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Analysis

Armenia and Azerbaijan sign Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire deal brokered by Moscow

The truce was announced on November 9th and aims to end the current round of hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone which lasted for more than six weeks. This game-changing agreement, which will bring Russian peacekeepers to the break-away region, has caused protests and political upheaval in Armenia and celebrations in Azerbaijan.

November 20, 2020 - Natalia Konarzewska

Moldova’s oligarch mayors go global

The experience of Moldova reveals that in Central and Eastern Europe’s highly politicised and oligarchised environment, city diplomacy can be an easy tool for wealthy politicians suspected of corruption to gain more popularity and shield themselves from the judicial system. Ilan Șor and Renato Usatîi have been particularly adept in this realm.

Orhei, a medium-sized city about an hour north of Chișinău, is an unlikely rival to Monaco. Yet mayor Ilan Șor – one of the country’s oligarchs – promised in 2018 that Orhei’s residents would “live as they do” in the European principality. Farther north, in Bălți, mayor Renato Usatîi – yet another oligarch – claimed to have started a revolution in the city’s contacts with the world.

November 16, 2020 - Cristian Cantir

China’s footprint in Ukraine: a breathing space between Russia and the West

With so much of Ukraine’s foreign policy dominated by the theme of pursuing a multi-vector balance between Russia and the West, China’s rise as a player in Eastern Europe has not been without implications for Kyiv. The Ukrainian government has inked agreements with Beijing in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, yet has been reluctant to fully endorse China’s far-reaching economic activities.

Rising among Ukraine’s top foreign policy priorities is the geographically-distant People’s Republic of China – a country with which Ukraine’s relationship has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. For Ukraine, China is a valuable source of investment as well as a third-party actor in a foreign policy landscape traditionally dominated by the Euro-Atlantic community and the Russian Federation.

November 16, 2020 - Anthony Rinna

The Eastern Partnership enters a new decade

Despite all the input from numerous stakeholders, much remains to be seen in the future of the Eastern Partnership. The region has seen less than an ideal start to the new decade due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its multi-level implications for the EU and EaP countries.

If 2019 was dedicated to the tenth anniversary of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership (or EaP), 2020 has an intriguing question at its core: where to go next? This question loomed over the EU and decision-makers, state officials. The policy details of this question will stay with us until at least the next EaP summit in March 2021.

November 16, 2020 - Pavel Havlíček

The difference between Armenian and Azerbaijani lobbying activities in Europe

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan were looking for other ways than diplomacy to make their voices heard in Europe during the latest conflict between the two.

November 16, 2020 - Anna Barseghyan

Should Ukraine conduct local elections along the Donbas contact line?

Current military-civil administration in eastern Ukrainian frontline districts need to be kept in place and partially reformed. Should the Donets Basin return to Ukrainian control, they could provide institutional templates for a temporary special regime within the currently occupied territories.

September 9, 2020 - Andreas Umland

A terrible nightmare or useful conjuncture: what the Belarusian August means for the Kremlin

In addition to obsolete catchwords such as ‘the last dictatorship in Europe’ or ‘the reserve of the USSR,’ Belarus is often referred to as a mirror image of Russia. Against the backdrop of Lukashenka’s potential ousting, how does the Russian political elite make sense out of the August events?

September 8, 2020 - Filip Rudnik

Coronavirus pandemic seriously challenges Russian economy

A combination of socio-economic factors observed in Russia not only indicates that the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the country's economy will be profound, but that the recovery might take longer than it appears today. Much will depend on the authorities’ readiness to support household incomes and business activity through accumulated reserves and borrowings.

Russia has approached the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic with the economy not in great condition. Back in 2010-2012 the Russian economy was growing faster than the world economy. Yet since then, its global share has fallen by about one-fifth. In 2014, following the events in Ukraine, the Russian economy suffered a double blow as a result of lower oil prices and the impact of sanctions imposed on it by the United States, the European Union and a number of other countries.

September 7, 2020 - Oleg Buklemishev

In Church we trust. The case of the Moldovan Orthodox Church

The relationship between religion and society differs in most post-Soviet states. While the Orthodox Church in Moldova clearly enjoys widespread popularity in the country, it has chosen to focus on promoting a “traditional agenda”, often associated with discrimination towards women and minorities.

The Ukrainian Church’s official independence last year raised issues regarding how religion impacts geopolitics in post-Soviet countries. Despite this, the country’s former president, Petro Poroshenko, was neither the first nor the last political leader to use religious sentiments as part of an electoral campaign. The current Moldovan President, Igor Dodon, did so during the country’s previous elections. While there are numerous studies analysing the role of the church in politics and social movements, this discussion investigates the church’s role regarding conflict mitigation or instigation. By examining situations prone to conflict, we can try to determine whether the Orthodox Church in Moldova (OCM) serves the purpose of uniting the people or fostering polarisation. Such an issue remain of great importance for a country where more than 90 per cent of the population declare themselves Orthodox.

September 7, 2020 - Anastasia Pociumban

Dirigisme 2.0. The way to go for the region?

Most countries of Central and Eastern Europe that are now members of the EU developed impressively since the collapse of the centrally planned economy. Yet, Poland and other countries in the region still lack their own capital to compete on a global scale. The merger of Poland’s two state-owned refineries, Orlen and LOTOS, could illustrate a solution – selective state-ownership in crucial sectors.

Economic power is not shared equally across the European Union. Only one out of all EU companies in the Global Fortune 500 ranking is based in one of the new member states that joined the union after 2004. The remaining 112 companies are based in the “old” EU. Yet, as the case of a merger of two state-owned Polish oil companies shows, this unparalleled level of inequality is not being addressed by Brussels.

September 4, 2020 - Jakub Bartoszewski Michael Richter

The Eastern Partnership: Between fundamentals and integration

By signing Association Agreements with some countries of the Eastern Partnership, the EU has embarked on a foreign policy experiment. In essence, it is an offer of integration without accession to promote transformative reforms in neighbouring countries. This necessitates a change in the nature of the support that the EU typically offered in the past.

The European Union has offered the six Eastern neighbourhood countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – a privileged relationship with the eventual aim of economic integration into the EU’s single market. To some, this offer has proven attractive as evidenced by the conclusion of the Association Agreements and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, however, have opted for a looser relationship within the framework of the multilateral Eastern Partnership.

September 4, 2020 - Katarina Mathernova Kataryna Wolczuk

Zelenskyy’s Ukraine and the Eastern Partnership

In recent years Ukraine has become an informal leader of the Eastern Partnership. Along with Georgia and Moldova, Ukraine seeks more active co-operation with the European Union and advocates expanding its activities. Nevertheless, the further success of the Eastern Partnership will depend on whether the EU succeeds in developing an effective approach that meets the needs, expectations and interests of all partner countries.

This year the Eastern Partnership celebrated its 11th anniversary. For Ukraine, this time is clearly divided into two periods: 1) the pre-EuroMaidan period and 2) the post-EuroMaidan period with the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union. The political part of the agreement was signed on March 21st 2014 (entering into force on November 1st 2014); while the economic part was signed on June 27th 2014. The aim of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) is to integrate Ukraine and other participating countries with the EU. The EU’s co-operation with its eastern partners is focused on stimulating political and socio-economic reforms. And it contributes to the deepening of political and economic relations, ensuring compliance of domestic legislation with EU norms and standards, as well as maintaining mutual respect for common values.

September 4, 2020 - Hanna Bazhenova Tomasz Stępniewski

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