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Geostrategic Europe

Stories related to European foreign policy and Europe as a global power.

Editor's choice
Monday Commentary
Monday Commentary: Why Central Asia matters

Monday Commentary: Why Central Asia matters

Very often, Central Asia is referred to as Russia’s back yard, even though today the region feels more like China’s front garden. But whilst the two “inseparable” friends, compete for influence and resources, the five Central Asian countries have set on a course to integrate themselves in global processes, break out of their geographic - and more importantly their geo-political constraints - and deliver better for their people. In this week's Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu, Dennis Sammut says that the Central Asian states have been reaching out to the EU and the US, whilst domestically some of them have embarked on deep reforms considered all but unimaginable until recently. The visit of European Council president Charles Michel to the region on 27-28 October marked a high point in a new phase in the relationship between the EU and Central Asia. In Kazakhstan, Michel not only met the Kazakh leadership, but also held a summit with the five Central Asian leaders in Astana, before travelling to Uzbekistan. For both the Central Asians and for the EU this is a watershed moment, and the beginning of a long journey. Europe’s approach to Central Asia needs to be respectful, both to the five countries themselves, and to their existing partners. Arrogance, even of the intellectual kind will simply backfire. But respect does not mean meekness. As a heavyweight in international relations, even if for the moment its economic weight dwarfs its political weight, the EU needs to approach Central Asia neither as a supplicant, nor as a benefactor, but simply as a reliable partner. Furthermore, this partnership needs to be diverse, multi-tiered and nuanced. It must take in relations with citizens, where Europe has much to offer both in terms of being a model, but also in terms of what it can share in areas such as education, innovation, youth welfare, women’s rights and diversity.

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Editor's choice
Monday Commentary
Monday Commentary: Why Central Asia matters

Monday Commentary: Why Central Asia matters

Very often, Central Asia is referred to as Russia’s back yard, even though today the region feels more like China’s front garden. But whilst the two “inseparable” friends, compete for influence and resources, the five Central Asian countries have set on a course to integrate themselves in global processes, break out of their geographic - and more importantly their geo-political constraints - and deliver better for their people. In this week's Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu, Dennis Sammut says that the Central Asian states have been reaching out to the EU and the US, whilst domestically some of them have embarked on deep reforms considered all but unimaginable until recently. The visit of European Council president Charles Michel to the region on 27-28 October marked a high point in a new phase in the relationship between the EU and Central Asia. In Kazakhstan, Michel not only met the Kazakh leadership, but also held a summit with the five Central Asian leaders in Astana, before travelling to Uzbekistan. For both the Central Asians and for the EU this is a watershed moment, and the beginning of a long journey. Europe’s approach to Central Asia needs to be respectful, both to the five countries themselves, and to their existing partners. Arrogance, even of the intellectual kind will simply backfire. But respect does not mean meekness. As a heavyweight in international relations, even if for the moment its economic weight dwarfs its political weight, the EU needs to approach Central Asia neither as a supplicant, nor as a benefactor, but simply as a reliable partner. Furthermore, this partnership needs to be diverse, multi-tiered and nuanced. It must take in relations with citizens, where Europe has much to offer both in terms of being a model, but also in terms of what it can share in areas such as education, innovation, youth welfare, women’s rights and diversity.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Macron's 'European Political Community' offers an opportunity for a continent-wide approach to critical security issues

Opinion: Macron's 'European Political Community' offers an opportunity for a continent-wide approach to critical security issues

French President Emmanuel Macron's proposal to create a "European Political Community" can, if handled correctly, provide a permanent framework where EU countries and other European states can interact on critical political and security issues. However, for the community to succeed it must not simply become an extension of the EU. It must be designed to ensure that all countries involved have a voice in fostering political dialogue and cooperation in order to address issues of common interest, writes Maximiliaan van Lange in this op-ed for commonspace.eu. Overall the idea of a European Political Community is a positive one. Ensuring that countries like Turkey and the UK can be equal partners in the discussion on the future of Europe's security, is an important and positive step. Making sure that smaller countries in the Balkans and the Caucasus can also be part of the conversation is equally relevant. But for the Community to succeed it must quickly carve a niche for itself in the crowded field of European institutions, which apart from NATO and the EU, also includes the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the Western European Union, not to mention multiple sub regional entities. The best option for the new community is to focus on security, and the security threats poised by the new Russian and Chinese assertivness.
Editor's choice
Event
EU tells Georgia the door for membership is still ajar

EU tells Georgia the door for membership is still ajar

Relations between Georgia and the European Union  have been passing through a difficult patch recently. Whilst both sides profess eternal love and loyalty, tensions over ongoing domestic Georgian political processes have marred what was once a good example of a harmonious relationship. Georgian prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili is currently in Brussels where he is co-chairing, with EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, a session of the EU-Georgia Council, the body that oversees the relationship. At the heart of the current state of relations is the EU's refusal to grant candidate status to Georgia, as it did recently with Ukraine and Moldova. The Georgian government is still reeling from the snub, and the Georgian opposition continues to use this as a stick to beat the government. At a press conference yesterday both sides tried to downplay differences, and the EU made it clear that the door for Georgian EU membership, whilst not exactly wide-open, was still ajar.
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News
Brussels sources say European Commission will recommend candidate status for Ukraine, but final decision is with the EU member states

Brussels sources say European Commission will recommend candidate status for Ukraine, but final decision is with the EU member states

The European Commission will recommend granting Ukraine official status as an EU candidate country, according to several officials familiar with deliberations that took place during a debate among commissioners on Monday. This was reported by the authoritative website Politico on Tuesday (14 June) The debate in the College of Commissioners followed a surprise visit Saturday by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to Kyiv, where she discussed Ukraine’s membership bid with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It was von der Leyen’s second trip to the Ukrainian capital since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in late February. Moldova and Georgia have also applied for candidate status, and officials said that commissioners were generally supportive of Moldova, where a staunchly pro-EU government is now in place, but that they were less confident about Georgia, which has suffered from pervasive political turmoil and notable democratic backsliding in recent years.
Editor's choice
News
Von der Leyen says Russia is the most  direct threat to the international order

Von der Leyen says Russia is the most direct threat to the international order

Russia “is today the most direct threat to the world order with the barbaric war against Ukraine, and its worrying pact with China”, European Commission President, Urusula von der Leyen, said in Tokyo on Thursday (12 May) after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida along with European Council President Charles Michel. The two are in Tokyo for an annual EU-Japan summit that comes with much of the international community rallying to pressure Moscow over the Ukraine war, with concern also growing about China’s role. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not just a matter for Europe, but it shakes the core of the international order including Asia. This must not be tolerated,” said Kishida, whose government has joined tough sanctions on Moscow, including on energy. “Our cooperation in Ukraine is critical in Europe, but it’s also important in the Indo-Pacific and we also want to deepen our consultation on a more assertive China,” said Michel.
Editor's choice
Interview
GEU Podcast: Giving EU citizens a voice on foreign policy – with Dr Dennis Sammut

GEU Podcast: Giving EU citizens a voice on foreign policy – with Dr Dennis Sammut

“I think what is important is that the issue of international affairs is understood not to be an elitist sphere but something that impacts the lives of everyone in one way or another; and as a result, discussions on foreign policy need to be extended to include the wider citizenry. This is a challenge going forward and an increasingly important one.” – Dr Dennis Sammut on the latest final episode of Global Europe Unpacked
Editor's choice
Interview
GEU Podcast: After Ukraine, can we still talk about soft power? - with Prof Jamie Shea

GEU Podcast: After Ukraine, can we still talk about soft power? - with Prof Jamie Shea

“EU soft power will still be a factor, but I think the EU now recognises that this works more with like-minded countries that aspire to join the EU... The notion that soft power works on countries with different political systems – I think that has been, if you like, the victim of the Ukrainian crisis” says Prof Jamie Shea in this episode of our Global Europe Unpacked podcast.