Southern Europe

  • Greece Embraces the Center and Continues Course Out of Crisis

    Snap parliamentary elections in Greece on July 7 produced a victory for the political center, bucking a growing trend of populist victories across Europe. The triumph of the center-right New Democracy party and poor showing of extremist parties demonstrates that “Greece is now reinforcing the strength of the center in European politics, rather than fueling a move toward the fringes,” Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson said.

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  • US-Greek Partnership Will Survive New Elections, US Ambassador Says

    Ties between the United States and Greece are not at risk of weakening, regardless of the outcome of snap elections for the Greek parliament in July, Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Greece, said at the Atlantic Council on June 11.

    “I am confident that whatever the choice of the Greek people, we are going to continue to make the kind of investment [that strengthened] this relationship and continue to move it forward in a way that reflects both of our interests,” Pyatt said.

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  • Montanino Joins CNBC to Discuss Snap Election in Italy

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  • European Elections Are a Win, of Sorts, for Greece

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

    In Greece, European parliamentary elections on May 26 are being viewed as a litmus test ahead of national elections later this year. Domestic politics have dominated the debate and the opposition has framed the election as a referendum against the government. The fact that European elections are to be held at the same time as local elections for mayors and regional governors has further obscured European issues.

    At the national level, the campaign has been polarized by high political drama and unrelenting personal attacks. This culminated in a vote of confidence in parliament, which Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won on May 10. In anticipation of national elections in October 2019, Tsipras’ governing Syriza party is playing its last political cards. On May 7, the prime minister announced new measures to ease the austerity policies favored by Greece’s creditors.  Meanwhile, the main opposition party, New Democracy, which is ahead in the polls for both European and national elections, has been asking for early national elections, accusing Tsipras of pandering to voters.

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  • Italy’s Salvini Will be the Man to Watch in the European Parliamentary Elections

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

    With European Parliament elections fast approaching, Italy is on the verge of a political crisis—but it has nothing to do with Europe. Neither the right-wing League nor the anti-establishment Five Star Movement—the two partners of the unlikely populist coalition that has ruled Italy since 2018—has made Europe the focus of their campaigns, albeit both having fueled anti-EU sentiments in recent years.

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  • Libyan Conflict Could Worsen Migrant Plight, European Commissioner Warns

    The worsening security situation in Libya, where forces loyal to the leader of the self-styled Libyan National Army are attempting to seize the capital city, could make conditions even more dire for migrants in the country, the European Union’s Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on April 8.

    Libya is a main conduit used by traffickers to funnel migrants north onto Europe. Avramopoulos admitted that the conditions in migrant detention centers in the country, which drew international attention when a Somali man burned himself to death in November, are “a disgrace for the whole world.”

    “No one wants this. Not the European Union, not the international community, and certainly not the migrants who end up there,” said Avramopoulos. He maintained that the EU is “doing everything we can to assist or evacuate people stuck there, but most importantly to avoid them ever being there in the first place.”

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  • North Macedonia and Greece Look Forward to Common NATO Future

    As NATO marks its seventieth year, it is also looking forward to welcoming its thirtieth member: the Republic of North Macedonia.

    The agreement between Greece and the newly-named Republic of North Macedonia, which ended a twenty-seven-year dispute between the two countries, “sends a clear message that we can resolve disputes through dialogue, by good faith… and using history not as a prison but as a school,” Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos said on April 3. He said that the success of the two Western Balkans neighbors’ reconciliation can be a “blueprint for the Balkans — the powder keg of Europe in the past — to help resolve the other very difficult disputes that still exist” in the region and around the world.

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  • NATO Membership for Cyprus. Yes, Cyprus.

    Fifteen years ago, NATO welcomed seven new members into the Alliance, expanding its borders eastward from the Baltic to Black Seas. As NATO reaches its seventieth birthday, it could now be time to look toward adding a new member: this time in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    After the end of World War Two, policy makers in London and across the Atlantic worried the Cyprus problem could unravel the entire Eastern Mediterranean. Following independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, tensions on the Mediterranean island flared between the Greek and Turkish communities residing there, inflaming tensions between new NATO allies, Turkey and Greece. There was considerable concern in the West that a deterioration of the situation could leave the door open for the Soviets to gain a foothold in the Mediterranean basin.

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  • North Macedonia Negates NATO Skeptics

    Ahead of last year’s decisions on changing the name and disputed symbols in what was then commonly called Macedonia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made clear the stakes. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Stoltenberg warned Skopje. “Either [Macedonians] support the agreement and they can join NATO, or they don’t support the agreement but then they won’t join it. They cannot get both.” Government representatives of North Macedonia working the issue confirmed they had been informed in no uncertain terms it was now or never.

    Although turnout in the non-binding referendum was lower than hoped , the parliament of North Macedonia approved the landmark Prespa Agreement on January 11. From there, compared with the twenty-seven years of diplomatic wrangling  with Greece over these matters, it was a mere blink of the eye until the leaders of [soon-to-be-called] North Macedonia were getting a standing ovation at NATO headquarters as they and allies signed the formal accession agreement in February.

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  • Italy’s Embrace of China’s Belt and Road Initiative Comes With Risks and Opportunity

    Chinese President Xi Jinping will arrive in Rome on March 21 accompanied by a 500-strong delegation. A number of economic agreements, including a widely discussed memorandum of understanding (MoU) on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), are expected to be concluded on the visit.

    This MoU is not a trade agreement—only the European Union (EU) can sign trade agreements—but rather part of a political initiative that was launched in 2012 when eleven EU member states and five Balkan countries signed an MoU with China on investment, transport, finance, science, education, and culture.

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