The backstage role of Schroeder. President Erdogan seems intent to further expand the impact zone of the S-400 deal – testing the tolerance of his partners in NATO and the EU. Both are contemplating sanctions which seem too lenient to bite yet indicate a path that has no worst-case scenario beyond the realm of the possibility. Volkswagen’s investments in Turkey, with the heavy lobbying of the key Kremlin asset ex-Chancellor Schroeder, inevitably will face huge and potentially escalating tough-to-mitigate political risks. No immediate collapse foreseen – slowly evolving strategic shift To start with – the nature and the timeline of the risk evolve in time. Although no immediate collapse in Turkey is foreseen as part of Erdogan’s departure from Kemal Ataturk’s European and part of the West identity, the
For a long time the real power in the European Union, though hidden behind by high-sounding concepts like ‘more Europe,’ ‘solidarity’ and less sovereignty for the hoi polloi (read Eastern Europe) nations, as in majority rather than unanimous voting. All of this was based on a putative French-German agreement about the key issues of the alliance, which, more often than not, has been based on an assumed rather than real unanimity of views by the two major powers in continental Europe. As if to allay their own doubts and those of the Euro-sceptics about this, Germany and France moved to sign the Aachen Treaty in early 2019. A treaty that conjures up a bipolar domination of Europe that few outside of these two countries would willingly subscribe to. This
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.