G E O P O L I T I K O N

Spectacolul ideilor pe hartă

18/iun/2010 Moştenirea lui Stalin: din nou despre situaţia din Kîrghîstan – o analiză marca „The Economist”

Kyrgyzstan

Stalin’s harvest

The latest outbreak of violence in the ethnic boiling-pot of Central Asia will take generations to heal

Jun 17th 2010 | The Economist

 

A PLAINTIVE siren wails as a government unit, invisible in the darkness, patrols Citește în continuare

18 iunie 2010 Posted by | Geopolitica, Intelo | , , | Lasă un comentariu

26/mai/2010 Rusia şi NATO: să ne aşteptăm la o schimbare de paradigmă? (aici, răspunsul revistei „The Economist”)

Russia, NATO and Europe

Marching through Red Square

A pragmatic new foreign policy may be a plus, but it does not mean that Russia is ready to make any changes at home

May 20th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

ON MAY 9th soldiers from NATO countries, including America, Britain and Poland, marched across Red Square in Russia’s Victory Day parade. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, the anthem of the European Union, was played along with the Soviet-era national anthem. Military parades are symbolic and the Kremlin has long put Russia’s wartime victory at the centre of its post-Soviet identity. But this parade was meant to project the image of a self-confident, powerful country seeking better relations with the West. (foto: The Economist – Getty Images)

A year ago it symbolised Russia’s victory over Georgia and its American backers. These days Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO Citește în continuare

26 mai 2010 Posted by | Geopolitica, Intelo | , , | Lasă un comentariu

01/mai/2010 „The Economist” despre criza euro şi despre alegerile din Marea Britanie

Acropolis Now

30 aprilie a.c.  | The Economist Londra | prin presseurop.eu

The Economist, 30 aprilie 2010  Criza grecească și cea din zona euro încep să scape de sub control, fenomen ilustrat pe prima pagină a ziarului The Economist cu o imagine inspirată din filmul lui Francis Ford Coppola – „Apocalypse Now” – despre războiul din Vietnam. „Poate părea perplex faptul că o economie mică, aflată la periferie, poate deveni dintr-o dată Citește în continuare

1 mai 2010 Posted by | Geopolitica, Intelo | , , | Lasă un comentariu

10/apr/2010 „The Economist” despre (printre altele) relaţia dintre România şi Republica Moldova

You say Lwów, I say Lviv

A guide to Eastern Europe’s most tedious arguments

Apr 1st 2010 | From The Economist online

LAST week’s column dealt with the arcane name squabble between Macedonia (aka FYROM) and Greece. This piece was soon the most-commented on the Economist’s website. That was no thanks to the brilliance of the prose and the lucidity of argument. The subject was one of those issues that attracts bigots, scaremongers and polemicists, with a vanishingly tangential relationship to truth, logic and courtesy.

The article described the row as “the most tedious dispute in the Balkans”. The ex-communist region sets a high standard in such Citește în continuare

10 aprilie 2010 Posted by | Geopolitica, Intelo | , , | Lasă un comentariu

02/apr/2010 O tragedie rusească: „The Economist” despre atentatul de la Moscova

After the Moscow bombings. Another Russian tragedy

Two horrifying terrorist metro bombings in Moscow, but still there is a need for a new approach to the north Caucasus

Mar 31st 2010 | MOSCOW | From The Economist print edition

BY EARLY evening on March 29th Moscow’s metro was functioning normally. It was emptier than usual and some people crossed themselves as they boarded. Blood stains, pieces of shattered glass and flowers marked the sites where 12 hours earlier two bombs had killed at least 39 people. The first explosion struck just before 8am at Lubyanka station, near the headquarters of Russia’s security service, the FSB. Within 40 minutes a second bomb went off at Park Kultury. Both bombs, say the authorities, were detonated by young female suicide bombers. They put the blame on the north Caucasus, a mostly Muslim region. Some Russian reports say the Moscow police may have had a warning. Yet terrorists can slip through any net, especially given the woeful state of the Russian police.

The security services soon identified the two suicide bombers and their minders on security cameras as they boarded their trains. The response of the emergency services was fast and efficient, evacuating people, providing access to ambulances and setting up a special headquarters. Indeed, in large measure the city coped well with the attacks.

That may be because Moscow’s metro has had several terrorist attacks in the past two decades. The deadliest was in 2004, when 41 people died. That black year saw two bombs on the Moscow metro, two lost aircraft and, worst of all, the siege of a packed school in Beslan, North Ossetia.

Since then Moscow has had no terrorist attacks and has lived in relative comfort, insulated from the simmering violence of the north Caucasus. The war in Chechnya was over and the republic appeared relatively calm under its strongman president, Ramzan Kadyrov. This former rebel had secured elements of autonomy, and massive subsidies, for Chechnya from Moscow.

However, in recent years, violence has spread from Chechnya throughout the region. (Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Russian security service, was careful to identify the sources of the Moscow bombing as the north Caucasus, not Chechnya.) Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, has described the situation in the north Caucasus as Russia’s biggest domestic political problem. Two days after the Moscow attacks, a pair of bombs exploded in Dagestan, which neighbours Chechnya, killing many and injuring scores.

Arbitrary killings, disappearances, torture, inter-clan warfare and corruption have become normal in the region. As Russia’s own officials have admitted, some of the money and weapons come from corrupt bureaucrats who pay off terrorists. The corruption and brutality of those who identify themselves as representatives of the state have also helped the terrorists to recruit radicalised youths.

Last month Doku Umarov, a terrorist leader and the self-proclaimed emir of the north Caucasus, warned that war was coming to Russia’s cities. Several high-ranking leaders of militant organisations led by him have been killed in counter-terrorist operations in recent weeks. Some observers see the Moscow bombings as an act of revenge. Others say they would have been in preparation for months.

Few Russians outside the north Caucasus pay attention to the violence in the region. Although it is part of the Russian Federation, few Muslims from the region feel comfortable and welcome outside their home. Yet as the Moscow metro bombings show, the north Caucasus is part of Russia—and changing the situation there requires reforms in the whole country.

Even after the Moscow attacks, there is little public discussion about the roots of the violence in the north Caucasus. Instead, politicians and commentators have talked up the explosions to their own political advantage. Apologists for the Kremlin blame the civilian deaths on liberals who destabilise the country with their criticism of the authorities. The government has used previous terrorist attacks to justify scrapping independent television broadcasts and cancelling regional elections. This makes the apologists’ pseudo-patriotic slogans of unity with the Kremlin all the more alarming. Yet the Kremlin’s opponents, just as worryingly, all but accuse it of orchestrating the attacks as an excuse to grab more power.

Few Russian public figures rose above immediate political concerns. An exception was Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a veteran human-rights defender, who was one of only a few to agonise over whether to join an anti-government protest on March 31st. In the end, as she wrote in her blog, she decided to pay her respects to the dead instead. Depressingly few politicians or other public figures in Russia even recognised her dilemma.

2 aprilie 2010 Posted by | Geopolitica, Intelo | , , | Lasă un comentariu

21/febr/2010 Revista „The Economist” despre scutul antirachetă din Europa (cu o uşoară ironie la adresa României!)

Missile defence in Europe. The next salvo

America’s reconfigured anti-missile shield still irks Russia

Feb 18th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

READ the small print. That would have been good advice for foes and allies alike when America announced in September last year that it would abandon its plans for anti-missile defences in Poland and the Czech Republic, in favour of a new system initially based on ships.

Some saw that as a sell-out. Russia was being appeased as part of President Barack Obama’s “reset” of relations with the Kremlin, and the ex-communist countries were being punished for supporting the Bush administration. Five months later, that reading of events looks mistaken.

The new system, the Obama administration officials said at the time, will be more flexible and will have a land component from 2015. Poland will eventually host one base. And earlier this month Romania—after the briefest of talks—announced that it would be the site for interceptors. American officials are trying to find a consolation prize for Bulgaria, the runner-up, which says it would like a base too.

This has annoyed Russia. Its foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said the Kremlin had complained to America about the Romanian “surprise” followed by a Bulgarian one. In fact, America itself seems to have been caught unprepared by the enthusiasm of its allies. It had expected protracted negotiations, of the kind it had pursued with Poland. This would have provided a chance to soothe Russian feelings at a time when America is seeking its help to impose sanctions against Iran.

Echoing earlier Russian threats (now rescinded) to deploy nuclear missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave, a Russian-backed separatist enclave in Moldova has offered to host Russian Iskander short-range rockets in response to the planned base in Romania. That may have more to do with wrong-footing the new pro-western, pro-Romanian government in Moldova than pleasing Russia, which declined the offer.

If American technology develops as expected, by 2018 the new shield would cover almost all of NATO’s European members against an Iranian attack—only a small part of Turkey would be exposed. That is a big change from the previous scheme, which was intended mainly to protect America from an intercontinental threat, leaving chunks of Europe unprotected. The new system poses even less of a threat to Russia’s nuclear arsenal (the Americans say neither ever did). The SM-3 interceptors now planned have a shorter range and fly less quickly than the rockets proposed by the Bush administration. Moreover, much of the system—the tracking radars and the Romania-based interceptors—will be deployed further south, unable to interfere with Russian missiles heading for America over the Arctic.

The main basis for the Kremlin’s complaint is political. Though Russia grudgingly accepted that ex-communist countries could join NATO, it sees the creation of American bases there as a breach of a promise made when the Soviet Union consented to German reunification. (American officials insist no such promise was ever given.)

Regardless, America is making other security arrangements. It is placing Patriot anti-aircraft missiles in Poland. More significantly, it has pushed NATO into agreeing to draw up military contingency plans to defend the Baltic states. It will hold drills there later this year. Russia’s growling may have brought results—but probably not the ones that Moscow wanted.

21 februarie 2010 Posted by | Geopolitica, Intelo | , , , , | Lasă un comentariu

12/febr/2010 „The Economist”: aliaţi din NATO îngrijoraţi de decizia Franţei de a vinde nave Mistral Rusiei

French arms sales to Russia. The cruel sea

NATO allies worry about France’s decision to sell big warships to Russia

Feb 11th 2010 | PARIS AND TALLINN | From The Economist print edition

CHAMPAGNE and other French products may soon face declining sales in Tallinn, Tbilisi and places in between. The possible sale by France to Russia of up to four Mistral-class assault ships, at up to $750m each, is stoking fear and mistrust. The deal, agreed on “in principle” by France, could be formalised during a visit to Paris next month by Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev. The ships would enter service in 2015.

The deal highlights Russia’s increasing military ambitions and the decay of its own arms industry. Once one of the world’s top naval powers, Russia is now struggling to complete even the repair of an aircraft-carrier destined for India, let alone to build new ships from scratch. The Mistral is a mighty, 199-metre-long vessel that carries tanks and helicopters, and can conduct and manage amphibious landings. Kaarel Kaas, of the International Centre for Defence Studies, a think-tank in Tallinn, says that such ships would “transform the power balance” on Russia’s borders. (foto EPA)

One region affected is the Baltic, where Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, NATO’s most vulnerable members, are still waiting to see concrete plans for the alliance to defend them in a crisis. The other is the Black Sea. The Mistrals could matter in any conflict over Crimea in Ukraine, where Russia is due to give up a naval base in 2017. Russia’s naval chief, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, says that with such ships Russia would have won the 2008 war against Georgia “in 40 minutes instead of 26 hours”.

But if Russia wants to attack Georgia again, it can do so without Mistrals. And to make the new ships usable, Russia will need to buy or build flotillas of escort vessels, as well as advanced (and expensive) weapons and electronic systems. Even then, the Russian navy would be no match for NATO’s navies. Those who remember the backstage help that France gave Britain in trying to counter the French-made Exocet missiles used by Argentina during the Falklands war in 1982 may wonder how effective the Mistrals would be in any war that France disapproved of.

The sale was first mooted in November when Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, visited France. Georgia has complained publicly, as have some Baltic officials. Robert Gates, the American defence secretary, had a “good and thorough exchange of views” (ie, a disagreement) this week with his French counterpart, Hervé Morin, but this may be just a blip in the improving relations between France and America. The Pentagon is planning manoeuvres in the Baltic later this year. It may now beef them up.

Some critics worry more about the political balance than the military one. Some compare the Mistral deal to Nord Stream, a controversial planned Russian-German gas pipeline. Running along the bed of the Baltic Sea, it would circumvent troublesome transit countries in eastern Europe. But its real importance is that it provides Russia with a tool to peddle influence in European countries.

The Saint-Nazaire shipyard, which builds the Mistral class, is in trouble. It has won only one order, from the French navy, in the past three years; 350 workers there are being asked to quit. The French state recently bought a third of the shipyard company to save jobs and know-how.

Haggling over the Mistral orders (one will be built in France, the others probably in Russia) could thus give the Kremlin bargaining clout in the coming years. An early sign of that, cynics say, is a decision to boot a Georgian-run Russian-language television channel off France’s Eutelsat satellite. France pooh-poohs the ex-communist countries’ protests as paranoia. Russia cannot be treated both as a NATO ally and as an enemy, France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy said this week. Yet that is how Russia seems to see things. Its new military doctrine paints NATO, and particularly its enlargement, as the biggest threat to Russia. The ex-communist states know that protesting against a done deal will only make them look weak and paranoid. Still, they don’t like it.

12 februarie 2010 Posted by | Geopolitica, Intelo | , , , , | Lasă un comentariu

17/ian/2010 „The Economist” (M. Britanie) despre alegerile din Ucraina

Ukraine’s presidential election

Oranges and lemons

Jan 14th 2010 | KIEV

From The Economist print edition

 A run-off is likely between Viktor Yanukovich and Yulia Tymoshenko

FANCY buying a vote in Ukraine’s presidential election on January 17th? Go to a new website called “sell your vote” ( http://www.prodaygolos.com.ua). “I will sell two or three votes,” reads one post. “I’ve sold mine for 500 hryvna,” reads another. When last checked, the website advertised some 4,500 votes for sale across Ukraine, at an average price of 913 hryvna ($114). This number could hardly swing the election result, but is enough to reflect the public’s alienation and disillusionment with their politicians.

Five years after the “orange revolution”, which brought thousands of protesters on to the snowy streets of Kiev, many would rather vote against all the candidates—or just not turn up at all. Kiev is once again covered in snow, but the only noise in this election is that of pensioners banging pots and pans in front of government buildings to demand better living standards. The gloomy mood even inspired one small-town opportunist in western Ukraine to change his name to Protyvsikh (Against-all). He is now one of 18 registered presidential candidates. (text integral format word doc. – Economist – Ucraina ian 10 )

17 ianuarie 2010 Posted by | Geopolitica, Intelo, Istorie | , , , , , , , | Lasă un comentariu

10/ian/2010 „The Economist”: România şi Bulgaria – sinonime, la Bruxelles, pentru corupţie, respectiv crimă organizată

… revista The Economist despre Europa de Est la începutul anului 2010 şi despre dificultatea de a poziţiona pe hartă acest concept geografico-politico-istoric. Din nou, o perspectivă nu foarte măgulitoare pentru România şi Bulgaria. Dar ce este nou aici?! – EURAST

Vezi şi:  “Le Figaro” despre România din 2009: dezamăgită şi dezamăgitoare  ///  “Le Figaro” despre Bulgaria: stat european sau cal troian al Rusiei în UE?  ///  Revista “The Economist” despre alegerile prezidenţiale din România

 

“Eastern Europe”. Wrongly labelled

Jan 7th 2010
From The Economist print edition

The economic downturn has made it harder to speak sensibly of a region called “eastern Europe”

Illustration by Peter Schrank
IT WAS never a very coherent idea and it is becoming a damaging one. “Eastern Europe” is a geographical oddity that includes the Czech Republic (in the middle of the continent) but not Greece or Cyprus (supposedly “western” Europe but in the far south-east). It makes little sense historically either: it includes countries (like Ukraine) that were under the heel of the Soviet empire for decades and those (Albania, say) that only brushed it. Some of those countries had harsh planned economies; others had their own version of “goulash communism” (Hungary) or “self-managed socialism” (Yugoslavia).

Already unreliable in 1989, the label has stretched to meaninglessness as those countries’ fortunes have diverged since the collapse of communism. The nearly 30 states that once, either under their own names or as part of somewhere else, bore the label “communist” now have more differences than similarities. Yet calling them “eastern Europe” suggests not only a common fate under totalitarian rule, but a host of ills that go with it: a troubled history then; bad government and economic misery now.

 The economic downturn has shown how misleading this is. Worries about “contagion” from the banking crisis in Latvia raised risk premiums in otherwise solid economies such as Poland and the Czech Republic—a nonsense based on outsiders’ perceptions of other outsiders’ fears. In fact, the continent’s biggest financial upheaval is in Iceland (see article, article), and the biggest forecast budget deficits in the European Union next year will not be in some basket-cases from the ex-communist “east” but in Britain and in Greece. The new government in Athens is grappling with a budget deficit of at least 12.7% of GDP and possibly as much as 14.5%. European Commission officials are discussing that in Greece this week.

None of the ten “eastern” countries that joined the EU is in so bad a mess. They include hotshots and slowcoaches, places that feel thoroughly modern and those where the air still bears a rancid tang from past misrule. Slovenia and the Czech Republic, for example, have overhauled living standards in Portugal, the poorest country in the “western” camp. Neither was badly hit by the economic downturn. Some of the ex-communist countries now have better credit ratings than old EU members and can borrow more cheaply. Together with Slovakia, Slovenia has joined the euro, which Sweden, Denmark and Britain have not. Estonia—at least in outsiders’ eyes—is one of the least corrupt countries in Europe, easily beating founder members of the EU such as Italy.

Three sub-categories do make sense. One is the five autocratic ’stans of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). They scarcely count as “Europe”, though a hefty Britain-sized tenth of Kazakhstani territory (some 200,000 square kilometres) lies unambiguously in Europe. Kazakhstan also this year chairs the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a Vienna-based post-cold-war talking shop. But none of the ’stans has become a member of the Council of Europe (another talking shop and human-rights guardian, based in Strasbourg). That shows the problem. The definition of “Europe” is as unreliable as the word “eastern”.

The ’stans vary (Tajikistan is poor, Kazakhstan go-getting). But all have slim prospects of joining the EU in the lifetime of anyone reading this article. That creates a second useful category: potential members of the union. It starts with sure-fire bets such as Croatia, and other small digestible countries in the western Balkans such as Macedonia. It includes big problematic cases such as Turkey and Ukraine and even—in another optimistic couple of decades—four other ex-Soviet republics, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan (the last, maybe, one day, on Turkey’s coat-tails).

The third and trickiest category is the ten countries that joined in the big enlargement of 2004 and in the later expansion of 2007. They are a mixed bunch, ranging from model EU citizens such as Estonia (recently smitten by a property bust, but all set to gain permission this year to join the euro) to Romania and Bulgaria, which have become bywords in Brussels for corruption and organised crime respectively. Eight of them (Romania and Bulgaria are the exceptions) have already joined Europe’s Schengen passportless travel zone. Most (Poland is a big, rankling exception) also have visa-free travel to America. All (unlike EU members Austria, Cyprus, Ireland and Malta) are in NATO.

Some worries remain constant, mild in the countries in or near the EU, more troubling in those in the waiting room and beyond. Exclusion and missed opportunity from the communist years still causes anger, as does near-exclusion from top jobs in international organisations (another consequence of the damaging “eastern Europe” label, some say). Toxic waste from that era, such as over-mighty spooks and miles of secret-police files, create openings for blackmail and other mischief-making, especially where institutions are weak. Lithuania’s powerful security service, the VSD, is in the centre of a political storm, but worries about lawlessness and foreign penetration ripple from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Four countries—Poland and the three Baltic states—worry a lot about Russian revisionism (or revanchism). Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are concerned too, but more about energy and economic security than military sabre-rattling. Yet elsewhere, in the former Yugoslavia for example, such fears seem mystifying and even paranoid.

The new and future members also share capital-thirstiness. All need lots of outside money (from the EU’s coffers, from the capital markets and from foreign bank-lending) to modernise their economies to the standards of the rest of the continent.

But the usefulness of the “new member state” category is clearly declining as the years go by. Oxford University still has a “New College” which was a good label in 1379 to distinguish it from existing bits of the university. It seems a bit quaint now. Poles, Czechs, Estonians and others hope that they will drop the “new” label rather sooner, so that they can be judged on their merits rather than on their past.

10 ianuarie 2010 Posted by | Geopolitica, Intelo | , , , , | Un comentariu

15/dec/2009 Revista „The Economist” despre alegerile prezidenţiale din România

(Cum se ştie, revista „The Economist” nu scrie foarte des despre România – şi, la drept vorbind, nici nu cred că ar avea motive s-o facă, din păcate. Cum era şi normal, alagerile prezidenţiale, recent încheiate, nu puteau trece neobservate. Iată analiza din ultimul număr al revistei (datat 10 decembrie a.c.) şi, mai ales, nu pierdeţi nuanţele din analiza politicii externe a României ultimilor ani – Ad. C.)

Romania’s presidential election

Against all odds

Dec 10th 2009, from The Economist print edition

Traian Basescu wins a tight but mucky race. Now he must keep his promises

IT SEEMED like a safe bet. Mircea Geoana, the centre-left challenger in Romania’s presidential election, had the money, media and political backing that he needed to win. Sleek and Western-educated, he portrayed himself as the safe consensus candidate against Traian Basescu, the lively but exasperating former sea-captain (and once mayor of Bucharest) who has been the country’s president since 2004.

For a few hours on December 6th it even appeared to have paid off. Exit polls gave Mr Geoana a narrow victory. He did win inside the country by 14,738 votes. But Romanians abroad cast 146,876 votes and Mr Basescu took 78% of them. The campaign was exceptionally dirty: observers think that both sides cheated. Mr Basescu’s victory against largely hostile news coverage was impressive. Mr Geoana wants a rerun, but his support is dwindling. His Liberal allies now hope to form a government with Mr Basescu’s centre-right Democrats.

Mr Basescu’s record is mixed. Elected on an anti-corruption ticket, he has kept up pressure on the country’s endemic sleaze, but selectively. Supporters who once saw him as the apostle of clean government now regard him merely as the lesser of two evils. Critics make fun of his private life, colourful even by local standards. An impulsive and abrasive manner too often curbs his effectiveness.

On foreign policy, he has been a stalwart Atlanticist and strong critic of Russian mischief-making. But his interventions in neighbouring Moldova, an ex-Soviet republic that some see as a lost Romanian province, have been counterproductive. Mr Basescu backed the issuing of Romanian passports to Moldovans (just the sort of thing Russia does in its former empire). That brought him some 90 % of the votes cast there (a handy 8,000). But his near-irredentist stance dismays those who want to stabilise Moldova, not undermine it. Europe’s poorest country, Moldova faces another year of political limbo after its parliament yet again failed this week to elect a new president.

(text integral la http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15066014 )

15 decembrie 2009 Posted by | Intelo | , , , , , | Lasă un comentariu