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The failure in binary thinking about Belarus

For the last 25 years Belarus has been the greatest victim to stereotypes. This “last dictatorship in Europe” has been often presented vis-à-vis other “democraticising” post-Soviet states. This optic of presenting Belarus based on black and white; or good and bad terms failed to explain what was really taking place within this country’s borders. Yet, it explains why so many western analysts did not predict the social changes that we are now witnessing in Belarus.

In recent months we have seen numerous conferences, articles and discussions with a variation of the title “Belarus. An unexpected revolution”. Through them western analysts and policy-makers who were once calling Belarus the last dictatorship in Europe, are now looking for answers on whether and when the people’s revolution will succeed. They typically start their analysis with questions such as “Why now?” or “Where did this sudden awaking of the Belarusian society come from?”

February 3, 2021 - Iwona Reichardt Maxim Rust

Belarus. Fighting for the future or the past?

Despite the historical parallels, the differences in memory politics and more recent national developments explain why Belarus never turned to Ukraine for guidance, symbols or role models. The marches in the streets of Minsk and other major cities typically brandish the white-red-white flag which is about the only historical reference. The flag clearly has become the symbol of protest, similar to the colour orange in Ukraine almost two decades ago.

In the 2004 Orange Revolution as well as during the EuroMaidan uprising a decade later, Ukraine’s future orientation was at stake. In both cases, pro-European citizens confronted pro-Russian state authorities on Kyiv's main square, the Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Independence Square. Not only did the views of Ukraine's future and the principles of democracy clash, but events and heroes from the nation's past were fielded as arguments.

February 3, 2021 - Olga Morozova Wim van Meurs

Bulgaria’s veto for North Macedonia’s European hopes spells trouble for the region

Bulgaria’s veto for neighbouring North Macedonia’s accession talks to the European Union late last year could spell trouble in the long run for the rest of the region. By blocking Skopje’s European path, the decision taken by Bulgarian authorities goes to show how historical feuds in the region are still threatening to disrupt its already fragile and patchy path towards the EU.

The conditions that Bulgaria has set ahead for its much smaller neighbour include an official acknowledgement of having a common history, a change in the formulation describing the official language (Macedonian) which is being used in North Macedonia, and a roadmap for the implementation of a friendship treaty that the two countries signed in 2017. Bulgaria has also requested that the agreement includes Skopje's renunciation of claims to the existence of a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria.

February 3, 2021 - Bojan Stojkovski

Turkey, Russia and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Irrelevance of the West in the recent war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has turned the conflict into Turkey's and Russia's domain. Yet, despite far-reaching ambitions and unprecedented assistance which Turkey gave Azerbaijan during the last round of the conflict, it has been side-lined by Russia’s ambition to dominate the peacekeeping process in the break-away region.

Despite the fact that western governments – those of the United States and France – are co-responsible for supervising the resolution process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, their response to the recent outbreak of hostilities had been, at best, ineffective. This vacuum has been filled by Russia, which has long sought to play the role of a major mediator in the conflict, and Turkey, a new entrant to the region that recently became determined to get more involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

February 3, 2021 - Natalia Konarzewska

Far from being over. Injustice, revenge and suffering in Nagorno-Karabakh

The history of inter-ethnic hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan is a long series of repeating pogroms, massacres and violence. The recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has ended with a Russian-led ceasefire agreement, constitutes just one more chapter in this never-ending conflict.

Almost 30 years ago, on May 9th 1992, Armenian forces captured the Azerbaijan city of Shusha after a spectacular offensive. In a world without Twitter, the narrative about liberation and escaping the Azerbaijani army spread instantly. The story of the restoration of historical justice for Armenians deprived of their ancient lands for years covered the catastrophe of thousands of Azerbaijani families forced to flee the Nagorno-Karabakh. Two years later, a ceasefire was signed in Bishkek, yet the war did not end for good.

February 3, 2021 - Bartłomiej Krzysztan

What the incoming Biden administration means for Central and Eastern Europe

Democracies are defined by the holding of regular elections that are free and fair, resulting in an alternation of leaders and the orderly transition of power. A central characteristic of this process is that while electoral outcomes are unpredictable, the manner in which politicians are replaced is highly routinised. Donald Trump, however, is a maverick and rule-breaker the likes of which the United States has never seen before.

February 3, 2021 - George Soroka

Whither US-Ukraine relations during a Biden presidency?

The United States is among Ukraine’s key foreign partners and one of the main providers of substantial political, economic and military aid. Ever since Russia’s aggression in 2014, the US has been a staunch supporter, both in word and deed, of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and security, as well as the implementation of democratic reforms.

February 3, 2021 - Nadiia Bureiko

Andrei Gromyko congratulates Joe Biden

In 2011 Joe Biden, as the US vice president during his visit to Moscow, said to Vladimir Putin: “Mr Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.” Putin replied: “We understand one another”. This anecdote seems to be a prophecy of a rough co-existence without any signs of fondness. Clearly Putin and most of the current Russian political elite are very sceptical towards Biden.

February 3, 2021 - Kuba Benedyczak

Lack of regulation and COVID-19 leaves Ukrainian surrogate mothers and babies in limbo

The closed borders and restrictions on movement introduced in 2020 due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic added uncertainty to the already unregulated sphere of surrogate mothering in Ukraine, leading to questionable decisions on continuing to provide services.

December 24, 2020 - Kate Baklitskaya Magdalena Chodownik

Intelligence and counterintelligence in the information war

In today’s world, intelligence and information are inextricably and even more connected; the doctrine views intelligence as information that a state finds essential in making a decision.

December 19, 2020 - New Eastern Europe / Tomasz Kubiak

Russian propaganda in Belarus

Since the beginning of the protests the presence of the Russian media and its “journalists” in Belarus has significantly increased.

December 18, 2020 - New Eastern Europe / Tomasz Kubiak

“Deep fake” as a weapon of the new generation

Although fake news may be really dangerous, there is a lesser-known new media which might pose a more serious threat: the deep fake.

December 16, 2020 - New Eastern Europe / Tomasz Kubiak

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