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Analysis

Hungarian general elections: What is at stake?

Fidesz will start its next term in a context that may require a more flexible and cooperative approach. A few days before the parliamentary elections, a European repositioning of Hungary is quite possible. It is even desirable: just as Hungary cannot do without Europe, Europe cannot do without Hungary.

April 6, 2018 - Cyrille Bret and Michael Bret

Russian election results reflect a crisis of liberal opposition

Interview with Yevgeny Minchenko, a political strategist, founder and chairman of Minchenko Consulting. Interviewer: Paulina Siegień.

March 21, 2018 - Paulina Siegień

Moldova´s fragile energy security

Moldova´s energy security depends on Russian gas and electricity delivered from Transnistria. The limited options for diversification of energy routes and supplies make the country reliant on political stability in Romania and Ukraine. Domestically, the full implementation of EU energy standards will require a strong political will of the Moldovan elite, as it would diminish Gazprom´s dominance and undermine the influence of vested interests on the energy market.

March 14, 2018 - Maria Shagina

Why the Volker-Surkov talks on Donbas cannot succeed

The negotiations between Volker and Surkov may continue for a long time, but one should be cautious when hoping for any success. It is important to understand that no real "thaw" is possible because Russia's confrontational policy towards the West is its main and unchanging feature, which originates from the very nature of the Russian regime.

March 13, 2018 - Wojciech Konończuk and Serhiy Harmash

Peacekeeping in Ukraine’s Donbas: Opportunities and risks

A peacekeeping mission may still be a distant possibility. It is far from clear that Moscow is seeking an exit. Mounting resistance among Ukrainian leaders to the Minsk accord presents another challenge. Nonetheless, the current talks represent a rare opening to test ideas on how to settle the eastern Ukraine conflict and reintegrate the disputed Donbas into Ukraine.

March 12, 2018 - Magdalena Grono and Jonathan Brunson

Putin’s enemies are building his weapons

International cooperation in the defence industry is a fact, despite the often confrontational rhetoric of politicians. No matter how much the Russian president criticises the US, the Russian defence industry would not resign on US-produced equipment. Similarly, European businesses are far from giving up on the profits made on supporting Russian defence industry.

March 9, 2018 - Yury Lobunov

Is Putinism sustainable?

At its core, Putinism is characterised by a fundamentally kleptocratic system that appears incapable of meaningful reform. For this reason, it is far more vulnerable to fissure than it may appear.

After nearly 20 years in power, Vladimir Putin has become more than just the symbol of an era – he is arguably its creator. A lawyer and former KGB officer, Putin is perceived by many to be one of the world's most powerful leaders and his cult of personality in Russia is unmatched by any other contemporary Russian politician. His tenure as president (2000-2008; 2012-present) and prime minister (1999-2000; 2008-2012) have left a permanent mark on Russia’s history. But is this regime sustainable? Does “Putinism” mean anything independent of its namesake?

February 26, 2018 - Łukasz Kondraciuk

A German riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

The definite re-election of Vladimir Putin in Russia will consolidate his authoritarian model of governance and assertive foreign policy for another six years. In Germany, the formation of a new government is to be expected after an unusually long time of coalition talks. The question will then turn towards the direction of Germany’s Ostpolitik and the future of relations between Russia and the West.

In 1939 Winston Churchill famously remarked that he cannot forecast the actions of Russia: “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” The same could be said of Germany’s Ostpolitik, which has left observers puzzled and perplexed in recent years. Previously and often simplistically explained by the catchwords “energy” and “business”, Germany’s role in the Ukraine conflict has seemingly defied all prior assumptions about Germany’s special relationship with Russia and its purely geo-economic interests.

February 26, 2018 - Liana Fix

Ukraine’s aviation fiasco

Ryanair’s decision to pull out of a deal with Ukraine in late 2017 will be a blow to the development of the country’s aviation sector. Experience has shown that as long as the market is dominated by Ukraine International Airlines, owned by oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, there is little chance for market expansion. Nevertheless, there is some hope for 2018.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 opened a dark chapter in the history of Ukraine’s civil aviation sector, lighting a fuse that would see Donetsk International Airport razed to the ground and Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot out of the sky. Though hostilities rumble on in the eastern Donbas region, life has gradually returned to normal for most Ukrainians. The number of passengers carried by local airlines grew 22 per cent in 2016 to reach 5.7 million – just shy of pre-conflict levels – thanks in large part to the flag-carrier Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) which has stepped up its role as a transit carrier linking Asia with Europe. Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport, UIA’s home base, accommodated more than ten million passengers last year and expects 20 million by 2023.

February 26, 2018 - Martin Rivers

Seeking the Eastern Partnership’s greatest integer

In many regards, the 2017 Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels illustrated that the “old normal” has disappeared. Instead, another disenchanting reality – crisis as the “new normal” – needs to be reckoned with.

The next Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit in 2019 will mark the tenth anniversary of the project as a joint initiative involving the European Union, its member states and six Eastern European partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Perhaps it is for this event that the partners are keeping their solemn and ambitious statements. And, moreover, they are right to do so. After surviving the Riga Summit in 2015, the 2017 Brussels Summit became a sobering moment – and not a celebration. It was the summit where mesmerism met discernment, aspiration met disenchantment and one reality met another reality.

February 26, 2018 - Andriy Tyushka

The redrawing of the Eastern map

Over the past five years a counterintuitive picture has emerged in the Eastern Partnership. On the one hand Moldova, which was praised for its exemplary progress in adopting EU sanctioned reforms, has been on a downward spiral. Georgia, on the other hand, has now arisen to the status of peak performer in the region.

The most striking result from last November's Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit, held in Brussels, has been the EU’s contrasting approaches to Moldova and Georgia. The EU signalled displeasure with Moldova by withdrawing its latest funding that was intended for reforms, whilst rewarding Georgia’s progress with an increase in funding. That outcome might be because the EU has seen Georgia as the region’s last hope, with Tbilisi’s willingness to put shared values into practice through the implementation of reforms. By granting the country financial support, the EU has been able to ensure Georgia’s continuation as the role model, despite some shady performances, especially its behaviour regarding ongoing internal conflicts.

February 26, 2018 - Nina Lutterjohann

Eastern Partnership and the final frontier

Since ambitious geopolitical objectives are not necessarily available for the Eastern Partnership in the foreseeable future, it is worth prioritising economic activities. One instrument which supports such development is the Earth Observation for Sustainable Development programme being carried out by the European Space Agency and which has its own Eastern Partnership component.

The European Union is looking to provide assistance to countries that in the past found themselves in the exclusive sphere of Soviet influence and continue to struggle today with incessant provocations or pressure from Russia. This is precisely the aim of the EU’s active Eastern policy within the framework of the Eastern Partnership (EaP). One innovative opportunity for the countries in the region has emerged: a new programme called Earth Observation for Eastern Partnership (EO4EP). This project aims to closely co-operate with the Eastern Partnership countries so that they can better manage agricultural and environmental programmes. It is envisioned that better management in these sectors could help strengthen public management in other sectors as well as supporting the ultimate aims of the EaP.

February 26, 2018 - Paweł Ziemnicki

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