On Sunday, France elected a 39-year-old man married to his high school drama teacher who was running for president as an independent candidate. But, it was not so much the election of Emmanuel Macron — an establishment candidate cast as a political outsider — as it was the entire election cycle that threw a wrench in French politics. Likewise, while Macron’s defeat of nationalist Marine Le Pen in the presidential runoff marked a big win for Brussels, the French election also indicates the European Union will continue to face existential threats. Macron was painted by major western media as a “maverick centrist outsider,” but he was arguably the consummate insider candidate. Prior to running for president, Macron attended the elite civil service institution Ecole nationale d’administration; he
In a parliamentary election full of twists and turns, a Macedonian party led by a former prime minister now under criminal investigation eked out a victory and picked up just enough seats to return to power. The result will likely prolong Macedonia’s political crisis, but it could signal the small Balkan state is climbing out of the European Union’s doghouse and is remaining on the path toward Euro-Atlantic integration. Former prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s VMRO DPMNE party entered Sunday’s election as the clear frontrunner. Gruevski and VMRO ruled Macedonia for nearly a decade until, in January, the premier resigned under an EU-brokered agreement. Though Gruevski and many of his former government officials are currently being probed by a special prosecutor, VMRO amassed considerable popularity and control over Macedonian institutions
President Erdogan’s radical departure from previous policy lines toward the Kurdish minority and its political representatives in the Turkish Parliament could derail Turkey’s ambitious plans to act as a crucial energy hub for gas and oil flows destined to the EU and global market. He is not only fighting the PKK but all Kurds, as HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş was arrested along with at least 11 MPs in a marked escalation of the post-coup crackdown. Intensification of the government’s war against Kurds in the southeastern region of the country might spell the end of a risk-free environment for all major transit projects passing through Turkey — both existing and planned. A sequence of bombs blasts — the last one two weeks ago on the gas line
Following President Putin’s trip to Turkey and a sequence of publicity stunts, some of them jointly with President Erdogan, it has become clear that the Russian leader is engaging in another game of poker politics in a desperate attempt to make headlines, impress the international audience and sell more gas to Europe, bypassing EU directives and concurrently Ukraine. Although most of his plan is a deja vu, the decision to proceed with the intergovernmental agreement on Turkish stream and start maneuvers on the gas front from Istanbul contains a piece of novelty. Most of the background remains the same – intentions, plans for the future, verbal rather than real streams – but the new moments are worth noting. Russia has changed several key elements in its approach to the ‘streams’ issue.
On consecutive Sundays, voters in Bosnia went to the polls amid rising ethnic tensions that are jeopardizing the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration. Neither a referendum in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, nor local elections held nationwide, did anything to alleviate the ethnic division. In the week leading up to the referendum, war talk made headlines in the Balkans. A wartime Bosnian Army commander suggested the Serb entity, Republika Srpska, could be occupied in 15 days. The suggestion prompted Belgrade to issue a statement saying it would come to the defense of its fellow Serbs if Republika Srpska was attacked. Zagreb also offered backing for the Bosnian Croats. On Sept. 25, Republika Srpska held a referendum on its national holiday. Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik proceeded with the vote in defiance of
It was with great fanfare that the EU announced its Bratislava meeting last Sept. 16 as a crucial get together of its leaders to take stock of the state of the union after Brexit and the turbulent year in which more than a million migrants came to Germany alone. In previous meetings of the kind, the operational mantra had always been “ever closer union” as the panacea for all problems. Not this time. The meeting started with Angela Merkel, the real boss of the EU opining that the EU was in a “critical situation” only to be mildly contradicted a day later by Junker who said in his state of the union speech that the EU was not disintegrating. It is possible that both of them were right, but
At different times various Russian politicians have crossed the threshold of decency and good manners, with their revelations and arrogance generating media salvos aimed at a confused Bulgarian audience. One does not need to look beyond the immediate plan for a deeper strategic connotation. This is a vintage political hooligan’s reaction without inhibitions, the insolence of the imperial made possible only through the certitude of subservience of the oppressed. The news will generate some noise in the social networks, but few if any serious reactions from politicians, government officials and/or the special services guarding national security. While we might deplore the action of the Gosduma deputy, some of our compatriots may be already asking for the transaction price and their commission fees. Just as Ambassador Chizhov called Bulgaria Russia’s
“Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act.” Howard Zinn Following the freeze in the relations between Russia and Turkey and the affluent geopolitical context of Putin and Erdogan’s personal diplomacy, some analysts were quick to affirm that the bilateral relations are heading towards an unprecedented era of strategic partnership. The story went further to passing alarmist concerns that the two leaders could be acting in tandem, commanding considerable weight and shifting fragile balances in the international system, including eroding from within the internal cohesion within the EU and NATO. This is an entirely false assumption, that ignores blatant facts. As a hypothesis it provides ample ground for manipulative interpretations and even self inflicted wounds. The truth is that the seemingly perfect match of the