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Analysis

Customs wars in the Balkans

The implementation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (or CEFTA) offered hope of economic growth and more efficient integration with the EU. However, differences in the trade balance and international political disputes have hindered the region's economic integration. The recent trade wars could threaten it altogether.<.I>

The idea of free trade has become so well incorporated into the public discourse on European integration that any infringement of its principles is either overlooked as a minor incident or unintended behaviour of a less experienced partner. Meanwhile, a regular customs war broke out in the Balkans. Slowly and quietly, in a manner unusual for the region, the Balkan governments have mustered their best warriors to fight their enemies in the trenches of bureaucratic regulations. The very traditions of the Byzantine and Ottoman courts laid the foundations for impermeable administrative fortresses hampering free trade and European integration of the region.

March 5, 2019 - Jan Muś

Ukrainian election and thorny politics of language

In a crass move to help his re-election campaign, President Poroshenko is playing language politics which goes against the diverse reality and tolerant values of Ukraine after Maidan.

February 11, 2019 - Nikolas Kozloff

Can major non-NATO Ally status temporarily solve Georgia’s security dilemma?

Despite almost two decades of fanfare regarding Georgia’s pursuit to join NATO, the North Atlantic Alliance has yet to adopt a common position on the concrete timeframe of Georgia’s eventual membership. Given NATO’s protracted, uneven handling of Georgia’s enrolment process, might Georgia be better off seeking closer bilateral relations with the United States?

February 5, 2019 - Eduard Abrahamyan

The future of the security and defence sector in Ukraine

Ukraine is continuing the process of establishing democratic civilian control over the security and defence sector.

January 7, 2019 - Yuriy Husyev

The long shadow of the dissenter: Challenges to public intellectual practices after 1989 in Hungary

The Hungarian story of how the social role of public intellectuals was undermined may help us make sense of what is happening elsewhere today. Hungary’s case highlights that the real danger to critical commentary and its functions in society arises not out of new media platforms, but out of the demise of the democratic multitude.

“In the 1970s and 80s, I met a fair number of western writers, most of them through György Konrád. In our conversations, the mystery that intrigued them the most was this one: how can opposition writers in Central Europe command such respect, play such an exceptional role in politics and in society – a role that they [the western authors] cannot dream about anymore.” Hungary’s prominent public intellectual Sándor Csoóri made this observation in 2006. At that time Csoóri, a one-time luminary of the Hungarian Narodnik tradition and of the post-1989 political universe as a whole, had been a bitter man for a decade and a half. He had been in the fulcrum of a controversy surrounding remarks he made concerning Jewish-Hungarian relations and the cleavage inscribed into them by the Holocaust.

January 2, 2019 - Gergely Romsics

Tsars and boyars on the Muscovite court

Two prominent historians of the second half of the 20th century – Richard Pipes and Edward Keenan – delivered two radically different explanations for the Russian phenomenon. Clearly, these two competing theories are the offspring of their time. The Pipes perspective stems from the harsh 1960s while the Keenan concept of “Muscovite folkways” was the product of the 1970s era of détente.

Since the rise of the Russian Empire, western scholars, diplomats and politicians specialising in Kremlinology have been trying to resolve the great conundrum about the core of the Muscovite power structure. Two prominent historians of the second half of the 20th century – Richard Pipes and Edward Keenan – delivered two radically different explanations for the Russian phenomenon.

January 2, 2019 - Tomasz Grzywaczewski

Can Israel accept Russia in its backyard?

Military intervention in Syria put Russia in Israel’s neighbourhood starting in 2015. This, on top of the 1.4 million Russian-speaking Jews already living in Israel, has made for an interesting dynamic in Russian-Israeli relations.

For contemporary Israel, Russia is not just a country that is more than three thousand kilometres away: Russia is already in Israel. Having absorbed more than one million “Russian” Jews, Israel is not the same anymore. What is more, the Middle East has, again, become a strategic region for the Kremlin. By intervening in neighbouring Syria, and backing Bashar al-Assad in his struggle to stay in power, Russia has made spectacular inroads into Israeli national security debates.

January 2, 2019 - Agnieszka Bryc

Russia’s role in the Middle East – a grand plan or opportunism?

Russian military engagement in the Syrian war has been a big game changer. Whatever the tactical successes and failures, the sheer fact that Russian troops are present in Syria sends a clear message.

Since the start of the decade, Russia has been taking advantage of major security developments in the Middle East: the Arab Spring, including faltering regimes in Egypt and Libya; the United States’ light footprint approach, i.e. its withdrawal from Iraq and reliance on proxies in Syria and Yemen; and the growing tensions in the Gulf between Iran and the Sunni Arab states. The apex of Russia’s engagement arrived in 2015 when Moscow decided to provide militarily support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Syrian war. Russian military intervention did not end in quagmire. Instead it empowered Assad’s forces to crush most of the rebelling groups, thus tipping the balance of power in Assad’s favour as per Russian objectives.

January 2, 2019 - Wojciech Michnik

Washington remains cool towards and suspicious of Yulia Tymoshenko

Yulia Tymoshenko’s presidential campaign did not benefit from her December Washington visit, despite the millions spent on political consultants and lobbyists. In fact, she returned to Kyiv having created a worse image of herself in Washington, with local experts left wondering how she could ever hope to work with President Trump and Republicans if she was elected. 

December 20, 2018 - Taras Kuzio

Armenia elections and their aftermath

Nikol Pashinyan took it all. After months of struggling to serve as prime minister without parliamentary support, he finally got the majority he needed. The landslide victory provides Pashinyan a strong mandate to continue the revolutionary changes. The society has hope as well as significant expectations. However, the consequences and evaluations are now legitimate as well. There are no more excuses, so the real challenge begins. 

December 19, 2018 - Bartłomiej Krzysztan

Georgia after presidential elections. Old order, new rules.

Temporarily uniting the opposition, an active campaign and intensive negative rhetoric towards his opponent was not enough to bring Grigol Vashadze to victory in the Georgian presidential elections.

December 7, 2018 - Bartłomiej Krzysztan

Is the lesser evil still evil? How Poroshenko will run for re-election

The next presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine, which will take place in spring and autumn 2019 respectively, are likely to be the most brutal and emotional in the country’s history. Both the stakes and the level of popular discontent are higher than ever.

December 4, 2018 - Oleksandra Iwaniuk

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