Europe's Edge is a web journal covering the analytical trends and developments shaping the U.S.-Central Europe foreign policy debate.
November 23, 2015
Moscow's Monochrome Revolutions
An increasingly important tool in Moscow's arsenal of political subversion in targeted states is the promotion of "monochrome revolutions." Unlike the "colored" variety that are indigenous, pluralistic, pro-democratic, and pro-Western, the Russian variant is intended to foster insecurity, expand vulnerability to Kremlin influences, and prevent EU or NATO membership.
November 17, 2015
The Dream of the Intermarium
The “Bloodlands,” as the Yale historian Timothy Snyder calls them, stretch from the Baltic to the Black Sea. A less gloomy name is the Intermarium—between the seas. But whatever the name, they share the same, mostly gloomy, story. These countries have no natural frontiers and two much bigger neighbours: Russia and Germany. So they have spent most of European history under the enforced sway of one or the other.
November 16, 2015
Goodbye to Gravity in Bucharest
One week since Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced his resignation on November 3, 2015, and following consultations with all political parties and members of the civil society, the Romanian President presents a new nominee for the Prime Minister job – former EU Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos.
November 10, 2015
Azerbaijan: Linchpin of the Caucasus
Western observers criticized Azerbaijan’s parliamentary elections on November 1st for falling short of democratic standards. A crackdown on journalists and human rights activists and a boycott of the elections by several opposition parties indicates that the country is faltering in the democratization process. However, logic indicates that the most effective way to positively influence the country’s development is not by isolating the government and enabling even more intrusive Russian influence, but by intensifying cooperation where common ground can be found, particularly in the security arena.
November 9, 2015
The Ukraine crisis is the West’s fault. That has been the contention of a slew of foreign-policy experts, notably the distinguished political scientist John Mearsheimer, who wrote a much-quoted piece in Foreign Affairs in August last year called “The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin.”
November 6, 2015
Coming Clean With History
On October 29, Moldova’s pro-western government led by Valeriu Strelet (Liberal-Democratic Party) was voted out of office. The ouster resulted from the arrest of Vlad Filat, founder of the Liberal-Democratic Party and an important member of the governing coalition, for corruption on October 15. This is the third Moldovan government to fall this year alone.
November 5, 2015
Votes, Guns and Europe's Frontier
The recent electoral victory of PiS in Poland presents an opportunity to up the tempo of strengthening regional defenses. It is clear to all but perhaps the most naïve analysts that the Western alliance has to rebuild an increasingly fragile geopolitical equilibrium along the frontier with Russia. Because of its geographic size and location as well as its considerable financial commitment to defense modernization, Poland will play a central and indispensable role in shoring up deterrence.
November 3, 2015
Poland and Russia: A Strategic Rivalry
Warsaw’s perennial rivalry with Moscow periodically provokes a more assertive Polish foreign policy. The victory of the rightist Law and Justice (PiS) party in parliamentary elections on October 25, 2015 may inject a stronger nationalist element in dealing with a regime in the Kremlin that is intent on reasserting Russia’s regional power by undermining the security of its many neighbors.
November 2, 2015
Garry Kasparov’s new book on Putin and the West, “Winter is coming,” deserves attention from anyone interested in the survival of the free world. The former world chess champion chronicles the mistakes made by Russia in the 1990s, and its descent into autocracy and aggression under Vladimir Putin. But his main target is the West.
October 26, 2015
Polish Foreign Policy After Elections: No Revolution in Sight
After eight years in opposition, Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party soundly won elections on the 25th of October. While the results remain unconfirmed it seems likely that for the first time since 1989 a single party has won over 50% of seats in the Sejm and will be able to govern on its own.
October 26, 2015
Poland After Parliamentary Elections
Law and Justice has won the biggest victory of any party in the history of free Polish elections. What will it do now?
October 23, 2015
Croatia's parliamentary elections on November 8 can become a significant landmark for the EU's newest member. The next government needs to capitalize on Croatia's location and experience by concretizing its commitments to transatlantic security that will also encourage economic growth.
October 19, 2015
Europe's Cyber Frontier
European geopolitics and internet security might seem to have little in common. However, in both cases we are acting dreadfully late, and vulnerabilities abound.
October 16, 2015
Reset With Belarus?
Conventional wisdom dictates vision before planning. It seems neither are present in the cautious, yet steady Western reset with Belarus, whose authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko recently secured his fifth term in elections widely considered to be flawed.
October 5, 2015
Balkan Pressure Valve
The outflow of refugees from the Western Balkans contributes to preserving the peace in states that are not EU members. It helps release social pressure and prevents a surge of unrest that could destabilize governments failing to deliver economic growth. A stricter policy that limits Balkan migration to the EU will increase pressure on local leaders and could lead to new instabilities.
September 22, 2015
Homage to Catalonia
Spain’s soft civil war is entering a decisive new phase with Catalonia gearing up for a major vote that could move the region closer to independence. Instead of bemoaning separatism and predicting the imminent collapse of the European Union, it may be more productive to reflect whether Catalonia’s decision and that of other aspiring states may actually reduce Europe’s notorious “democracy deficit.”
September 16, 2015
Putin's New Deception: A Call for Anti-Terror Coalition
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose troops are still helping the so-called rebels in eastern Ukraine, is trying to bring a new charm offensive to the West, including to the upcoming United Nations 70th General Assembly in New York.
September 15, 2015
Corbyn's Idealism Does Not Help Europe
Jeremy Corbyn is the most left-wing leader in the history of the Labour Party. He is a possible prime minister of the United Kingdom. His antique and impractical views on economics are alarming enough. But still worse is his stance on foreign policy.
September 14, 2015
Refugee Crisis: Europe's Two Halves
East Central Europeans have not handled the refugee crisis well, and, certainly, populism and egoism have been present in their responses. However, the sweeping generalizations present in the Western media are too easily falling into clichés and stereotypes.
September 9, 2015
Schengen: Solidarity or Separation
The migration and refugee crisis is an echo of the woes of the eurozone. Europe is not being swamped by migrants. But it could drown in blame and self-righteousness.
September 4, 2015
Germany's Leadership Dilemmas
25 years since Germany’s reunification, Berlin’s leadership role in Europe has been boosted by the treble crisis over mass migration, Greece, and Ukraine. However, serious doubts remain whether Germany has the capacity to ensure the EU’s institutional stability and continental security without reviving Germanophobia and fostering further European divisions.
September 3, 2015
A Hot Autumn in Ukraine?
After the Ukrainian parliament’s vote to amend the constitution in the first reading, the day was was eclipsed by even more dramatic, if not tragic, events outside the parliament. Ukraine is now facing a potentially hot autumn.
August 24, 2015
Shift in Minsk-Moscow Relationship?
The release of the six political prisoners in Belarus may indicate a shift in Minsk's balance of power perception but is this change structural or merely cosmetic?
August 19, 2015
Refugees: Time for Eastern Europe to Show Generosity
Migration is a sensitive subject in places which suffered communist rule. Now these countries are being asked to take handfuls of refugees from Africa and the Middle East in the name of European solidarity. The result is consternation.
August 18, 2015
West Legitimizes Ukraine's Division
Russia is consolidating a new “frozen conflict” in Europe with Western assistance. In response to Moscow’s threats that it will expand the war in Ukraine, Washington, Berlin, and Brussels have become complicit in legitimizing rebel control over parts of the Donbas region.
August 17, 2015
Defensive Capabilities for Ukraine: Still the Realistic Choice
By Kirk Bennett
In the debate over Western policy toward the fighting in the Donbass, lobbying to prevent defensive capabilities from reaching Ukraine has continued unabated for months, but the passage of time has increased the urgency for action, not lessened it.
August 10, 2015
Truth and Conquest
The hallmark of a free society is the ability to discuss problems and try to fix them. People living under dictatorships cannot. Robert Conquest understood and defended that difference. So should we.
August 3, 2015
Coming Clean With History
Two weeks ago Americans remembered nations held captive by oppressive regimes and leaders in what is called Captive Nations Week. In a coincidence of the calendar, that week also saw a groundbreaking court decision that is likely to make history in the former captive nation of Romania.
August 3, 2015
Moscow Upholds Frozen Bosnian State
Moscow has become intensively active in countries that have no immediate prospect of Western institutional integration. Such “frozen states” enable the Kremlin to pursue inroads in the Western Balkans and to delay or derail plans for EU and NATO expansion. For several years, Russia has focused on Bosnia-Herzegovina and keenly supported the leaders of the Serbian entity, the Republika Srpska (RS), to block Bosnia’s progress.
July 27, 2015
The phrase “captive nations” is redolent of the Cold War, but in the third full week of July it shakes off the dust and strides onto the political calendar.
July 20, 2015
The Militarization of the Black Sea
By Stephen Blank
By invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea, Russia shattered the belief that war in Europe was inconceivable. Consequently, the entire East European front from the Arctic to the Black Sea is now undergoing serious militarization.
July 16, 2015
Russia's Dangerous Campaign in the Baltics
By Marius Laurinavičius
Questioning the legality of Baltic independence was not another example of Russia being out of touch with the West. On the contrary, this political move was part of a well-planned and dangerous campaign intended to launch an invasion of the Baltics.
July 14, 2015
Western Balkans in EU Spotlight
In the wake of the Greek crisis, stability in the rest of South East Europe has become a priority for Brussels and Washington. Paradoxically, the failing Greek state has concentrated attention on ensuring that the nearby Western Balkans avoid conflict, develop productive economies, and progress toward EU integration.
July 13, 2015
If you have to live in a bad area, it is prudent to make sure your locks, doors, windows and burglar alarms are secure. Once that is done, relax: it is unwise to shred your nerves by reacting to every outside noise. The same is true for the Baltic states.
July 9, 2015
Sizing up CEE Democracies
Slovenia (with a population of 2 million) and Estonia (with a population of 1.3 million) are the smallest countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). However, according to Freedom House’s Nations in Transit (NiT) Surveys, they have become the biggest countries in the region.
July 8, 2015
Poland's Defense Policy Unaffected by Politics
After winning the May presidential elections, Poland's main opposition party, Law and Justice, is poised to win the October parliamentary elections, marking the end of the eight-year rule by Civic Platform. As Poland is embarking on a major program of modernizing its defense sector, worth over 40 billion euros, questions may arise as to whether the program will be continued and how the political change may affect Poland’s defense policy.
July 6, 2015
Is Russia Winning the Information War in Lithuania?
By Marius Laurinavičius
On the battleground of Russia’s information war against the West, Lithuania could seem a shining star: not only vocal in awakening others, but active and decisive itself, too.
Athens-Moscow Axis Endangers Europe
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has a hidden European agenda. While his statements declare EU unity and solidarity, his actions demonstrate that the ultra-leftist Syriza government seeks to discredit and weaken EU institutions in pursuit of an “anti-liberal revolution.” In these endeavors, Tsipras has a supporter in the Kremlin.
June 29, 2015
A Collective Answer to a Shared Threat
CEPA's Edward Lucas answers the critics of his Baltic Sea Security Report: "The Coming Storm."
June 26, 2015
"A Strong Romania in Europe and in the World"
This is the vision that Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, has put forth for the country in the new National Defense Strategy (NDS) for 2015-2019. The document does not show a major doctrinal change in Romania’s approach to security, although it explicitly seeks to define a broader concept of national defense. Russia and the threat it poses to regional stability and to Romania’s own security feature quite prominently in the new strategy.
June 25, 2015
Will Ukraine Succeed in Restructuring Its Debt?
In the shadow of the Greek financial drama there is another one unfolding. The Ukrainian debt crisis is much smaller in size than the Greek crisis, but it is no less important, if not more important, in geopolitical terms.
June 22, 2015
Color Revolution Obsessions
For the Putinists, an independent and democratic Ukraine symbolizes everything that threatens their hold on power and challenges plans to restore a Greater Russia. At the core of this deep hostility is the convenient conviction that Kyiv experienced a coup d'état camouflaged as a "color revolution" engineered by the West and ultimately designed to destroy Russia.
June 19, 2015
Wordplay and War Games
The West is waking up to a new conflict, one for which it is entirely unprepared: information war on a vast scale. The Center for European Policy Analysis is launching a major program to analyze and explain the new world of disinformation, and to learn how to fight against it.
June 17, 2015
Raising the Stakes: A Readout on Moldova's Local Elections
On June 14, 2015, Moldovan citizens chose their local government representatives in the country’s sixth local elections since independence. In many other countries, local elections would be no more than a regular exercise of democracy. But for Moldova, local elections are another installment in the smoldering political crisis and indicate the general disenchantment of citizens with the functioning of their leaders and public institutions.
June 15, 2015
Hard Knocks: NATO's Public Opinion Problem
On the battleground of public opinion, the West is losing. That is the bleak conclusion from the latest Pew Research survey. German and French public opinion likes NATO but strongly opposes military intervention in the event of a Russian attack on a NATO ally. Americans, who bear the risk for NATO, are cooler towards the alliance than their free-riding European allies. Ukrainians are fed up with their politicians. Russians think that Vladimir Putin is doing a great job, and (ominously) that bits of other countries really belong to Russia.
June 9, 2015
Answering the Critics of Romania's Fight Against Corruption
By Don Lothrop
Recent articles published by The New York Times and Newsweek have suggested that the anti-corruption fight in Romania has gone too far. Setting aside the question of why two major American news outfits would run back-to-back articles complaining about the efforts of a semi-consolidated democracy to clean up its corruption-plagued government, the articles deserve a response from those who know and understand the situation on the ground in Romania.
June 8, 2015
The Kremlin Clock Is Ticking Backwards
The Kremlin clock is ticking backwards. Vladimir Putin recently defended the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and Stalin’s post-war seizure of east-central Europe. Now Russia’s main state television channel has broadcast a documentary on the history of the Warsaw Pact, which among other grotesqueries defends the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the imposition of martial law in Poland in 1981.
June 2, 2015
NATO-Russia Showdown in the Baltic Sea
Returning from a research trip in Finland and Sweden, CEPA Senior Fellow Janusz Bugajski explores the security dynamic between NATO and Russia in the Baltic Sea and offers policy prescriptions for both sides of the Atlantic.
June 1, 2015
Change in Poland
Poland is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that has not been affected by recession for over two decades. While still poorer that most EU member states, Poland is now more prosperous, safer and more outward looking than for the last 300 years. Yet, on May 24 the Poles voted out their president with high approval ratings and replaced him with a youngish, conservative member of the European Parliament, Andrzej Duda.
June 1, 2015
Offside: Putin, Russia and FIFA
Vladimir Putin runs Russia the way that Sepp Blatter runs FIFA. Abundant glitz and razzmatazz bamboozles the gullible into thinking something glorious is going on.
May 28, 2015
Who Should Say Sorry to Whom?
Apologies are currency in international relations. The former captive nations of Eastern Europe are still waiting for what they regard as a proper apology from Russia for their miseries and losses under Soviet rule. Russia believes that these demands are spurious.
May 19, 2015
Who Is to Blame?
The West did not treat Russia as an enemy. Russia behaved like one, and we are (slowly) waking up. Former captive nations rightly worried that the Kremlin would again one day menace them.
May 18, 2015
A recent attack by a gunman on a police station in Zvornik, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and a clash between police and gunmen in Kumanovo, Macedonia, have raised fears about escalating religious radicalism and terrorism in the Balkans. The bloody incidents have also revived theories that Bosnian jihadism, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and “Greater Albania” form part of a grand conspiracy.
May 15, 2015
Making good governance stick in Romania
In 2012 the European Commission report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism noted that judicial reforms in Romania are not yet irreversible. Since then, despite considerable progress in particular on fighting corruption, the question of irreversibility arises ever so often.
May 12, 2015
Britain, Europe and the Atlantic alliance
Britain used to be a contributor to European security. Now it is a problem. The election result means that a referendum on Britain’s continued membership in the EU is certain.
May 12, 2015
Election tornado in Poland
The first round of presidential elections in Poland went against all predictions and polling expectations. A few weeks ago the elections were panning out to be an uneventful affair with the only question mark being whether the re-election of President Bronisław Komorowski would occur in the first or second round of the election.
May 6, 2015
Between the Nazi Hammer and the Soviet Anvil
Listen to Finland. And to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland; to Czechs and Slovaks; to Belarussians, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Tatars and others. That is how Westerners should be commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Nazi capitulation.
May 5, 2015
Russia Battles with History
President Vladimir Putin's expansive "Russian world" involves not only the revision of post-Cold War borders but also the rewriting of European history. The key event in Putin's restorationist mythology is the “Great Patriotic War" that ended in victory over Nazi Germany 70 years ago and will be commemorated in a huge military parade in Moscow on May 9.
May 4, 2015
The Promise of DemocraCEE
With the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Europe is facing its biggest security challenge since the end of the Cold War. Yet, amid countless debates about defense spending and military strategies, another fear creeps into the minds of Europeans and it has to do with democracy—namely, why is democracy declining?
April 27, 2015
Europe Divided: Reflections from Tallinn
One route to defeat is labeled “Panic.” The other is “Complacency.” Avoiding both was the theme of last weekend’s Lennart Meri security conference in the Estonian capital, Tallinn.
April 22, 2015
Something for Everyone: Poland's Defense Contracts
Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski was all smiles at the press conference Tuesday evening announcing his government’s new defense contracts. As a former defense minister, he had already championed defense modernization programs in 2001, and as president he was the first to argue, in 2011, that Poland needed its own air and missile defense system.
April 21, 2015
Europe Divided: Reflections on the Edge
CEPA Senior Vice President Edward Lucas reflects on the dividing line in Europe: countries that are fearful of Russian revisionism and those that are not.
April 17, 2015
Corruption Revisited: From Poor to Poorer
If the fight against corruption and money laundering is going to succeed, more attention needs to be paid not just to prosecuting criminals but also to depriving them of the benefits of corruption and crime.
April 15, 2015
A key weapon in Moscow’s arsenal to weaken its neighbors is the promotion of ethnic conflicts. By encouraging numerous forms of territorial autonomy and ethnic separatism in Europe’s east, Russia’s zone of influence can be extended.
April 3, 2015
A Gagauz Canary in the Coal Mine
What happens in Gagauzia rarely makes news. But, like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, the small region of Gagauzia in southeastern Moldova can signal easily missed changes in Moldova’s path to European integration.
March 30, 2015
Sustaining the Georgian Momentum
Georgia is not a perfect democracy, and there is no doubt that oligarchy and clan structures are deeply entrenched there. But Georgia is unshaken in its belief in Western values and it deserves to not be let down by the West.
March 30, 2015
The Russian Mass Media and the Western Far Right
Time was when Russia’s mass media used the far right in Europe as fuel for fear mongering and mockery. Russia still decries its opponents as “fascists”—but it is increasingly courting and using far-right parties and their adherents.
March 25, 2015
Moscow Prepares for War
Russia has completed an unprecedented five-day military exercise simulating the deployment of nuclear weapons. And although World War III is not necessarily imminent, the extensive drills were part of a broader offensive to spread fear and uncertainty and to reinvigorate President Vladimir Putin’s alpha dog image after his reappearance from a mysterious ten-day absence.
March 19, 2015
Not Another Corruption Story
The political week in Europe opened with media reports on corruption cases in Hungary, Italy and Romania. In comparison with President Vladimir Putin’s reappearance, such reports might seem banal. But for a country like Romania, which has been battling systemic corruption and extractive political behaviors for about a decade, corruption is big news and every new case is a cause for optimism.
March 15, 2015
Where is Putin?
Prescient or preposterous? Vladimir Putin’s absence from public life sparked a frenzy last week. Nobody agreed what was going on, but almost all commentators agreed that it was significant.
March 9, 2015
Answering the Critics of a Tough Russia Policy
If the critics of Western policy agree with Putin that these are merely territories, not countries, that can be bounced between big countries as bagatelles, then they should say so openly, and preferably do so in Kiev, Tallinn or Warsaw.
March 6, 2015
For the past year, Russian services, information outlets and state officials have been in overdrive to spread confusion, fear, insecurity and paranoia among CEE audiences. The goal is to deflate public morale, foster defeatism and reduce trust in national governments and international institutions.
March 2, 2015
Rethinking "Strategic Patience" with Russia
Rather than revealing Russia’s weaknesses and avoiding risk to ourselves, policies rooted in “strategic patience” are giving Putin the time he needs to silence domestic opponents, gerrymander his neighborhood and carve out a larger power base for waging an effective long game against the West.
February 28, 2015
Regardless of who actually pulled the trigger of the gun that ended the life of Boris Nemtsov, my closest friend in Russian politics, the responsibility for his death is clear. It lies in the political system created by Vladimir Putin, which has first excluded the opposition from the political system, and then demonised it as treasonous puppets of the West...
February 28, 2015
Russia After Nemtsov
The assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov propels Russia into a dangerous new phase of state terrorism. The killing of critical journalists could be depicted as the actions of uncontrolled mobsters and the imprisonment of freewheeling oligarchs could be wrapped in legal trappings...
February 27, 2015
Ukraine Cannot Win Without Guns
Ukraine cannot win the war against Putin’s predation only by reforming. It needs to win by arresting Putin’s military march first. And to do this, the West needs to arm Ukraine.
February 24, 2015
"Not Waving but Drowning"
Putin is winning. The West is just beginning to wake up to this, though many still find the idea preposterous. Anne Applebaum, writing in the Spectator, notes how the worthies assembled at the Munich Security conference earlier this month burst out laughing when the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, queried the legality of German reunification...
February 23, 2015
After Minsk, Let's Talk Good Governance
As Western leaders were breathing a sigh of relief at the end of the second round of peace negotiations in Minsk, President Petro Poroshenko went home to face yet another enemy: corruption.
February 20, 2015
Why Ukraine Can't Be a 'Buffer State'
Attempting to turn Ukraine into a geopolitical gray zone will not save Ukraine, but rather lead to its collapse and eventual state capture by Russia. If the West wants to win in Ukraine, it needs to drop the idea of bargaining with Vladimir Putin and develop a serious long-term strategy for the military, political and above all economic viability of the Ukrainian state.
February 17, 2015
CEPA's Senior Vice President Edward Lucas takes stock of the post-Minsk II chessboard and debates the way forward.
February 17, 2015
Moscow Applauds Greece-Macedonia Drama
Macedonia, the European Union, NATO and the United States all lose in the interminable dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the latter’s name. But there is one power that gains from this “frozen conflict” – President Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
February 12, 2015