SAIS Next Europe

EU Expansion

October 8, 2008 2:49 PM

Turkey's Free Press? Not Free Yet

How is Turkey doing these days? It depends on who you ask. The United States has been positioning Turkey as a model for being the most democratic country in the Middle East; on the other hand, the European Union has been questioning freedom of the press and human rights in Turkey, as part of Turkey's the country's EU accession negotiations. Recent events suggest the EU's concerns about press freedom are legitimate. The most dramatic case is the wrangle between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Aydin Dogan, who owns almost half of the media organizations in Turkey.

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October 20, 2008 3:51 PM

Europe's Message to Moscow

The European Union has entered diplomatic no-man's-land by deploying more than 200 monitors to areas of Georgia next to the breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, replacing Russian forces that invaded Georgia in August. The EU's Georgian deployment is a test of its ability to manage relations with a resurgent Russia, and to develop a more credible approach to the volatile "in-between" lands that stretch along EU borders from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

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October 21, 2008 5:00 PM

Turks to EU: Never Mind

While Turkey's ruling AK Party is still committed to full accession to the European Union, Turkish citizens are becoming less interested in joining the club. Together with the growing anti-Turkish accession feelings from both the citizens and the leadership of current EU member states, it is looking less and less likely that Turkey will ever become a member of the EU.

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February 26, 2009 4:17 PM

Can the EU Reunite a Dividing Bosnia?

Can EU accession unite a divided nation? That is the hope in Bosnia, where ethnic tensions have resurfaced, leaving the country's population divided and its politics in a stalemate. Over the past several years, postwar momentum toward a stable and unified Bosnia has slowed, leading members of the international community to speculate about renewed conflict or the dissolution of the state. The only thing that anyone in Bosnia seems able to agree on is that EU integration is the solution to its economic and political woes.

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March 13, 2009 12:43 AM

Too Quiet on the Eastern Front

During the brief Russia-Georgian war in August 2008, many Europeans rejoiced that the EU had at last woken up to reality in Eastern Europe. Were it not for French President Nicolas Sarkozy's febrile shuttling in Tbilisi and Moscow, the war could have dragged on longer. The 27-nation bloc acted as the "honest broker" in the event.

Regrettably, the real troubles have returned--and new ones have emerged--ever since that conflict. The EU has not noticeably stepped up its diplomatic and military role in the conflict-ridden areas of the region. The umpteenth "gas war" between Russia and Ukraine in January exposed once again Europe's impotence before its energy dependence on Moscow and on unstable transit countries. To the peoples in the region, Europe continues to give the impression of being the bystander to Russia's newfound belligerence. With the credit crunch now hitting violently some Eastern European economies, the EU risks to give the impression of being the bystander--full stop.

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March 20, 2009 2:16 PM

Transatlantic Leadership: Restart International Trade

As the economic crisis continues, feelings on both sides of the Atlantic have been hurt.

Americans are accusing European countries of not doing enough to stimulate demand while Europeans are dismayed that the U.S. is unwilling to implement regulations to prevent such a crisis from happening again. I do not foresee an easy solution to these disputes. However, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic can look beyond such disagreements and focus on an area where they can make substantial progress: trade.

The Doha Trade round was initiated in 2001 to cut tariffs and other barriers to trade within the WTO framework. After a number of attempts, negotiations stalled in 2008 and there has been little progress since. The key point of disagreement is agricultural supports, particularly within the U.S. and EU. Along with the EU, some developing countries seek a significant cut in American price-distorting agricultural support while the U.S. wants a reduction in tariff barriers in the EU and developing countries. However, negotiating positions have converged in the last seven years and the major ingredient now lacking is political will.

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April 20, 2009 2:44 PM

Europe's Double Failure in Moldova

Europe's passive attitude towards the ongoing crisis in Moldova shows that when faced with the choice between power and principle, the EU is all too eager to abandon its core values in exchange for apparent geopolitical gains. True, the wise conduct of foreign policy often requires such compromises between what is right and what is necessary. But in the case of Moldova, the EU misjudged the forces at play and made a mockery out of its alleged commitment to a free society.

By European standards, Moldova today qualifies as a failed state. The country's average GDP per capita is only $250, with almost 30 percent of its four million citizens living below the poverty line. It is also one of the main sources of human trafficking on the continent and the break-away republic of Transdniester, which stretches between Moldova and the Ukraine, is a regional hub for money laundering and arms smuggling.

In the eyes of the disenchanted Moldovan youths, the victory of the Communist Party in the parliamentary elections held on April 5th signaled the continuity of this bleak horizon. In scenes familiar to Eastern Europe in 1989, thousands of protesters took over the Parliament building in the capital Chisinau and demanded a recount of the vote, which they claimed was rigged. The regime of outgoing President Vladimir Voronin - himself a former interior minister in the days when Moldova belonged to the Soviet Union - responded with a Soviet-style crackdown. Over 200 people have been beaten and jailed, some without access to lawyers. The body of 23-year old student Valeriu Boboc was returned to his parents covered with bruises and journalist Natalia Morar, one of the key planners of the anti-communist demonstrations, went into hiding after being placed under house arrest. Ten other journalists have been threatened or arrested by the Moldovan authorities. Backed by the Russian government, President Voronin accused Romania of plotting a coup against him, expelled the Romanian ambassador from Chisinau and reintroduced visas for Romanian citizens.

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June 15, 2009 11:32 AM

Where Should the EU End?

The question is not whether the EU will again be ready to expand; it is where the EU ought to end.

In retrospect, the historic European Union expansion of May 2004 carries more than a hint of irony. The accession of eight former communist nations of Central Europe was in many ways a high point for Europe. The EU monitored these countries' transition towards liberal democracy; it influenced their political culture and guided economic transformation.

It wasn't a miracle, as one might mistakenly believe from listening to the European vulgate. But it is safe to say that the EU accompanied a remarkable development. When viewed alongside the quagmire that America was making for itself in Iraq at the time, enlargement became the epitome of Europe's power and of the scale of its ambitions.

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June 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Europe Sleeps As Power Passes It By

The European Parliament elections turned out to be a democratic disaster. Massive abstention underscored the strong disinterest - if not mistrust - many European citizens have toward the election of their European representatives. This is not good news, now that the European Parliament has begun to wield more authority. In addition, the anti-institutional vote was important. Political parties supporting more European integration actually represent only a small percentage of European citizens. The protest vote is likely to trigger -- or more precisely reopen -- a debate over the legitimacy and popularity of European institutions.

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