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To Macron or not to Macron?

When Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the former foreign minister and now federal president of Germany, once tried to describe Germany’s role in Europe; he called it the “chief facilitating officer”. France’s newfound role under Macron now seems to be that of Europe’s “disrupter-in-chief”. That these two roles do not necessarily match is no surprise.

January 28, 2020 - Liana Fix

How not to be a useful idiot in relations with Russia

Russia is a state of mind. This applies not only to Russian citizens, but it also manifests itself in its foreign policy. After the annexation of Crimea in 2014 many have understood that Russia is a revisionist power, one that is seeking to regain its position in the world.

January 28, 2020 - Agnieszka Legucka

A “Grand Bargain”: What would Russia want?

If you take a closer look at the discussion around the “grand bargain”, it is fairly noticeable that it is being mainly conducted in the West. In Russia, this topic is almost irrelevant. The Kremlin’s foreign policy is dictated by the task of preserving the political regime created by Vladimir Putin.

January 28, 2020 - Igor Gretskiy

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

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 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 poisonous apple

Access to information is a fundamental human right and it has helped build the sovereignty of nations. In the years to come, the concept of “information sovereignty”, advocated by Moscow or Beijing, may turn the tide and damage democratic empowerment. Central and Eastern Europeans should care for their own information sovereignty, but in the first place we should get it right.

In autumn 2018 Poland was celebrating its 100 years of independence. On that occasion the European Solidarity Centre and private television station, TVN24, organised a televised discussion with historians who reflected on the significance of reinstating sovereignty. Timothy Snyder, the American historian and author of Bloodlands, spoke at large about the many dimensions of the concept, and invoked the notion “information sovereignty” – a collective effort to establish free media as well as developing countermeasures to push back against aggressive disinformation campaigns from Bolshevik Russia. Information warfare was as present and real a danger back then as it is today; except that wireless meant mostly long wave radio broadcast.

January 27, 2020 - Wojciech Przybylski

The role of a journalist in the age of disinformation

Information aggressors, especially the Russian Federation, are not “reinventing the wheel”. They use existing mechanisms. Journalists and the media, regardless of the provenance, are the first on the “information front” in the war over people’s hearts and minds. They have a choice: ignore or refute this fact or accept their role as a key element in state security and the information space.

The Russian aggression against Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014 introduced a new type of warfare which has proved very effective in the digital era. This new type of war is no longer aimed at taking over territories or resources, but rather influencing human behaviour. It involves non-kinetic activities, which are undertaken in cyber space and are cheaper than traditional methods, but – most importantly – more effective when applied towards western societies which are largely unprepared for this kind of hostile actions.

January 27, 2020 - Adam Lelonek

Putin’s reinterpretation of history is absurd

An interview with Marcin Przydacz, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. Interviewer: Michał Potocki.

January 27, 2020 - Marcin Przydacz Michał Potocki

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