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Author: Adam Reichardt

A clash of narratives

In the clash of narratives between Russia and NATO states, Moscow has clearly gained an upper hand. Russian success stems not only from the fact that the Kremlin has been able to send a much clearer and more coherent message than the Alliance, but also because NATO states do not have one narrative, or counter-narrative.
One of the central concerns when analysing international security and its history is how to explain certain events and their impact on international politics. For policy-makers and societies it is crucial to define “who we are” and “what kind of world order we want”. The passing decade has been marked by a return to a crisis between the West and Russia (sometimes referred to as the New Cold War), with conflict over Russian aggression in Ukraine being the most striking example.

January 28, 2020 - Wojciech Michnik

The battle of the USSR in Georgia rages on

Nearly 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgians who have a sense of pride after they defeated the Soviet Union suddenly find themselves drifting back towards the cultural, informational and economic space of Russia. The stakes are high. There is no doubt that if the process of democratisation deteriorates in Georgia, it will certainly bring the country closer to Russia.
Georgia has always been considered one of the most pro-Western countries of the post-Soviet space. During the late Soviet period, Georgia, together with the three Baltic states, fought for an exit from the USSR. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia and the Baltics were the only former republics that refused membership of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The first national non-communist Georgian government set the goal of turning the country into a European state.

January 28, 2020 - Beka Chedia

Rough road ahead for Belarus

Politically, 2019 was a very important year for Belarus. It was dominated by two trends: the authorities pursuing relations with the West and pressure by the Kremlin to deepen the integration of both states.
Growing tensions between Minsk and Moscow, as well as continued attempts to normalise relations with the West, are the main reasons we can call 2019 a ground-breaking year when it comes to the level of meetings that Belarusian officials held with western politicians. On surface they may seem like routine activities of a sovereign state, but in the case of Belarus each meeting sends a signal to the Kremlin.

January 28, 2020 - Maxim Rust

A real game changer in the region

The economic diversification and growing relations with actors other than Russia presents both great opportunities and challenges to the Eastern Partnership states. This includes deepening economic ties with the European Union, but also with China and Turkey. Meanwhile, the outlook for Russia regaining its influence in the region, or at least halting this trend, looks bleak.
In the last few years, several countries participating in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership programme have been working to deepen their economic relationship with the EU, as well as with Turkey and, to a lesser extent, China. These changes in economics will have long term geopolitical consequences. Overall, they come at the expense of Russia’s interest, which remains influential but will be unable to halt the changes with its own economic tools. This is why the Kremlin will try to promote its interests by any means necessary, including force.

January 28, 2020 - Adam Balcer

What’s next for Ukraine’s oligarchs?

Ukraine’s oligarchs have established themselves as an independent component of the socio-political and economic system, whose lack of interests has become impossible in current times. The challenge for Volodymyr Zelesnkyy is how to confront the influence of the oligarchs. Current developments suggest three scenarios between the oligarchs, the new political elite, and civil society.
The collapse of the Soviet Union opened up opportunities for Ukraine to implement economic reform, democratise state institutions and shape the country around liberal values. The experience of post-war western democracies appeared as successful cases for Ukraine since the collapse of the USSR.

January 28, 2020 - Anton Naychuk

God, luck and Viktor Orbán

Over the last ten years, Hungary has become a textbook example of systemic corruption and clientelism in the heart of the European Union. Yet despite the fact that EU institutions have developed a wide range of tools, they could barely curb Viktor Orbán’s regime with regards to its feudal system of corruption.
In order to understand the nature of Viktor Orbán’s regime in Hungary, it is worth reading the classic Hungarian novel Relatives by Zsigmond Móricz. Móricz tells the story about a fictional town that is a hotbed of systemic corruption and a clientelist network of provincial nobility between the wars in Hungary. After 30 years since the democratic transition, its thesis about feudal dependency applies to contemporary Hungary more than ever: “In a certain way, everybody depends on the government.”

January 28, 2020 - Edit Zgut

The intervention in Kosovo revisited. Twelve lessons for the future

The 20th anniversary of the NATO campaign in Kosovo, which led to the beginning of a long process of state-building, was recently commemorated. Yet it is worth recalling what led to the campaign and understanding the lessons of its aftermath which are very much relevant today.
In 1999, NATO launched an 11-week air-campaign to halt the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Kosovo. The intervention in Kosovo is arguably one of the most important events in contemporary history. It was the first time NATO operated outside its territory and the first sustained use of force since its establishment in 1949. Furthermore, it was the first time that force was used to enforce UN Security Council resolutions for the purpose of halting crimes against humanity.

January 28, 2020 - Visar Xhambazi

Illegitimate election observation and conflict resolution

The observations of illegitimate elections in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples’ Republics in 2014 and 2018 by far-right and far-left European politicians serve the purpose of augmenting the number of actors and dimensions of a conflict with the aim of protracting any conflict resolution process. What is more, these elections violate the sovereignty of the state, since they take place in areas not recognised by the international community.
Politically-motivated election observation, noted in the post-Soviet region since the beginning of 21st century, aims to provide a counterbalance to assessments of international missions working on the basis of transparent methodologies and long-term observation. The political observation is also extended to elections in separatist regions of the former Soviet Union, where it is used to influence the conflict resolution processes.

January 28, 2020 - Daria Paporcka

Russia and its Tatar diaspora in Europe

The Tatar diaspora in Europe is not very significant in size, but it has the potential to shape the political landscape of their European homes, particularly in the promotion of heritage and lobbying their interests on the international stage. That is why the Russian-speaking Tatar diaspora in Europe could be a significant tool in Russia’s compatriot policy of the “Russian world”.
Tatars are Turkic-speaking people living primarily in Russia, with around 5.3 million living in the Russian Federation (according to the 2010 census). They are primarily Volga Tatars concentrated in the republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, which is no more than 30 percent of all Tatars. Less numerous groups of Tatars also live in Europe. They came to Latvia and Lithuania as citizens from different parts of the Soviet Union, mostly from the Volga region.

January 28, 2020 - Aleksandra Kuczyńska-Zonik

The drama of the Polish outsider

The Polish psyche is affected by the tragic conflict between what is ours and not ours. This huge dissonance stems from the fact that the outsider is a native: both come from the same country, share a nationality, live among their own people and, at times, inhabit the same person. Hence, Poles’ attitude towards others, to a great extent, arises from their inner struggle with “the outsider within”.
“Pretty. Shame it’s not ours.” This sentence is uttered by one of the characters of Zimna wojna (Cold War), a film directed by Paweł Pawlikowski. An audience unfamiliar with the intricacies of Polish culture will find it hard to recognise the drama lurking behind these seemingly innocent words. Ours, in this context, is Polish, not ours is part of the Lemko people’s cultural heritage.

January 28, 2020 - Krzysztof Czyżewski

The Swedish Academy and Peter Handke: Justice for whom?

Austrian writer Peter Handke was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature. The award renewed a debate surrounding this author – his ardent support for Serbia and Slobodan Milošević, who was the Serbian leader in the mid-1990s – and puts the integrity of the Swedish Academy into question.
On December 10th 2019 the well-known Austrian author Peter Handke, received the Nobel Prize for Literature. A number of ambassadors from the Western Balkans boycotted the ceremony, as did Peter Englund, a historian and former secretary of the Swedish Academy. Kosovo declared Handke persona non grata. The controversy is about Handke’s position on Serbia. He is accused of supporting the regime under Slobodan Milošević or even genocide denial.

January 28, 2020 - Joanna Hosa

The revolution on the periphery and the reflection of 1989 in Slovakia

The developments in Slovakia leading up to 1989 can be interpreted as a belated response to momentous changes in Moscow and, more immediately, in Prague. They could be classified as a “revolution on the periphery” – a phenomenon describing how the wave of change travelled to provinces and distant cities from the centre. Nevertheless these events shaped Slovakia’s development and their interpretation plays a role in politics today.
Looking back now at the precarious post-communist transformation and pondering the turbulent period that we witness today, we might ask to what extent the current condition in Central Europe in general, and Slovakia in particular, were affected by the events of 1989 – that annus mirabilis when the communist regimes of Central Europe fell after four decades in power. Was the current status quo somehow predetermined by the events and developments of that year? Or did the post-communist transformation contain its own dynamics, reflecting the longer-term conditions and political cultures of the countries that now form the Visegrád Group?

January 28, 2020 - Samuel Abrahám

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