Much of the debate around Europe’s global strategy ahead of the December European Union Summit, might appear to those of us in the UK to be missing the point. Have those self- absorbed diplomats in Brussels failed to notice that the UK has always been wary about more common foreign policy, and that the discussion here is about whether we want to continue as members of the European Union club at all? And, surely, if the UK is not part of the project, European power looks very different: one less seat at the UN Security Council; the loss of one of the EU’s few powers who still retain military capacity capable of decisive interventions; and the loss of the UK’s huge diplomatic network, and historical, trade and linguistic ties across the world. Not to mention the fallout which the EU would be dealing with on the global stage if the UK decides to go it alone in 2017 – international
Relations between the EU and Turkey are improving despite the lingering disappointment over the country's tangled accession talks. Here is a piece of good news: After talks with Commissioners Stefan Fuele (Enlargement) and Cecilia Malstöm (Home Affairs), Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, announced his country will be signing a readmission agreement with the EU on 16 December. It's hard to overstate the significance of such a move. Under its terms, Turkey agrees to receive back third-country nationals entering EU via its territory in exchange of a roadmap leading to visa free travel for Turkish citizens. If everything goes according to plan Turkey is to follow the example of the Western Balkans and remove a key hurdle on its European journey. Turks have a good reason to celebrate but I'm sure that officials in neighbouring Greece and Bulgaria will also be happy. Both
At last there was light, and we saw the letter that the president of the European Central Bank sent to Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on August 5, 2011. Its tardy publication in the former prime minister’s memoirs offers several lessons on the weakness of democracy, both here and in the EU. As far as contents are concerned, the ECB oversteps its mandate and, to “restore the credibility of Spain in the eyes of the capital markets” calls on the Zapatero government to reduce wages, make firing easier, weaken the unions, limit public spending by law and — taking the opportunity to slip another measure into the package — liberalize the rental market. So much for the stick; as for the carrot, starting on August 8, the ECB would purchase up to 36 billion euros in Spanish and Italian debt on the secondary markets; purchases which, indeed, many considered also
Much attention has been focused on how Saudi Arabia and Israel will react to the interim agreement reached in November between Iran and the P5+1 powers (US, Russia, China, UK, France, German), both of whom see their relations with Iran in zero-sum terms. This agreement also has significant implications for Turkey, a regional power in its own right, one that maintains relatively close relations with Iran. In particular, Turkey faces some tough decisions over the future direction of its foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) following the Arab uprisings. Last month’s agreement will only add to Turkey’s foreign policy woes.
Establishing closer ties with Iran has been a key pillar of Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbours” policy and its pursuit of “strategic depth”. The latter aims to re-establish Turkey as a powerful regional actor – a far cry from the years of
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The protests in Kiev are now almost two weeks old. They began after the Ukrainian government first decided to suspend negotiations with the EU on 21 November, but have gained new intensity after President Yanukovych left the Vilnius Summit on 28-29 November empty-handed, without signing the key Agreements.
But the attempt at violent dispersal of the crowds on his return, on Saturday the 30th, only led to bigger demonstrations on the Sunday. At the time of writing (Monday the 2nd), the protestors were looking more embedded – literally so, as several buildings have been occupied and barriers set up in the centre of Kiev. The stakes are especially high because the OSCE Ministerial Council is due to be held in Kiev on 5-6 December – the opposition want to keep the protest going until then, the authorities want to stamp them out. The ruling party is losing key members and morale.
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