On February 11, US ambassadors from twelve EU member states met in Warsaw to discuss the ways in which the United States can help the Three Seas Initiative, a project that seeks to facilitate interconnectivity on energy, infrastructure, and digitalization projects in Central and Eastern Europe. The meeting, led by the Atlantic Council and its Executive Chairman Emeritus retired Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., comes on the heels of US Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s visit to the Three Seas Initiative summit in Bucharest in September 2018, and a little over a year after US President Donald J. Trump endorsed the project while taking part in a 2017 summit in Warsaw.
“The UK government’s National Cyber Security Strategy is clear that more must be done for the UK to meet the future national demand. Much like the NCSC’s CyberFirst courses, Cyber 9/12 is an effective way to nurture the next generation of cyber security experts,” said Paul Chichester, director for operations at the National Cyber Security Centre in London.
A casual consumer of news reading sensational headlines about Hungary would question whether the United States and Hungary are even allies. US officials are criticized for a policy of “appeasement” when they meet their Hungarian counterparts. It is therefore significant that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting Hungary this week as part of a concerted plan to engage Central Europe.
February brings the most significant series of tests yet of whether President Trump can transform his disruptive US foreign policy into concrete outcomes. The four to watch most closely, all of dizzying importance, are negotiating a trade deal with China, denuclearizing North Korea, rallying an international community to contain Iran and democratizing Venezuela.
Trump’s trade team, led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will visit China early next week seeking progress toward a trade deal before a March 1 deadline, ending a 90-day truce agreed to by the two country’s leaders at the G20 in Buenos Aires.
Several ministers in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet, speaking anonymously, have told the BBC they believe a “no deal” Brexit could lead to a vote on Irish unification. Sinn Fein, the Republican party which wants to see the British province of Northern Ireland unite with the independent Republic of Ireland, has already called for a vote on Irish unity after Brexit.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming trip to Central Europe is “the right call” by the Trump administration, according to Daniel Fried, a distinguished ambassadorial fellow at the Atlantic Council.
After the enlargement of NATO and the European Union to encompass these countries by 2004, “a lot of Americans thought our work in the region was done, and yet it was not so,” Fried explained. With US attention shifting to other regions of the world, the once very close partnerships between the United States and these countries “became eerily normal,” said Damon Wilson, executive vice president of the Atlantic Council. “Central Europe began to be taken for granted as Washington’s attention understandably shifted elsewhere.”
Editor’s Note: This article is a response to Stephen Blank’s essay, Putin’s Energy Strategy Is More Ambitious than You Think, which was published by the Atlantic Council’s UkraineAlert blog on January 4, 2019.
Since arriving in Washington in the summer of 2017, I have grown somewhat baffled by the narrative about Hungary, especially within the Beltway. As Hungary’s ambassador to the United States, I receive a fair share of advice from all corners about how Hungary should conduct its foreign policy. One of the recurring themes is, to put it mildly, that Hungary is too friendly with Russia. When I inquire about why Hungary, a NATO and EU member, is perceived as a friend of Russia, I usually get puzzled looks, as if I were challenging a paradigm. While I certainly see it as part of a wider narrative, I am curious as to what yardstick is being used to put Hungary in the “Russian basket.”
Iceland has no military, but a young Icelander is spearheading an important NATO mission in one of the world’s most dangerous war zones: Afghanistan.
Alfrun Perla Baldursdottir’s main task is improving the situation for women in a nation where gender inequality is so all-encompassing that “it’s like women are living in a totally different country than men,” she said.
The 26-year-old is also trying to empower young people—those under 25—who account for a whopping two-thirds of Afghanistan’s 37 million people.
US President Donald J. Trump made a bit of news in his State of the Union address on February 5 when he announced that he would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam on February 27 and 28.
The choice of Vietnam is a significant one.
“Vietnam was chosen at least in part because it is a country that has friendly relations with North Korea,” said Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a former US ambassador to South Korea.