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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
When, back in April 2015, I had the honour and pleasure of setting up NowoczesnaPL with Ryszard Petru and 19 other eminent individuals, we didn’t expect that Law and Justice (PiS) would be able to ruin Poland to the extent that it has. For ruining the country is exactly what it is doing. Continue reading Only a United Opposition Can Defeat Poland’s Ruling Law and Justice Party
Slovenia goes to the polls to elect a new president on October 22nd, and for the first time a majority of candidates are women: five, from a total of nine. The current president, Borut Pahor, is favourite to win a second term, and consistently tops opinion polls. Continue reading Slovenia’s Presidential Election: Pahor Expected to Romp Home
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
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
Some eight years since its launch, the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) continues to offer up a mixed bag of results, including both achievements and failures. Continue reading Under Promise, Over Deliver: Prospects for the EU’s Eastern Partnership in 2018
Both the current president and government of Poland have stated time after time that they support further integration within the European Union, and such a view is broadly shared by the majority of Poles. Continue reading Will Poland Leave the European Union?
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