Central Europe

  • Europe Needs To Persuade Iran, Not Just Trump, To Save The Nuclear Deal

    As French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Washington, a top priority will be convincing his American counterpart to stay within the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran.

    But judging from this analyst’s conversations with Iranian diplomats in Europe and New York over the past week, Macron and his colleagues in Germany and Britain may have an equally crucial task persuading Iran to remain within the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if US President Donald J. Trump fails to reissue waivers of US sanctions on the next deadline, May 12.

    Despite all the attention paid to the US-Iran aspect of the nuclear issue, Iran’s main expectation upon signing the JCPOA was that it would be able to restore and increase economic relations with Europe, traditionally Iran’s major trading partner.

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  • Macron And Merkel Come to Washington. Lend Them Your Ear

    The free world (to put it in Washington wonk speak: the “rules-based, liberal global order”), the product of American leadership, which generated relative peace, prosperity, and democracy after 1945 and even more after 1989, faces aggression from without, most acutely from Russia; a long-range challenge from the rise of China; and, most alarming, doubts from within about the worth of our own system and values. 

    The visits to Washington this week of Europe’s two most important leaders—French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel—take place against this background and the context of favorable but vulnerable economic growth (see the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Report just out). The big question in this week’s talks is whether Europe’s leaders can influence US President Donald J. Trump to accept the value of the free world—America’s own creation—and not to trash it in favor of, ironically, the sort of Old European Great Power nationalism which brought ruin in the twentieth century.

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  • Gedmin in The Hill: Populist Right's Rise in Germany Not (yet) a Reason for Panic


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  • Emmanuel Macron: The Trump Whisperer?

    French President Emmanuel Macron said in a television interview on April 15 that he convinced US President Donald J. Trump not to withdraw troops from Syria.

    “Ten days ago, President Trump was saying ‘the United States should withdraw from Syria.’ We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term,” Macron said in the TV interview.

    Macron said that he had also persuaded Trump “that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons [sites], after things got a little carried away over tweets.” He has since tried to walk back those comments.

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  • World Reaction to Strikes on Syria

    The United States, the United Kingdom, and France on April 13 launched strikes on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack which they blamed on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

    While US Defense Secretary James Mattis described the strikes as a “one-time” shot, the Western allies warned more strikes could come in the event of another chemical weapons attack in Syria.

    Here's a look at world reaction to the strikes.

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  • Shaffer Quoted in Foreign Policy on Germany Souring on Russia’s Nord Stream


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  • Syria: All Eyes on Trump (and His Tweets)

    US President Donald J. Trump is weighing his options as he decides how to respond to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. He has not ruled out military strikes.

    In a tweet on April 11, Trump warned Russia that missiles targeting its ally, Syria, "will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'"

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  • Populists-1, Globalists-0

    Hungary forges a path for illiberal democracies

    Fourteen years after Hungary joined the European Union—a celebrated and significant milestone for the post-Communist nation—the country’s deviation from the EU’s shared principles of democracy and freedom is both a source for concern and a warning sign for others following suit.

    On April 8, Hungary re-elected Viktor Orbán to his third consecutive term as prime minister. Despite a record turnout of approximately 70 percent in this year’s election, Orbán and his far-right Fidesz party managed to win 67 percent (133) of the seats in Hungary’s 199-seat parliament. By obtaining this two-thirds majority, the seemingly unstoppable leader has secured his ability to make at-will constitutional changes without opposition support, continuing his reign of power.

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  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: Even If Viktor Orbán Loses Sunday, Hungarian Democracy Is Still In Trouble

    Six weeks ago, the ruling conservative-nationalist Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was delivered a stunning defeat. The southern city of Hódmezővásárhely—population, roughly 45,000—had been governed by Fidesz mayors since 1990. The party’s candidate this time was projected to win handily, by about twenty points. Yet, that was approximately the margin of victory for independent Péter Márki-Zay. The forty-five-year-old Márki-Zay—a devout Catholic, political conservative, father of seven—defeated Fidesz’s odds-on favorite for mayor Zoltan Hegedus, in the hometown of János Lázár no less, the man who heads Orbán’s office. “We want to get rid of the big boys bullying the whole class,” said Márki-Zay after his remarkable win. He has street cred. Márki-Zay used to be a member of Fidesz.

    What does it mean when the pitchforks are out for the populists?

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  • Why Nord Stream 2 Isn’t Just an Ordinary Pipeline

    Of all nations, Germany must heed the lessons of history, both current and past. This begs the question as to why Germany would help Europe become more energy dependent on a country like Russia that ignores norms, contracts, laws, treaties, and borders.

    And yet that is exactly what Germany is about to do if it approves Gazprom’s $11.5-billion pipeline gas megaproject called Nord Stream 2. Proponents argue that the pipeline is an “economic project” that simply will deliver cheaper gas to German industries and turn Germany into a European hub for Russian gas. They say this is the same gas, only a different pipeline.

    But this is not an “economic” project and this is not just a different pipeline.

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