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karta S-4001

  Shortly after the October 20th visit of the head of Russia’s Civil Intelligence Sergey Naryshkin, an S-400 division and Panzer rocket-artillery system arrived in Serbia. They are supposed to take part in the second part of the joint military drills ‘Slavic shield – 2019’ that will span October 23-29th. The news generated fresh concerns about a possible permanent deployment of the S-400, leading to widespread geopolitical repercussions.   More than 200 Serbian military experts were flown to Russia two months ago to take part in the first leg of the ‘Slavic Shield-2019’ military drills in the region of Astrakhan, which included training and live-fire tests with S-400.   This summer, NATO-member Romania banned the river transport of Russian armored vehicles to Serbia. Russia then flew them over NATO member

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bvp

  The US and EU sanctions   Both the EU and the US are contemplating new sanctions following the Cyprus-drilling conflict and the purchase of the S-400. Erdogan seems defiant on both counts and further sanctions seem equally unavoidable.   Turkey’s armed forces have been planning a major offensive in Northern Syria against the US-backed Kurdish Protection Units (YPG), in defiance of US and EU warnings for possible conflict escalation. A sense of urgency has been added to Erdogan’s preparatory works to invade Syria as Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E have responded positively to US calls to send troops to areas held by the YPG.   Russia is tacitly encouraging further cracks in relations with the West by allowing Erdogan a certain range of freedom in Syria, against the

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Снимка: tccb.gov.tr

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

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Ekrem Imamoglu campaign signs in Istanbul_1

  Istanbul voters dealt Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a tremendous blow last Sunday when they resoundingly rejected the country’s former prime minister and close Erdogan ally, Binali Yildirim, in his bid to become mayor of Istanbul and maintain the quarter-century grip on Turkey’s largest city that Erdogan and his allies had held.   New Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu defeated Yildirm 54 percent to 45 percent in the re-run of a vote in March that Imamoglu narrowly won. The loss amounted to Erdogan’s first major electoral defeat of his political career and a serious blow to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which Erdogan co-founded. The Turkish president and his allies had controlled Istanbul since Erdogan was elected mayor of the Turkish metropolis 25 years ago.   A variety of

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Хотел Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, място за срещата на Билдерберг през 2019 г. и подписване на Конвенцията от Монтрьо през 1936 г.

  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

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russia_nato

  Some time ago, a Kharkiv-based site hosted a typical Kremlin propaganda piece featuring an ultimatum to the Bulgarian government – either you agree and secure free passage for Turk Stream, ignoring EU and US reservations, or Gazprom will shut off natural gas supply, and Bulgarians will freeze next winter.   Such provocative language blended with ultimatums is hardly what the Russian government can afford, at least at the formal level. Neither Maria Zaharova, nor Peskov, nor Putin, nor Lavrov would openly threaten a nuclear first strike.   This is where the hybrid Russian “scaremongering” machine comes into play – the radical loose-talk politicians like Zhirinovsky, or media makers like Kiseljov, or the cloak and dagger “knights” like Leonid Reshetnikov. Working in the shade and in halftones, they seek to

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WB Summit 1

  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

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Serbia’s Presevo Valley with the city of Presevo in the foreground

  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

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f-16

  An indirect benefit of a possible F-16 deal for the Bulgarian Air Force is that the Kremlin’s visible agents of influence will emerge on the surface – individuals like Rumen Petkov, Parvanov, Mareshki and Siderov. Borisov’s GERB will have to, at least temporarily, subdue their pro-Russian hedge. One of the largest problems of Bulgarian democracy has been that membership in the EU and NATO did not succeed debate over, or a search for, common ground on the costs and benefits and the risks and the challenges that the budget and the people will face. To a large extent, geopolitical arguments supersede an elaborate and discrete process that often ends in troubled waters. The rare instances when trying to engage in winning hearts and minds by the reborn nomenclature, motivated

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quo-vadis-bulgaria1

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