The German Chancellor, already battered in her political standing, was dealt another blow Sunday.
Regional elections resulted in a protest vote against Angela Merkel’s open-door policy for refugees, and saw her party punished in three states.
Across Germany and Europe, critics in her own party will read this as the tipping point for Merkel to change her course on refugees.
Rumblings will grow louder that the Chancellor’s popularity, seemingly untouchable until a few months ago, is becoming ever-more unstable ahead of the 2017 national elections.
However, irrespective of the noise, Merkel will not agree to a U-turn on her principled position regarding those fleeing war and persecution.… Seguir leyendo »
Europe’s Eastern policy, if there ever really was one, is in tatters. It has unraveled at breakneck speed, as Russia moved against Ukraine, effectively annexed part of its territory, and put its smaller neighbor on the brink of war.
Moving from disbelief to dismay to horror, Europeans lost whatever hopes and illusions they may have harbored that Russia was a predictable and cooperative partner. Instead, images are being invoked of the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and in Hungary in 1956, and a new Cold War seems fully possible now.
However far-fetched they may seem, these comparisons reflect a frantic search among Western politicians and experts for the underlying causes, rationales and consequences of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.… Seguir leyendo »
Europe’s relations with Belarus took a dramatic turn for the worse this week. In an unusually unified move, the European Union recalled its ambassadors after Minsk showed the E.U. and Polish envoys the door in protest at fresh sanctions on the country’s leadership.
The latest escalation exposes Aleksandr Lukashenko’s heightened nervousness and vulnerability. At the same time, Europe seems more determined than ever, and it has now been presented with a rare opportunity to ratchet up its pressure.
For most of his nearly 18 years in office, Lukashenko has been immune to change, whether demanded by Belarussians or by the international community.… Seguir leyendo »
E.U. policy toward Belarus is in tatters. Two years of engagement with Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, direct cooperation in the framework of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program, and gentle pressure to allow some space for democrats in the country came to naught on Dec. 19, when the police crushed a courageous mass protest against fraudulent elections. Independent media and nongovernmental organizations were raided and hundreds of campaigners for democracy thrown in jail, where they must fear brutal treatment and harsh sentences. It was a grim day — for the democratic opposition of Belarus, but also for Europe’s much-vaunted soft power.
European policy makers were caught completely off guard.… Seguir leyendo »