Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

27
Jan

Rusia ha derrotado a la UE en Ucrania. Mientras nos lamemos las heridas, recordemos. Empecemos con un poco de historia. Volvamos a la Crónica General del Rus (a.D. 860). “A estos vikingos se les conocía como rusos, lo mismo que a otros vikingos se les llama suecos, normandos, anglos o godos (…) Rurik llegó a ser el Señor de todos ellos (…) Dos de los hombres de Rurik, Askold y Rir, navegaron Dniéper abajo y, en el curso de su viaje, vieron una pequeña ciudad sobre una colina (…) Askold y Rir se asentaron en esta ciudad y, después de reunir a muchos vikingos, reinaron sobre el país de los polacos (Polianis). Rurik reinó en Nóvgorod”.

Así pues, vemos que Kiev y Nóvgorod son los dos puntos políticos originales de Rusia. Nóvgorod subsistió como república propia, sobre el modelo hanseático, hasta los días de Iván el Terrible. Kiev cayó antes. Ante la imposibilidad de defender la ciudad de las invasiones mongolas (a.D. 1.280), los rusos abandonaron la urbe y se protegieron de la Horda Dorada parapetándose tras los bosques de Moscú. Ucrania se recuperó para Rusia a finales del s. XVIII con Catalina la Grande. Desde entonces, y hasta la caída de la URSS, formará parte de la polis rusas.

Estrategia. Dejando aparte los Caballeros Teutónicos, el corredor ucraniano ha sido el lugar privilegiado de todas las invasiones que Rusia ha conocido. Lo que se le opuso a Rusia en este frente fueron enemigos epónimos, todos ellos parte nuclear del relato nacional. Los polacos de Tarás Bulba; los jesuitas italianos de Boris Godunov; los suecos que retrató Von Heidenstam, y a los que mandaba un rey temerario como Carlos XII; los turcos a los que derrotó Potemkin mientras leía, moribundo, las cartas de amor de Catalina la Grande; los revolucionarios franceses de Guerra y Paz de Tolstói y la Obertura 1.812 de Tchaikovsky; y, finalmente, los nazis de Vasili Grossman o los nacionalistas ucranianos de la “Guardia Blanca” de Bulgakov. Recomiendo al lector el testimonio de Chaves Nogales para la I Guerra Mundial (El maestro Juan Martínez que estaba allí) y, para la II Guerra Mundial, a Jonathan Littell (Las benévolas). Leer mas…

 

Escrito por el Ambajador José A. Zorrilla el 25 de enero en El Confidencial http://blogs.elconfidencial.com/espana/

10
Jan

Europe’s Supernova Moment

Written on January 10, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, News, Op Ed

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HAMBURG, Germany — More or less since its birth, the European Union has been a subject of apocalyptic talk — a permanent crisis mode that has worked beautifully to enhance ever-closer integration.

Today, though, the situation is different, and it is serious. Never before have Europeans been more tired and disillusioned with the promises of the Brussels mandarins. In the run-up to the European parliamentary elections in May, the gap between what’s economically necessary and what’s politically justifiable is growing dangerously wide.

Europe has come through the last years of crisis with a new momentum, and yet the situation is reminiscent of how a star reaches its greatest density just before it explodes. If that is so, is there a remedy for what the analyst Roderick Parkes has called the “supernova moment”?

There is. But it would require Germany, the union’s largest and most powerful driver, to support an idea that the country has always fiercely rejected: to activate the thrust reverser for certain parts of the unification project as a way to reduce the Continent’s political stress. It would mean, more specifically, listening to the ideas being laid out by the British prime minister, David Cameron.

Integration, Mr. Cameron argues, should be cut back in a variety of policy-making realms — social and employment laws, for example, or environmental legislation — and shifted back to the individual countries. That would allow Brussels to focus on other areas more central to its vision, like monetary unification, energy security and enlargement.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been ignoring these ideas with a mixture of anxiety, denial and lack of vision. For the sake of Europe, she should think again. Read more…

Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. As published in the International New York Times on Jan. 9, 2014 http://www.nytimes.com

11
Dec

Gratz_RevolutiononthemBy Jonas Grätz

In the weeks leading up to the European Union’s Vilnius summit in late November, it seemed all but certain that Ukraine was pivoting West. At the meeting, the EU and Ukraine were expected to sign an Association Agreement, which would have abolished trade barriers between the two and required Ukraine to undergo some EU-mandated political and economic reforms.

But then, days before the summit, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych announced that any agreement with the EU would have to be put off due to reasons of national security. Ukraine, its occasionally authoritarian president had concluded, would not be able to withstand the intense economic pressure that Russia would apply if he signed the deal. Russia’s aim? To goad Ukraine into joining its own Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, which would preclude association with the EU.

Yanukovych’s unexpected decision has made his job more difficult. Enraged citizens, carrying Ukrainian and EU flags, took to the streets of Kiev to demand that Yanukovych and his government resign. Protestors, mostly from the capital and the country’s Western reaches, have occupied Kiev’s central Independence Square and some administrative buildings for more than a week. For them, the EU is their country’s last hope for better domestic governance and protection of civil rights. They fear that Yanukovych’s latest move toward Russia will further entrench Ukraine’s dysfunctional and ineffective political elite and diminish the country’s independent national identity.

The revolution on Euromaidan, as the protest has been called, in reference to Kiev’s main boulevard, has a hard road ahead of it. It lacks real leadership, and the opposition parties that could fill that role are untrusted by the public and at loggerheads with each other. Still, the anger of a sizable part of Ukrainian society cannot be ignored or discredited. And Yanukovych has nowhere to hide. Even his support base in Ukraine’s east is disappointed. His unreliability — he was for the deal before he was against it — alienated his supporters long ago. Should elections be called, as the protesters insist, he would have little to no chance of winning. Read more…

JONAS GRÄTZ is researcher with the Global Security Team at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich.

As published in Foreign Affairs on December 9th, 2013 http://www.foreignaffairs.com

2
Dec

Lord Garel-Jones, Chairman of UBS Latin America and Former United Kingdom’s Minister for Europe, is interviewed by Dr.de Areilza, Dean of IE School of International Relations, on the United Kingdom, the European Union and Latin America.

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21
Nov

Elect a president

Written on November 21, 2013 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Europe

TorreblancaBy José Ignacio Torreblanca, Associate Professor at IE School of International Relations

The designation of the German Martin Schulz as the EU-wide Socialist candidate to the presidency of the European Commission is the starting gun for elections that promise to be complicated. He and other candidacies are supposed to breathe some life into elections from which the voters usually stay away in droves, and which are normally disputed more in a national than pan-EU key, and are now under the effects of the crisis and of the Europe-wide boom among xenophobic parties.

With the crisis, confidence in EU institutions has collapsed. If in 2007, 52 percent had a positive view of the EU and 57 percent trusted its institutions, in 2013 these percentages have fallen to 30 and 31. Equally worrying is the weakness of support for the European Parliament. If in 2007, 56 percent trusted the assembly and 28 percent distrusted it, now the respective percentages are 43 and 47, an almost equal division. The European Parliament, which began its career in 1979 with a 62-percent voter turnout, has, in spite of its growing powers, progressively disappeared from the radar of the EU voter, with the turnout sinking to 43 percent in the last elections, held in 2009. This average rate of participation, painful to every Europeanist, conceals worse ones: 19 percent in Slovakia, 24 in Poland and 27 in Romania.

Concerned about the deterioration in their image, defenders of the parliament often argue that national democracies are not much more popular than the EU. And they are right: in general terms, voters are angrier with their own governments and parliaments than with European policy and institutions. Only 25 percent of EU citizens trust their national government or parliament. But this reality offers scant consolation. Disaffection with national institutions is prevalent only in southern Europe, where democracy has suffered as a result of the crisis, but not in the north of Europe, where national democracies are valued for their ability to cope with economic difficulties and, at the same time, impose reforms and discipline on other nations.

Apparently, the citizens of creditor countries do not necessarily want a more united Europe. They want a sort of Europe which is not necessarily the one desired by people in the south of Europe, who prefer a more generous Union which is more sensitive to their needs. Thus, those who hope that the weakness of their democracies may generate support for ceding more powers and sovereignty to the EU seem to be mistaken. Given the experience of recent years, southern citizens would accept ceding more sovereignty to the EU only if it serves to increase the EU’s capacity to deal with their real problems such as unemployment, debt and the lack of economic growth — but not if those powers serve to impose more cutbacks and force the adoption of a model slanted to favor the creditors.

Added to the traditional low turnouts, the situation of economic crisis, the problems of distrust of EU institutions and the rise of populist and xenophobic extreme-right movements, it is clear that the European Parliament, the EU’s most legitimate and democratic institution, is about to enter a political high-risk zone. To call 390 million Europeans to the polls, when half of them (183 million) do not trust the parliament, poses the serious question of what political project to offer to the public. If what we want is attention and visibility for the faces on the slate, it looks a priori like a good idea. After all, ideas and projects do not just float in the air; they need individuals to give them credible form, both to voters and to other candidates. Unfortunately, the EU Socialists have rejected the idea of a face-off between candidates, which might have been very positive. The results: a single candidate, German and from a party allied in government with Chancellor Angela Merkel. If she decides to support his candidacy, which seems likely, we will be right back where we started.

As published in www.elpais.com on November 14, 2013.

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