Eastern and Central Europe
Coverage regarding recent developments in Central and Eastern Europe. Our writers Grace Kuang, Natasha Williams, and Yun Da Tsai produce weekly. Our section editor is Daphne Schermer.
Warsaw is developing a new plan by exploring options: to cut greenhouse gas emissions, to save money, and to save lives.
A sweeping victory was achieved by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his recent reelection this past Sunday, March 18th, 2018. The win does not come as a surprise to many who understand the corrupt and biased nature of Russian elections, and who more specifically understand the notorious role that President Putin has played in prescribing the path to his own success. Due to the orchestration of the Russian government, Putin continues to serve at its stern as the longest reigning Russian leader since the time of Joseph Stalin.
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico has resigned amid a deepening crisis over the apparent murder of a journalist investigating links between the mafia and top officials of the government of Slovakia.
Angela Merkel has been re-elected Chancellor of Germany by the German parliament, ending months of uncertainty after indecisive Sept. 2017 federal election results and floundering coalition talks pointed to a fresh election to resolve the electoral deadlock.
To many Czechs, the appointment of Ondracek represents an affront to the freedoms they have come to value.
On Thursday, March 1st, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a strategic nuclear development plan for Russian defense in his Presidential Address. The Russian nuclear defense arsenal now extends to include four new weapons, claimed to be beyond the current U.S. capabilities of its nuclear defense arsenal. As an initiator of Russian nuclear build-up, President Putin cited the early United States’ withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 as a main catalyst for continued Russian nuclear efforts.
The Baltic state of Latvia has been rocked by a series of scandals plaguing its financial sector, ranging from bribery charges against the country’s top banking official to accusations of money laundering, numbering in the tens of billions of dollars, by a leading Latvian private bank.
In January, Bulgaria ramped up its campaign to adopt the Euro as its currency. The country is determined to submit a formal application to join the Eurozone in June. Since joining the European Union in 2007, Bulgaria is ready for this step-toward greater economic and fiscal convergence.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban voiced nationalist sentiments during his annual State of the Nation Address on Sunday, February 18th in Budapest.
On Friday, February 16th, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued an indictment directly accusing multiple Russians of subversive activity in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. The indictment targets 13 notable Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities suspected of being leaders in an effort to infiltrate U.S. news outlets and social media accounts through online interactions during the election period.
Poland has formally enacted legislation criminalizing public statements suggesting that “the Polish nation was complicit in crimes committed by Nazi Germany” during the Second World War. Poland’s President, Andrzej Duda, signed the bill into law on Feb. 6, 2018, after it passed through both chambers of the Polish parliament.
A Russian plane crash on Sunday, February 11th, resulted in the deaths of 65 passengers and 6 in-flight crew members, who varied in age from 5 to 79 years old. A preliminary report ruled out a terrorist attack and concluded that the passengers perished immediately in an explosion from the collision.
The Balkan state of Macedonia has expressed its readiness to change its name and end a decades-long diplomatic dispute with its southern neighbor Greece.
With the recent reelection of the Czech Republic’s president Miloš Zeman, the rise of anti-immigrant and pro-Russian sentiments have taken a stronger foothold within Central and Eastern Europe. Winning by a margin of just over 51% of the popular vote, Zeman defeated his liberal and novice opponent, Jiří Drahoš, signaling the increasing political viability of populist movements across Europe.
The Russian Ministry of Defense recommended that the United States either cease to conduct airspace operations near Russian borders or agree to a new set of norms and regulations to govern the conduction of operations. Citing American concern as “depression” and “phobias,” the Kremlin called for a new round of negotiations.
Andrei Belousov, economic advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s, released a statement to Russian reporters that the Putin administration was considering budget reforms.
"György Soros launched an open attack against Hungary. Soros has an established network of agents and unparalleled financial resources at his disposal, " wrote Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the beginning of January, in a letter to seek political donations.
Malta’s Individual Investor Program (IIP), a citizenship program aimed at attracting high-profile members of the business community, is receiving notable attention from the Russian elite.
In recent months, opposition leaders have argued that a coordinated, common opposition could potentially replace Fidesz, the ruling political party in Hungary’s parliamentary government since 2010.
The European Commission will sue Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for refusing to meet legal obligations of accepting their portion of asylum seekers. However, defendants claim that such a ruling interferes with their countries’ sovereignty.
The lack of concrete policy progress over joint areas of cooperation may be attributed to Tillerson’s hard-line stance on sanctions: the removal of Russian troops in Ukraine.
Serbia was the original actor to begin construction of a controversial railway line connecting Belgrade and Budapest. As part of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, China is now funding the project to build a high-speed –200km/h – railway between the two European capitals.
Preliminary talks have been initiated between Russian and Egypt with the purpose of granting Russian airpower the permission to use Egyptian airbases. A draft prepared by the Russian defense ministry was submitted and approved by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
On Monday, November 27, Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, and Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, opened their sixth China-Central and Eastern Europe summit in Budapest.
Russia’s major state-run oil company, Rosneft, has agreed to a new oil supply deal with its Chinese partner CEFC China Energy. On Monday, November 20, Rosneft announced a new deal that will supply CEFC with 61m tonnes of oil between 2018 and 2022. The agreement will strengthen Russia’s ties with its eastern neighbor, contrary to its deteriorating relations with the west.
Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs accused the United States government of interfering in his country’s domestic affairs and upcoming election by planning to fund “objective media in Hungary.”
On November 11th, the United States and Russia released a joint communication detailing their progress in developing bilateral cooperation in Syria. The document was released following Trump and Putin’s meeting in Vietnam; it established that there existed a mutual desire to work together in facilitating a UN-led resolution to conflict in Syria. It also outlined a mutual goal of removing any foreign forces, such as Iranian militias, operating militarily within Syrian borders.
Fractures are becoming increasingly visible within the Ukrainian parliament as an amendment to Ukraine’s Donbas reintegration bill. It ensures the sovereignty of Ukraine over temporarily occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
On Friday November 3, Canada’s government imposed sanctions on 30 Russian officials, under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act. The government accused these men of collusion in the death of anti-corruption lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky.
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