A woman walks past a poster for Czech presidential candidate Milos Zeman that reads, “Stop migrants and Drahos. This is our land! Vote Zeman!”, Prague, Jan. 24, 2018 (AP photo by Petr David Josek).

PRAGUE—Czechs re-elected populist firebrand Milos Zeman in the second round of presidential elections late last week, in a race widely viewed as a referendum on the Czech Republic’s geopolitical orientation. Despite the return of Zeman to Prague Castle, from where he has railed against migrants and Islam, called for a referendum on the Czech Republic’s membership in the European Union and reached out to Russia and China, Czech foreign policy will nevertheless likely remain anchored in the country’s position as an EU and NATO member. While Zeman’s bluster attracts international headlines and enrages critics, the president’s influence on policy is […]

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks to parliament before a vote on a new batch reforms, Athens, Jan. 15, 2018  (AP photo by Petros Giannakouris).

On Jan. 15, Greece’s parliament adopted new austerity measures aimed at placating its international lenders, including greater restrictions on the right of workers to strike and cuts on benefits to large families. The measures, which passed despite days of protests and crippling strikes in Athens, pave the way for Greece to enter the final stage of its eight-year economic bailout. In an email interview, Angelos Chryssogelos, a teaching fellow in the department of European and international studies at King’s College London, explains what austerity means for the vast majority of Greeks and the state of the opposition to the Syriza-led […]

A man wrapped in a flag adorned with a photo of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic prays in a church as part of ceremonies to celebrate a banned Serb holiday, Banja Luka, Bosnia, Jan. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Radivoje Pavicic).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss the week’s biggest news, including Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria and European leaders’ newfound confidence in pushing back against U.S. President Donald Trump. For the Report, Valerie Hopkins talks with Peter Dörrie about Serbia’s failure to come to grips with its role in the wars that accompanied the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and the divisive legacy of those conflicts—both in Serbia and the wider region—almost 20 years after they ended. If you like what you hear on Trend […]

Symbolic pipes with a sign that reads "Turkmenistan—China" on exhibit at the Bagtyyarlyk natural gas field, Turkmenistan, Aug. 29, 2007 (AP photo by Alexander Vershinin).

Continued attempts at developing a natural gas pipeline linking Central Asian exporters with markets in Europe have fallen apart, leaving the region dependent on exports to either Russia or China. While the United States has helped countries in Central Asia balance geopolitically, some now believe the U.S. will drift from its engagement in the region as part of the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy. Last week, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, became the first Central Asian head of state to visit President Donald Trump in the White House, in a likely effort to shore up ties. In an email interview, […]

A policeman checks a pilgrim outside Kirmahalle Cammi mosque in the northeastern town of Komotini, Greece, Dec. 8, 2017 (AP photo by Giannis Papanikos).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about religious minorities in various countries around the world. On Jan. 9, Greek lawmakers voted to limit the power of Islamic courts operating in the country’s Western Thrace region, on its border with Turkey. The new law upends a system of maintaining separate legal rules for the region’s 100,000-strong Muslim minority that stretches back nearly a century. In an email interview, Effie Fokas, a senior research fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy and a research associate at the London School of Economics’ Hellenic Observatory, discusses what […]

Armed Swiss police officers stand guard on the roof of a hotel near the facility where the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum takes place in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23, 2018 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

It’s not often that we’re treated to the spectacle of two worlds colliding, but U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned visit to Davos for the annual World Economic Forum this week promises to be just that. As if to add to the drama, a string of obstacles has sprung up complicating Trump’s trip. The U.S. government shutdown briefly threatened to derail it. Now a winter storm has dumped six feet of snow on the Swiss mountain retreat, making access difficult and raising the risk of an avalanche. If Trump’s visit does come off as planned, it will set the stage for […]

A woman passes by posters bearing an image of former Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic and the words “I won't betray!”, Belgrade, Serbia, Dec. 6, 2017 (AP photo by Darko Vojinovic).

BELGRADE, Serbia—Milica Djurdjevic and Anita Mitic used to celebrate birthdays together, but that was a long time ago. Though they still live in the same city, today they meet only at protests, where they find themselves on opposing sides. The former friends, whose childhoods were marked by years of conflict, have starkly different views of that violent past—and starkly different hopes for their country’s future. Djurdjevic and Mitic were both born in 1990, the year that the first multiparty elections were held in Yugoslavia, a communist federation that had been ruled by Marshal Josip Broz Tito in the decades after […]

U.S. President Donald Trump reaches out to shake hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May during the U.N. General Assembly, New York, Sept. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

When U.S President Donald Trump announced that he was canceling his trip to the United Kingdom, the public explanation was his disinterest in presiding over the opening of the mammoth new American Embassy, one of the ceremonial events planned for the visit. But it could also be seen as an unexpected gesture of consideration for British Prime Minister Theresa May, who had extended the official invitation from the queen to visit before a series of awkward incidents in the bilateral relationship. Ever since the two leaders held hands outside the Oval Office barely a week after Trump’s inauguration a year […]

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to French troops at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Dec. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Fay Abuelgasim).

On Dec. 7, French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Qatar for a short yet very profitable visit. It took place in the wake of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s own trip to Paris in September. During his eight-hour stay in Doha, Macron visited al-Udeid Air Base—the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East—where France also has a contingent of soldiers. He was then received at Sheikh Tamim’s administrative office, the Emiri Diwan, to discuss several matters of bilateral interest, as well as the diplomatic standoff in the Gulf, before flying back to Paris. Macron and Sheikh […]

Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili addresses servicemen participating in the Noble Partner 2017 joint multinational military exercises outside Tbilisi, Georgia, Aug. 1, 2017 (AP photo by Shakh Aivazov).

In late November, the U.S. State Department gave its seal of approval for the sale of advanced Javelin anti-tank missiles to Georgia. Long coveted by the aspiring NATO member, the weapons appear to offer a boon to Tbilisi’s defense capabilities. Yet any added military value is still modest compared to the overwhelming military superiority of Russia, Georgia’s chief external threat. Since fighting a brief war with Russia in 2008, Georgia has faced a security dilemma in how it should deal with Moscow, balancing diplomacy and talks with military reforms and defense spending. How Georgia deploys the new weapons—and how that […]

Ijaw millitants carry Russian-made AK-47 rifles in Okorota, Nigeria, June. 25, 2004 (AP photo by George Osodi).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about the production and trade of arms around the world. In mid-December, the United Nations granted Russia an exemption to the arms embargo on the Central African Republic, after a petition from Moscow to supply the country’s embattled military with light arms and ammunition, according to reporting by the AFP. The second-largest arms exporter in the world after the United States, Russia already sells billions of dollars in weapons annually across Africa. In an email interview, Paul Stronski, a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron review a Chinese honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Jan. 9, 2018 (AP photo Mark Schiefelbein).

Much has been made of French President Emmanuel Macron’s flair for public diplomacy, from his handling of U.S. President Donald Trump to his efforts to take the lead in global diplomacy on climate change. The latest illustration is his visit this week to China, where he lived up to expectations: In a French version of China’s celebrated “panda diplomacy,” Macron offered Chinese President Xi Jinping a prized horse from France’s Republican Guard as a gift. In his speech in Xian upon his arrival, Macron offered China shared leadership on climate change diplomacy and requested Beijing’s help in efforts to stabilize […]

Portugal’s prime minister, Antonio Costa, speaks to journalists after holding a meeting with his Moroccan counterpart, Saadeddine El Othmani, in Rabat, Morocco, Dec. 4, 2017 (AP photo by Mosa'ab Elshamy).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, managing editor, Frederick Deknatel, and associate editor, Omar H. Rahman, discuss the ongoing protests in Iran. For the Report, Trish Lorenz talks with Peter Dörrie about how Portugal’s center-left governing coalition has bucked European trends since assuming power in 2015, by softening austerity measures without disrupting the country’s economic recovery. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines, as well as what you’ve seen on WPR, please think about supporting our work by subscribing. We’re currently offering a 25 percent discount on the first year of an annual subscription […]

Visitors and Russian military police officers walk toward the Citadel, the famed fortress in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 12, 2017 (AP photo by Nataliya Vasilyeva).

Thousands of Russian private military contractors are reportedly fighting in Syria, and there are increasing reports about such contractors being killed in action. Despite a Russian ban on the use of mercenaries, Moscow has turned to private military contractors as part of its assertive foreign policy. In an email interview, Michael Kofman, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, discusses Russia’s use of contractors in Syria, and the risks and opportunities they pose for the Kremlin. WPR: Russia is reportedly using private military contractors in Syria. How do such contractors figure into Russia’s general operational approach, […]

The full moon rises behind the Castle of Saint George in Lisbon, Portugal, Sept. 6, 2017 (AP photo by Armando Franca).

Since taking over Portugal's government in 2015, the country's Socialist Party has paired economic tailwinds with an effective political narrative about rolling back austerity. It’s unclear, though, whether the party’s success offers lessons for socialists elsewhere in Europe who are losing ground in the current political environment. LISBON—European politics are in turmoil. The United Kingdom is tearing itself apart after a vote to exit the European Union. Spain is deeply divided in the face of separatist demands from its Catalonia region. In France, the far-right National Front mounted a serious challenge for the presidency. Farther east, from Norway to Austria […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Cuban President Raul Castro embrace during a meeting in Moscow, May 7, 2015 (Pool photo by Anatoly Maltsev via AP).

In 2017, as the Trump administration turned its back on U.S. rapprochement with Cuba, the island deepened its relations with Russia, its longtime backer during the Cold War. Russian exports to Cuba were up 81 percent in the first nine months of 2017, and a possible agreement with Russian oil giant Rosneft may pave the way for Russia to supplant Venezuela as Cuba’s biggest energy supplier. In an email interview, William M. LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University in Washington D.C. and an expert on Latin American affairs, discusses renewed Cuba-Russia ties and the opportunities and obstacles ahead […]