• What Can Ukraine Learn from the Balkans?

    Ukraine wants to join the European Union, but the level of support among many EU member states is low or nonexistent. Many are afraid of Russia’s reaction and lack a clear understanding of both the climate in post-Euromaidan Ukraine and the country’s strong commitment to Western integration.

    The situation is challenging in all aspects. War still raging along the demarcation line in the Donbas, US policy toward the EU and Ukraine is unclear, Russia is strongly opposed to Ukraine’s entrance into the EU, and Ukraine itself faces the twin challenges of war and reform. Only EU and NATO accession can provide a lasting framework that allows Ukraine to master all of the challenges at the same time. The model has been proven through the accession of central European and southeastern European countries and will most likely be similarly successful in the third wave occurring in Eastern Europe.

    If the EU does not allow the country to have realistic European hopes, post-Maidan Ukraine could fail, just as the Orange Revolution did, with all of the related tragic consequences. But how can one ensure a credible EU perspective and increase progress toward EU accession in all sectors simultaneously? To achieve this, Ukraine requires a new strategic approach and an alliance of friends, partners, and allies composed of countries with similar interests.

    In the nearby neighborhood are eight countries—Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Serbia—that had similar traumatic experiences with war and destruction in the 1990s, and that now have seventeen years of reconstruction and pre-accession behind them. They have shared a similar strategic objective of joining the EU and NATO, and some have achieved it: Croatia joined NATO in 2009 and the EU in 2013, for example. Those that are already inside can help the others that are still on their way and facing similar challenges with domestic reform and the EU’s enlargement fatigue.

    The reform and transition experience of the Balkans matters for Ukraine.

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  • More Solidarity with Ukraine Needed, Say Speakers at the Kyiv Security Forum

    The Tenth Kyiv Security Forum—an important foreign affairs conference conducted annually by the Open Ukraine Foundation—occurred on April 6-7. Headed by Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his wife Terezia, the conference underscored an important message: the need for the West to stay engaged and maintain security in the borderlands between Russia and Central Europe, particularly in Ukraine, the most important country in Eastern Europe between the Baltic and Black seas.

    This year, the tenth anniversary event was titled "Old Conflicts and New Trends: Strategies for a Changing World.” For Ukraine today, security challenges are defined by the continuing war in the east, the occupation of Crimea, the new US administration’s efforts to find its own voice, and Europe’s ongoing crises and weaknesses.

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  • Moldova Elects a Pro-Russia President

    While not as globally consequential or shocking as the US presidential race, won by Donald Trump on November 8, the result of Moldova’s presidential runoff election does have significant ramifications for the future of democracy and economic reform in Eurasia.

    On November 13, Moldovans elected Socialist parliamentarian and former Economy Minister Igor Dodon as president with just over 52 percent of the vote over former Education Minister Maia Sandu who leads a new European-oriented political party called Action and Solidarity. This was the first direct election of the president since 1996. A constitutional court ruling in March struck down the previously implemented indirect election of presidents through Parliament.

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  • Moldova at a Crossroad

    Moldova will hold a historic presidential election on October 30 that could determine whether this country of less than three million tilts toward Europe or Russia.

    It is Moldova’s first presidential election in twenty years in which voters will get to directly decide the outcome. In March, a court ruled unconstitutional a revision of the constitution in 2000 that called for indirect election of the president through parliament. Under the revised presidential election process, if no candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote on October 30, a runoff will be held between the top two vote getters on November 13.

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  • Moldova’s Prime Minister Committed to a Pro-Europe Path

    Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip said his government is committed to European integration and expressed the hope that the country’s next president will share that same commitment.

    Moldova will hold its first direct presidential elections on October 30. Like in past elections, this one has split voters between pro-Europe and pro-Russia candidates.

    “I hope that the next president will fully understand the need for keeping Moldova’s EU ascension on a smooth and stable path,” said Filip.

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  • Herbst Joins RFE/RL to Discuss Moldova

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  • The Long Arm of Russian “Soft” Power

    Anxious about losing ground to Western influence in the post-Soviet space and the ousting of pro-Russia elites by popular electoral uprisings in the early 2000s, the Kremlin has developed a range of proxy groups in support of its foreign policy. This network of pro-Kremlin groups promotes the Russian World (Russkiy Mir), a flexible tool that justifies increasing Russian actions in the post-Soviet space and beyond. Russian groups are particularly active in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine—countries that have declared their desire to integrate with the West.

    Russia employs a vocabulary of “soft power” to disguise its “soft coercion" efforts aimed at retaining regional supremacy. Russian pseudo-NGOs undermine the social cohesion of neighboring states through the consolidation of pro-Russian forces and ethno-geopolitics; the denigration of national identities; and the promotion of anti-US, conservative Orthodox, and Eurasianist values. They also aim to establish alternative discourses to confuse decision-making, and act as destabilizing forces by uniting paramilitary groups and spreading aggressive propaganda.

    The activities of these proxy groups—combined with the extensive Russian state administrative resources and security apparatus, as well as the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, pro-Russian elites, mass culture, and the media—may seriously damage fragile political transitions and civil societies in the region.

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  • How to Solve Ukraine’s Security Dilemma

    The Case for a New Security Pact between the Baltic and Black Seas

    A main reason for the recent escalation of tensions in Eastern Europe is the absence of an effective security structure encompassing such militarily weak countries as Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. While Ukrainian public opinion has recently made a U-turn from a rejection to an embrace of NATO, the Alliance will not be ready to extend its commitments farther east anytime soon. Although future enlargement of the Alliance is possible, Ukraine’s confrontation with Russia as well as Moscow’s anti-Western stance would have to decrease significantly for that to happen. Recently, the opposite tendency was on display: The more aggression the Kremlin has shown, the less likely it is that the North Atlantic Council will open its doors to new members in conflict with Moscow.

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  • Moldova’s Presidential Election Pits Pro-Europe Candidates Against Pro-Russia Ones

    Moldova’s presidential elections are shaping up to divide the electorate between pro-Europe and pro-Russia candidates even before campaigning officially gets underway.

    On April 1, Moldova’s Parliament voted to hold direct presidential elections on October 30. It put off the official start of the election campaign until July 30 to allow Parliament time to pass electoral legislation and fill vacant seats in the Central Election Commission. The vote in Parliament followed a surprise Constitutional Court decision on March 4 that struck down a 2000 amendment, which required a supermajority of sixty-one out of 101 members of Parliament to select a President. The political consensus required to obtain such a supermajority turned out to be more difficult than anyone had expected.  In fact, a failure to achieve a supermajority led to a 900-day period between September 2009 and March 2012 when Moldova lacked an elected President.

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  • Jens Stoltenberg: NATO's Role in Fighting Terrorism

    NATO is at the forefront of the fight against international terrorism. The aim of its biggest-ever operation was to deny safe haven to international terrorists in Afghanistan.
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