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Portugal just elected its weakest government in decades but Ukraine is still a matter of consensus

Most of Portugal’s foreign policy has been driven by its status as a member state of both NATO and the EU. Although geographically removed from the battlefield, Portuguese society is one of the most ardent believers in a Ukrainian victory. Even at a time of profound change in the political landscape, support for Kyiv will remain solid.

May 13, 2024 - João Ruela Ribeiro

The dream of sanctions stopping wars

Despite various sanctions put in place against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian economy is surprisingly doing much better than expected. It appears for now that at least in the short term, the Russian economy is able to bypass sanctions as long as other countries are willing to pursue business as usual with Russia. Whether or not the sanctions will have a longer-term effect and have any impact on Russian aggression remains to be seen.

When western countries adopted sanctions against Russia in response to Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine, western politicians promised nothing less than the complete breakdown of the Russian economy. The French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire spoke of the “collapse” of the Russian economy, while US President Joe Biden said that “We will keep raising the economic cost and ratchet up the pain for [Vladimir] Putin and further increase Russia's economic isolation.”

July 4, 2023 - Svenja Petersen

Ukrainian refugees fleeing war battle with French bureaucracy

Ukrainian refugees who arrive to France face the daunting task of not only coming to a new country where they do not speak the language but also of trying to understand the complicated bureaucracy. In many cases, additional help from volunteers and online community groups is the only way to fully navigate the process.

When Olena Kondratova arrived in Paris in August 2022 after having fled the Russian invasion, she found shelter in temporary accommodation provided by French social services. The small apartment, where she lived with two other Ukrainian women, was two hours away from her new university, but it meant safety from the bombs raining down on her native city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine.

July 4, 2023 - Cristina Coellen

Serbia-Kosovo relations: old issues and new pressures for an epilogue

After years of struggle, political corruption and non-compliance with obligations from both sides, the Franco-German proposal for Serbia and Kosovo came as some kind of relief for those who want to normalise relations. It can be seen as an ultimatum for the political elites, but also an opportunity for extremists on both sides to blame their opponents for “treason”.

On the evening of February 27th 2022, the day-long meeting in Brussels between Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, and the EU Special Representative for Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajčák, finally came to an end.

April 28, 2023 - Filip Mirilović

Germany, France, Poland and the future of the European Union

Numerous tensions, deepened by Russia’s war with Ukraine, high inflation and the energy crisis, generate our anxiety about the future of the European project. Especially as the proposals that are put forward may actually lead to a greater fragmentation and further “unsealing” of the European Union. This, in turn, can only impede its further development.

March 9, 2023 - Eugeniusz Smolar

Renewing the promise of European solidarity

The war in Ukraine reminds us that the peaceful civic revolutions of 1989-91 have not yet been completed. Today Vladimir Putin is once again trying to stop Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity and reverse its dynamics. He is also the co-creator of a new nationalistic populism in Europe and the United States. The main goal of this movement is to destroy civic culture and solidarity among people.

When we ask Europeans what comes to their mind when they think of the word solidarity, we see that their answer today differs compared to what it was before February 24th 2022. Many will probably say that for them solidarity means support for the democratic Ukrainian society that is being attacked by Putinist Russia. Among the answers there might be justified opinions that the Russian political system has become fascist. The war in Ukraine is the next step in Russia’s authoritarian radicalisation, which translates into increased violence and aggression against its neighbours, but also against the Russian society. All dissent is brutally crushed there.

February 16, 2023 - Basil Kerski

Is Europe’s democracy in crisis?

Like their predecessors in the 1920s and 1930s, today’s populists understand that by dividing society and delegitimising their adversaries, they can get away with blatant violations of the democratic rules. They aim to fuel discontent and toxic polarisation, which transform public debate into tribal wars.

In the mid-1970s three eminent political scientists – Michel Crozier, Samuel Huntington, and Joji Watanuki – penned a famous report on the crisis of western democracy, which they described as declining and overloaded with societal demands. Paradoxically, their report coincided with the start of a democratisation wave that, in 15 years, swept away dictatorships across the globe, including those in Southern and Eastern Europe.

February 16, 2023 - Filip Kostelka

Can Georgia get back on track?

The European Union’s recent decision to award candidate status to Moldova and Ukraine has left Georgia in a difficult position. Whilst eager to integrate with the bloc, the country still suffers from numerous political issues. Tbilisi must now take full advantage of all the tools available to it in order to not fall further behind.

Since the restoration of independence in 1991, Georgia has increasingly identified itself as part of the European family. Despite this, no real reciprocal steps have been taken by Europe to acknowledge these developments. Georgia has most often been perceived by Europe as part of its geographical periphery, somewhat separate from the continent. Since the formal establishment of the European Union in the early 1990s, Tbilisi’s dream of joining the EU has remained a utopian vision. The country has constantly been referred to as simply a “neighbour” of the EU.

October 3, 2022 - Beka Chedia

Germany as a bellwether for post-war European energy security

The interdependence between Russia and Germany has also created geopolitical and security concerns for the EU. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany needs to now understand that domestic and European energy security are intertwined. There are several measures that Germany can adopt in order to address this energy security dilemma in the short and long term, taking into account geopolitical circumstances at the EU level.

Three days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a Zeitenwende – a turning point in the history of East-West relations. His speech in the Bundestag was meant to mark a generational change in German foreign policy towards Russia. When Chancellor Scholz declared that Germany would, in a gradual process, dramatically reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies, it launched a debate among German policymakers that has reverberated across Europe. While the goal is apparent, to extricate Germany from Russian energy dependence with minimal economic trauma, there is still no consensus on how to achieve this.

September 29, 2022 - Ismet Fatih Čančar Marc Ozawa

Can Georgia’s parliament get the country back on the European track?

Following a brief summer hiatus, the Georgian parliament is back in session. At the top of the list will be the reform efforts proposed by the European Commission.

September 21, 2022 - Mark Temnycky

The Czech Republic and the Eastern European agenda: many challenges, new opportunities

On July 1st, the Czech Republic took over the Council of the European Union’s presidency. This has happened at a time of enormous pressure, as the union is faced with the Russian war against Ukraine. Czechia’s performance may benefit particularly from a clear consensus when it comes to sanctions on Moscow. Under a responsible leadership, the state may not only help bring an end to the violence in Ukraine but also lead the country closer to the bloc.

August 2, 2022 - Pavel Havlicek

Ain’t no wall high enough – as security trumps humanity on the Polish-Belarusian border, what is the fate of EU migration policy?

As Poland has been one of the primary victims of the crisis on the EU’s eastern border, one would hope that this experience would make it reconsider its hitherto staunch opposition towards a robust, solidarity-based EU migration policy. Instead, the go-it-alone approach of the Polish government and its reliance on physical barriers and pushbacks have undermined Poland’s human rights record, and demonstrated a missed opportunity to show the full potential of inter-EU cooperation. The fact that the Union itself has done little to change Poland’s approach, and has failed to bring migration policy into the picture, poses serious moral questions and risks future vulnerability to migration weaponisation.

January 31, 2022 - Agnieszka Widłaszewska

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