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Author: Andrew Wilson

Softly, softly Belarus

One might not notice it, but certain changes are taking place in Belarus. This may be good news for European policymakers and diplomats who seek to engage Belarus and keep it balanced in its relations with Russia, as long as expectations are not kept too high.

Belarus is changing. It is changing in ways that help European engagement. But, to be clear, the area where change is minimal is probably the one where Europeans want to see the most improvement. This is the political sphere. The label “Last Dictatorship in Europe” may be out of date, but Belarus is not about to become a democracy any time soon. What is driving change is the concept of sovereignty. First is the logic of sovereignty, which has been operative for some time; but often belated or delayed by political factors, namely Belarus’s formerly close relationship with Russia. Second is the threat to sovereignty since the situation in Ukraine from 2014; though partly this threat can be traced back to the war in Georgia in 2008.

September 2, 2018 - Andrew Wilson

The Lutsenko Pardon: Enough to appease the EU?

On Sunday President Yanukovych pardoned Yuriy Lutsenko and Georgiy Filipchuk, two of Ukraine’s highest profile ‘selective prosecutions’, who were respectively Interior Minister and Environment Minister during the last Tymoshenko government (2007-10).  This is just in time for the looming May deadline, when the EU has promised it will review Ukraine’s progress towards meeting the conditions […]

April 8, 2013 - Andrew Wilson

Ukraine’s Double-edged Elections

There aren’t many elections where all sides come out happy, but this arguably just happened in Ukraine this Sunday. The authorities were already happy a month or two before the elections, because they were confident of victory by fair means and (mainly) foul. So they could afford to ease off in the final weeks of […]

November 3, 2012 - Andrew Wilson

Greedy Presidents

Most East European states are a long way from democratic; but the stability of their regimes depends on respecting certain rules of the game, such as dividing the spoils. It is normally the president who acts as “Lord of The Rings” to keep the various circles of interest in balance, although there are several ways […]

October 10, 2012 - Andrew Wilson

Belarus’s Non-Election

So Belarus will hold parliamentary elections on 23 September, before Georgia and Ukraine in October. So what? Why should the world pay any attention to fixed elections to a “parliament” that was established by a constitutional coup d’état in 1996? The Belarusian “House of Representatives” is the fake that replaced the real parliament that was […]

June 22, 2012 - Andrew Wilson

The Dangers of a Sinn Féinist Ukraine

 (Sinn Féin – Irish for “ourselves alone”) After two years under Viktor Yanukovych, Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko’s recent article in Dzerkalo Tyzhnia this March is the closest thing we have to an intellectual definition of Ukraine’s new foreign policy direction – or lack of direction. It is therefore worrying that his argument is so incoherent. […]

April 25, 2012 - Andrew Wilson

The End of the Putin Consensus

** A new ECFR policy brief by New Eastern Europe contributors Andrew Wilson and Ben Judah provide recommendations on how EU foreign policy should be directed going forward. Highlights of the brief are here and the full report is linked below *** The “Putin consensus” of the 2000s is over. Although Prime Minister Vladimir Putin […]

March 2, 2012 - Andrew Wilson

Beauty Contests on the Nistru

Transnistria has a new “President”, Moldova still has not. In December Transnistria surprised all observers by holding something close to a real competitive election for the first time in twenty years. Even more surprisingly, veteran local strongman Igor Smirnov found his local election machine was no longer working, and a new generation of Transnistrians, with […]

February 25, 2012 - Andrew Wilson

New Year Irresolution

It’s customary at this time of year to make predictions for the upcoming year. It’s also customary for those predictions to be wildly inaccurate, but here goes. 2012 will be a difficult year for almost every country, bar the hard core BRICs. Eastern Europe will be doubly unfortunate to be caught in between continued turmoil […]

December 20, 2011 - Andrew Wilson

Lucky Lukashenko

I am tempted to write again about Russia, but will leave that to my colleague Dmitry Babich for now. My predictions for the New Year will look at what a weakened Putin might mean for Eastern Europe. But first, I should catch up on the story in Belarus, where Lukashenko signed a series of deals […]

December 12, 2011 - Andrew Wilson

Russia’s Badly Managed Democracy

Sunday’s Russian Duma elections were dull, but the consequences could be spectacular after a series of strategic mistakes by the authorities. First, the campaign itself lacked drama once Putin removed the main question after announcing his return as president in September. The surprise announcement also meant the elections were no longer about the fate of […]

December 7, 2011 - Andrew Wilson

The Not-So Secret Billionaire

Until October, next year’s parliamentary elections in Georgia looked to be a foregone conclusion. The ruling United National Movement was expected to win another healthy majority, by fair means or foul, which might then create a platform for President Mikheil Saakashvili to somehow maintain power after his two terms expire with the presidential elections due […]

November 28, 2011 - Andrew Wilson

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