Western elites are struggling to find common ground between the United States and Europe on matters related to China and trade, yet they have a broad consensus on a pressing defense issue — Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system is damaging to NATO, and if completed, sanctions against Ankara are imminent — according to a surprise Turkish-language BBC report detailing discussions that took place last week at the secretive Bilderberg conference. Another key takeaway from the Bilderberg group’s conference held last weekend in Montreux, Switzerland is that elites are concerned about what another financial crisis would do to the vulnerable European Union. Western elites see economic growth as a useful tool in their battle against populism and nationalism, but in the case that the European economy were
Brexit, beyond a doubt, shatters profound internal balances within the European Union and heightens Germany’s dominance. This is not necessarily good news, judged against the backdrop of the original EU design of carefully sustained balances that offset big countries’ dominance. The German unification in the 90s tilted the scales, initially more as a matter of perception than a tangible fact. On the one hand, Berlin was overwhelmed with internal unification challenges, while on the other hand, the influence of the United States and Britain counterbalanced German domination. Many years have since passed, and the present day balance has shifted dramatically. Internal traction has declined and centrifugal forces have increased, with there being consecutive crisis peaks in the Eurozone. An accumulation of consecutive destructive impacts generated a perception of
The ratification of the Macedonia name deal between Athens and Skopje on Friday capped a year in which the West renewed its focus on integrating the Western Balkans into the Euro-Atlantic community. Bulgaria factored into the renewed push to integrate the region into NATO and the EU because Sofia made Western Balkan integration a focal point of its European Council presidency that spanned the first half of 2018. Sofia capped its EU presidency by hosting the EU-Western Balkans summit last May. The summit was a high-level gathering of EU and Western Balkan leaders, the first of its kind in 15 years. Now that 2018 is complete and the Macedonia name dispute has been settled, one can have a clearer look at the fruits of Bulgaria’s push to
2018 was supposed to be a year in which Serbia and Kosovo made progress in resolving their longstanding territorial dispute. This year, the European Union moderated more dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, or at least tried to, and set a target date of 2025 for Serbia to join the bloc, an accession that hinges on Serbia striking a deal with Kosovo on normalizing relations. Additionally, a major breakthrough occurred in the middle of the year in another longstanding dispute in the region, the Macedonia name dispute, giving hope that similar progress may occur in Serbia-Kosovo relations. Yet, 2018 is concluding with Pristina imposing and hiking tariffs on imports from Serbia (and from Bosnia) and voting to turn the Kosovo Security Force into a regular army. Meanwhile, Belgrade is
The issue of why the EC imposed an unprecedented fine of 77 million euros on the Bulgaria Energy Holding (BEH) and its subsidiaries, Bulgartransgaz and Bulgargaz, is quite extensive, and a single angle of analysis could hardly tell the whole story. I will focus on a more holistic approach, answering questions about matters on which the audience has been kept in the dark or misled by “experts” serving the culprits consciously/for a reward/ or through incompetence or naivete. 1. Attempts to subdue the real issue, as stated in the EC’s investigation, and direct criticism to the complainant, Overgas, are irrelevant and decry nervousness. The benefits of the EC decision will be shared by all customers and players in the gas market, not just Overgas. Following this decision of the
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The fate of two key elements of Russia’s energy ‘streams’ strategy – the Nord and Turkish streams – will be decided this fall. The Damocles sword is hovering above both, and at any moment the U.S. government could impose sanctions that would immediately terminate both projects. Although such a scenario is probable, it is by no means certain. President Trump remained deliberately vague on the imminence of the sanctions during his recent press conference at the White House with Polish President Duda. US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry recently visited Moscow and, among various topics, discussed the sanctions options with his Russian counterpart as part of a broader, more positive package. Both Nord and Turkish Stream have reached a decisive stage, where action is desperately needed.
Margrethe Vestager, the EU Commissioner for Competition, made a long-awaited announcement May 24th, outlining the final decision on the anti-trust investigation against Gazprom. The media headlines picked different angles, some cheered the move for defending CEE customers, others pointed to a more pessimistic and pragmatic read – no fine for Gazprom. The press release alluded to the main achievement in the eye of the watchdog – the Russian gas giant had finally agreed to play ball. At a closer look, feelings are mixed and certainly a far cry from unqualified praise for the DG COMP’s work as the expectations in the CEE countries that Gazprom will be disciplined and punished for abusing its monopoly status were naturally greater. The decision would undoubtedly raise eyebrows, when compared with a
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