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Author: Adam Reichardt

German Ostpolitik in the shadow of Russia’s imperial revenge

The strange tragedy of Angela Merkel's Ostpolitik in 2005-2021 was that the highly intelligent and committed chancellor showed herself incapable of departing from the wrong track in Germany’s Russia policy that Berlin had already taken before she took office. It is symptomatic that none of the early German mistakes vis-à-vis Moscow was directly related to Ukraine, yet the conflict surrounding Ukraine since 2014 has been marking the fiasco of Germany's Ostpolitik in the new century.

Berlin made a momentous blunder long before Angela Merkel came to power and early in the succession of Vladimir Putin's reigns of, so far, two premierships and four presidencies. In September 2001, the Federal Republic’s government invited Russia's newly minted second president, Vladimir Putin, to address the assembled Bundestag. No other Russian head of government or state has ever received such an honour.

February 15, 2022 - Andreas Umland

Ostpolitik after the German election

The low priority of foreign policy generally, and Eastern policy particularly, could be observed during the debates shaping the recent German election. The new government will have a chance to prove its position on Ostpolitik amid multiple conflicts in Eastern Europe that threaten peace and co-operation. One thing is certain, the old Ostpolitik does not provide European solutions to the challenges faced in the region today.

Between 1969 and 1989, the foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany aimed to reach a mutual settlement with the Soviet Union and its satellites. This policy began with the government of Willy Brandt and quickly became known as Ostpolitik. It superseded the “Hallstein Doctrine” implemented under Konrad Adenauer.

February 15, 2022 - Iris Kempe

The Eurasian Dream. In the pursuit of splendour

Throughout the last 500 years, Russia has looked for different concepts with which it can strengthen its greatness and image of prestige. The ideology of Eurasianism is a relatively modern example of just one of these inspiring concepts, with the belief directly influenced by various intellectual and political legacies throughout the country’s history.

The history of Russia, apart from being the story of a nation, is by no means simply a tale of intriguing people desperately seeking greatness above all. However, striving for exceptionality remains a key feature of many national outlooks. As a Pole, I am at least partially aware of how often my fellow countrymen praise Polish history and its significance, exaggerating our achievements and showing off before the rest of the world. I believe such grand rhetoric is at least partly based on a nation’s genuine struggle for its place and identity.

February 15, 2022 - Grzegorz Szymborski

Belarusians find precarious protection in Tbilisi

Georgia remains one of the few countries in the region that has not imposed a travel ban on Belarusian airlines. These continued flights have made Tbilisi an ideal destination for Belarusians who have come to Georgia for political or humanitarian reasons. However, is the government ready and able to guarantee their safety?

In recent years, Georgia’s vibrant capital Tbilisi has been lauded as a top destination for fledgling startups and digital nomads in search of a low cost of living and close connections to Europe. However, since the highly disputed Belarusian presidential elections of 2020 and the onslaught of political persecution following widespread protests in the country, Georgia’s largest city has also become an attractive destination for those fleeing Belarus.

February 15, 2022 - Mackenzie Baldinger

Lukashenka’s non-reforms

After a year of waiting for Belarus’s constitutional reform amendments, the authorities have unveiled a draft document. For those still with some hope for political transformation, the proposed changes suggest that there will not be any real transition of power.

The first mention of new constitutional reform occurred during Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s address to the Belarusian people a few days before the 2020 elections. The Belarusian president declared then that “All reforms must start with the constitution. Not from street unrest, but from the basic law.” During Lukashenka’s visit to a factory amid the August 2020 protests, he offered to amend the constitution and reduce his presidential powers. This took place while he was being heckled by the factory’s workers. Amidst this turmoil, the Belarusian authorities began putting together new amendments to the constitution. These were recently published by the state-run news agency BelTA.

February 15, 2022 - Kathrin Yaromich

The future of the Crimea Platform

The Crimea Platform launched by Kyiv last year attracted great media attention across the globe. Despite this, practical steps must be taken to keep the issue of Crimea’s sovereignty on the international agenda.

Launched last August, Ukraine’s Crimea Platform has become a new international format aimed at countering Russia’s attempt to illegally annex Crimea. This move called into question the basic tenets of the international legal order established following the end of the Cold War. As a result, the issue of restoring Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea is not only of interest to Ukrainian policy, but is also an important task for those countries that wish to re-establish the “strength of law” rather than the “law of strength”.

February 15, 2022 - Oleksandr Kraiev

Asian powers entering the South Caucasus: opportunity or threat?

While China struggles to consolidate its economic position in the South Caucasus, Pakistan has cemented its strategic alliance with Azerbaijan. Simultaneously, India has entered a new phase of relations with Armenia. Even though the presence of Asian powers in the region represents an opportunity for economic development, it may also entail some risks.

Asian powers have recently shown increasing interest in the South Caucasus. In particular, Pakistan and India have stepped into the region, joining and partially balancing China's strong presence. Several factors have contributed to the entrance of these new Asian players and this is particularly true regarding the new balance of power established by the 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At the same time, the European Union and United States’ lack of engagement with the region has left more room for action by other external powers.

February 15, 2022 - Tiziano Marino

The more things change in the Southern Caucasus, the more they stay the same

There are some problems in politics that simply do not have good solutions. Relations between Armenia and Turkey are certainly one of these issues. Yet, for the first time since 2009, a move towards the normalisation of political relations now seems to be within reach.

Following over a decade of diplomatic silence on the matter, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently broached the issue of normalising relations with Armenia in August last year. The president stated that he would be ready to take all the necessary steps to resume relations with Ankara’s neighbour. This proposition from the Turkish side was echoed a few days later by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

February 15, 2022 - Raze Baziani Svenja Petersen

Revisiting the 2008 Russo-Georgian War can offer lessons for today

An interview with Ekaterina Tkeshelashvili, Georgia’s former minister of foreign affairs, deputy prime minister and state minister for reintegration. Interviewer: Jakub Bornio

JAKUB BORNIO: I would like to start with the NATO Summits in Bucharest (2008) and Strasbourg/Kehl (2009). Back then, the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Georgia and Ukraine was rejected. At the same time, both countries were promised that they could become members of the Alliance at some point in the future. Do you interpret these events as a success or rather a failure?

EKATERINA TKESHELASHVILI: Bucharest was a crossroads. The decisions made at Bucharest were not simple ones and have to be looked at from various perspectives. A coin always has two sides. Two aspects are particularly important. First is timing. This was the first time when, in a consolidated way, the government of the United States really pushed for a Membership Action Plan for both Georgia and Ukraine. This generated and strengthened support from the allies. However, this was not true for all, particularly those concerned with the deterioration of relations with Russia.

February 15, 2022 - Ekaterina Tkeshelashvili Jakub Bornio

Crimea has returned to the heart of Ukraine, now it must return to its body

An interview with Anton Korynevych, Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Head of the Office of the Crimea Platform. Interviewer: Tomasz Lachowski

TOMASZ LACHOWSKI: Some time has already passed since the inaugural summit of the Crimea Platform, which took place on August 23rd 2021 in Kyiv. This initiative can be interpreted as a new mechanism of international co-operation designed to return the issue of the Russian occupation of Crimea to the international agenda and, hopefully to create in the future a framework for the de-occupation and reintegration of the Crimean peninsula into Ukraine. What is your interpretation of this event?

ANTON KORYNEVYCH: I am really pleased with the course of the summit of the Crimea Platform and its direct results. However, at the same time, I fully understand that this was only the first step, which, needless to say, took a lot of time and many efforts on the part of the Ukrainian authorities. It should be emphasised that the summit gathered an unprecedented number of representatives of various states and institutions. Precisely, to remind our readers, 46 international partners took part in this event.

February 15, 2022 - Anton Korynevych Tomasz Lachowski

Between nationalist propaganda and recognition of minority victims: the Russian interpretation of the Second World War

A conversation with Sergey Lukashevsky, director of the Sakharov Center in Moscow. Interviewer: Kristina Smolijaninovaitė

KRISTINA SMOLIJANINOVAITĖ: The Sakharov Center as we know deals with the history of Soviet totalitarianism as part of its mission to promote freedom, democracy and human rights. It once held the exhibition “Different Wars” by the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, which concerned conflicting memories of the Second World War across different parts of Europe. That war often serves as a focal point for collective memory on fascism or imperialism and is therefore a key reference point for defining national and regional identities. It also helps to remind people of the ideals of peace and respect for human lives. So how relevant is the remembrance of the Second World War in your country today? One underlying question also concerns the choice of narrative, with the specific ideals of the Great Patriotic War contrasting with the more general Second World War.

SERGEY LUKASHEVSKY: I do not think that there is generally any real remembrance of the Second World War, but rather of the Great Patriotic War. Basically, one can describe it in just four sentences: 1) The Great Patriotic War was fought by the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany; 2) this conflict was the bloodiest and most destructive episode of the Second World War; 3) the Soviet Union triumphed over Nazi Germany, in a war that left millions of people dead, wounded or crippled, with major destruction in all parts of the Soviet Union where the war took place; and 4) due to this, remembrance is considered relevant nationwide.

February 15, 2022 - Kristina Smolijaninovaitė Sergey Lukashevsky

The LGBTQ+ community, just like the army, is a part of society

An interview with Viktor Pylypenko, Ukrainian army soldier and head of the country’s LGBT Military Equal Rights Association. Interviewer: Vitalii Mazurenko

VITALII MAZURENKO: What is your opinion on tolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine?

VIKTOR PYLYPENKO: Ukrainian society has been changing in front of our eyes. Maybe some time ago it looked like we were behind other countries with regards to this issue. But now things are different. When it comes to the country’s social transformation, equal rights education and human rights, including those of the LGBTQ+ community, we are moving forward. We can see this, for example, in the number of participants at the Kyiv Pride Parades. While in 2015 its participants (very few in number) were attacked by right-wing radicals, these events now not only attract larger numbers of participants but are also organised in smaller towns and localities.

February 15, 2022 - Viktor Pylypenko Vitalii Mazurenko

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