Ukraine In-Depth: Association Agreement at War

When Euromaidan started over a year ago, there where three main reasons which took the people to the street: brutal violence of the authorities against peaceful demonstrators, Viktor Yanukovytch's decline to sign the Association Agreement and the demand for change in Ukraine. Out of these three public demands only one has been fulfilled. The Association Agreement has been signed by Ukraine's authorities in two steps: on March 21 and June 27 2014. The Association Agreement was then ratified by Ukraine and the European Parliament on September 16 2014. It would seem that this step should be trumpeted by Ukraine's authorities, applauded by the EU and perceived as the triumph of justice by the democratic societies. It is not. One reason for this is the war. Putting the Russian aggre...

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Making EU foreign policy in a world that says No

Ah, what bliss is it in this dawn to be alive: the EU is going to write a new foreign affairs strategy. And about time too. The world is clearly at a critical juncture, and the questions which the EU needs to answer could hardly be more pronounced. So here, for the record, are my top three: First, do EU states still support globalisation? That may seem a disappointingly European sort of question (stop the world, we want to get off!). But globalisation in its present form is not inevitable, and has been constituted in a very specific manner. It is built around the virtuous engine of global trade and representative democracy (with trade in goods encouraging the worldwide emergence of middle-classes, who in turn demand political representation and greater trade in goods). That mix – glo...

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ISIS is here to stay

  The Islamic State is here to stay. That is the conclusion of the book “ISIS. Inside the Army of Terror” by journalists Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan. This important book is the first in English that gives an insight in what ISIS is, where it comes from and where it is heading. This unique book should be mandatory reading, as this would put an end to the vast amount of badly informed comments, nonsensical debates and counterproductive political decisions. The most important lesson of the book is that Assad is not part of the solution against ISIS, but a part of the problem from the very beginning until now.   Al-Zarqawi, the father of ISIS   The story of ISIS – and the book – starts with Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian smuggler who became a Salafist i...

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It’s in Minsk

Minks, I am sorry, Minsk is the capital of Belarus. All it takes is a war in the region for the EU to be able to find it on the map. It is no coincidence that German, French, Ukrainian and Russian leaders will come together in Minsk this Wednesday to negotiate peace-keeping measures in the east of Ukraine. Belarus is a showcase of neutrality, having sworn loyalty both to Kiev and Moscow. That’s why Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko can travel to Minsk. At the same time, it’s Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s closest ally and a member of his Eurasian Union, where he can also easily travel without losing his poker face. Germany’s Angela Merkel and French leader Francois Hollande fly where those two agreed to meet. Fine with Minsk! Especially, after the “Minsk Protocol”, signed i...

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Praised by the Lords!

Barroso did good. No, it´s not me bucking the trend and suddenly feeling the need to revalue what sort of a Commission President José Manuel Barroso was. It´s the UK Parliament, House of Lords, who says. (Who would have thought...) ”Smaller but better” was the promise of Commission President José Manuel Barroso gave us for his second term. Barroso didn´t give us smaller or better, he gave us more and sometimes really sloppy legislation. ...and that can be a good thing, says the House of Lords. (I choose to believe them because a) They are legislators too, so understand the matter, b) They have gone through the legislation in question thoroughly and c) They gain nothing from praising the former EU Commission.) ”In that context, the sheer output and workrate of the Commission i...

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Hybrid war: neither new nor Russian

Since the annexation of Crimea in March 2014, the spectre of ‘hybrid’ tactics (or threats) is haunting both European and American security debates. This seems to suggest that this is a new, highly effective form of warfare which poses complex challenges to the EU, NATO, and their neighbours. However, hybrid tactics are neither new, nor exclusively (or primarily) a Russian invention. They are as old as war itself, and Western states have often used elements of it quite effectively, at least on a tactical level. East, West, and Middle East Hybrid war encompasses a set of hostile actions whereby, instead of a classical large-scale military invasion, an attacking power seeks to undermine its opponent through a variety of acts including subversive intelligence operations, sabotage, ha...

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EU anti-democrats throw their toys out the pram

  So incensed was the outgoing austerian Greek conservative-social-democrat coalition at the prospect of a left government that they apparently even stole all the soap from the parliament with them when they left and wouldn’t tell the new guys what the wi-fi password is. It’s an exquisite, farcical little anecdote from Athens, first reported by the Guardian, of the most infantile, toy-out-of-the-pram-throwing behaviour by politicians who otherwise describe themselves as the sensible, realistic, Practical Men of Europe. But the episode is also completely emblematic of the instinctive contempt for voters maintained by EU elites and their entourage of fart-catchers. Ahead of the election, a raft of European leaders, elected and unelected, from other states, from the ECB and ...

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No end to the Ukraine-Russia war in sight

No end to the Ukraine-Russia war in sight The Ukraine-Russia war has already led to more than 5,000 deaths and caused the suffering of millions of innocent people including leaving more than 1 million people internally displaced. The continued torture, parading and brutal killing of Ukrainian soldiers by the Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country is a violation of international humanitarian law and should be considered a war crime. The Minsk cease-fire agreement which was signed in September 2014 remains on paper alone. Russia has never adhered to it or the majority of conclusions coming from EU heads of state summits and meetings of foreign ministers. Out of the some 24 requests, Russia has only implemented around four and those only partially. Demands to de-escalate ...

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Ukraine In-Depth: Weekend Terrorism by Russia (with infographics)

It is quite typical of Vladimir Putin to choose weekends and holidays for his nasty attacks on the European peace and security. Last Saturday his target was Mariupol, a city in South-Eastern Ukraine, where a series of missiles landed on residential quarters killing at least 30 civilians. Just two days earlier, a trolley bus with civilian passengers was shelled in Donetsk. Mariupol attack is one more instance of the new phase of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Starting from the bus blast near Volnovakha, civilians have become deliberate, rather than accidental targets. Indirect evidence suggests that both a trolley bus accident in Donetsk and Mariupol missile attack were carefully pre-planed. In Donetsk, a Lifenews TV crew appeared at the scene immediately after the tragedy, accompanie...

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That won´t tidy away the GMO issue

Simply no good, the new EU rules on genetically modified organisms. I can see why the EU commission felt the need to propose new rules, seen as the current ones are not working at all. Over and over, refused proposals to approve a new GMO crop have boomeranged back to the commission which more or less has the obligation to see these products through the system (soon as they have been deemed not-hazardous by the EU food agency). What to do? Well, something, obviously. The EU commission was prodded into action, being sued for being too passive by the American producer DuPont Pioneer. Unfortunately, the new rules are no better. It may be all right for the eight or so EU countries that want to grow GMO crops on their land (the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Portuga...

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