European Council on Foreign Relations

Cyprus talks re-start with the US in the driving seat

Victoria Nuland has done it again. Right after voicing her deep appreciation of EU foreign policy, the US Assistant Secretary of State has achieved what the European Union could not: she has managed to cajole Greek and Turkish Cypriots into re-starting talks on the island’s reunification after a five-month break. Cyprus represents a knock to the EU’s pride. The EU’s 2004 failure to use the accession process as an incentive to bring Greeks and Turks together in a shared polity ranks as one of Brussels’ top foreign policy missteps. The end result was that the problem was imported into the EU. Only the Greek part of the island joined the EU, while the Turkish northern section found itself in legal limbo. Turkey responded by blocking Greek Cypriot ships and aircraft from its territory, in breach of its legal commitments to the EU. The Greek Cypriot-led Republic of Cyprus blocked a

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What should the EU do about the protests in Bosnia?

In this year’s Scorecard, against the backdrop of a host of encouraging developments in the Western Balkans, Bosnia’s situation stands out as particularly troubling. The European Union’s policies in Bosnia have had few results in the past year. In fact, the EU’s policies have made little impact on the country since the Scorecard was launched back in 2010. Little has changed, and the sense of “same old same old” is largely met with a shrug. As a Bosnian friend put it, “I can pretty much recycle anything I’ve written since 2006, just changing dates, and it still matches the situation in the country”. Indeed, deadlock is profound in Bosnia: the state system is characterised by constitutional deadlock, dysfunctional state structures, the same old faces in power at various levels, a stagnating economy, and Western policy in paralysis. Pushes for serious change have not delivered, but

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Egypt’s military; Europe’s response

Since it took power from President Morsi last July, Egypt's military has cracked down on dissent in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular. Now, having successfully negotiated a constitutional referendum, Field Marshal Sisi appears ready to announce his candidacy for the post of president. A recent ECFR Black Coffee Morning in our London office examined these events and attempted to answer some key questions about Egypt's military and the possible response of the European Union.

The first speaker was Issandr el Amrani of the International Crisis Group: “Who represents who? Is the current military-led government really representative of a mass outpouring of anger against the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi administration? Or is it on the contrary as the Muslim Brothers will tell you, is that only a reflection of the near complete control of Egyptian media?”

Second up

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A strategic approach for Syria

Yesterday, ECFR published the fourth edition of the 2014 European Foreign Policy Scorecard, a comprehensive evaluation of European foreign policy in six key areas –relations with the United States, China, Russia, Wider Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa, and Europe's performance in multilateral institutions and in crisis management – and of the EU28 Member States. 2013 was a good year if compared to the previous three: among the improvements was the performance in relations with the MENA region.
But, despite the positive grade that Europe gained for this improvement, Syria still remains a crucial and unsolved issue. If Iran ends up being a successful story for Europe, then other relevant actors in the region, such as Syria, will have clearly missed the message underlining Europe’s political and strategic vision. Europe failed with its European Neighbourhood Policy, but

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CAR: Bangui airport needs the EU

The European Union, so often accused of lacking strategic purpose, seems to have discovered a new security role: keeping African airports safe.  In 2012, it launched EUAVSEC South Sudan, a small civilian operation tasked with improving airport security procedures in the young country’s capital, Juba.  While South Sudan stumbled through political crises and recurrent violence, EUAVSEC was busy training airport staff, even finding “170 high visibility vests” for security personnel. This wasn’t quite as silly as it sounds: the risks of terrorists infiltrating Juba’s poorly-run airport were significant enough to make many airlines refuse to fly there.  But the whole exercise has been somewhat overshadowed by South Sudan’s descent into murderous chaos over the last month, which may have claimed over 10,000 lives so far.

The EU’s decision to focus on such a small part of South Sudan’s

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