US President Donald J. Trump’s recognition of Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela ramps up pressure on Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Caracas. The recognition is an important step, but also raises many questions.

Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, addressed some of these questions in an interview with the New Atlanticist’s Ashish Kumar Sen. Here are excerpts from our interview.

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On January 25, the Greek parliament approved a deal that will see its neighbor, Macedonia, renamed to the “Republic of North Macedonia”—a move that ends a twenty-seven-year dispute between the two Southeastern European countries.

The deal—known as the Prespa Agreement—was reached between Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in June 2018. The Macedonian parliament approved the deal on January 11. The agreement paves the way for the newly-minted North Macedonia to join NATO and potentially the European Union.

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Greece’s parliament narrowly approved a deal on January 25 that would see its northern neighbor change its name to North Macedonia and Athens lift its opposition to Macedonian accession to NATO and the European Union. The deal passed in a 153-to-146 vote.

The deal—known as the Prespa Agreement—was reached between Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on June 17, 2018. The Macedonian parliament approved the necessary changes to the constitution on January 11.

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In a December 26, 2018, letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah wrote that his government “no longer wishes to accept any form of assistance” from the United States as a consequence of new legislation—the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA)—that places entities receiving US financial assistance under the jurisdiction of US courts.

Hamdallah’s decision, which will go into effect on January 31, shuts down one of the few remaining avenues of interaction between the United States and the Palestinian Authority.

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It is time for the European Union to rethink its approach to the Brexit negotiations.  Unable to reach consensus, Britain is sliding toward a “no deal” scenario, which will be damaging for everyone, including the twenty-seven EU member states (EU27). The EU has every right to drive a hard bargain, and especially to preserve the essence of membership, including the “Four Freedoms” of movement for goods, capital, services, and labor. But unless the exit agreement and the future relationship are finalized together, Britain will not know its path forward, and could easily stay in political crisis until it falls off the cliff.

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The past week was full of global chatter. Do you remember what visits were planned, what threats were made, and who is recognizing whom? Take seven questions on this week’s top news to prove you were paying attention.

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At the two-year mark of his presidency, Donald J. Trump finally has the team he wants. With the departure of H.R. McMaster, John Kelly, and James Mattis, individuals more aligned with the president’s inclinations now have his ear inside the White House, as do prominent conservative commentators on the outside. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is careful not to step on Trump’s toes—when asked on his way back from Turkey what the president meant by threatening to devastate Turkey economically, Pompeo replied, “you’d have to ask him.”

On Yemen, the Trump administration has tied the worst humanitarian disaster in the world to stopping the spread of Iranian influence. The crisis in Yemen was not the focus of Pompeo’s Cairo speech on January 10, where he mentioned Iran at least two dozen times, including the promise “to expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria. Pompeo did express support for UN efforts to achieve peace in war-torn Yemen, but announced no special US diplomatic initiative toward that end.

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US President Donald J. Trump has ramped up pressure on Nicolás Maduro’s embattled regime by recognizing opposition leader and National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela.

Announcing his decision on January 23, Trump said: “In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant.  The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law.”

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The new Treaty of Aachen, signed on January 22 by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel bears great symbolic significance—historical as well as political. The question is whether it carries much practical significance.


On Christmas Day in the year 800 AD, Charlemagne was crowned by Pope Leo III in Rome as the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Despite Voltaire’s quip in 1756 that this construction was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, the Sacrum Imperium Romanum was to last until it was dissolved in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. Even today, the prince of Liechtenstein is a direct inheritor of one of the principalities composing the Holy Roman Empire.

The capital of the empire was Aachen, known in French (and generally in English) as Aix-la-Chapelle. Charlemagne had become King of the Franks in 768 AD, upon the death of his father, Pepin the Short, and, as his father had done before him, he spent Christmas that year in Aachen. Later, and until Charlemagne’s death in 814 AD, Aachen became Charlemagne’s “capital,” the political center of his empire and the location of his imperial court.

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“There is a war going on in the middle of Europe. A very hot war,” according to Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukraine’s vice prime minister for Euro-Atlantic integration, who urged policy makers to confront this “uncomfortable truth” about Russian aggression.

Speaking in a panel discussion hosted by Ukraine House Davos in Davos, Switzerland, on January 22, Klympush-Tsintsadze said: “Ukraine needs to be given a hand, a shoulder, or some engagement to help against Russian aggression, especially in the year of elections.” Ukraine is gearing up for presidential elections on March 31.

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