Why Was Zapad-2017 So Important?

russian tank belarus zapad

The strategic joint military exercise Zapad-2017 took place from September 14-20 at several training grounds in Russia and Belarus. According to official statements, the total number of troops participating in this military drill was 13,000. However, the real figures could well have been significantly higher. The official scenario of Zapad-2017 was very close to that of previous Belarusian-Russian military exercises, which took place in 2011 and 2013. Belarusian and Russian troops were preparing to repel aggressive actions by their western neighbours, aimed at destabilising the situation in Western Belarus.

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Euroscepticism in Serbia: An Image Problem?

It would likely make sense to search for the causes of the euroscepticism of the citizens of the Republic of Serbia and other similar states in the region in the specific features, length and effects of a social transition which has been going on for more than twenty years. Disappointment, unfulfilled expectations under conditions of radical social change, and confusion in the understanding and promotion of EU integration could be considered general causes. Radical changes of the economic, political, legal and any other system have been going on for too long.

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Moldova’s Briefly Suspended President is Still in Business

chisinau moldova parliament

Following a game-changing decision of the Constitutional Court on March 4, 2016, Moldovan voters were keen to vote for a new, directly elected president. The idea of choosing the highest official of state in direct elections appealed to regular citizens: more than 90 per cent approved of the idea. It was the political parliamentary parties, who had elected the president until then, who were less keen.

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Are Czech-EU Relations at Breaking Point?

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - 21 JUNE 2014: People on the streets of Prague, Czech Republic. Prague is one of the most visited city in Europe with over 5 million visitors every year.

The future of Czech policy towards the European Union became very uncertain after the country held elections on October 20-21. Not only did billionaire Andrej Babiš’s party, ANO, often described as populist and Eurosceptic, secure a landslide victory; the remaining parties, of which four of the five most popular are anti-establishment, failed to secure enough votes to create majority without ANO.

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Is the Level of Foreign Ownership a Problem in Emerging Europe?

Flags of European countries flying from their capital cities. Viewed from the South.

Economic strategies are being questioned in several countries, both in Emerging Europe and elsewhere. Politicians have proposed more nationalist economic approaches, and in some cases are acting on them, in both Hungary and Poland as well as the US and the UK. In the former two emerging Europe countries, governments have consciously adopted policies of promoting nationally owned businesses, ostensibly out of concern that excessive foreign ownership hurts the country’s welfare. Continue reading Is the Level of Foreign Ownership a Problem in Emerging Europe?

Belarusian Journalists Still Face Huge Problems

Belarus came in a lowly 153rd place (of 180) in Reporters Without Borders 2017 World Press Freedom Index. Other media freedom watchdogs and international organisations have reached similar conclusions: Belarus is ranked amongst the ten least free countries by Freedom House, although – credit where it’s due – it did move up from 194th last year to 192nd this year. Continue reading Belarusian Journalists Still Face Huge Problems

Regional Relations in the Western Balkans: Moving Beyond Folklore

Bosnia and Herzegovina flag with Serbia flag, 3D rendering

A long-awaited visit by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to Sarajevo finally took place in September, the first visit to the Bosnian capital by a Serbian president. Open disagreements between Mr Vučić’s predecessor, Tomislav Nikolić, and the Bosniak representative of the Bosnian presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, had made any such visit impossible in the past. Indeed, personal conflicts between the two leaders had led to total alienation between the two countries at the state level, all the while deepening Serbia’s relationship with the Republika Srpska and its leadership. Continue reading Regional Relations in the Western Balkans: Moving Beyond Folklore

Poland Challenges the European Identity

Poland emerging europe

I am writing this from a hotel room in Warsaw, surrounded by memorials to Frederic Chopin, the great Polish composer and champion of self-determination for the Polish people. This is a particularly appropriate time to be here, since Poland is locked in a battle with the European Union over the question of Polish national self-determination — more than two centuries after Chopin was born. Continue reading Poland Challenges the European Identity