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Analysis

All is not quiet on the eastern front

A fateful combination of geopolitical facts has made Ukraine and Georgia key to the success of the Kremlin’s strategic goal of imperial resurgence, which apparently can only be achieved by controlling the fate of these two nations. Consequently, Georgia and Ukraine have become the primary targets of Russian aggression.

The world is rich with geopolitical hot spots right now. Iran, the Levant, North Korea, the waters east of China – all provide credible risks of a major war. Sino-American competition is clearly a major international issue for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, multi-sided geopolitical struggle in the Middle East will certainly provide a plentiful supply of crises.

August 26, 2019 - David Batashvili

The dimensions of Georgia’s frozen conflicts

According to the Russian narrative, NATO at its border poses a risk to its national security. This narrative helps to legitimise the Kremlin’s aggressive action, which is aimed at restoring dominance on what it considers to be its “sphere of influence”. Yet the idea that Georgia reversing its Euro-Atlantic course would lead to the resolution of its internal frozen conflicts and ensure regional security is naïve.

When speaking about Georgia’s frozen conflicts, it is important to acknowledge the different parties, aspects and dimensions in order to accurately assess the situation between Georgia, the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Russia. The conflicts can be viewed in three dimensions: first, an inter-power conflict between non-democratic rule and liberal democracy (i.e. Russia and the West); second, an interstate conflict between Russia and Georgia over the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia; and third, as two intrastate conflicts – between ethnic Georgians and ethnic Abkhaz over the Abkhazia territory, and between ethnic Georgians and ethnic Ossetians over what Georgians call the territory of Samachablo/Tskhinvali Region (also known as South Ossetia).

August 26, 2019 - Nino Kukhianidze

When the state turns against its own citizens, resistance becomes duty?

In 2018 civic resistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina acquired a new symbol – the raised fist of Davor Dragičević who, in quiet desperation, demanded justice for his dead son, David. The situation triggered a significant public outrage and the politicisation of David’s death. Since March 2018, mass protests were organised demanding justice. By the end of the year, the authorities started to violently block them and, eventually, banned any further gatherings.

As Thomas Jefferson once said: “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty”. Even in “stabilocracies” like Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia, whenever any form of government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. It was visible in 2014 when first the workers and later regular citizens paralyzed a number of Bosnian cities during events titled the “Bosnian spring”. Yet despite few governmental alterations, nothing has really changed – Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a captured state that protects its elites while citizens’ rights and control over the authorities are limited.

August 26, 2019 - Aleksandra Zdeb

Promises and challenges. Internationalisation of the transition economies

Since 1989 internationalisation has profoundly influenced the former communist countries, primarily economically but also politically. The unfinished transition process has put into perspective the vast differences between the countries that emerged from the deep shadow of the Soviet Union and the enormous difficulties they had in constructing functioning political and economic structures. Three decades on, the future of the entire region is inexorably linked to the West and the ideas of open markets.

Internationalisation has been one of the critical dimensions of the economic transformation undergone by the former command economies in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union since 1989. Openness and global interactions have had profound direct effects on their growth and development, and entry into international institutions has significantly shaped both domestic policies and institutions. During the past three decades of transition, all former socialist economies have moved decisively towards market-oriented ones.

August 26, 2019 - Kiril Kossev

Establishing a business in Ukraine

Reviewing key points of doing business in Ukraine.

June 25, 2019 - Irina Voyevodina Marta Sverdlikovskaya

Eastern Partnership. Partial progress

In May 2009, the European Union launched its Eastern Partnership. It was a product of Swedish-Polish partnership, spearheaded by the two foreign ministers Carl Bildt and Radosław Sikorski. After one decade, the verdict is mixed. The EU offered a framework for co-operation, free trade agreements, visa-free travel and reform programmes, but the financial support has been quite limited, giving the reform programmes too little clout and no clear perspective of EU membership has been offered.

May 2, 2019 - Anders Åslund

Eastern Europe intrigue

The Eastern Partnership started as a rather innocuous Swedish-Polish initiative. Launched in 2009, it was seen mostly as just another scheme for Brussels to channel funds and coordinate the European Union’s activities in Europe’s east. Ten years on, everything has changed about Europe’s East and the EU itself. Now everything is political. If previously the EU could claim that the EaP was just a technical process, it is difficult to sell this argument now.

May 2, 2019 - Joanna Hosa

Eastern Partnership at 10 Rhetoric, resources and Russia

The Eastern Partnership was designed to tie the eastern neighbours to the European Union, keep Russia out and EU membership off the table. These objectives have largely been achieved – but the region has become neither more stable nor secure.

May 2, 2019 - Balazs Jarabik

The Eastern Partnership project in Ukraine and Belarus

For the past decade, both Ukraine and Belarus have been members of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership Project (EaP). Has it been a useful tool for the EU in drawing these countries closer? Have its initial and long-term aims been fulfilled? Is it a project that is worth continuing?

May 2, 2019 - David Marples

Lessons learnt from the Eastern Partnership

Ten years after the launch of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) two basic dilemmas inherent in the policy design remain unchanged: first, the six countries within the EaP framework (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) differ significantly in their domestic political trajectories and, by extension, in their ideas about their relationship with the European Union.

May 2, 2019 - Gwendolyn Sasse

Towards a new European Ostpolitik

Instead of encouraging co-operation through the opening of potential windows for partnership, which was the guideline of the previous Ostpolitik, a new European Ostpolitik should take the concerns, direct neighbourhood and historic experiences of the more recently added EU member states seriously by developing and implementing a new strategy of partnership. The goal should not be about developing new dividing lines but establishing new platforms of communication.

Germany’s international relations are already prioritising the development of a new European Ostpolitik well in advance of July 2020, when the country is slated to assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months. European Ostpolitik will likely be translated into more concrete policies during the 18-month-long rotating trio presidency of the Council of the EU that includes successive terms led by Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia, respectively.

May 2, 2019 - Iris Kempe

Contemporary Russia’s power vertical: Clans controlled by the Kremlin

Despite the fall of communism nearly three decades ago, Russian leaders have continued to pursue illiberalism and authoritarianism – especially Vladimir Putin, whose popularity remains high even as he plunders the country’s financial assets. Putin’s ability to strengthen and manipulate the power vertical and its accompanying clan system are crucial to his control of Russia as a whole.

Contemporary Russian politics, starting in 1990 when the country declared its sovereignty and de-facto independence from the Soviet Union, has experienced all types of regime shifts. The newly post-Soviet Russia began as a fragile democracy, albeit one that leaned more towards illiberalism than freedom and continued to endure hard authoritarian governance. Over the years it travelled down the path of greater totalitarianism.

May 2, 2019 - Vakhtang Maisaia

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