SAIS Next Europe

European Identity

October 20, 2008 4:25 PM

Will Comfort Conquer Europe?

It may sound strange at first, but think for a moment of the U.S. and the EU as empires at different stages of their evolution. What would that tell us about the way they're behaving as world players today?

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October 17, 2008 1:59 PM

Has the EU Been Watching Lou Dobbs?

Immigrants detained indefinitely, fingerprinting racially-profiled populations, mass deportations: this may sound like a typical European's justification for prosecuting President Bush at the International Criminal Court, but these disturbing developments are, in fact, part of a wave of anti-immigration policies taking hold in the European Union. The sentiment is likely a result of slowing economic growth and increased pressure on highly regulated labor markets, but such pressures are testing the limits of one of the EU's founding principles, the free movement of labor.

What began as a debate over undocumented immigration is turning into a debate over the merits of immigration, both legal and illegal, and leading to calls of preserving national identity

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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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November 3, 2008 5:58 PM

Europe's Next Trouble Spot

Imagine it's February, 2008. Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia is imminent. International analysts are warning about reactionary moves by other breakaway regions. They say that South Ossetia and Abkhazia would become more daring in making official their already de facto independence from Georgia. They also say that after the successes of these regions-turned-states, we shouldn't be surprised by the appearance on the map of independent republics called either Transnistria (in Moldova), Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan) or Republika Srpska (Bosnia-Herzegovina).

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November 4, 2008 12:50 PM

October a Tough Month for Italian Immigrants

A young Bangladeshi man working at the convenience store pointed to a plastic bag in his hand. "What do you call this?" he asked me in Italian.

"Bag," I responded in English.

"No, in Italiano?"

"Uhm borsa?" Wrong again. He rolled his eyes at me. At the time, I assumed he was simply correcting my facile grasp of his second language; but in retrospect, he may also have been expressing frustration that, unlike me-- a privileged foreign student-- his children may have to pass a language test to attend Italian schools.

Indeed, October was a tough month for immigrants. On October 15th, the lower house of Italy's parliament approved a plan to require immigrant children to pass a special test before being admitted to school. If students failed, they would be required to take special classes on Italian language and culture. The Senate must still approve the legislation for it to become law. Critics call it xenophobic, bordering on fascist while supporters say it is necessary for proper integration.

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November 7, 2008 4:28 PM

Recognizing Kosovo - Who's Next?

On October 9th, both Montenegro and Macedonia recognized the free and independent state of Kosovo. This sudden joint-decision came as a great shock to Serbia, a traditional ally and neighbor of the two that has been counting on their support in its own efforts to block further international recognition of Kosovo. The newborn state -- the Republic of Kosovo -- unilaterally claimed its independence on February 17th of this year and so far has been recognized by 52 UN countries (including 22 EU countries and 4 former Yugoslav republics - Croatia, Slovenia, and now Montenegro and Macedonia.)

Serbia and its big brother Russia have maintained their opposition to the decision of the Kosovo government to proclaim independence. Until October 9 Montenegro supported this position, and had even sided with the Serbs in appealing to the ICJ on the issue of Kosovo's legality of independence. Furthermore, 24 hours before accepting Kosovo as a state, the Montenegrin Prime Minister conducted extensive diplomatic talks with Serbian officials regarding adoption of a number of bilateral agreements that would facilitate the entry of both countries into the EU. Soon after --and unexpectedly -- Montenegro recognized the newborn state of Kosovo. In unison, Macedonia followed up on accepting the state of Kosovo, despite an ongoing border dispute with Kosovo. This "Joint-Balkan-decision" (as ironic as it sounds!) came as a result of similar pressures on both countries, primarily from their Albanian minorities, and also from the United States and a few EU countries.

At present, both states have accepted the legality of the new country, which underscores their clear transatlantic orientation and constant striving for further economic and democratic development in the Balkans. Yet, despite its importance, this joint political decision certainly did not go unnoticed, sparking heavy protests among the Serbian population in Montenegro and leading to the expulsion of the Montenegrin ambassador in Serbia. Furthermore, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic was quoted as saying that recognizing Kosovo's independence would represent a stab in the back for Serbia. Nevertheless, this statement was short-lived, whereas all three countries have clearly stated that they do not wish to ruin the relations between them and expressed the willingness of deepening their collaborations in their common areas of interest. Hence, this decision did not result in a damage of cooperation between the neighboring countries, leading to the palpable observation that recognizing Kosovo is vital for embedding stability in the region.

On the other hand, will Serbia ever follow the footsteps of its rational allies? Well, considering Serbia's strive for Western support and willingness to join NATO and the EU, such a possibility should not be deemed far-fetched. Kosovo's independence is a political reality that should not be ignored. If they do, however, decide to let go of Kosovo once and for all and recognize it as a state in the same way as all other ex-Yugoslav republics, it can be deemed as a contribution in moving the region towards greater integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions. As stated by Marti Aahtisari, the Nobel Peace Prize winner for his meditation in Kosovo, "Serbia's recognition of Kosovo should be a "conditional requirement" of their integration in the EU" and they cannot expect to join the EU if they pursue destructive policies, partition and the blocking of the EU mission in Kosovo.

Adea D. Kryeziu is a graduate student in the IR/International Policy program at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Bologna Center in Italy.

November 13, 2008 11:30 AM

In Search of Europe's Obama

Obama's victory rocks Europe's moral certainty over the United States. Most Europeans see the U.S. returning to the western values that the Bush administration had subverted. But with the historical victory of an African-American with a Kenyan father becoming the U.S. president, Europe is suddenly haunted by a question that leads it into self-doubt: would Europe be able to vote for its own Obama? Looking at the current political landscape the answer has to be No. But the Obama presidency could indeed be a crucial external impulse for change in this respect - but not because Europe wants to live up to its own ideal of a society with equal opportunities for every citizen. In fact the reason can be found in Europe's ever pressing problems linked to its inability to integrate immigrants. Indeed, change is already under way in most European countries, though in slow motion.

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November 13, 2008 11:34 AM

Who Will Lead the 'Next Europe', and To Where?

Last month I received a phone call from my eleven-year-old cousin, who wanted my thoughts for a class paper on "what it means to be American." The last two years have borne witness to an often rancorous debate over that very subject, a debate that played out on a global stage. Discussions of "American exceptionalism" prompted proud proclamations from this side of the Atlantic and engendered skepticism abroad. After all, what does make America so special?

On Election night, America offered one answer to that question, placing its hopes and its future in the hands of Barack Obama, our first African-American president. Tears of joy and shouts of happiness at a uniquely American achievement quickly spread beyond our borders, spawning images of shared euphoria across Europe from Paris to Athens. Common to both celebrations, though - those here and abroad - was a familiar refrain: "Only in America."

As I watched Parisians share in the Obamania, I couldn't help but ask the obvious question: could it happen there? Could they too elect a minority to the highest office in the land? Could an Algerian descendant occupy the Palais de l'Élysée? Could a second-generation Turk become German chancellor? Is Fortress Europe ready for a changing world?

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November 13, 2008 11:48 AM

The Change the Old World Doesn't Believe In -- Yet

If Europeans could have voted in the U.S. presidential election, they would have voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. More than two-thirds of Germans, Italians and Spanish queried recently by a Harris Interactive poll supported Obama; less than one in ten favored John McCain. Only one percent of those polled in France supported McCain.

The main reason Europeans give for supporting Obama is his perceived ability to represent change from the Bush administration. Other strengths are his personality and youth. None of this is particularly surprising, and confirms most anecdotal evidence.

What is particularly striking about the poll is not what Europeans think about America but how they think about themselves.

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November 26, 2008 12:35 PM

Turkey's Offer to Mediate Iran/US Conflicts

Could Turkey help mediate longstanding U.S./Iran conflicts over Israel and Iran's nuclear ambitions? Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to try -- but the Obama administration may be less likely to give him a chance because of comments Erdogan made recently in Washington.

"Turkey wants to be the mediator between the new Obama administration and Iran, using its growing role in the Middle East to bridge the divide between East and West," Erdogan told the New York Times on November 9.

But on November 14 at the Brookings Institution, Erdogan suggested that Iran's desire for nuclear weapons was "normal for any country" and that countries with such weapons should consider getting rid of them -- a position at odds with both Turkish and NATO policy and unlikely to convince the Obama administration that Erdogan would be a useful go between.

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December 19, 2008 3:02 PM

France's Swan Song? Not So Fast

I was home in Paris recently and two articles I read struck me: one in Le Monde was an interview of Donald Morrison, the recent author of a book that develops an argument first presented in a Nov. 2007 Time Magazine article, "The Death of French Culture". The other one was a poetic account by Roger Cohen, the New York Times columnist, of his nostalgia for the Paris of his youth.

For both authors, Paris has lost its luster. No more intellectuals in the cafés of the Latin Quarter. No more Ernest Hemingways and Henry Millers drawn by the city's cultural edge. Now, French authors and scientists flock to the United States, where they find the vitality that Paris seems to have lost.

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January 16, 2009 1:44 PM

Artwork, Toilets, and EU Identity

A large art installation, billed as a collaborative effort between artists from the 27 member states of the European Union to highlight their respective countries, was hung above the entrance to the EU Council headquarters in Brussels this month. But the representations are hardly flattering.

The Netherlands: underwater, with only minarets poking above the waves. France: bearing a sign reading "on strike," stretched across the whole country. Luxembourg: a piece of gold for sale. Sweden: packed into an IKEA box. Romania: a Dracula theme park. Worst of all, Bulgaria: a series of toilets.

Nor is "Entropa" truly what its creators advertised: the work of 27 EU artists, as it was originally sold to both the EU and to the Czech government, which took over the EU's rotating presidency this year. In fact, it is the work of a single Czech artist, David Černý, perhaps best known for putting sculptures of creepy crawling faceless babies on the already weird-looking Žižkov Television Tower in Prague. The other artists don't exist.

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June 12, 2009 4:10 PM

Europe Swings Sharply to the Right

In his much-anticipated Cairo speech, President Obama rebuked the "negative stereotypes of Islam" and faced the Muslim world with a call for "mutual respect." Yet at the same moment, European sentiment seemed to be moving in the opposite direction.

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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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PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.