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Category: Interviews

Macedonia is turning the page

Exclusive interview with Zoran Zaev, the prime minister of the Republic of Macedonia. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

ADAM REICHARDT: You have been in power now since May 2017, with a promise to change the direction of Macedonian politics, including its European and NATO future. This was highlighted in your recent trip to Brussels to lobby on your country’s behalf. Can you give our readers some insight on how you plan to bring Macedonia back on the European path and what are the challenges you see ahead?

ZORAN ZAEV: My country went through a very difficult political crisis. A very big part of this crisis was the frustration that the society felt for the delayed European and NATO integration of the country. In 2005 we received candidate EU status, but nothing else beyond that. In 2008 Greece did not agree with our NATO membership at the Bucharest Summit. Now that we have emerged from this political crisis, our citizens’ expectations are very high that we will get the country back on track. This is what has been happening in the past six months. The new government has set strategic priorities for the upcoming period. This includes entering NATO – becoming a full NATO member – and then starting the negotiations for EU membership.

February 26, 2018 - Adam Reichardt Zoran Zaev

Yevpatoria. Crimea’s microcosm

An interview with Stanislav Tsalyk, a Ukrainian writer and historian. Interviewer: Katarina Novikova

KATARINA NOVIKOVA: Several years ago you wrote a book on Yevpatoria, a multi-cultural city in Crimea which seems to be a fascinating place. How did you discover Yevpatoria in the first place?

STANISLAV TSALYK: When I decided to write a historical guide to Yevpatoria, my friends were quite surprised, asking me what I could write about it. We all would visit this place as kids as it was a favourite beach resort for families in the Soviet Union. At that time, however, touring Yevpatoria was a very different experience. Sightseeing was limited to the monuments commemorating the victims of the Second World War and the Lenin monument. There were also organised tours offering visits to famous palaces in the south of Crimea, including the tsar’s residence at Livadia, the Vorontsov Palace in Alupka and others.

February 26, 2018 - Katarina Novikova Stanislav Tsalyk

We needed to create an archive of our experiences

Full interview with Nick Antipov, Nasta Mancewicz and Milana Levitskaya, activists with the Belarusian MAKEOUT project. Interviewer: Maxim Rust

February 12, 2018 - Maxim Rust

Religion, migration and the dreams of Dagestani youth

An interview with Denis Sokolov, a Russian expert on North Caucasus. Interviewer: Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska.

AGNIESZKA PIKULICKA-WILCZEWSKA: As someone who specialises in the North Caucasus and has done a lot of work in Dagestan, how would you describe the youth there? What kind of dreams do young Dagestanis have?

DENIS SOKOLOV: Certainly everyone has a different dream, but I would say that young people in Dagestan are rather ambitious and they dream of success, which means different things for different people. One can also notice some divisions among young Dagestanis. Most of the youth there are increasingly oriented towards the Arab world, towards the world of Islam, especially the descendants of those who came from rural communities and the mountainous parts of Dagestan. They dream about having a career or owning a business because financial success and the ability to feed your family are very important. Today’s youth adhere to family values, Islamic traditions and, in some degree, the values of Dagestan’s rural communities, although they are gradually disappearing.

January 2, 2018 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska Denis Sokolov

There is no question – we are able to defend ourselves

An interview with Raimonds Bergmanis, the Latvian minister of defence. Interviewer Linas Jegelevicius

LINAS JEGELEVICIUS: In a recent interview, your Lithuanian counterpart claimed that the situation in which the Baltics face now is “the riskiest and most dangerous since 1990”. Do you agree with this assessment?

RAIMONDS BERGMANIS: It is relative and the context should be taken into account. In the 1990s, our countries were still in the process of recovery and building our new state institutions like the armed forces, intelligence, security forces, etc. Alongside the domestic challenges, we were experiencing Russian pressure as well. We were vulnerable back then and, by no means, were these risk-free times. We were lucky that Russia was also vulnerable. However, it was not until 2004 when we joined NATO that we were able to have a real sense of security.

January 2, 2018 - Linas Jegelevicius Raimonds Bergmanis

The complex reality of radicalisation in Central Asia

An interview with Bhavna Davé, a senior lecturer in Central Asian politics with the department of politics and international studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Interviewer: Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska

October 31, 2017 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska Bhavna Davé

Russia is unprepared for the next world order

An interview with Bobo Lo, expert on Russia and China and author of the books Russia and the New World Disorder and A Wary Embrace: What the China-Russia relationship means for the world. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

ADAM REICHARDT: It has been two years since you published Russia and the New World Disorder in which you concluded that Russian foreign policy is not well suited for the current geopolitical context. Yet, if we look at Russia since 2015, it has projected itself as a strong country, one that can defend against sanctions, intervene in Syria, advance its interests in its near abroad and project an image of itself as a real global player. Would you still argue that same thesis today?

BOBO LO: This is a question I often get asked. I stand by my original thesis. True, Russia is not going to become a minor power straight away, the regime will not collapse anytime soon, and Russia will not buckle under western pressure and be forced into concessions. However, we need to look at Russia and the world in the longer term. What will happen over the next decade, two decades, three decades and beyond? Can Russia adapt to a world that is changing in all sorts of uncontrollable and unpredictable ways? This is about much more than just Russia’s interaction with the United States, the United Kingdom, France or Germany. It is about whether it can operate effectively in a more complex, disaggregated and disorderly international environment crowded with competitors – not just the West and China, but many others as well.

October 31, 2017 - Adam Reichardt Bobo Lo

Eastern Partnership: 20 deliverables for 2020

"The upcoming Summit is an opportunity to build on our achievements to-date and to inject new dynamism into our partnership. We need to be ambitious, but also realistic and credible", says Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations.

October 17, 2017 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska Johannes Hahn

Modern Leaders: Breaking or making trans-Atlantic relations

Populism appears to be gaining traction on both sides of the Atlantic with some leaders seizing the opportunity. Who or what will defend our present values and political establishments to bring us back to where we were before we lost ground? What are the risks to the trans-Atlantic partnership? Does the rise of populism mean […]

October 4, 2017 - Adam Reichardt Tod Lindberg

Tired of the status quo

An interview with Nikolay Artemenko, co-ordinator at the Vesna Youth Democratic Movement. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt IWONA REICHARDT: What is the face of the Russian youth that we saw on the streets in March and June 2017? NIKOLAY ARTEMENKO: There is no single face of those who came to the streets this year. They represent different social groups, different professions, different lifestyles, etc. What brings them to the street is the feeling of being very tired.

October 4, 2017 - Nikolay Artemenko

A thief’s fear of punishment is incompatible with democracy

An interview with Anastasia Kirilenko, an investigative reporter based in Moscow. Interviewer: Maciej Zaniewicz

MACIEJ ZANIEWICZ: After watching your film, Who is Mr. Putin, one gets the sense that the whole Russian political system today grew out of the criminal world of the 1990s, which was created by Vladimir Putin himself.

ANASTASIA KIRILENKO: When Putin was a presidential candidate in 2000, journalists rushed to explain who he was. I remember very well the headlines: he is a man who came out of nowhere. In fact, in St Petersburg everyone knew very well who he was. There were enough criminal scandals connected to Putin. In 2000 many journalists were confused. Reporters from the Moscow Times went to St Petersburg and found people who had worked with Putin, but those people could not recall any details about what it was like to work with him.

October 4, 2017 - Anastasia Kirilenko Maciej Zaniewicz

Not dedicated to big political visions

An interview with Jan Šerek, social psychologist and political scientist at the Masaryk University in Brno. Interviewer: Tomasz Lachowski

TOMASZ LACHOWSKI: Lately we have witnessed an increasing popularity of populist politicians winning elections on a conservative agenda and with a relatively high support of young voters. We have seen this in our region of Central Europe – such was the case of Jarosław Kaczyński and the current-ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland as well as Marian Kotleba and the People’s Party of Our Slovakia in Slovakia. Do you see a similar tendency towards populism among young voters in the Czech Republic?

JAN ŠEREK: Without a doubt this new tendency of young people being more conservative is also visible in the Czech Republic. However, we cannot put a whole generation into one box – we need to recognise that their political behaviour and choices depend on many factors, including education. Regarding the popularity of populist movements, especially among adolescents, I have to emphasise the huge role being played by the media.

October 4, 2017 - Jan Šerek Tomasz Lachowski


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