Central Europe

  • House Amendment Could Scuttle US Attempts to Decrease Reliance on Russian Gas

    For years, policy makers in Washington have been focused on measures to reduce their European allies’ dependence on natural gas from Russia, from the promise of the Three Seas Initiative to pending bipartisan legislation championed by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introducing economic sanctions against foreign companies helping construct the controversial Nord Stream II pipeline from Russia to Germany.

    Amidst this push, the US House of Representatives and US Senate are preparing for the final conference on the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will also have an impact on Russia’s export of gas to Europe. The House version of the NDAA contains a floor amendment—the Huffman Amendment— sponsored by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA), striking out NDAA legislative language that calls to limit the use of Russian Federation fuels at US defense installations in Germany and other European nations. This amendment works against the goal of US energy policy in Europe that aims to boost energy security and help its allies diversify away from Russian gas.


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  • Why Germany Resoundingly Rejected Joining a US-Led Mission Against Iran

    On July 31, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced Germany’s refusal to join a US-led military mission to safeguard the international shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz from Iranian aggression and criticized what he called America’s “maximum tension”approach.

    US-Iran tensions have been rising since the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and especially since it imposed a complete embargo on the export of Iranian oil a year later. In July, President Donald Trump called off a retaliatory strike on Iranian soil after a spate of Iranian acts, including the shoot-down of a $130 million US surveillance drone. 

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  • Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák Speaks at United States and Central Europe Conference

    CLOSING ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AND EUROPEAN AFFAIRS OF THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC
     
    H.E. MIROSLAV LAJČÁK
     
    at the flagship conference of the Atlantic Council and GLOBSEC on
     
    THE UNITED STATES AND CENTRAL EUROPE:
     
    CELEBRATING EUROPE WHOLE AND FREE, BUILDING THE NEXT CENTURY TOGETHER
     
    17 July 2019
     Washington, DC

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  • Central Europe Ready to Lead on Strengthening the Transatlantic Bond

    As Europe and the United States face off over trade, defense spending, and other high-profile disagreements, the foreign ministers of Central Europe signaled that they are ready to take the lead in repairing the vital transatlantic relationship.

    Speaking at the Atlantic Council’s conference “The United States and Central Europe: Celebrating Europe Whole and Free” on July 17, ministers from the Visegrád countries—the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia—celebrated the deep relationship their countries have with the United States and stressed the importance of a strong transatlantic bond.


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  • The United States is Back in Central Europe, State Department Official Says

    After years of disinterest and occasional disagreements, the United States has re-engaged with its allies in Central Europe at a time when their help is critical in confronting a revisionist Russia and a resurgent China, Ambassador Philip T. Reeker, the US acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said on July 17.


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  • The United States and Central Europe: What’s Gone Right, What’s Gone Wrong, and What’s Next

    The anniversaries we mark this year represent great achievement, mixed with tragedy. 100 years of US relations with the newly-independent nations of Central Europe; eighty years from the start of the Second World War, in part the terrible consequence of US strategic withdrawal from Europe; thirty years since Central Europeans overthrew communism, which led to the end of “Yalta Europe”; twenty years since NATO’s first enlargement beyond the Iron Curtain, in which the United States played a leading role; and fifteen years since the European Union’s enlargement beyond that same line, led by Europeans and supported by the United States. 


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  • Protests in Prague: Beyond the Numbers

    The estimated 250 000 people who protested in Prague’s Letná park on June 23, the largest-ever protest in the Czech Republic since the Velvet Revolution of 1989, caught the attention of analysts across the Continent who wondered whether Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš would be forced to resign. Despite the magnitude of the protest that brought together 2 percent of the national population, little is expected to change politically, and the protest will likely remain no more than a tool to mobilize and reenergize civil society in the country.


    No immediate political change is expected, as was evident from Babiš’ combative tone on June 26,  before his government survived a no-confidence vote. The minority ruling coalition partner, the Social Democrats, decided to maintain their confidence in the Babiš government, despite strong internal tensions.


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  • Trump Expected to Announce US Troop Increase in Poland

    But Poland unlikely to get 'Fort Trump,' says the Atlantic Council's Alexander Vershbow

    US troop presence in Poland is likely to be at the top of the agenda when US President Donald J. Trump and his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, meet at the White House on June 12.

    Pointing to Russian military activity in its neighborhood, the Duda administration has made the case for a permanent US troop presence in Poland at a base Polish officials have suggested they would christen “Fort Trump.” The Polish government has even offered to pay $2 billion to support this base.


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  • Why Europe’s Election Matters in Poland

    This article is part of a series on the 2019 European Union parliamentary elections.

    The European parliamentary elections in Poland, which are expected to draw a record turnout, will set the stage for national parliamentary elections in the fall. The election will be a vote of confidence in the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and reveal the level of public support for two competing visions for the future of Europe: an integrationist, open, and solidarity-driven Europe or a conservative “Christian” Europe of sovereign states.

    The European parliamentary elections will take place in Poland on May 26. There are currently fifty-one seats reserved for Polish Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), with candidates selected from thirteen electoral districts.


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  • The Importance of Hungary’s European Election

    In polls conducted in 2014 and 2018, 60 percent and 80 percent of Hungarians, respectively, said they consider themselves to be citizens of the European Union (EU). Nevertheless, Hungary had less than 30 percent voter turnout in the European parliamentary elections in 2014. In 2019, a year after Hungary’s center-right Fidesz party decisively won the national elections for the third consecutive time, there are two reasons why Hungarians should be more involved in the European elections on May 26: this election will determine the place of Hungary’s parties in the European political spectrum and the outcome will have consequences for Hungary’s municipal elections in the fall.

    The Fidesz-Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) coalition currently enjoys the highest support (49 percent to 55 percent) and is projected to win thirteen to fifteen of Hungary’s twenty-one seats in the European Parliament. As for the opposition parties, internal disagreements and a lack of cohesion could depress turnout among their voters.


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