EU foreign affairs (including defence, development aid and trade) and the European neighbourhood

Europe must adapt to the reality that we are living in a world increasingly dominated by Asia

Economic development in China and other Asian countries has an impact on the role of European states in global affairs. Craig J. Willy argues that with the rise of Asian economies, the world is increasingly moving away from the model of free trade championed by Europe and other states in the West. Unless Europe becomes a more cohesive actor which […]

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Moldova is at the crossroads between Russia and the EU ahead of the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius

The Eastern Partnership is an initiative aimed at strengthening the EU’s relations with neighbouring states in Eastern Europe. Ahead of the next Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November, Ellie Knott assesses the factors influencing Moldova’s relationship with the EU. She notes that although Moldova has been governed by pro-EU governments since 2009, the country has come under significant pressure […]

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François Hollande’s policy on Syria offers a perfect example of how not to conduct international politics

While the British parliament has effectively ruled out UK intervention in the Syrian conflict, French President François Hollande has been adamant that France will take part in any US-led military strikes against the country. John Gaffney writes that in contrast to the UK and the United States, who have sought parliamentary and congressional approval for their policy on Syria, Hollande […]

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The reluctance of German politicians to take a strong line on defence policy poses a security risk for Europe.

Defence policy has generally played a much smaller role in German election campaigns than it has in other countries. As Tom Dyson writes, this is largely because German politicians view the issue as a ‘vote loser’, with little potential to improve a party’s electoral success. Nevertheless, he argues that this approach is highly misguided in the context of modern security […]

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The UK’s vote against military action in Syria leaves EU foreign policy more divided than ever.

Last week, the British parliament voted against UK involvement in any military intervention in Syria. Mark Shaw writes on the impact the vote has had elsewhere in the EU. He notes that with France still firmly committed to taking part, Europe remains deeply divided over the issue. This ensures that while the EU took a leading role in imposing sanctions […]

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David Cameron’s Syria defeat was unexpected, but Prime Ministers are regularly forced to bow to Parliament’s will

On Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote on the UK’s participation in a military intervention in Syria. As Meg Russell writes, the vote has been met with shock, and seen as a very visible assertion of parliamentary power. She argues, however, that while such confrontations are unusual, it would be wrong to assume that parliamentary checks on […]

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Spain’s Partido Popular government is reverting to Francoist type over Gibraltar, to the detriment of all.

Tensions have risen between Spain and Gibraltar following the implementation of additional border checks between the two territories by the Spanish government. Gareth Stockey notes that border restrictions are likely to have a damaging effect on both Gibraltar and neighbouring Spanish communities. He argues that the Spanish government’s actions represent a break from the conciliatory stance pursued by the previous […]

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The EU’s designation of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group is a critical step toward preventing its illicit activities in Europe.

Last month the EU added Hezbollah’s military wing to its ‘blacklist’ of terrorist organisations. Matthew Levitt gives an overview of the developments that have led to the EU’s decision, and assesses its likely impact on Hezbollah’s operations. He argues that in addition to giving EU member states the legal basis to investigate Hezbollah’s actions, the decision also sends a clear […]

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After a period of political turmoil, Romania is building on its strengths and looking outwards for investment to stimulate growth.

Last year, Romanian politics was rocked with infighting between the country’s Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, and President, Traian Basescu. Clara Volintiru writes that the country has largely moved on from its political squabble, and is now positioning itself as an attractive target for investment compared with its neighbours in Central and Eastern Europe. Whether this strategy will bring the growth […]

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Turkey’s foreign policy moves away from the US and Israel have not met with success

As one of the few secular democracies in the Middle East, Turkey faces strategic pulls from its Islamic neighbours, and from the US over its policies towards Israel. Kostas Ifantis argues that the present government’s recent moves towards closer relations with countries like Iran, and its involvement in the Syrian civil war have thrown up a new problems, and exacerbated […]

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As Armenia moves closer to the EU, Russia is taking advantage of the country’s economic and geopolitical vulnerabilities to maintain its influence.

Like many former Soviet-states, Armenia has recently pursued closer relations with the EU, much to Russia’s displeasure. Hayk Hovhannisyan looks at Russia’s increasingly punitive stance towards Armenia, such as increasing gas prices and greater arms sales to Armenia’s rival, Azerbaijan. Armenia has been trying to walk a fine line not to infuriate the ‘bear’ to the north, but now, without […]

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Book Review: Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love With Vladimir Putin

In this well-received new analysis, Ben Judah argues that Putin is not the strongman he appears. Russia’s leader may be victorious as a politician, but he has utterly failed to build a modern state. Once loved for its forcefulness and the spreading of new consumer lifestyles, Putin’s regime is now increasingly loathed for incompetence and corruption. Joel Krupa finds this […]

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Russia’s ban on ‘homosexual propaganda’ is part of Vladimir Putin’s attempt to entrench traditional values in the face of the spread of Western liberal ideas.

At the end of June, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, signed into law a bill banning the spreading of ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’. Richard Mole argues that the law is targeted at LGBT activists, who are some of the Kremlin’s most public and vocal critics, and plays on existing intolerance towards homosexuality which dates back to the Soviet era. By […]

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The EU requires a new approach at the United Nations if it is to avoid punching below its weight in negotiations.

How successful is the European Union at winning support in the United Nations? Karen E. Smith notes that as a significant voting bloc of 28 states, and as one of the primary contributors to the UN’s budget, the EU should be well placed to gain support within the UN’s decision-making processes. Despite this, EU states have often struggled to gain […]

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The Gezi protests have shown the rampant institutional bias in Turkey’s media which now leaves little room for facts.

The past month has seen a wave of protests across Turkey against the increasingly authoritarian government. Burcu Baykurt looks at media coverage of the protests, and finds that there are concerns from both sides that pro-government and alternative media are distorting and ‘re-constructing’ the facts to favour the government or the protestors. Also, worrying are the increasing written, verbal, and […]

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There is little evidence that a ‘Nordicisation’ of the EU’s Africa policy has taken place.

The Nordic countries have traditionally had a distinct role in international affairs focused on peacekeeping and development assistance. Given this role, Gorm Rye Olsen assesses whether the EU’s Africa policy has been subject to a process of ‘Nordicisation’, in which EU actions in Africa have been driven by the Nordic countries. He finds that even in the case of development […]

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Europe’s challenge for the next ten years is to remain competitive as income and trade patterns shift

The coming decade will see patterns of trade and investment move towards Asia, and with this movement, new challenges to Europe’s prosperity. Margot James MP shares her views on ‘Europe in the world in 2023’ – which was the latest topic discussed in the Foreign Office’s series of Jubilee Dialogues. The recent dialogue discussed the spread of economic power and […]

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Turkey’s protests have stirred debate about democracy and the unchecked power of governments that have an electoral mandate.

What do the protests of the past two weeks mean for democracy in Turkey? Zeynep N. Kaya and Matthew Whiting argue that they represent the clash between the desire of the Prime Minister, Recep Tayip Erdoğan, for a majoritarian politics with few checks on power, and those who wish for government to consult widely in its decision-making. While the current […]

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Turkey’s ongoing protests may yet lead to a backlash from the government’s supporters and a new ‘Turkish winter’

As street protests in Turkey continue, and the government’s response has begun to harden, many are now talking about a coming ‘Turkish spring’. Burak Kadercan warns against such an analysis of these events, arguing that the protestors have no collective vision of change, and that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remains a relatively popular leader. He writes that if the ruling AKP […]

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Public opinion outside of Europe is generally favourable toward the EU, but this is only partly due to the EU’s actions.

How is the EU viewed outside of Europe? Bernd Schlipphak assesses public opinion toward the EU in non-European countries. He notes that for the most part citizens have favourable attitudes about European integration and the EU, but that the EU’s actions are only part of the explanation for these positive opinions. Attitudes are also strongly influenced by the extent to […]

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