Central Europe

  • Twenty Years Later, NATO Allies Remain Strong Members of the Family

    When the foreign ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary finally signed documents completing their nations’ accession to NATO it marked the beginning of a new era for the transatlantic alliance. Twenty years ago, the ceremony held in Independence, Missouri—the hometown of US President Harry S. Truman, who oversaw the creation of NATO—marked the first time former-Communist adversaries had joined the alliance of democracies.

    Damon Wilson, executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, was a junior desk officer at the US Department of State when then US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright travelled to Missouri to finalize the new enlargement. “For me, less than a year on the job, I was on a professional high,” Wilson recalled. “After watching Washington for years exude ambivalence about whether to welcome more allies into NATO, the compelling case presented by these nations’ extraordinary spokespeople won the day. The determination of Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles, and the subsequent bipartisan leadership of Robert Dole and Bill Clinton, ensured that President George H.W. Bush’s call for a ‘Europe whole and free’ would not remain just rhetoric.”


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  • Dear Europe: Renaissance or Unraveling?

    French President Emmanuel Macron this week stirred up a robust and healthy debate with his letter published in newspapers of all 28 EU nations, calling for a “European renaissance.” First, however, he will have to reverse a European unravelling, both political and economic.

    Markets are bracing for the U.K.’s parliamentary vote on Brexit’s fate next week, the European Central Bank this week sharply downgraded growth projections to a job-killing 1.1 percent and reintroduced stimulus, and Italy is moving to officially tie its wagon to China’s Belt and Road Initiative — choosing market access over European cohesion.


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  • Syrian Refugees' Struggle with Temporary Status in Germany

    Just a few months separated the arrival of Syrian refugees Ahmad al-’Awda and his friend Mahmud al-Agha to Germany.  Both of them fled from the war in their country that started in 2011. Al-’Awda arrived in Germany in January 2016 and al-Agha arrived in May 2015. This short eight month difference separating their arrivals was enough to guarantee that al-’Awda would not be able to apply to bring his family, who are still in Syria, because he did not get permanent residency in Germany. Rather, due to a series of laws, the German authorities have been granting only temporary residence papers to Syrian refugees.


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  • The Warsaw Summit: Not So ‘Anti-Iranian’ but Still a Success

    It is too early to assess the long-term consequences of the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East. But for Poland and several other actors, the meeting can already been seen as a success.

    Poland, after hosting a NATO summit in 2016 and a UN Climate conference in 2018, has once again shown that it is able to organize large international events.

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  • Mike Pence Stands Up For NATO, But is That Enough?

    US Vice President Mike Pence, addressing US and Polish armed forces in Warsaw on February 13, emphasized the importance of NATO, reaffirmed the US commitment to the principle of collective defense, and encouraged allies to meet the Alliance’s defense-spending goal. It is an open question, however, whether his boss, US President Donald J. Trump, shares his conviction.

    “While Vice President Pence’s words were eloquent and reassuring, allies have learned that there is a disconnect between the administration’s policy and the president’s own feelings about NATO and other US alliances,” said Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a former deputy secretary general of NATO.


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  • Can Germany Stay the Course on Defense Spending?

    Germany’s defense budget is on the march upwards, but can Berlin maintain the spending momentum given the prospects of a slowing global economy? There are also questions about how the country should spend its defense euros in the long term, say defense officials and policy experts.

    Germany has long been an underspender when it comes to meeting NATO’s defense budget guideline of 2 percent of GDP for each of its allies, but that is now changing.


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  • The Three Seas Initiative Explained

    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.


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  • Engaging Hungary Is Good for US Interests and Values

    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.


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  • Fried Quoted in Reuters on Pompeo's Trip to Central Europe


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  • Binnendijk in Defense News: German F-35 Decision Sacrifices NATO Capability for Franco-German Industrial Cooperation


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