Central Europe

  • Pompeo’s Trip to Central Europe Aims to Bring NATO Allies in From the Cold

    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.”


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  • Revisiting the Narrative About Hungary’s Relationship with Russia

    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’sUkraineAlert 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.”


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  • Why the Hungarian Link in Russia’s Grand Strategy Is Overblown

    Editor’s Note: This article is a response to Stephen Blank’s essay, Putin’s Energy Strategy Is More Ambitious than You Think, which we published on January 4, 2019.  

    Energy policy is a crucial part of Russia’s strategy to maximize its influence in Europe and divide the European Union. As highlighted by critics of Russia’s assertive energy strategy in Europe, the two flagship Russian-sponsored pipeline projects, Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream, are much more than business: they are also geopolitical tools aimed at increasing Russia’s leverage over Central and Eastern Europe. However, an increasing number of articles in the West falsely portray NATO member Hungary as a satellite state within Russian President Vladimir Putin’s grand European strategy. These claims are misplaced.


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  • Ukraine’s Slow but Steady Strangulation Is Taking Place in Plain Sight

    Russia’s war against Ukraine is about to enter its sixth year, but many remain in denial over the true nature of the conflict. There is still widespread international reluctance to acknowledge the global significance of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, leading to a preference for the kind of euphemistic language that blurs the lines between victim and aggressor. This ostrich-like approach to the realities of the new Russian imperialism was on display during German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s recent visit to Kyiv, where he called on “all sides to contribute to de-escalation.”

    Maas was apparently untroubled by the absurdity of urging Ukraine to de-escalate its own invasion and dismemberment. Indeed, it says much about the current climate that one of Europe’s top diplomats felt comfortable coming to the capital of a country fighting for its life and delivering a lecture on the need for moderation.


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  • The New Treaty of Aachen: More Than Just a Symbol?

    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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  • German Defense Minister: The World Still Needs NATO

    The alliance is not just about bases and troops. It is about defending the world order.
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  • What’s Behind the Middle East Summit in Poland?

    The US announcement that an international summit on the security and stability of the Middle East will be held February 13 and 14 in Warsaw was as shocking as it was unexpected, not only for Iranians but also for Poles.

    Poland is an important political and military ally of the United States and Polish energy companies have decided to withdraw from Iran after President Donald Trump abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and re-imposed sanctions. But having a multinational summit about the Middle East in Poland? It is even rumored that Warsaw was taken by surprise when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that such an event would be organized in the Polish capital next month. 

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  • Polish Prime Minister Urges Allies to Beef Up Cybersecurity Budgets

    Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on January 16 called for a collective Western response to cyber threats while urging allies to increase spending on cybersecurity.


    “I call on you today and encourage your leaders and governments to spend more money on cyber warfare, as we do, on cyber soldiers to protect our Internet frontier,” Morawiecki said on the opening day of a two-day conference jointly hosted by PKO Bank Polski and the Atlantic Council in Warsaw, Poland.


    “Our enemies will not wait,” Morawiecki said, adding, “They are arming up as we speak. Only a collective response will keep he threat at bay, and only a decisive one.”


    The conference, “A New Initiative for Poland: A Future Global Leader in Securing the 4th Industrial Revolution,” seeks to deepen US-Polish ties by developing cybersecurity as a key pillar in the relationship.


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  • President Trump: 'I Want Europe to Pay'

    [Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan] is working so hard on the military. We have a — we were taken advantage of by so many countries on our military.
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  • Putin’s Grand Energy Strategy Is More Ambitious than You Think

    Energy politics are critical in Russia’s long war on the West and Ukraine. Indeed, energy functions as a Swiss army knife for Moscow, cutting simultaneously in several directions. Energy provides the basis for the revenue stream that enables all government operations, comprises a ready source of constant corruption of European elites and institutions, and furnishes an unending source of leverage and corruption over European governments and politics.


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