Muslims between the ages of 18-29, leave their countries to join the jihad against the Assad regime in Syria. The issue of foreign fighters is not new: The conflicts in Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan had already seen young European Muslims join the fight. However, the threat appears more public and pronounced with Syria, partly because many foreign fighters document their journey on social media outlets. At least 12,000 foreigners have fought in Syria over the first three years of its civil war, including 300-700 French nationals, […]

View of Lviv, Ukraine, May 25, 2007 (photo by Wikimedia user Lestath licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 license).

Last month, in Brussels, Ukraine’s newly elected President Petro Poroshenko signed an association agreement with the European Union. This was the same agreement his predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, declined last November, triggering mass demonstrations in Kiev, Yanukovych’s flight from the country and the ongoing conflict with Russia over Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions. Poroshenko pointedly signed the agreement using Yanukovych’s pen. While integration with the EU has long been unpopular in Ukraine’s contested east and in the Russian-annexed Crimea, the mood in the country’s west is far more enthusiastic. Western Ukraine, a loosely defined area centered on the major city of […]

Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, at the seventh meeting of the Syria Humanitarian Forum, Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 19, 2013 (U.N. photo by Jean-Marc Ferré).

The Syrian war, currently overshadowed by its offshoot in Iraq, remains a ruinous blight on international diplomacy. Nearly half a year after the furiously hyped but fundamentally hopeless peace talks between the government and moderate rebels in Geneva, no end to the fighting is in sight. President Barack Obama has requested $500 million from Congress to train and equip rebel forces, suggesting that he is resigned to an extended proxy war with Russia and Iran, which continue to assist Damascus. Yet while the Geneva talks petered out in February, remnants of international cooperation over Syria have survived. Moscow and Washington […]

A general view of the city of Tiraspol, Transistria, Oct. 23, 2013 (Press Association photo by Simon Peach via AP).

Last week, three former Soviet republics—Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova—signed association agreements with the European Union. All three countries contain breakaway territories that Russia either effectively controls or directly supports. While the world was riveted by Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008, and the crisis over Ukraine’s eastern regions continues to make headlines, far less attention has been paid to the case of Moldova. On the country’s eastern edge, between the Dniester River and the border with Ukraine, sits Transnistria, a self-declared state home to about 500,000 people of mostly Slavic descent that announced its independence during the collapse of the […]

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