Text resize: A A
Change contrast

Category: Issue 1-2 2022

Issue 1-2/2022: Tug of War? Addressing the challenge of instability in the region

The situation with Russian threats towards Ukraine once again illustrates the high level of instability in our region. While certainly security and geopolitics are right now at the top of the agenda, other types of instability also remain, including political, economic and social. In this issue, our authors help us get to the core of this instability and in some cases offer solutions for overcoming it.

February 16, 2022 - New Eastern Europe

The promise of the Eastern Partnership is not dead yet

In the context of the current crisis with Russia, can the European Union’s Eastern Partnership be able to recover some of the promise it had at the time of its founding? To what extent can it change without change inside the EU itself? Certainly, what the EU needs is not hard power but a hard edge.

In the midst of the greatest security crisis to engulf Europe since the height of the Cold War, the sixth summit of the EU’s Eastern Partnership on December 15th last year might easily be dismissed as a non-event. Whilst relations between Russia and the six members are a matter of high drama across Europe, the partnership attracts no more attention than a non-speaking part in a play. Provocative and discordant on most subjects, the international commentariat has no difficulty agreeing on one thing: the partnership’s irrelevance.

February 15, 2022 - James Sherr

Imperial mania. The road to the third empire

Growing Sino-American rivalry has directly influenced Vladimir Putin’s plans to restore Russia’s sphere of influence in our part of Europe. In order to create the country’s third empire, Putin needs to concentrate on three states: Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Of the three of these countries, the most important is Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden has continued to pursue a China-focused foreign policy ever since his election victory in 2020. This pivot to Asia is clearly not the only legacy from the previous Donald Trump administration. During the first decades of the 21st century, America’s increasing focus on China and the challenge of a potential war in South-East Asia influenced US foreign policy in other regions of the world, including Central Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.

February 15, 2022 - Paweł Kowal

Is today’s Russia a “USSR 2.0”? Putin wants us to think so

The West’s lack of inner cohesion, slow reactions and a preference for dialogue provide the Kremlin with a chance to effectively play its own game. Putin surely discovered a long time ago that bluffing and good brinkmanship are enough for the West to do everything to prevent conflict. There is only one condition: it must believe that Putin's Russia is a “USSR 2.0”.

“I think that’s right,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on January 9th when asked by CNN if he agreed that Russian President Vladimir Putin seeks to restore the Soviet Union. “I think that’s one of President Putin’s objectives, and it is to re-exert a sphere of influence over countries that previously were part of the Soviet Union.” This is exactly what the Russian president would like the West to believe. Whilst the head of US diplomacy was making this statement, Russian-American negotiations were about to start in Geneva.

February 15, 2022 - Agnieszka Bryc

Ukrainian democracy in action. Why a successful strategy to counter authoritarianism includes Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO

Whilst Ukraine continues to struggle with various internal issues, its ongoing reforms have sent a clear message regarding its desires for western integration. The EU and NATO must now recognise Kyiv’s ambitions and respond in an equally enthusiastic manner.

February 15, 2022 - Hanna Hopko

Is the West ready to accept the challenge from Lukashenka?

Is the West ready to raise the stakes when dealing with the regime in Minsk? The answer to this question is not so clear. In fact, western states seem rather confused on how to act while the Belarusian regime continues to issue challenges.

Both Belarusian and Russian officials view the 2020 protests in Belarus as a western attempt to instigate a “colour revolution”. They see the events ultimately as a special EU and American operation in which the Belarusian people did not participate at all. Apparently, the ultimate goal of these protests was to overthrow the Russian authorities rather than simply those in Minsk.

February 15, 2022 - Valery Karbalevich

EU resilience in the Eastern Partnership: what does the case of Georgia’s political crisis tell us?

The Eastern Partnership faces an uncertain future as the European Union cannot offer any viable alternative for the group’s best performers. EU resilience in the region is now under strain. Given the increasing global dominance of China and Russia’s aggressive foreign policy, will Brussels manage to remain a credible actor in the region?

The year 2021 was full of challenges for Georgia’s democratic future and its relations with its western partners. After the parliamentary elections in October 2020, Georgia entered a deep and protracted crisis that, as of writing, still haunts the country’s politics. Disagreements over the results of the elections led to deadlock in February 2021, when the police raided the headquarters of the largest opposition party to arrest its leader. Naturally, this raised concerns among local human rights advocates and democracy watchdogs.

February 15, 2022 - Shota Kakabadze

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

Partners

Terms of Use | Cookie policy | Copyryight 2022 Kolegium Europy Wschodniej im. Jana Nowaka-Jeziorańskiego 31-153 Kraków
Agencja interaktywna: hauerpower krakow studio krakow.