The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to strengthen the security of supply within the EU. When lockdowns were introduced in early 2020, many European countries discovered they had insufficient stockpiles of critical materials and medical equipment. The EU’s reliance on external suppliers and well-oiled supply networks was a liability when countries were all scrambling to secure the exact same goods. Although the situation has improved and the EU has taken steps to address these issues (e.g. creating rescEU medical stockpiles), improving the security of supply and hence internal resilience will continue to be a priority in 2021.
This event brings together experts to explore questions such as: What competencies do the treaties give the EU in the area of security of supply? Could member states such as Finland and Sweden, who have well-developed security of supply frameworks in place offer certain best practices to the EU? Does the EU need a security of supply strategy or a dedicated agency to advance the security of supply within the Union? How will the EU’s forthcoming Strategic Compass address security of supply?Niklas Nováky COVID-19 European Union Security
Strengthening the EU’s Security of Supply: The Way Forward in 2021
Live-streams - Multimedia
03 Feb 2021
The EU has embarked on a process to develop a ‘Strategic Compass’ for its security and defence policy. This two-year process began in June 2020 and will conclude under the French EU Council Presidency in spring 2022. A German initiative, it is meant to narrow the gap between ambition and reality when it comes to the Union’s external action; facilitate the development of a shared strategic culture; and clarify the overall image of EU defence cooperation that Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the European Defence Fund (EDF), the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and other post-2016 initiatives have created. Broadly speaking, the Strategic Compass seeks to boost the EU’s ability to navigate through international challenges. It is driven by the member states and the European External Action Service (EEAS), with the involvement of the Commission and the European Defence Agency (EDA). To be successful, the Strategic Compass process has to be as concrete as possible in outlining how the EU should handle even its most difficult challenges. A compass is only useful if it can tell the navigator where north is. Likewise, for the Strategic Compass to be successful, the EU needs to set a clearly defined strategic north.Defence EU Institutions Security
The Strategic Compass: Charting a New Course for the EU’s Security and Defence Policy
19 Dec 2020
The EU is about to embark on two processes that seek to boost the Union’s ability to manage and solve some of the biggest challenges it is currently facing. These are the forthcoming Conference on the Future of Europe and the development of the new Strategic Compass. The Conference will tackle major societal challenges such as climate change and the economy and it will also involve civil society actors.
The Strategic Compass, on the other hand, will focus more narrowly on security and defence issues to highlight common threats and challenges and to facilitate the emergence of a shared European strategic culture. However, the Conference will also tackle security-related topics such as the EU’s technological sovereignty and security of supply. This event will discuss what both the Conference and the development of the Strategic Compass mean for the future of the EU’s security and defence policy.Jamie Shea Niklas Nováky Defence Security
The Future of Europe & the Strategic Compass: Implications for the EU’s Security and Defence Policy
Live-streams - Multimedia
03 Dec 2020
A series of four terrorist attacks hit France and Austria between 25 September and 2 November 2020. All were perpetrated by young jihadists. At least eight people were killed, excluding the terrorists, and more were injured, some seriously.
On 25 September in Paris, Zaheer Hassan Mahmoud, a 25-year-old Pakistani immigrant, stabbed two people outside the former offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine. On 16 October 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris, a Russian refugee of Chechen origins, Abdoullakh Abouyezidevich Anzonov, beheaded a schoolteacher. On 29 October, Brahim Aouissaoui, a Tunisian citizen, killed three people with a knife at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice. And on 2 November, a dual Austrian-North Macedonian national, Kujtim Fejzula, went on a shooting spree, killing four people at Schwedenplatz in the centre of Vienna and wounding many others.
All these attacks continue to be investigated. So far, there is nothing to suggest that they have been coordinated from one place. The three attacks in France were each perpetrated by knife-wielding young men who took ‘revenge’ on those who they claimed offended Islam or simply, as in Nice, those present in a Christian church.
The Vienna shooting stands out in that it was probably planned by a larger terrorist group and has had cross-border dimensions. Additional attacks have been foiled in Belgium and Greece.
At least one counter-attack occurred in France. On 29 October, the French police shot and killed a knife-wielding far-right extremist who threatened a North African merchant in the city of Avignon.
What lessons can Europe take from this wave of Islamist terror?
Cooperation between intelligence agencies
Communication between national intelligence agencies in Europe, Africa, and Asia needs to improve. The Vienna attack shows that, as on several occasions in the past, national agencies failed to act on one another’s information. Back in 2015, the terror attacks on 13 November in Paris could have been prevented had French intelligence acted on warnings from Turkey and Iraq.
Returning to the Vienna shooting, during the summer, a known Islamist radical, Kujtim Fejzula, tried purchasing ammunition in Slovakia. He was unsuccessful because he did not have a firearms license. Slovakia’s intelligence service shared the information with their Austrian colleagues. However, something went wrong in the subsequent communication. Fejzula was not being followed at the time of the attack.
The EU’s national security services in cooperation with the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre and Europol are currently working to prevent another terrorist attack. This joint effort needs to become permanent and institutionalised.
The knife attack in Nice points to gaps in the EU’s asylum and border policies. The attacker was a Tunisian citizen who recently crossed to Italy by boat, possibly with the assistance of smugglers. Italian authorities conducted a security check on him but classified him as not dangerous. Despite issuing him with a deportation order, they did not detain him, and he was free to travel to France, where he killed three people.
Security checks are of little use in cases where the individual in question has no criminal record. Therefore, automatic detention for irregular arrivals, except for unaccompanied children, should be considered during negotiations on the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The non-frontline EU members would need to support the EU’s southern countries in creating the requisite detention capacity. Without such assistance, the frontline states have few incentives to be vigilant on security when processing irregular arrivals.
As ever, preventing irregular departures towards Europe is the preferred option, rather than detaining people on European soil.
European politicians will have to pay more attention to the ideology of Islamism, some of whose branches form the basis of jihadi terrorism. Verbal condemnations are necessary, but action is what truly counts.
All four attacks were perpetrated by young men aged 18 to 25. This is a group particularly vulnerable to being radicalised. Due to their young age, the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and Nice attackers must have been radicalised relatively quickly and recently, the former in France and the latter in Tunisia. Addressing radicalisation among this demographic group remains one of the toughest challenges.
Only the terrorist from Vienna had a clear record of jihadist fundamentalism, including an attempted trip to Syria to join ISIS. He was also the only one to possess EU citizenship. The remaining ones had either immigrant or refugee status. Europe needs to find the right balance between respect for the Refugee Convention on the one hand, and preventing terrorism perpetrated by a tiny section of migrants on the other.
Schools should be one focus of attention, as highlighted by a Martens Centre paper, Lifting the Integration Veil: Outcasts from Islam in Western Europe by Tommaso Virgili. Teachers in our elementary and secondary schools need to receive support when faced with intolerance by students and their parents. In reverse, the state authorities need to detect those cases where teachers themselves spread religious radicalism.
The teaching of Islam in Europe needs to be put in the hands of tutors who understand European societies, speak their languages, promote peaceful forms of Islam, and are committed to fundamental principles such as freedom of speech.
Although not the cause of jihadism, it is also important to enforce anti-discrimination rules to assure people of migrant backgrounds that they have a firm place in our societies. This includes measures in the labour market where positions in the public and private sectors need to be accessible to people irrespective of their religion and ethnic background.
Tackling radicalisation on the Internet and in some mosques is becoming a necessity.
As President Macron asserted, the laws of the French Republic cannot be questioned in the name of a hostile ideology. The religious neutrality of the state must be preserved. But as Austrian Chancellor Kurz put it, countering terrorism and upholding the law must be undertaken without dividing our societies between Christians and Muslims, or locals and immigrants. The challenge facing our politicians is massive: prevent terrorism without pitting groups of citizens against one another. Freedom of conscience and religion has to be preserved, be it for Christians, Muslims, or atheists.
I would like to thank Conor McArdle for his background research on the topic, Theo Larue for proofreading the text and Roland Freudenstein for comments.Vít Novotný Integration Islam Migration Security
What are the Lessons From the Terrorist Attacks in France and Austria?
17 Nov 2020
This article discusses hybrid threats and the steps that Europe, through various national, EU and NATO initiatives, has taken in recent years to address them. Although these threats do not constitute a new challenge for states and international actors, they became a major concern for European countries following Russia’s conventional and unconventional war in Ukraine in 2014. The article argues that addressing hybrid threats is a constant, never-ending process that requires the development of societal and governmental resilience. Hybrid threats are constantly changing and evolving, which means that our response to them also needs to be constantly evolving in order to keep up. The article also provides some recommendations for European policymakers on the next steps that Europe, especially the EU, should take when addressing hybrid threats.
Read the full article of the June 2020 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Eitvydas Bajarūnas Defence EU-Russia European Union Security
Addressing Hybrid Threats: Priorities for the EU in 2020 and Beyond
24 Jul 2020
On 22 June, Amnesty International, a non-governmental organisation, published a story on Moroccan journalist and human rights defender Omar Radi, whose smartphone was reportedly bugged. Amnesty’s investigation of the case found traces of so-called ‘network injection’—a cyberattack in which an outside actor inserts a program in the target’s device in order to gain access to its content, including email and browsing history.
Network injection attacks are usually carried out by tricking the target into opening malicious links, often sent via SMS and WhatsApp, which then infect the target’s device with malware. According to Amnesty, the spyware program used in the Radi case was Pegasus, developed by an Israeli firm to track COVID-19 cases in Israel.
In Israel, this technique is used with full transparency, and amidst a healthy debate on its benefits and drawbacks. However, it’s worth mentioning that the technique itself can, of course, also be used to track and monitor political opponents. This creates a clear and present danger of authoritarian overreach, as witnessed in China and Russia, for example.
Amnesty accused Moroccan authorities of the attack, a charge which Morocco denied, asking Amnesty for material evidence. As presented by Amnesty, the case itself is a human rights violation due to the use of spyware against a journalist doing his job, since the journalist’s smartphone was tapered with and infected with malware in order to track and survey him.
But the Omar Radi case also reveals a more significant issue, which deserves to be discussed. And yet, for obvious reasons, it is often hidden and avoided in public. Cybersecurity has become more and more relevant in the past 20 years. This is directly related to the growing combined threats of international terrorism, trafficking, and smuggling, which bedevil relations between Europe and its neighbours.
The technology at the core of the Radi case (i.e., spyware used to penetrate phones and other forms of electronic communication) is, by nature, multi-faceted. It can (and is) used by friends and foes alike: terrorists, traffickers, and the agencies trying to combat them. Over the years, this technology has progressed and become much more sophisticated, as well as much harder to trace.
Electronic surveillance is, of course, taking place inside the EU as well, mostly used by state actors. But since the technology has developed and become more user-friendly, it’s also accessible to non-state actors (such as criminal organisations and terrorists). Network injection itself is, in a sense, a ‘tip of the spear technology’ when it comes to tracking technologies. Also, in order to be effective, direct contact with a phone (or some other device) and the network used is necessary.
It’s hardly a surprise that authorities across the board are keen to embrace such ready-to-use technology that can help keep track of what they consider hostile or politically disruptive individuals and organisations. The line between what constitutes genuinely nefarious and dangerous cases, and what does not, should be easy to draw. However, it sometimes isn’t. Accessibility makes various types of spyware tempting to use, even when it’s not necessary. However, when their use by authorities crosses the line, they often create individual casualties in the process.
Simultaneously, the very nature of cyber technology such as spyware makes it ripe for clandestine applications, and therefore not necessarily open to a more public debate.
So, when a case like the Radi one appears, even if it takes place outside the EU, it should be seen as a chance for the Union. It is a chance to discuss and learn from the issue of how cybersecurity, and the technology used to enhance it, ought to be managed, protecting individuals and societies alike, as well as avoiding abuse and malicious overreach.
The issues at stake are critical for the EU as well, since we do have similar technology (oftentimes purchasing the same software), and the balancing act of individual integrity and societal security is linked across borders. There is to date no common EU policy towards these issues. That needs to change, and a way to start is to address the difficult problems tied to integrity and security on an EU-wide level.
Cybersecurity technology roams unsupervised. Here’s why that needs to change
20 Jul 2020
We should not be worried about the emergence of China as a superpower, wielding influence and power at a comparable level to the United States. China’s geography will not allow it. Instead, we should be worried about China as a globally influential superpower, less powerful than the US, but still dominating East Asia, building a global bloc of like-minded, authoritarian countries, rivalling the rules-based international order and undermining democratic standards around the world.
In recent years, China has visibly increased its economic and political power. In some circles, the idea is emerging that China may become a superpower and regional hegemon comparable to the US. These fears are being highlighted by the seemingly ruthlessly effective way China is dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and how, allegedly, our Western democracies are a comparative failure.
China is now the second-largest economy in the world, it has begun to dominate numerous high-tech industrial sectors, and it is rapidly developing its military. Globally, it is the most important trade partner for countless countries. Its coordinated diplomatic efforts, inter alia through sharp power, make China able to leverage its stance better and become an increasingly influential player in global affairs. However, geography puts clear external and internal limits on China’s power.
China is a landlocked country, surrounded by rivals. The Korean Peninsula is inhabited by two countries with a history of hostility towards China. Japan is an island nation, with a strong blue-water navy, able to block China’s access to the Pacific and maybe even to the Indian Ocean. Taiwan is effectively a mountain stronghold, with a capable military. Without controlling Taiwan, it is effectively impossible to control the South China Sea, a strategic area for China’s security through which most of its trade passes. Over the Himalayas, there is India, a distinct civilisation with its own ambitions and nuclear arsenal. With Russia, China is competing for the post-Soviet space, which is hardly helping relations, even if their rapport has become friendlier recently. China also has numerous internal issues. For instance, people in Hong Kong do not want to be a part of Mainland China, and there is separatism in Xinjiang. China is also poor in natural resources and barely able to feed itself without being reliant on imports.
The Chinese momentum and the challenges for the EU
Still, even with its constraints, China’s rise is a challenge for the EU. America’s shrinking global presence changes a lot in the global balance of power. The US Navy may soon cease ensuring the freedom of the seas, a global public good that is essential for international trade. Due to the American retrenchment, the multipolar, unstable global system, with emerging great power rivalries, may unfold soon. China will be a very strong pole of power, that will have to be taken into every equation, especially the European one.
China is assertively and persistently fighting for global influence and, despite impediments, behaving like it wants to replace the US as the most powerful state in the international system. It is developing both its ‘Made in China 2025’ project and the Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at distorting world trade, by flooding it with price-dumped products. China is slowly becoming dominant in certain high-tech, high-value technology industries, like 5G and face-recognition. China is also spending more on defence and rapidly developing its military capabilities.
This coalesces with its diplomatic efforts, consisting of actions aimed at building an alternative global order, based on an alliance of countries, like Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, uniting against liberal democracies. China aims to undermine the legitimacy of the international, liberal, rules-based order, in order to gain more power. This should be vigorously countered. The EU needs to become more active, then reactive, and begin taking strong action against this threat.
Developing a European narrative and response
First of all, the EU needs to build a narrative to tackle China and other autocracies, that are aiming to delegitimise the current global order. It needs to be able to point out the numerous failures of autocracies, which are covered up by shiny construction projects, and point out the fact that there does not exist any viable and fair alternative to the international, rules-based global order. It also must be able to better illustrate the benefits that the current order yields, and the risks any alternatives may bring.
The EU also needs to engage in an economic action plan. This means introducing legal measures that would prohibit buy-outs of our economy’s crown jewels and innovative companies, by China’s state-backed entities. It also means stopping the development of 5G infrastructure by Huawei in Europe, and investing in alternatives like Nokia and Ericsson, even if it is more costly in the short term. There is also a need for an expansion of funding to be able to support the development of states in need of cash, especially those in Africa, but also in Europe. Challenging Chinese influence also means paying more attention to Asia and what is happening there, as Asia is home to a major share of global economic growth. Trade deals with Japan, Singapore, and ratifying the one with Vietnam should be just the beginning of enhanced cooperation with the region.
Moreover, if the EU will not take its security and defence seriously, that would mean engaging in an ambitious process to boost the member states military capabilities, as the efforts mentioned before, even if they are all undertaken, will not suffice. No one will be impressed, and especially not China, by empty talks about multilateralism, rules-based order and fair trade, if it is not backed up by hard power and if the is EU unable to take care of its own security.
China, as a strategic competitor of the EU, should not be appeased. It should be engaged with confidence and wit, as the future wellbeing of all Europeans depends on it.Jan Czarnocki Economy European Union Foreign Policy Security
Watch out and act fast: shaping the EU’s strategic response to China
14 May 2020
The current COVID-19 pandemic will change the world, like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 9/11 terror attacks. For the foreseeable future, EU governments will be preoccupied with dealing with the pandemic’s immediate socio-economic consequences. However, other policy areas will be affected as well. With regard to the EU’s security and defence policy, COVID-19 is likely to extinguish the unprecedented dynamism that has characterised its development since 2016. Its most immediate impact is likely to be decreased funding for several new initiatives such as the European Defence Fund. The pandemic is also likely to reduce the EU’s readiness to address crises in its neighbourhood and may hasten the Union’s relative decline as a global power if its recovery is slow and wrought by prolonged disputes between the member states over the appropriate economic response to the crisis. Yet, the EU should not completely abandon its pre-COVID-19 security and defence agenda. Both during and after the pandemic, the Union will continue to face familiar challenges such as cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns and instability in its neighbourhood.COVID-19 Crisis Defence Security
The EU’s Security and Defence Policy: The Impact of the Coronavirus
20 Apr 2020
The leading Twitter hashtags on 3 January – the day Qasem Soleimani was killed by an American drone strike in broad daylight in front of Baghdad Airport – were #WorldWarIII and #FranzFerdinand – the latter not referring to the Scottish indie band, but to the murder of Austria’s heir presumptive that triggered World War I. Alas, 2020 is not 1914, Baghdad isn’t Sarajevo, and the one thing we can safely predict is that World War III is not about to break out. Which doesn’t mean everything is ok and we can safely go back to de-hibernation in rainy Brussels. And the disaster of the downed Ukrainian passenger plane demonstrates that there is no such thing as a conflict without tragic losses. But it means that Europe’s hyperventilation, even if shared by many US liberals in the solidly partisan biotope of Washington, should give way to a healthy dose of sobriety. I propose to take it in five steps.
1. The big Middle Eastern War is not imminent
If the price of crude oil, as a reaction to Soleimani’s killing – jumps up a mere 3 %, as it did last Friday, you know that Armageddon will have to wait, no matter what the Twittersphere says. That doesn’t mean the crisis is over. But the very measured missile strike without casualties against US bases in Iraq on 8 January, the tweets by Iranian leaders that they don’t want further escalation and also Trump’s non-escalatory statement after the missile strikes all speak for lowering tensions for the moment. In fact, while both sides of the conflict have no interest in letting this grow into a full-blown war, it’s the Iranian regime whose very existence is at stake in case the US and/or Israel take out the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) structure – of which they are very well capable. While full-blown war might jeopardise Trump’s re-election, in Iran it would put the whole system into question and likely end mullah rule.
2. Soleimani’s killing has re-established deterrence against Iran
Taking out the mastermind behind Iran’s export of terror in the Middle East and beyond, the engineer of the slaughter in Aleppo and elsewhere who is also responsible for the deaths of hundreds of US soldiers, may well go down in history as a textbook example of escalating to de-escalate. This, nota bene, after a couple of Iranian attacks that remained essentially unanswered by the US. The bombing of tankers in the Strait of Hormuz in spring 2019, the shooting down of a state-of-the-art US drone in June and the missile attacks against Saudi refineries in September come to mind. And remember, it was a good part of the American and European security community that began to worry that Trump is being too soft on Iran, especially after he called back planes and drones already in the air after the drone incident.
Apparently, this week the Iranian military before the strike called up the Iraqi authorities, who then warned the US soldiers so they could get into shelters. Iranian leaders are tweeting very clearly that they want to avoid further escalation. Iraqi Shia leaders have issued calls to their faithful not to attack US troops for the moment. All these are signs that, for the first time in almost a year of direct aggression against the US, Iran is indeed standing down. Soleimani’s killing caused this.
3. The killing has not weakened Iranian moderates
First of all, don’t be deceived by Iranian TV pictures of millions of mourners in the streets of Iranian cities. Soleimani may have been a popular figure with some Iranians; but being the second most powerful leader and his IRGC the decisive pillar of the regime, he was certainly reviled by all dissenters – whose numbers have been growing, if anything, recently. Naturally, the regime spent all the carrots and sticks at the disposal of an authoritarian system to make people attend the rallies. And secondly, Iran’s moderate reaction this Wednesday can very well be read as a sign that the radicals, especially in the IRGC itself, are not calling the shots anymore, contrary to recent years.
4. US forces are not being kicked out of Iraq
That may still happen, and it would be detrimental to Iraqi democracy and especially the fight against ISIS, but Iraq’s non-binding parliamentary resolution of last weekend will not lead to an immediate withdrawal of US troops. Anti-ISIS operations have been halted; some US allies are withdrawing troops from Iraq, but this may very well not be the last word. It’s definitely too early to predict the end of the US presence in Iraq.
5. It is Europe’s sacred mission to bring both sides back to reason – NOT!
Non-European observers may be forgiven for thinking that Europe’s habitual calls on both sides to exercise utmost restraint, and defer from further escalation, have all the quaintness – and the effectiveness – of a Pottawatomi rain dance. Which doesn’t mean that de-escalation doesn’t happen (see above) but it certainly isn’t the result of Europe’s well-meant efforts to ‘bring both sides back to reason’, as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas put it.
Fortunately, the heads of government of the UK, France and Germany were slightly more sober, putting the blame squarely on the Iranian side and Soleimani personally before repeating the standard memes of EU Iran policy. Europe’s problem with this crisis, as generally with the Middle East, is twofold: First, the EU and its members don’t have the wherewithal to take on any serious diplomatic role because, without the necessary military resources (not only troops but also transport, intelligence and command & control), they cannot alone become a security provider which is essential in the region. And second, some important European actors (Germany, for example) have a huge problem with the very idea of deterrence. Deterrence meaning the ability and the willingness to escalate, in a precise and limited and targeted manner in specific situations, as it happened last Friday. As long as this is so, we can call for utmost restraint or try to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) until we’re blue in the face.
Again: All this doesn’t mean that we’re heading for a peaceful future in the Middle East, or that the Soleimani killing was a brilliant, well-planned chess move by a stable genius in the White House. But it means that we Europeans have to rethink some time-honoured principles about security. Remaining pure vegetarians, we won’t survive in a jungle of carnivores.Roland Freudenstein Crisis EU Institutions Foreign Policy Middle East Security
After Soleimani: We Need to Talk About Deterrence in Europe
10 Jan 2020
The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy was launched in 1998 as a quest for ‘autonomy’. The EU sought the capacity to stabilise its volatile neighbourhood without undue reliance on the US. Almost two decades of efforts have failed to deliver on that objective. But as EU leaders, post-Brexit, re-launch the Common Security and Defence Policy, as the 2016 European Global Strategy rediscovers the virtues of ‘strategic autonomy’, and as the world juggles with a US president who appears to question the very bases of the Atlantic Alliance, it is time to radically re-think the relations between the EU and NATO.
This paper argues that, in the longer term, it is through strengthening the EU–NATO relationship, rather than by focusing on defence initiatives undertaken by the Union alone, that EU strategic autonomy will become possible. This will, at the same time, consolidate rather than weaken the transatlantic bond.Brexit Defence Foreign Policy Security Transatlantic
Strategic Autonomy: Why It’s Not About Europe Going it Alone
08 Aug 2019
European security and defence cooperation has seen more progress
in the past several years than it had in the previous 60 years.
But have we reached strategic autonomy yet?
The development of autonomous European security and defence cooperation has been characterised by unprecedented dynamism and vigour in recent years. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen once noted that the EU has made more progress in this area in the past several years than it had in the previous 60 years. He is correct.
Since 2016, the EU has, inter alia, set up a Coordinated Annual Review on Defence for harmonising its members’ defence planning and procurement cycles, established Permanent Structured Cooperation for voluntary (but legally binding) project-based capability development, and launched a European Defence Fund for funding joint defence research and capability development projects. Such progress would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.
The progress has not been limited within the framework of the EU, however. In 2018, France and its closest European partners launched the European Intervention Initiative (EI2) to enhance contacts between the participating countries’ armed forces and, in the long-term, to facilitate the emergence of a common strategic culture. In 2019, France also setup an Intelligence College in Europe to improve the connectivity and visibility of European intelligence cooperation. Although European in character, these structures are outside the EU.
The quest for strategic autonomy
The purpose of all these new initiatives is to facilitate Europe’s quest for ‘strategic autonomy’, its grand strategic ambition. Strategic autonomy as an idea was introduced to the general public by the EU’s 2016 Global Strategy. Although the document mentions strategic autonomy five times, it makes no effort to define the term. However, strategic autonomy can be understood as the ability to act on the world stage but especially in Europe’s neighbourhood without third-party (i.e. American) assistance.
This kind of autonomy depends on several things. It depends, first of all, on Europe having the capabilities that enable it to handle various crises and challenges. In the past, Europe’s effectiveness as an actor has often been undermined by shortages in specific capability areas.
In 2008, Russia contributed four helicopters to an EU-led operation in Chad because the Union could not get its own member to contribute a sufficient number of helicopters. During NATO’s 2011 operation in Libya, European countries quickly depleted their stocks of smart munitions and had to purchase stockpiled munitions from the US.
The good thing about capabilities is that they are material in character: they can be researched, developed and purchased for a price. However, strategic autonomy is not just about muscle; it is also about a specific mindset that enables an actor to use its capabilities when necessary. In the past, this has often proven challenging for Europe.
Due to its member states’ reluctance act in areas in which they have no immediate interests at stake, EU action has often fallen below of what was initially required (e.g. in Mali in 2013), been prohibitively slow (e.g. in the Central African Republic in 2014) or non-existent (e.g. in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2008).
Not just about institutions and capabilities
In fact, Europe’s ability to achieve strategic autonomy is likely to depend far less on Brussels-based institutions and the acquisition of capabilities than it will on Europe’s ability to overcome what could be labelled as the ‘aspirations-leadership gap’: a gulf between Europe’s desire to become a fully-fledged international actor and the level of leadership that especially big European countries are willing show in turning that desire into reality.
To illustrate this, think of NATO. Contemporary discussions on strategic autonomy often miss that NATO is an effective actor not because it would have its own army (it doesn’t), because it would use qualified majority voting for decision making (it doesn’t), or because it would have its own resources (it doesn’t). Instead, NATO is able to act because the US is the Alliance’s de facto leader. When push comes to shove, Washington has had—at least in the past—the authority to bang heads together and convince its allies over the necessity of action.
The EU has no such leader. France tries to play this role and has some claim to it by virtue of its defence spending and highly capable armed forces. However, most EU countries don’t share many of France’s strategic priorities in areas such as the Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa. Germany could play this role but is unwilling to do so due to its semi-pacifist strategic culture that has been shaped by its difficult twentieth-century history.
Finally, the UK, arguably Europe’s most capable country, is expected to leave the EU sometime in the not-too-distant future and is in no position to show leadership on any European issue for a long time.
A possible solution for closing the aspirations-leadership gap might be to utilise various core groups or directorates more actively. Indeed, this seems to be the direction where Europe is heading with initiatives such as PESCO and the EI2.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Paris, to which he also invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, is also a step in the right direction but should be expanded to make such meetings geographically more representative of Europe’s diversity. They could also help in paving the way for the creation of some kind of European Security Council, an idea that is being discussed.
These and other plans currently on the table such as the formation of a ‘European army’—most likely by expanding and revising the EU’s existing battlegroup concept—need to be discussed openly. When choosing the EU’s next foreign policy chief after the European elections, the member states should also prioritise the appointment of someone who enjoys a high level of confidence in all major European capitals to improve the general effectiveness of EU foreign policy.
Every little helps in closing the aspirations-leadership gab but the main effort needs to come from the member states themselves.Niklas Nováky EU Institutions EU Member States Leadership Security
Europe’s aspirations-leadership gap
20 May 2019
The Executive Board of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies today approved the nomination of Professor Jamie Shea as its newest Senior Research Associate. Jamie Shea was an international public servant and a member of the International Staff of NATO for 38 years. He is a regular writer, lecturer and conference speaker on NATO and European security affairs and on public diplomacy, political communication and many other areas of contemporary international relations.
“As the president of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, I would like to express how honoured and excited we are to have had three exceptional people with an impressive track record joining our ranks as senior research associates in recent months: Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos, former Minister of Education of the Republic of Greece; Jolyon Howorth, professor at Harvard University and a world-renowned expert on EU defence; and Jamie Shea, for many years NATO’s face and voice as spokesperson. The Martens Centre is a staunch believer in the need to develop an ambitious European Defence Union embedded in a strong transatlantic alliance. Konstantinos, Jolyon and Jamie will help us make a forceful and credible case for it,” said Mikuláš Dzurinda, president of the Martens Centre.
Martens Centre Senior Research Associates are politically like-minded academics who provide quick expert advice on developing stories and current affairs. Through their research and analyses they also contribute to an improved reflection process and the strategic debates of the Centre.
For more information, you can contact Anna van Oeveren, Communications and Marketing Officer: email@example.com or +32 2 300 80 06. Photo source: NATODefence Foreign Policy Security
Martens Centre welcomes Jamie Shea as Senior Research Associate
08 May 2019
As NATO marked its 70th anniversary last week, what better time to reflect on its achievements? Those who are critical of the alliance and what it has accomplished, need only be reminded of the reality in which we live: that there has been no armed conflict between major powers since its creation and zero armed conflict among its members.
Prior to its creation, the world was devastated by not one world war, but two, in the span of only 20 years. In fact, NATO is fulfilling its mandate at this very moment, shielding 512 million citizens living in the EU by maintaining a deterring presence in eastern Europe, staring down Russian armed forces amassed along the EU’s external borders, our borders.
Likewise, the same logic that the EU is fulfilling its own mandate should be applied to counter the argument of every Eurosceptic. By acting as a string, linking Europeans together, it too has succeeded in preventing any armed conflict within its borders since its inception. The world needs these great constructs, more than ever, as it and the balance of power becomes increasingly unstable and fraught with dangers.
Among them, as already mentioned, a resurging Russia is escalating tensions at almost every opportunity, by means both conventional and radical, utilising old tricks and new. From increasing its presence along European borders, engaging in proxy standoffs like Syria and now Venezuela, to routinely perpetrating acts of espionage in the US, the UK and Continental Europe, Russia has shown it intends to remain a key challenger of the West.
But these are all from the Kremlin’s old playbook. Turning a page to the Kremlin’s playbook 2.0, we see a Russia that is actively involved in new means of disruption and confrontation, many of which the West is struggling to address.
To name just a few, these include multifaceted disinformation campaigns in central and eastern Europe, interference in foreign elections (a major concern for the upcoming European Parliament elections), using its energy supplies to coerce its dependents – a trap that the EU should seek to avoid at all costs – and removing itself from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty while instigating a new arms race.
On the latter point, both Russia and the US have renounced their participation in the INF Treaty, with Russia proclaiming its alleged progress in developing new weapons, such as low-flying hypersonic ICBMs (like the Russian R-28 Sarmat, nicknamed ‘Satan-2’) that significantly alter existing theories and strategies relating to nuclear weapons, including deterrence. In response, the US has already proclaimed its plans to test similar ICBMs in a few months’ time.
To compound these concerns, perhaps the most significant threat to stability and world peace does not involve Russia at all, but rather an emerging China eager to assume its place on the world stage as the hegemon. In addition to relying on conventional means to assert its dominance, it too is actively engaged in new and innovative techniques to gain leverage over its Western rivals, escalating tensions at a worrying rate.
In particular, China’s present modus operandi includes cyber warfare, foreign interference and espionage (exacerbating fears of possible malicious intent by telecommunications giant Huawei), flexing its muscles in the Pacific and jeopardising regional peace and shipping routes, infrastructure investment schemes and charm offences to sway favour towards the East rather than the West, and developing new military technology far superior to Western capabilities.
With both the US and Russia leaving the INF Treaty, which China was never a part of, and all three heavyweights vying for position, deterrence by other, tried and trusted means becomes crucial. That is why the West needs NATO and why it remains the greatest alliance the world has ever known. When soft power fails, hard power or the threat thereof must be present to fill that void.
Donald Trump, for all his follies, is not off the mark when he claims that NATO’s members need to step up their defence spending, a point reiterated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on his trip to Washington last week. NATO members appears to be listening, with a noticeable increase in spending (by Canada and European members) by 4 percent from 2017 to 2018, and Stoltenberg predicting those same allies will increase spending upwards to $100 billion USD by the end of 2020.
That is why the West needs NATO and why it remains the greatest alliance the world has ever known. When soft power fails, hard power or the threat thereof must be present to fill that void.
On NATO expansion, most notably North Macedonia looking set to join the ranks of NATO’s 29 members, and further accession possibly on the horizon, the alliance is sending a clear message that it is here to stay and remains a force to be reckoned with. But is this enough?
Indeed, the European Union must continue to up its game and walk the walk when it comes to security burden sharing. Not because Donald Trump says so, but because it’s high time that it improves its preparedness and autonomy and becomes the superpower the world needs it to be. The EU has the means to do so and the political will is (slowly) gaining traction. Continuing this trend would not only improve autonomy but it would also reinforce NATO and, by extension, enhance deterrence and tip the balance of power in the West’s favour.
After all, NATO was founded on burden sharing, enshrined in its charter under Article 5. What use is NATO to our allies if we are incapable of coming to their rescue, just as we expect them to come to ours?
The threats posed to NATO’s members are becoming very real in an increasingly unstable world. That is why fortifying the alliance is paramount, at a time when the strength and appetite of our adversaries is growing. The world barely survived two world wars and, thanks to NATO, it has survived another seventy years. Would it survive a third? Given the level of assured destruction it would certainly endure, I’m not so sure.
As Albert Einstein once said on the matter: “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Will we avoid his prophetic warning of total destruction? Perhaps, but neglecting NATO is a sure way to put his theory to the test.Gavin Synnott Defence Leadership Security Transatlantic
NATO at seventy – why it remains the greatest alliance the world has ever known
09 Apr 2019
The concept of political warfare is not new. Today, however, with the emergence of cyberspace as the fifth domain of war, the scope of political warfare, its diversity and its level of sophistication signify a break from past experience. What early ideas about political warfare identified as propaganda, psychological operations, or a race for the hearts and minds of the population can now be applied on a scale never seen before.
This article offers a new frame of reference for an old problem. In order to assess and adapt to the complex nature of inter-state competition in the cyber era, we need to understand how information technology is raising the relative importance of political warfare by transforming the social environment and its instruments of operation.
Furthermore, although information technology is a neutral variable, the openness of Western societies increases the vulnerability of liberal democracies to political warfare. As a result, authoritarian regimes, terrorist groups and other revisionary forces of the twenty-first century are undermining democracy and freedom around the world by targeting the network society and by establishing new, virtual spheres of influence.Defence Security Technology
Political Warfare: Competition in the Cyber Era
09 Apr 2019
The Arctic is changing. Facing challenges driven by resource demands, changing power relations and climate change, the top of the world demands the attention of European states and EU officials. This paper examines the main geopolitical issues in the Arctic, such as the development of the region’s energy resources, the underlying potential for conflict and the increasing presence of China in the region. It argues that to unpack the region’s complexities, we need to recognise the diversity within the Arctic across a range of issues and to differentiate different levels of analysis: the international and the regional.
Furthermore, this paper argues that the EU’s approach to the north suffers as a result of a general deficiency in EU external policies, namely incoherence and a multitude of voices and opinions. To have a more effective Arctic policy, the EU needs to distinguish between the different levels outlined here, raise awareness of the issues facing the Arctic among its member states and politicians, and better communicate the relevance of the Union to Arctic states. The EU must view the Arctic primarily as a long-term strategic priority and as an area of growing geopolitical importance.EU-Russia Foreign Policy Security
The New Geopolitics of the Arctic: Russia, China and the EU
08 Apr 2019
There is currently an on-going debate about the possibility of creating a new European Security Council (ESC) within the EU. This is an old idea that has recently been resurrected by those seeking to transform the EU into a more effective international actor. The current discussion of the issue was initially started by French President Emmanuel Macron during his 2017 presidential campaign. But since then it has been taken over by leading German politicians such as Chancellor Angela Merkel and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the new leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany party. The basic premise behind the idea is that the EU should have a new structure for strategic reflection and deliberation on foreign, security and defence policy, a forum that would not have seats for every EU member state. This would—so the argument goes—help the EU act more quickly and more decisively when a crisis or challenge emerged that required action from the Union.
This paper provides a blueprint for the creation of an ESC, a plan that political leaders could follow in the coming months. It envisages an intergovernmental ESC based in the Council of the EU. Its day-to-day operations would be handled by the Council Secretariat, which would make the ESC relatively resource-neutral in terms of the additional staff and funding it requires. Hence, it would be not so much a new institution as an additional structure within an existing institution, which also means that it would not require separate mechanisms to handle its interactions with NATO or France’s new European Intervention Initiative. The ESC would have seats for 10 member states, five of which would have permanent seats (i.e. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland), three rotating and two case-specific seats. In addition, the ESC would have seats for a chairman, a military and civilian advisor, representatives from the European Commission and the European Parliament, and representatives from the relevant EU agencies, depending on the nature of the item being discussed. However, only the member states with permanent and rotating seats would vote on ESC decisions.Defence EU Institutions European Union Security
EU It Yourself: A Blueprint for a European Security Council
25 Mar 2019
Irregular immigration is emerging as a threat to the political stability of the EU. This is because the EU’s asylum and immigration system has been overly tolerant towards irregular migration. Despite a dramatic decrease in the number of migrants and refugees coming to Europe, the need remains to instil in the European public a sense that the EU border is properly guarded and that the number of illegal border crossings—as one aspect of irregular migration—is being reduced.
In the short to medium term, the EU should help to ensure the protection of the refugees who are hosted in other countries. The EU should resettle the most vulnerable refugees through legal channels at the expense of irregular migration movements. The EU’s external border needs to be vigilantly policed in order to increase public confidence in the EU’s migration policy. Over the long term, the EU should set itself the goal of enlarging the area of functioning migration and asylum governance.EU-US Immigration North Africa Security
Reducing Irregular Migration Flows through EU External Action
12 Mar 2019
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Washington Treaty, which created NATO in 1949 and laid the foundations for the modern transatlantic relationship. Since then, the US and Europe have achieved much together: the Soviet Union has been relocated into history’s dustbin, Winston Churchill’s metaphorical Iron Curtain has come down, and the risk of nuclear Armageddon has faded. Not a bad resume.
Although the world has changed, the transatlantic relationship remains as vital as ever. Through its war against Ukraine and hostile influence operations on both sides of the Atlantic, Russia has made it clear that it wants to be seen as a revisionist power and as an adversary of the West. An increasingly powerful and assertive China is also challenging the existing liberal international order, which the US helped to create with its allies after World War II. These challenges require common transatlantic solutions.
Yet, the transatlantic bond is arguably weaker today than at any moment since 1949. Both sides are to blame for this. Concerning the US, President Donald J. Trump has alienated many of America’s European allies through his hostile rhetoric. The President has shocked Europeans by calling the EU a foe and arguing—wrongly—that it was set up to take advantage of the US economically. Europeans have also been disturbed by his alleged desire to quit NATO, a move that would hand Russia the biggest grand strategic prize it could imagine.
European Atlanticists are also dismayed by Trump’s affinity for European populists and ethno-nationalists. His world view seems often closer to that of former UK Independence Party leader and Brexit architect Nigel Farage than that of German Chancellor Angela Markel. This is evident, for example, from the administration’s hostility towards the EU.
In December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech in Brussels that mentioned the EU only once, even though he was speaking a block away from the European Parliament. Moreover, this mention was delivered in the form of a thinly veiled punch to the gut of his European audience: Pompeo asked whether the EU is placing the interests of its members and their citizens before those of Brussels-based bureaucrats.
Europeans are used to occasional transatlantic rifts and American straight talk. The two sides were bitterly divided over the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and many Europeans still have not fully forgiven former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for simplistically dividing the continent into ‘old Europe’ and ‘new Europe’. Yet, Europeans worry that the Trump administration represents something qualitatively different, implicitly if not explicitly hostile towards them, at least on certain issues.
Yet, Europe itself has also contributed to the weakening of the transatlantic bond. The US is right to criticize Europeans for failing to reach NATO’s 2% of GDP defence spending target, due to an entrenched culture of free riding. European societies have also grown psychologically somewhat apart from the US, which manifest itself in popular opposition to initiatives such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Although it was President Trump who halted TTIP negotiations in 2018, there was little chance that a final deal would have been ratified in all EU countries.
The US also has a point in arguing that Europe could do more to support American foreign policy goals, as Vice President Mike Pence suggested in his ill-received speech at the 2019 Munich Security Conference. On some issues such as the future of the so-called Iran Deal, the emergence of a common transatlantic position is unlikely, at least for now.
On others such as the political crisis in Venezuela, in which the geostrategic implications for Europe itself are limited at best, there should be a more concerted effort on the European side to support the American line as a goodwill demonstration and also to project transatlantic unity to the outside world.
Yet, even though Europeans can sometimes be frustrating allies, the US should not be sleepwalking away from the transatlantic relationship by siding with populists, treating the EU as a foe, and dismissing NATO. In a turbulent world where there are many threats to US national security, maintaining traditional alliances will help the current and future US administrations mitigate those threats.
The defining international security issue of the 21st century is likely to be the Sino-American rivalry. As China’s power increases, the need for Washington to balance Beijing to protect its interests in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond will grow correspondingly. However, China’s economic power is already greater than that of America’s great power rivals in the 20th century: the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Imperial Germany and Imperial Japan. This means that the US cannot afford to alienate its existing allies.
Collaborating with, at times, frustrating Europeans will therefore continue to be important for the US. America will need Europe to form an effective coalition to balance against the negative aspects of China’s growing influence around the world, including within Europe itself.
It will also need Europe to preserve and protect the fundamental elements of the existing liberal international order, which is under unprecedented pressure. As Sparta needed allies to stand against a rising Athens in the fifth century BC, so too will the US need its allies to stand against a rising China today.
In 1963, France and Germany signed the Elysée Treaty, which set the framework for their post-war relations and laid the foundations for further European integration. This January, France and Germany signed the Treaty of Aachen, to strengthen their bilateral ties and set future priorities.
To recalibrate the transatlantic relationship in the 21st century, the 70th anniversary of the Washington Treaty could be celebrated with a new treaty in which the US and Europe would recommit to tackling common challenges. To increase its appeal to the White House, it could even be called the Mar-a-Lago Treaty.Niklas Nováky Brexit Defence EU-US Security Transatlantic
America alienates Europe at its own peril
19 Feb 2019
One of the main concerns that voters are likely to have in their minds when casting their ballots in next year’s european elections is security. This means that the EU needs an ambitious agenda in the area of security and defence for 2019-2024. More specifically, it needs a set of concrete deliverables, which, if delivered properly and communicated effectively to european citizens, could help boost europeans’ sense of security where they might live in the Union.Defence EU Institutions EU Member States Foreign Policy Security
Security and Defence policy: An Agenda for 2019-2024
29 Nov 2018
Just one day after the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor, the man-made famine of 1932-1933 that killed millions of Ukrainians during the Stalin regime, the Russian Federation, the continuing legal personality and successor state of the Soviet Union, stroke again. This time it came in the shape of a naval battle, or more accurately, a unilateral attack since there was no return of fire.
On 25 November, Russian FSB border guard ships attacked two Ukrainian artillery boats and a tugboat in the Kerch Strait off the coast of occupied Crimea wounding six Ukrainian sailors and seizing all three vessels with a total of 23 crew members on board. It’s important to note that the Ukrainians ships were already on their way back to Odessa from the Kerch Strait (which they couldn’t pass) when they were fired upon and seized by Russia.
As per usual, there are two sides to the story: according to Russian media and government, allegedly, Ukraine has violated Russia’s territorial waters deliberately provoking an incident in order to create a pretext for new sanctions to be imposed on Moscow; whereas Ukrainians deny any violations. Unfortunately for the Kremlin, there is an agreement that proves Ukrainians to be right.
It was signed in 2003 by the then Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Vladimir Vladimirovich himself, and it designates the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters between Russia and Ukraine, with free access for each side. Not that agreements stopped Putin before from achieving what he wants: he will easily ignore any international treaty, just as he did with the Budapest Memorandum when he illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.
Following these events, the Ukrainian Parliament has greenlighted a decision to impose martial law in 10 regions located along the Russian border and Transnistria, which entered into force at 9 a.m on 28 November and last until 27 December. The initial proposition looked at imposing the martial law for 60 days, which would have caused a postponement in the elections, scheduled for 31 March 2019, as martial law rules out elections.
However, after a compromise reached with the political parties, the term was decreased to 30 days, which would allow holding elections as planned. President Poroshenko stressed that martial law will not infringe upon civil liberties of Ukrainians, and in Parliament repeated that they will be limited only in case of an intervention.
The blame game is already on. The masterminds of Kremlin propaganda claim that this “provocation” is solely aimed at imposing martial law in Ukraine and, henceforth, cancelling the elections with the President Poroshenko being the main beneficiary. Stakeholders of the other side accuse Russians of violation of sovereignty and open aggression.
It’s no secret that Poroshenko’s popularity has been dropping and his re-election is not set in stone. He recently scored a big victory when the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was granted autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople – however, he is still far from being the favourite candidate. His campaign slogan “Army, Language, Faith”, addresses the national pride of citizens, but he is not the only one to play this card.
As of October, 66% approved (and 33% disapproved) of Putin’s performance, down from 82%(and 17%) in April. The percentage of those who “trust” Putin fell from 59 to 39%, and the percentage of those not trusting Putin doubled. So what could be better than another triumph of Russian forces against the ‘evil Ukrainians’ to reverse this trend?
However, there’s a major difference between this episode and the annexation of Crimea or the war in Eastern Ukraine – this is the first time since the beginning of the Russian aggression in February-March 2014 that Russia as a state is engaging in an open act of aggression against Ukraine, not hiding behind “Donbas separatists” or “little green men”.
This could be a game changer for the response of the international community. President Poroshenko appealed to the partner countries under the Budapest Memorandum, to the EU countries, and to participants of the Normandy format in order to coordinate effective measures to protect Ukraine.
The Baltic States along with Poland were quick in condemning Russian behaviour, followed by EU and NATO statements. The US took their time: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s condemnation was noticeable for how late it was, whereas President Trump framed Russian aggression as a “both-sides issue”, refusing to openly criticise Putin.
This is indeed a moment of truth for the West – the Kremlin wants to know how much it can get away with. The Black Sea is a critical intersection for trade and security and it needs to be properly protected.
Experts suggest that NATO and the United States should send in naval ships in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea to guarantee that it stays open to international shipping as well as provide military equipment to Ukraine. Even the former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen states that “Russia responds only to power”.
The Eastern part of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, with cities like Mariupol and Berdyansk, is now practically cut off from shipping with much of their trade now functioning by rail, at higher cost. The EU should consider special assistance programmes to soften this effect.
What is important for the European Union to realise is that Russia has made a bold act and moved this war closer to its doorstep. A safe and secure Ukraine is essential for the security of Europe and a unified response from the member states is crucial for the respect of international law.
Achieving consensus on military intervention inside NATO is rather difficult, but tougher economic sanctions and suspension of the Nord Stream 2 could be steps in the right direction.
Strait outta Azov: How much can Putin get away with?
28 Nov 2018
European socialists have held a de facto monopoly over the position of the EU’s foreign policy high representative ever since it was created almost two decades ago. When new people will be appointed to the EU’s senior leadership positions in autumn 2019, the centre-right should seek to deny the socialists from having an almost automatic right to determine the person who is appointed as the high representative by carefully vetting all candidates. The minimum goal should be to ensure that the next high representative’s views and believes are more aligned with the centre-right’s vision of europe in the world than they currently are.Centre-Right Foreign Policy Leadership Security
Time for a (more) centre-right EU foreign policy chief
16 Oct 2018
This paper analyses the new European Intervention Initiative (EI2). Proposed by France, the EI2 is an intergovernmental forum outside the EU and NATO for enhancing military interactions between the most able and willing European countries. By seeking to facilitate the development of a European strategic culture, it is an attempt to solve the demand-side problem of European defence cooperation—that is, most European countries’ unwillingness to intervene in crises and to use force when necessary.Defence EU Member States Security
France’s European Intervention Initiative: Towards a Culture of Burden Sharing
03 Oct 2018
The EU has an important role to play in the management of the threat posed by North Korea. Indeed, Brussels already has a policy of ‘critical engagement’ towards Pyongyang which combines diplomatic and economic carrots with a number of sticks. This policy, however, is in need of an update to attend to two recent developments on the Korean Peninsula: North Korea’s status as a de facto nuclear power and the flurry of engagement and diplomacy involving North Korea—including top-level meetings with the US, South Korea and China.
In this context, the EU should support its partners, South Korea and the US, as they launch a process that could lead to sustainable engagement with North Korea, denuclearisation, and, as a result, a more stable Korean Peninsula. Working with its partners, Europe should creatively use its power of engagement and cooperation to change behaviour. This will enhance the position of the EU as a constructive actor in Asian affairs, support efforts by the US and South Korea to engage North Korea and, ultimately, offer a better opportunity for the EU to achieve its goals.Defence European Union Security
North Korea: Towards a More Effective EU Policy
07 Sep 2018
While Ukrainian politicians one year ahead of both presidential and parliamentary elections are thinking about their campaign messages and the West has its eyes on the formation of the Anticorruption court in Kyiv, there’s one item missing from the European headlines. More specifically, the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
Some months before the extension of the OSCE’s mandate in the separatist-controlled territories until March 2019, the question of a United Nations peacekeeping mission to Donbass has again been put on the table.
“Even though they don’t have any control over the fighters, the OSCE are a very important presence on the ground” – stated Mykhailo Pashkov, Deputy Director of the Razumkov Centre – “however the international community should address the question of expansion and overall transformation of its mission to Donbass.”
Since the signature of the Minsk II Agreements in February 2015, little to nothing has changed in Eastern Ukraine. None of the points of the 13-point plan negotiated by the Normandy Format in the Belarusian capital have been implemented, with Ukraine and Russia continuously playing the blame game as to who should take the first step.
The truth is, local elections in the separatist controlled area cannot be held without a ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weaponry, and even though the West has tied the lifting of economic sanctions on Russia (which have just been renewed for another six months at the recent EU Summit on June 28 and 29) to the implementation of Minsk II, Putin has done nothing to pressure the separatists, (clearly under his control) to respect point 1 of the Agreement. Would deploying a contingent of UN Blue Helmets possibly be a step in the right direction to untie this deadlock?
Since the signature of the Minsk II Agreements in February 2015, little to nothing has changed in Eastern Ukraine.
According to Minsk II, Ukraine’s homework consists in implementing political aspects of the agreement, meaning granting a special status for the People’s Republic of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR) and amending the Constitution of Ukraine, followed immediately by local elections on separatist-controlled territories. But President Poroshenko insists that a political solution to the conflict can only be achieved with a complete ceasefire, withdrawal of troops and weaponry and a stabilization process of Donbass.
Unfortunately for almost every party involved, the so-called “frozen conflict” is getting hotter. The last week of May was the most violent of 2018, with more than 20 deaths, both military and civilian casualties, and over 7000 ceasefire violations, according to Alexander Hug, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.
The rise of violence occurred at the time of transition of the command of the war from the “anti-terror operation” (ATO) run by the security forces of Ukraine, SBU, to the country’s armed forces, in accordance with the Donbass Reintegration Law adopted in January this year.The law also designates a role for the military in the peace process, especially with regards the protection of civilians and the creation of conditions for the return of 1.7 million internally displaced people to the occupied territories. However, Ukraine cannot do it alone.
Since 2015, the conflict has created a contact line of 457 km, affected 4.4 million people, injured almost 25.000 and killed above 10.303 civilians and soldiers– numbers that call for international attention and engagement.
A peacekeeping mission to Ukraine would ideally undertake tasks like demilitarisation, mine clearance and return of refugees, complementing the work of the OSCE observers. There are only a few obstacles on the way.
After a meeting of foreign ministers of the Normandy Format last month to discuss the implementation of a ceasefire following the hot month of May in Donbass, Russia and Ukraine agreed in principle on a UN peacekeeping missions, but their ideas about how to implement it seem very much apart.
In order to function, the Blue Helmets need a strong presence and mandate, as suggested by a report commissioned by former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, but their nationality is the first disagreement regarding this operation. Kyiv is against Russian and Belarussian contingents, while the Kremlin opposes NATO countries claiming also that more powerful states are less impartial.
Secondly, Moscow, trying once more to play the card of the “non-involved-party”, insists that all arrangements should be made with the separatists, which would de-facto mean their recognition, a condition which is absolutely unacceptable for the Ukrainian government.
And thirdly, there are disagreements regarding the physical location of the peacekeepers. President Putin wants the mission to be deployed only on the contact line between the territories controlled by Ukraine and DPR and LPR, whereas President Poroshenko insists on the coverage also of the parts of the Russian-Ukrainian border which are now under separatists control.
In any case, Blue Helmets or not, the most important thing is that this war cannot continue being ignored. World leaders have to be constantly reminded, that the conflict in Eastern Ukraine is a result of Russian aggression and violation of territorial integrity, especially in the light of recent softening positions towards the Kremlin of the Italian Prime Minister and US President, who both suggested the reintegration of Russia into the G8, from which the country was expelled following the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The West should keep the Ukrainian conflict high on the agenda by raising the issue with the Kremlin on every occasion, by discussing it in national parliaments and the media and by presenting a unified, rather than a splintered, sceptical approach towards the imposition of sanctions on Russia.
The People of Donbass – those who remained, as well as those who fled – do not expect much, they expect the bare minimum; the end of hostilities. According to Aleksij Mazuka, from Kalmius Group, 60% of the total Ukrainian population support the idea of a UN peacekeeping mission to the Eastern part of the country and wish for a full re-integration of People’s Republic of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Maybe, after the 21 peacekeeping missions that Ukraine contributed to worldwide since its independence, it is time for the international community to show to the 4, 4 million people of Donbass that they have not been forgotten.Anna Nalyvayko Defence Eastern Europe EU-Russia Security
05 Jul 2018
The 14 April US-led missile strikes against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack were necessary to reestablish deterrence against any future use of such weapons in the country. Yet, the strikes were reactive rather than strategic in nature, and will not change the course of syria’s civil war. This would require the West to outline a clear vision for the country’s future, and a strategy to achieve it.Defence EU-US Foreign Policy Security
The US-led missile strikes in Syria
23 Apr 2018
American officials have raised concerns about Permanent Structured Cooperation, the EU’s new defence pact. If these concerns signal a broader shift in US policy towards EU defence cooperation, they will undermine US efforts to improve transatlantic burden sharing.Defence EU-US Security Transatlantic
New American scepticism on EU defence cooperation
15 Mar 2018
The European Union is experiencing a new dynamic behind its quest for a credible security and defence capacity. New projects and mechanisms suggest a shift in European ambition.
This paper assesses the reality of this new dynamic, arguing that the EU needs a clearly articulated grand strategy – outlining the objectives in the Southern and Eastern neighbourhoods, and tailoring those objectives to realistic means. Those means will range from high end assets to purely civilian assets. Defence spending will require structured Europeanisation.
Involvement of third countries will require creative legal developments. EU-NATO relations must undergo fundamental revision. If ‘strategic autonomy’, the objective of the European Global Strategy, is to become a reality, it will involve the EU progressively assuming leadership within NATO, thereby meeting the calls across the United States for the allies to assume greater responsibility for their own affairs.Defence EU Member States European Union Security
For a True European Defence Union
Future of Europe
07 Dec 2017
The UK has traditionally played an ambivalent role in European security and defence policymaking. With Brexit, the EU loses one of its two serious military players. On the other hand, it has been liberated from the constraints imposed by London on the Common Security and Defence Policy, and this has created a new dynamism behind the defence project.
There has been comparatively little commentary on the defence implications of Brexit, and the UK has been less than forthcoming in making concrete proposals for an ongoing UK–EU partnership. Both sides assert that they wish to maintain a strong cooperative relationship after Brexit, but the outlines of such an arrangement remain very unclear.
This article suggests that the UK will have more to lose than the EU from any failure to reach agreement, and that UK ambivalence about links between the Common Security and Defence Policy and NATO will prove to be a major sticking point.
Read the full article in the December 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Jolyon Howorth Brexit Defence EU Member States Security
EU defence cooperation after Brexit: what role for the UK?
30 Nov 2017
The Arctic has received considerable attention over the last decade due to climate change, positive resource appraisals and the increased military presence in the region. Portrayals range from those that warn of impending conflicts to those that emphasise the region’s unique cooperative environment.
To what extent are the generalisations about Arctic security and geopolitics accurate? What fuels these generalisations? Moreover, what is the role of the EU in this changing geopolitical environment? This article examines the causes of conflict in the Arctic and argues that the disputes over territory, resources and the North Pole are limited in magnitude.
At the same time, the security dynamics within the Arctic are relevant, given each state’s relations to Russia. The EU’s role, however, is less a geopolitical one and more concerned with two dimensions, namely awareness and support. For EU policymakers and decision-makers, understanding the complexities of the north should take priority over re-inventing the Union’s role in the region.
Read the full article in the December 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Andreas Østhagen EU-Russia Resources Security
Geopolitics and security in the Arctic: what role for the EU?
27 Nov 2017
Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its subsequent invasion of eastern Ukraine led to a series of attacks against Ukraine. These have included cyber-attacks, fake news, economic pressure, terrorist attacks, as well as an all-out military conflict. Given that eastern Ukraine was at the centre of these attacks, its civil society developed its own resilience strategy to minimise the impact of non-military hybrid threats. This experience provides valuable lessons for Europe in general.
Ukraine’s response to Russian hybrid warfare
The concept of ‘resilience’ has traditionally been used in the areas of development and risk management. The European Union’s (EU’s) 2016 Global Strategy defined resilience as a concept that encompasses the ability of states, societies, communities and individuals to transcend a crisis while maintaining national economic and social development, and adapting to the changing environment under the pressure of continuous threats.
European states, both EU and non-EU ones, face many common security challenges such as terrorism, cyber threats, fake news, political and economic pressure, and military sabre-rattling. Given that military force is not often the most appropriate and effective way of addressing such hybrid threats, a resilience strategy can and should be deployed to strengthen the state’s capacity to deal with them.
Ukraine has become a testing ground for Russia’s unconventional tactics. It is also an easy target due to internal systemic weaknesses caused by corruption, dysfunctional institutions, and a fragmented civil society. By means of disinformation, operations of influence and subversion, Russia annexed Crimea without an open military intervention. It also localised a static, low-level conflict in eastern Ukraine, i.e. masked “People’s Republics’” puppet states as a product of civil war where Russia obscures its involvement to a secondary role.
Ukraine has become a testing ground for Russia’s unconventional tactics.
Following the annexation of Crimea, a Russian disinformation operation was launched to discredit the Ukrainian government and institutions in the eyes of the country’s citizens. At first, Ukraine faced significant difficulties in responding to the way Russia was challenging the perception of national identity, values, and history. More specifically, there was a dramatic shortage of the resources required to protect the country’s military, diplomatic, media and home fronts.
The most effective deterrent against hybrid threats proved to be societal resistance. A non-violent local civilian defence operation began. This included civilian groups debunking fake news with the extremely successful website StopFake, countering cyber-attacks, forming humanitarian aid volunteer groups, volunteer reform teams in government agencies and local councils, and volunteer civilian patrol and rescue teams.
Although this response had a positive impact, it was chaotic and needs sustained support to become part of a resilience strategy facing a continuous level of threat. The key to developing an effective strategy is to rethink the nature of the threat and decentralise the response to the level of communities and individuals.
A bottom up approach to resilience
If we understand hybrid warfare as a complex set of interconnected threats and forceful means waged to further political motives we no longer limit threats to traditional kinetic operations. In fact, hybrid threats have made traditional state borders irrelevant. It is no longer only the protection of borders that guarantees a nation’s security but also its home front.
To fortify the home front, European states need to challenge the traditional top-down institutional approach towards security and development planning. The Ukrainian experience illustrates the difficulties in making domestic resilience work in practice.
Engagement between government institutions and civil society remained inefficient, creating gaps between the needs and the expectations of the population on the one hand, and the capacities and resources of the authorities on the other hand. Those gaps indicated the state of resilience as well as the areas vulnerable to hybrid attacks.
National resilience is a continuous process of developing and improving knowledge of the changing needs and security threats on local and national levels.
The nexus between national security and resilience is rooted in individuals’ attitudes toward leadership and institutions. To operationalise resilience, it is necessary to monitor levels of trust and preparedness as key indicators of existing gaps between the population, civil society and government institutions.
The EU’s Global Strategy correctly points out that “when the ‘centre’ is broken, acting only from top-down has a limited impact.” It is much more difficult for an external force to disrupt personal and organisational networks built by both the private and public sector. This reality is what makes bottom up organisations key factors in enhancing resilience.
The way forward
National resilience is a continuous process of developing and improving knowledge of the changing needs and security threats on local and national levels. The EU’s objective to help states and societies build their resilience is limited to financial and knowledge transfers (monitoring, training, advising).
To guarantee local ownership, the EU should engage at the level of an actor’s capabilities. However, this creates practical challenges. In reality, resilience building means going to distant regions of the EU’s partner countries such as eastern Ukraine. The cities of Kramators’k, Sieverodonets’k, and Mariupil are at the heart of an effort to build effective resilience against disinformation and military attacks. It is clear that an effective EU response would require facilitating partnership between the state and civil society in local communities.
Such ambition should be met with clear understanding how to choose the local partners and monitor fund distribution. All investments should come with the tag of local ownership and responsibility. Aside from all of these challenges, the EU’s presence in Ukrainian communities would allow its member states to learn on the ground the most practical tools to counteract hybrid threats and improve national resilience in their home countries.Anna Bulakh Defence Eastern Europe EU-Russia Security
Operationalising resilience: an example from Ukraine
21 Nov 2017
Since 2015, the European Union (EU) has been discussing the idea of creating a European Security and Defence Union (ESDU). Although details are scarce, this means deepening cooperation between EU member states in the area of security and defence beyond what is currently done within the framework of the Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
ESDU: where we are so far
The current discussion is driven by a recognition that the EU needs to do more in the area of security and defence. Three developments in particular have pushed ESDU to the top of the Union’s agenda. Firstly, its failure to deal with the 2011 Libya crisis and the 2014 Ukraine crisis without the United States (US).
Secondly, the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) decision to leave the EU, or ‘Brexit’, which means that the Union will lose its strongest military power and the main obstacle for deeper defence cooperation.
Thirdly, concerns about America’s willingness to defend its European allies under President Donald Trump in all circumstances.
ESDU is not a new idea. It was first discussed during the Convention on the Future of Europe (CFE), which drafted the EU’s failed constitution in 2001-2003. During the CFE, France and Germany called for developing an ESDU on the grounds that ‘a Europe fully capable of taking action’ was not feasible without ‘enhancing its military capabilities’.
The idea was also raised in April 2003 by France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg. At the time, however, ESDU did not gain steam because Atlanticist EU member states—notably the UK—saw it as an attempt to undermine the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Although the European Parliament (EP) brought up ESDU again in 2006, the idea remained more or less buried until 2015-2016.
The current ESDU discussion differs from the 2002-2006 one because there is now much broader support for it. Since 2016, the European Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EP, the Council of the EU, and various EU member states have expressed support for the ESDU.
The European People’s Party (EPP), which has been leading the debate on EU defence since 1992, called for an ESDU ‘worthy of that name’ in June 2015. Germany’s 2016 security policy white paper also mentioned that achieving ESDU is Berlin’s ‘long-term goal’. Furthermore, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s 2017 State of the Union address stated that the EU needs ‘a fully-fledged European Defence Union’ by 2025.
Although the idea of ESDU is gaining momentum, the current discussion has included surprisingly few details on what it would mean in practice as most of what has been said in public is vague. The Commission’s June 2017 Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence, for example, notes that an ESDU ‘will require joint decision-making and action, as well as greater financial solidarity at European level’; and that an ESDU ‘would be premised on the global strategic, economic and technological drivers, as well as a political push from European citizens for common European security and defence’. This is hardly a blueprint.
In all likelihood, ESDU will be a form of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) under articles 42(6) and 46 of the Treaty on EU (TEU). PESCO enables those member states ‘whose military capabilities fulfil higher criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions’ to deepen their cooperation in the area security and defence beyond what some of their partners might be comfortable with.
Essentially, it would mean the creation of a defence ‘avant-garde’, ‘core group’, ‘pioneer group’ or ‘Eurozone’.
If ESDU will be a “defence Eurozone”, what would be its “euro”? In other words, what would be the qualities that would distinguish ESDU members from non-members? The most detailed ESDU blueprint that the EU has so far produced has come from the EP.
In a 2016 resolution, the Parliament expressed that an ESDU should, inter alia, offer guarantees and capabilities to EU member states beyond their individual ones, create a Council format for defence ministers, and turn the Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) into a full committee. These are all good ideas, which should be implemented in their own right.
A new blueprint
However, such reforms are mainly about fine tuning the EU’s existing institutional structure. While this might improve the EU’s ability to respond to threats, they would not generate the types of capabilities that would be needed to protect European citizens and their territory.
As the 2016 EPP Paper on Security and Defence states, this is the purpose of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Given that it should also be the main purpose of ESDU, it should be created around two main deliverables that would boost the EU’s ‘defence’ dimension: (1) an unqualified mutual defence commitment, and (2) a military Schengen area.
First, given that not all EU members are NATO members and therefore not under the protection of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, ESDU participants should commit to defend each other in the event that one of them becomes subject to armed aggression through all means in their power, including military force.
Although this sounds similar in tone to Article 42(7) of the Treaty on EU (TEU), the so-called mutual assistance clause, it is not. Article 42(7)’s mutual assistance commitment is rendered hollow by its second paragraph, which states that it ‘shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States’. This means that the Article 42(2) can be interpreted in a highly subjective way. Thus, a genuine ESDU should include an unqualified mutual defence commitment.
Second, in ESDU, there should be minimal to no obstacles to moving military forces and equipment from one state to another. At the moment, such movement is hindered by various bureaucratic requirements, such as passport checks at some border crossings.
Furthermore, infrastructure problems, such as roads and bridges that cannot accommodate large military vehicles, create additional obstacles to the movement of military personnel and equipment in Europe. This is something that has also been called for by NATO, which means that it would also further boost EU-NATO cooperation.
Where do we go from here?
ESDU should be created around an unqualified mutual defence commitment and a military Schengen area. These would form the core of the new defence core group, or the “euro” of a “defence Eurozone”.
In addition, ESDU could include looser commitments, such as a commitment by the participating EU member states to invest a certain percentage of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in defence; and a commitment to improve the EU’s existing rapid response capabilities, particularly the battlegroups. However, given that such commitments could eventually be ignored, they should not form the backbone of an ESDU.
 Germany, Federal Government, White Paper 2016 on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr (19 September 2016), 73.
 European Commission, Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence, COM(2017) 315 (7 June 2017), 11, 14.
 Art. 42(6), Treaty on European Union (TEU).
 European Parliament, ‘European Parliament resolution of 22 November 2016 on the European Defence Union (2016/2052(INI))’.
 Art. 42(7), TEU.Niklas Nováky Defence EU Institutions European Union Foreign Policy Security
The European Security and Defence Union: how should it look like?
30 Oct 2017
For Europe, four security challenges predominate: Russian revanchism, Islamist terrorism, the migrant crisis, and the associated problems of civil war and state collapse in the Middle East and North Africa.
For India, the environment looks very different. Its two most important security challenges are cross-border terrorism from Pakistan-based militant groups, often sponsored by the Pakistani intelligence services, and the steady growth of China’s economic and military presence along India’s land and maritime borders, including as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
These differing priorities risk pushing Europe and India in different directions. India’s hope is that an improved US–Russia relationship will create a thaw in Europe, allowing all parties—India, Europe and the US—to focus on addressing China’s rise. But there is little sign of such a shift at present. However, there is considerable room for greater convergence on a range of issues, such as maritime security, Afghanistan and counterterrorism.
Read the full article in the December 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Shashank Joshi Defence European Union Middle East Security
The prospects for EU–India security cooperation
30 Oct 2017
Urban terrorist attacks have become increasingly frequent in Europe in recent years. The review conducted during 2016 into London’s preparedness to respond to a major terrorist incident found that London’s emergency services had improved their ability to respond quickly to such incidents.
However, the safety of citizens from such events can never be guaranteed. Preparation is nevertheless essential, and emergency services need to adjust their tactics and plans in response to terrorist incidents that occur anywhere in the world as attack methodologies spread very rapidly through the Internet. The safety of all public spaces needs to be kept under review. There is a role for commercial businesses in enhancing security, and each individual has a part to play in building a culture of security and resilience.
Lord Toby Harris
London and anti-terrorism in Europe
30 Oct 2017
Today, the Middle East is again rent by religious/confessional strife, again embroiled in conflicts pertaining to the relationship between the sacred and secular spheres. Religious fundamentalism is pitted against assimilation into the globalised modern order. It seems like nothing has changed since Judas Maccabee led the fight of fundamentalist Jews against assimilation into the cosmopolitan order of Hellenism.
This time, the protagonist is Islam, the third of the Abrahimic religions, but the stage of conflict is the whole world. The Maccabee revolt, in the second century B.C. was a localised affair, with regional ramifications. The thirty years’ war, which ultimately contributed to the disengagement of the secular and the religious for the second Abrahimic religion, namely, Christianity, was a much broader affair. It spanned the whole of Europe; part civil war, part war by proxy, it presents a continental model, partly foreshadowing the current global conflict.
Like the Maccabee revolt, the islamist resistance to integration into the secular order of modernity is both a civil war, raging within Islamic societies between religious radicals (in Greek terminology, zealots), and liberals (in Maccabee terminology, irreligious), as well as an international war against the foreign powers, perceived as their patrons, (the Hellenistic state of Antiochus Epiphanes, western states, especially in Europe). In both cases, the ire of fundamentalists was roused by adoption of secular values, the Greek gymnasium, or western dress and education. Islamic fundamentalist refusal to compromise on the Law, sharia, echoes almost to the letter, the Maccabee position.: “Even if every nation living in the king’s dominions obeys him, each forsaking its ancestral religion to conform to his decrees…we will not follow them: we shall not swerve from our own religion either to right or left.” Maccabee Book I also tells us that Judas went through the towns of Judah eliminating the irreligious from them.
The current conflict is two-fold. There is the hard bloody war against armed extremists, like the IS, al Qaida, Boko Haram, etc. Perhaps more significantly, the whole world is involved in a soft Kulturkampf to determine how much of the letter of the Law, sharia, is compatible with the principles of the modern constitutional state, and with the humanistic values of contemporary society. It concerns issues of women and minority rights, the penal code and freedom of belief and expression. On a shrill note, it also involves a philosophical dispute about the human body, as object of pride or damnation, which has its roots in antiquity. It may seem trivial that the controversy about swimming lessons, the hijab, burqa, and more recently, bourkini, have captured the limelight in the current conflict. But let us remember that the Maccabee resentment was sparked by the introduction of the Greek gymnasium, where nudity was in the order of the day.
The ideological and military aspects of this global conflict are inextricably bound. The leveling effect of modernity (anticipated by Hellenism), which espouses the principles of equality and universalism are anathema to all particularistic groups, and ideologies which claim superiority on religious, doctrinal or racial grounds (chosen people, proletariat, master race, etc.). The three Abrahimic religions share a world-view which claims distinction for their followers through possession of absolute, because revealed, truth. This sense of superiority can imply disdain for, if not abhorrence of the ‘Other’, an antagonistic potential which can easily be manipulated by militants to justify violence, (in the form of the Jewish Ban, Christian holy war, Islamic Jihad).
Depriving militants of doctrinal cover for their violence requires an effort of introspection and doctrinal revision. While Reformation and enlightenment have helped reconcile the Judeo-Christian mainstream with the universal scheme of modernity, Islam has largely failed to undergo a similar renewal. Tentative efforts in that direction, particularly intensified in the first half of the 20th century, have unfortunately been reversed in recent decades. Two factors have contributed to this setback:
- The rising fortunes of the Islamic oil states, especially Saudi Arabia.
- The ambivalent role of the West.
In hindsight, it may appear that the oil age has caused a sea change in the geo-cultural map of the Middle East, perhaps comparable with the diversion of the trade routes to the Cape of Good Hope, in the sixteenth century. While the latter has caused primarily economic demise, the former has produced a cultural eclipse.
The oil bonanza of the second half of the twentieth century has removed the political and cultural centre of gravity in the Middle East from its historical locus, Egypt, with over a century of reform (1820-1950) to the Arabian Peninsula, untouched by modernisation and westernisation till as late as the 1960s and 1970s. Western technology and western economic interests, namely, the thirst for cheap oil, has put undreamt of resources at the disposal of the stringent schools of Wahhabism and Salafism, turning them from a primitive fundamentalist fringe to a powerful ideological stream, transcending the borders of Islamic states, and ironically, inimical to western values.
The part of the West in the rise of militant Islamism is, however, not only a tragic, accidental by-product of blind interest-mongering and technical savoir-faire. Equally responsible are the misguided realpolitik, and opportunism of American foreign policy. For decades, the United States has fostered Saudi Arabia, in total denial of its own liberal values. During the cold war, but especially, starting with the Afghan war in 1979, the West has not shied from using jihadi groups, feeding on Saudi ideology and funds, to thwart Russia and its regional authoritarian proxies. Everyone is paying the price of this cynical support.
As the world strives to contain religious totalitarian ideology and the terror it has unleashed, it is unwise to escalate militarily and slacken intellectually. Opening a window for so-called moderate Islamism, by accommodating some of its seemingly harmless demands, like the dress-code, in the name of tolerance, smacks of appeasement. Measures of unfreedom cannot be justified in the name of freedom. Or in Karl Popper’s words, “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance.”Maridi el Nahas Defence Islam Security
Maridi el Nahas
It takes the whole world to tame the monster of terrorism
22 Sep 2017
The rising terrorist threats in the region have compelled Morocco to enhance the protection of its vast territory, long borders, 34 million citizens and over 10 million visitors per year. Morocco’s comprehensive security strategy combines a wide range of policies which link the improvement of the socio-economic situation to the capacity to anticipate the risk of terrorism and the operational aspects of the strategy.
Security governance and the modernisation of the security forces, religious reform and the promotion of moderate Islam, the involvement of civil society, and close international cooperation, including religious diplomacy, are all key to preventing terrorism and countering extremism. Reforms to improve human security and to lift vulnerable groups out of poverty and exclusion have contributed to enhancing sustainable security.
An example for many, Morocco still has a few big challenges ahead, especially to provide quality education, both to ‘immunise’ the minds of the youth against extremism and to create jobs so that hope can be restored to an overwhelmingly young population.
Read the full article in the June 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Assia Bensalah Alaoui Defence Mediterranean Neighbourhood Policy North Africa Security
Assia Bensalah Alaoui
Morocco’s security strategy: preventing terrorism and countering extremism
07 Jul 2017
The Libyan conflict is the result of a complex and controversial series of developments, where local political events have been strongly influenced and driven by exogenous factors. A dual set of conflicting interests can be found in both the Euro-Mediterranean and inter-Arab dimensions, with Italy and Turkey struggling against France and Great Britain on one side, and Qatar being opposed by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on the other.
Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, which was certainly not an example of good governance and respect for human rights, was quickly swept away by a conflict primarily fought by non-Libyan actors, which eventually caused the collapse of the central institutions in Libya and the creation of dozens of local militias. The failure of both local and exogenous ambitions has caused a crisis in which additional factors have been able to influence the Libyan civil war, making the situation very opaque and extremely difficult to solve.
Read the full article in the June 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Nicola Pedde Crisis Mediterranean North Africa Security
The Libyan conflict and its controversial roots
04 Jul 2017
The EU is facing an unprecedented challenge on its southern borders in terms of instability in the region and increased migration flows. In its search for a solution that will meet with the approval of all member states, there is a new momentum for strengthening cooperation with neighbouring countries.
The EU is increasingly turning to third countries to manage migration flows and reduce the number of irregular migrants arriving in Europe. Nevertheless, there are serious constraints on its ambition. The EU has failed to offer its cooperation partners real incentives, while member states have been reluctant to coordinate their initiatives and become involved, thus undermining EU action beyond its borders.
The result is slow progress and uncertain partnerships. It is time to address these limitations and make the EU a reliable and coherent regional actor, able to speak with one voice when addressing third countries on migration. This calls for stronger foreign policy on migration at the EU level, the deployment of a wide range of tools and incentives, and more committed member-state support for EU action.
Read the full article in the June 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Loredana Teodorescu Foreign Policy Immigration Migration Neighbourhood Policy Security
Ambition versus reality: partnering with our neighbours on migration
04 Jul 2017
On June 7th the European Commission will put forward its proposals to enhance European military cooperation, framed as ‘The Future of the European Defence’. These proposals are very timely and necessary and will hopefully be embraced by all EU Member states. However, it is important that we don’t fall into a trap when we speak about European defence, because what is possible in the future is vastly different to the realities of European defence today.
The conclusion reached in various EU member states is that under US President Donald Trump, we can no longer rely on NATO as much as we did before, especially considering the increased aggressiveness of Putin-led Russia. Therefore, as a backup plan, we will need to boost European defence cooperation and increase our independent military capabilities. It is possible for this to happen within the NATO framework rather than contradicting or overlapping with it.
The logic is solid, but there is a danger in underestimating the urgency of the situation. The security that NATO provides cannot be replaced by any European defence cooperation in the near future. The fact is that, since 1990, European real military capabilities have decreased dramatically.
In many countries, real operation units have fallen to one third of what they were at their peak in the 90s, and even then they were operationally dependent on US support. When we examine the figures, we can see that they paint a stark picture for the EU’s military capabilities without the help of the US.
Within the NATO framework, the US spends 3 times more on its military than the combined total of the EU member states. And this ratio has not been not improving: from 2007 to 2015, the US increased their defence spending by an average of 3.1%, whilst the EU28 decreased their military spending by an average of 14.5%.
Figure 1: Changes in Western European Combat Battalions (1990-2015)
Source: IISS, The Military Balance 2016
The combat battalion figures of EU member states are also in sharp decline. Germany, for example, has decreased its total battalion count of 215 battalions in 1990 to just 34 in 2015. In key military equipment, the EU28 have collectively decreased their total stock of battle tanks by 70%, helicopters by 38%, and patrol and combat boats by 54%.
Across the board, there is one trend we can see in relation to EU defence spending and that trend is decline. Europeans still cannot and could not confront a large-scale military intervention from Russia effectively without the help of the United States.
Crucially, major military upgrades take years if not decades to complete. A good example is Russia, which started a major reform of its military after the war in Georgia in 2008, when they realised that they had a large, but ineffective army.
The reforms came with unquestionable political and financial support from Putin, who even cut domestic budgets such as social welfare and healthcare in order to pay for this military reform (a move which would be extremely unpopular in Western European states). However, even though Russia has invested massively in its military since 2008, Russia’s military reform is still far from complete.
When we talk about the future of the common European Defence without the US, we need to realise that we as Europeans have for decades been totally reliant on the support of the Unites States. The argument for a strong European defence also assumes that European military spending would be greatly increased and that enhanced military cooperation would turn to some form of integration.
It is also necessary to point out that if Europe is to build a military force which is capable of facing a worst-case scenario, then we need to speak about European nuclear weapon capabilities.
The Commission’s proposals for enhanced military cooperation are very welcome, we need more initiatives like them, and we need to embrace them. Investing in the future of European military cooperation is the only solution to independently maintain the integrity of the EU in the long term. However, in the short term, this goal is not possible without the support of the United States.
We can be disappointed by what President Trump did or did not say during his last European visit, but we should not neglect or fail to give credit to the fact that operationally the US continues to invest in Europe as it did before.
Just look for example at the US troops in the Baltics or the US bilateral defence cooperation agreement with Estonia. When we evaluate our investment in our transatlantic relationship with the United States, we need to take into account that so far nothing has changed in US-EU defence cooperation.
Whilst taking steps to enhancing European military cooperation and common capabilities, the EU member states need to continue the modernisation of their military and increase their independent capabilities. To achieve a genuine European Defence Union, this Union needs to be built on the modern and fully operative units of the EU Member states.Tomi Huhtanen Defence EU Member States EU-Russia Security Transatlantic
European defence can only be achieved by closing the capabilities gap
06 Jun 2017
Donald Trump’s election to President of the US in November 2016 might well become one of the most momentous events in the relationship between Europe and North America since the end of the Cold War.
Although this relationship has already gone through substantial changes in the last 25 years, the current challenges seem more formidable than many of the past crises.
External threats to Europe and, to a lesser extent, America are intensifying. Rather than unifying the West, these challenges have provoked internal divisions within the transatlantic community that are greater than ever before.Defence EU-Russia Security Transatlantic
A New Transatlantic Agenda: Challenges and Opportunities in the Trump Era
24 May 2017
Donald Trump has repeatedly chastened European NATO members for spending less than 2% of their GDP on defence. In spite of recent reassuring declarations, his commitment to NATO has seemed wavering, and he displayed a readiness to coordinate with Russia in the Middle East.
Should the Trump administration reach a similar understanding with the Kremlin on Eastern Europe, the Europeans will shed tears of regret for not having followed his advice and invested in their defensive capabilities earlier.
Russia’s aggression in Georgia and Ukraine leaves little doubt as to the real unwillingness of the Kremlin to respect the sovereignty of the former soviet republics. And the Baltic States are next on the firing line. Urgent actions are needed in this field.
First, defence spending needs to be increased. West Europeans have relied upon the USA since the 1940s for their own security, de facto freeriding on US taxpayers in this field. With 23 European NATO members below the 2% threshold in defence spending, it is clear that Europeans have overlooked their national security for too long.
The time has now come for them to invest more on it. All of the European NATO member states increasing their defence spending to 2% of their GDP will send a powerful message to the Kremlin that they are serious about protecting Europe’s security and independence.
Russia’s aggression in Georgia and Ukraine leaves little doubt as to the real unwillingness of the Kremlin to respect the sovereignty of the former soviet republics.
Second, European battlegroups need to complement NATO troops in the Baltic States. Increasing defence budgets does not instantly create a safer security environment. In a 2016 report, RAND made clear that the current national defence forces of the Baltic States and the NATO units stationed there are insufficient to hold off the neighbouring Russian forces, should the latter decide to invade. Germany and other NATO members have since contributed to forming battlegroups in the Baltic States and Poland.
However, the size of NATO’s battlegroups is negligible compared to that of the Russian forces they face. Establishing permanent European battlegroups of significant size, with the necessary equipment to deter Russian aggression, would reduce the EU’s vulnerability in the east, and perhaps lead to an improvement in its relations with Russia, as the Kremlin will have to accept that it cannot encroach upon its European neighbours’ territory.
According to the RAND report, this would cost around $2.7 billion, which is far less than what would become available if countries reached the 2% threshold in defence spending.
Third, the supply of military hardware for the battlegroups needs to be homogenised. Each member state using unique military equipment takes away the option of lending that hardware to one another. Lending military hardware contributes to cutting down the costs of transferring it, and it is an invaluable asset, as troops in warzones could use leased equipment right away.
For example, Greek F-16 and Mirage 2000 pilots, being experts in intercepting Turkish military aircraft violating Greek airspace, could assist in the protection of the Baltic States’ airspace using allied jets of the same type. Creating defence equipment homogeneity requires political will. So far the EU has been unsuccessful in creating military interoperability. Nonetheless, this should become a priority in order to secure European borders.
Europeans need to direct their militaries into defending the entire EU, and not just individual European states.
The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker, has repeatedly spoken in favour of establishing a single European defence force. That currently being unfeasible, the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) needs to be focused on the creation of battlegroups in member-states under threat.
Assuming that all NATO member states reach the 2% objective of defence spending over GDP that would still not deter Russia from being aggressive towards its neighbours. The fact that the European NATO member states spend on defence five times the Russian defence budget, and remain unable to secure Eastern Europe is embarrassing.
Europeans need to direct their militaries into defending the entire EU, and not just individual European states. After the end of the Napoleonic Wars the German states were facing similar threats to their existence by France and Russia. The Germans established the Federal Army to defend themselves, which was a collection of the armed forces of the member states of the German Confederation.
The EU could imitate this model in the near future, while bearing in mind that the Federal Army fell apart in 1866 due to the lack in commitment of several of its members. Thus, even more ambition may be needed in the long run.Konstantinos Lentakis Defence EU Member States Foreign Policy Leadership Security
Beyond 2%: establishing a true European defence force
10 May 2017
On April 16, Turkish voters will decide if President Erdogan will maintain the presidential powers he has held in practice since instituting a state of emergency after the failed coup attempt in July 2016. The new constitutional amendment will centralize his power, giving massive authority over legislature and judiciary without a proper checks and balances system. Though NATO and Europe have dealt with autocratic leaders in member states before, the situation with Turkey’s leadership is setting the conditions for a serious security risk to the Alliance.
United by Values?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg continually reiterates the core principles outlined by signatories of the Washington Treaty: “Democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the media, independence of the judiciary, protection of minorities. These are the values that unite us. They are the values NATO has defended since its foundation in 1949.”
But are these values truly upheld by all Allies? Despite the Turkish government’s promise to foster democratic principles in the last decade, Turkey has drifted sharply away from these values under the rule of President Erdogan. Contrary to Ataturk’s secular Turkey, Erdogan’s government is far from being a bridge between East and West. His new regime is using religion as a political tool to consolidate his internal power and project his authority abroad.
Under his rule, freedom of expression has been eliminated through intimidation, and violation of basic human rights is not a rare phenomenon. As a member nation, Turkey is capable of blocking the decisions on defending critical values — as already evidenced by Turkey’s refusal to allow military training with NATO partner nations due to the political tensions with Austria.
Heightened political tensions between the Turkish government and its NATO Allies are initial indications of the potential future security crisis for Europe. By exploiting this tense situation, the Turkish government has created propaganda material against the West, even going as far as to explicitly threaten European countries to not feel safe in their homelands if the diplomatic row continues.
Erdogan’s attempts to mobilize the considerable Turkish diaspora in Europe with strong rhetoric should not be taken lightly. If Erdogan attains his goals via referendum, he will completely dismantle the foundation of the Turkish secular republic. Thus, post-referendum Turkey would no longer be a true ally but rather an unpredictable one.
Turkey Turns East
Once backed by NATO against Russia during the downed jet crisis in November 2015, the Turkish government initiated the normalization of highly-tensioned relations with Russia after the failed coup attempt in Turkey.
The new partners, Russia and Turkey, have held positive discussions on Syria, on the construction of a nuclear power plant, and likely sale of Russian S-400 long-range air and missile defence system. Additionally, Turkey’s appointment by Russia and China to chair the 2017 Energy Club of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was a significant indication of her divergence from the West. And in the most concerning move toward the East, Turkey signed an intelligence sharing agreement with Russia.
Although European institutions typically analyse this rapprochement as a tactical manoeuvre before the referendum, it seems to have already started providing strategic outcomes.
The methods Erdogan has used against Europe are evolving to be similar to those used by President Putin. Turkey, though, has an additional tool of leverage that can be traced within the Turkish diaspora in Europe. The revealed ill-favoured intelligence activities of Turkish government among the Turkish origin European citizens is similar to Russian intelligence activities in Ukraine.
State-sponsored AK Trolls operate in social media channels very similarly to Putin’s Kremlin Troll Army. Such integration between Russia and Turkey would certainly be a worrying development for NATO’s cohesion.
The EU-Turkey Refugee Deal, as well as the country’s geostrategic location are important points of leverage for President Erdogan. In the fight against ISIS, for example, the West is leaning on Turkey to provide staging areas for equipment and aircraft, and seeks agreement on opposition targets. Particularly for countering the threats and risks emanating from the South, it is important that the cooperation and partnership with Turkey remains solid.
However, there is no doubt that Erdogan’s new Turkey will not maintain a foundation for a feasible alliance with Europe. It is worth remembering that many in the Turkish public are also looking for alternatives to Erdogan’s regime. Current public opinion polls show that around 50 percent of Turkish voters who do not support the constitutional change seem extremely oppressed by fear.
As indications of Turkish deviation from the West are growing each day, Europe needs to set priorities for mitigating this risk. Otherwise, Erdogan’s Turkey will likely turn from a NATO ally to a source of instability for the entire region.Fatih Yilmaz Democracy Elections Foreign Policy Leadership Security
NATO ally or insider threat? How Turkey’s referendum vote will affect European security
11 Apr 2017
The rapid deterioration of relations between European governments and Turkey in recent weeks may come to be seen as a watershed in EU-Turkey relations. The leader of a NATO ally and EU accession candidate country did not hesitate to exploit the vulnerability of European leaderships ahead of crucial electoral battles by mobilizing thousands of people in the heart of Europe.
Given also his role in the refugee issue, his authoritarianism, and his fickle personality, it is time for the EU to start viewing Erdogan’s Turkey as nothing less than a long-term security risk.
In the last few years Europe has seen security threats multiplying. The annexation of Crimea heightened anxieties about Russian aggression. Russia also has other levers of pressure, including energy resources, cyber-warfare and, most recently, a multifaceted project of disruption of Western democracies, ranging from support for populist parties to disinformation campaigns. Then, a series of terrorist attacks in 2015 and 2016 revealed the extent of the jihadist threat.
All these are clearly major threats for Europe, covering a broad range of security challenges: geopolitical and ideological, global and regional, internal and external. But if there is one actor that embodies all these different dimensions of risk at the same time – geopolitical pressure, internal subversion, democratic disruption, and an increasingly erratic behavior of its leadership – it is Turkey.
It is time for the EU to start viewing Erdogan’s Turkey as nothing less than a long-term security risk.
Turkey has always been a crucial strategic partner of the West, but the refugee crisis of 2015 severely upset the power relationship between Turkey and the EU, punctuated by Turkey’s desire to accede to the Union. Not unlike Russia with its gas, Turkey found itself controlling the flow of a critical commodity – refugees.
Not unlike Russia, it saw this as an opportunity to extort benefits from the EU, which it promptly did by forcing upon the EU a deal in which it gained various concessions in return for curbing the refugee flows into Europe.
This process took place in parallel with increasing authoritarianism and concentration of power in the hands of President Erdogan internally. After the failed coup of the summer of 2016, Erdogan engaged in sweeping purges of the Turkish state and society.
If his intended constitutional reform goes through in April, Turkey will differ very little from Putin’s Russia, a personal semi-authoritarian nationalist regime with populist overtones, where the main legitimating mechanism of a deeply entrenched leadership is antagonism of the West.
Events of the last few weeks have added a new layer to the difficult geopolitical relationship between Europe and Turkey. The massive rallies in favour of Erdogan in Austria, Germany, Holland and France have highlighted that, while Europeans were agonizing over the compatibility of Islam with liberal democracy, they long underestimated Turkish nationalism – an ideology as sticky and potent as any religion – as an obstacle to the integration of thousands of citizens of immigrant descent.
If his intended constitutional reform goes through in April, Turkey will differ very little from Putin’s Russia.
The difficult relationship between Turkish immigrants and their host countries is nothing new of course, but only now has a leader in Turkey shown the intention (and ability) to use these populations as levers of pressure on European governments and to settle domestic scores.
Despite his effort to disrupt European democracy through trolls and hackers, Putin could only dream of commanding the kind of street power in European capitals that Erdogan enjoys.
Erdogan embodies today the sum of all that urope fears: an authoritarian and populist leader (like Putin), with the capacity to strong-arm European leaders thanks to his key position in the refugee problem (akin to Putin and energy), and now with the expressed ambition to use diasporas as a weapon of foreign and domestic policy, disrupting electoral processes and fracturing societies in Europe (thus playing a role akin to that of radical Islamism) and crashing opposition at home.
Instead of an ally, or even a difficult partner, the EU must start viewing Erdogan’s Turkey as a multidimensional security risk.
The current standoff with the Netherlands will probably cool off after the Dutch and the Turkish electoral campaigns are over. But with elections in Germany looming, Erdogan will surely be tempted to employ his hybrid (internal and external) geopolitical arsenal again.
The EU is dealing with a leader who understands his relationship with Europe not simply in transactional terms, but as an opportunity for extortion in every available facet.
Instead of an ally, or even a difficult partner, the EU must start viewing Erdogan’s Turkey as a multidimensional security risk. Breaking off relations completely of course is not an option, but a serious discussion on a strategic approach to Turkey must now start. This must include a thorough appreciation of how Turkey can challenge European security and democracy internally and externally.
As a multidimensional security risk Turkey requires a holistic approach, including both internal (e.g. addressing the lagging integration of immigrants of Turkish descent in European societies) and external (e.g. effectively securing European) defense.
The EU must remain alert about opportunities to engage Turkey diplomatically. But it must be ready to face up to extortion or internal disruption as well.
Perhaps nothing would work better to rebalance the EU-Turkey relationship than challenging Erdogan on his own turf. As the regime in Turkey is rapidly losing all vestiges of a functional democracy, and given the lack of genuine democratic opposition (opposition parties in Turkey are either secular-nationalist or ethnic-sectarian), the EU must engage in serious bottom-up democracy promotion in Turkey, helping to foster a real liberal democratic culture in Turkish society.
If Erdogan thinks he can turn European societies into a battleground of the EU-Turkey relationship, the EU must answer in kind. Europeans must make the emergence of a genuine Turkish democracy the key strategic goal of their policy towards Turkey, and must be ready to invest resources and time to ensure this outcome comes to fruition.Angelos Chryssogelos Elections Foreign Policy Leadership Security Values
Erdogan: an EU security risk?
16 Mar 2017
It is widely believed that Britain’s decision to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s election to the White House have strengthened both the case for and the possibility of an ambitious EU defence policy, perhaps even of an EU army.
This short paper argues that, contrary to widespread fears, the EU can become a powerful security and defence policy player without adopting the hierarchical structures of traditional states and while maintaining decentralised defence responsibilities and a pluralist institutional framework.
Two relevant historical examples—the Holy Roman Empire and the Hanseatic League—are presented to draw general lessons on how the EU could accomplish this, thus becoming an effective ‘postmodern power.Defence Foreign Policy Security
Security Policy: The Case for a Postmodern EU Defence Architecture
15 Mar 2017
“People tend to forget that it is not just about pro-bono work in the European neighborhood; it is also our own interests that are at stake there.” This point, made by Martens Centre Executive Tomi Huhtanen, kicked off a debate organised in Brussels on 31 January 2017 on the strategic rethink of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
The EU’s current ENP policy is focused on supporting democratic transformation and creating economic opportunities in its neighbourhood through technical cooperation and economic integration.
But with growing instability including the Brexit decision, rising Euroscepticism, new ‘hybrid warfare’ threats, an assertive Russia, the rise of Islamic State and declining US engagement in European security, Europe has to take bold and decisive action to secure its long-term interests.
As the spillover effects of instability in the regions outside of the EU are taking a significant toll on the Union, rethinking the way it deals with its neighbourhood has to play a central part in the EU’s Global Strategy.
According to Salome Samadashvili, former EU Ambassador and current member of the Georgian Parliament, “the EU must graduate from a global actor to a geopolitical actor.” In order to achieve this, she argues for a pragmatic, yet principled and creative approach to EU’s policies in its neighbourhood.
EU institutions think in five or ten year terms. But if you operate in Georgia or in Libya you only have the luxury of planning up to one month in advance. Salome Samadashvili, former EU Ambassador and current Georgian MP
Sandra Kalniete, Latvian Member of the European Parliament added that countries in the neighbourhood need to be assessed case-by-case; for too long, the EU has been trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach that has not benefited neither the EU, nor its partners.
During the event, Kalniete also emphasised a shift “from rule-based to deal-based diplomacy” taken by the new US administration; however, she maintained that the EU needs to stay true to its values while projecting its power abroad.
Not giving up our values while adding more pragmatism to the way Europe deals with its neighbourhood was a point also echoed by Bruno Lété, Security and Defence Transatlantic Fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
In ten years from now China will be an inevitable factor in EU’s neighborhood policy towards the Mediterranean. Bruno Lété, Security and Defence Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States
Subsequently, he argued for more short-term flexibility rather than long-term planning on the part of the EU. His third recommendation was that any successful foreign policy needs to be coupled with the ability to project power; this is where, according to Lété, NATO and EU-NATO cooperation come into play. Rather than debating where to place shared defence assets, the West needs to work more on efficient ways of delivering training, education and financial support to its partners.Defence Development Foreign Policy Neighbourhood Policy Security
EU’s foreign policy needs values and muscle to survive
01 Feb 2017
The current Western liberal order is in danger of becoming vulnerable to threats posed by political systems which have no regard for universal values, such as human rights, and are willing to use brutal force—as is the case with Putin’s Russia and aggressive Islamist movements.
The spillover effects of instability in the regions outside of the EU are taking a significant toll on the Union. Unless the West succeeds in making a case for the universality of the values underpinning its institutions and shows the capacity to defend those values, in the medium and long term, the West could lose this battle. Europe has no better way to defend itself than by expanding the geographic reach of its ideological sphere of influence.
This is why the EU has to invest in state-building and security in its Eastern and Southern neighbourhood. This paper argues that the EU needs to rethink the focus of its European Neighbourhood Policy; it needs to go beyond the limited scope of technical cooperation or the project of economic integration, and must invest in itself as a ‘geopolitical’ actor.
The best way to do so is through the Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy. The EU has to prioritise its role as a ‘stabiliser’ and security actor in its immediate neighbourhood.Democracy Foreign Policy Neighbourhood Policy Security
Good or Bad Neighbours: The Main European Security Challenge
07 Nov 2016
“We don’t understand one another, we don’t trust each other, but we are at least able to meet.”
This was one of the most memorable quotes from last week’s meeting of the Normandy group consisting of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia. The group was established almost two years ago with the sole purpose to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
The result of this initiative has been the Minsk II agreement replacing its younger predecessor, Minsk I, which had failed to stop the war. Unfortunately, there are sporadic mentions so far of its implementation. It is also a “known secret” that this agreement is considered to be more or less dead.
The main justification for this is the fact that Russia expects Ukraine to fulfil its part of the deal first: autonomy for Donbas under Ukrainian law, legitimisation of the local elections and transferring social security payments to rebel authorities.
The Kyiv government in turn rightfully points out that this can only happen after Russia has militarily withdrawn from Ukraine and government control of the border with Russia has been fully restored.
But even if the latter did happen, it looks unlikely that Russia is going to reciprocate. To make things worse, the reality on the ground is that of an open conflict which has so far claimed more than 10,000 victims and caused 2 million Ukrainians to be displaced.
Putin now enjoys a position he could not even dream of four years ago.
On one hand, any diplomatic initiative that could lead to the cessation of the armed conflict and the suffering of civilians should be praised. On the other hand, the time has come for a reckoning: should Russia be treated as a conflict party in the Normandy group (just like Ukraine and the rebels are) rather than an arbiter? In my and other experts’ opinion, Russia is an aggressor who triggered these clashes to 1. Prevent Ukraine from freely deciding to belong to the West and 2. To fuel unrest in Europe.
The outcome of the recent meeting and the adoption of the framework peace plan cannot give Ukrainians much cause for optimism. The adoption of the peace roadmap will essentially only replace the already adopted Minsk agreements. This means that the original process will be replaced with another one that will apparently have a similar format and cycle.
Notwithstanding speculation, it is still too early to evaluate the roadmap to be presented by November. Anyway, it is hard to imagine that the new format of negotiations will ensure peace in Donbas.
If anybody was satisfied leaving the Normandy group meeting, this was clearly Putin. He has again gained time by tying the resolution of the problem to a process that needs to start anew. Incidentally, it is noteworthy to mention that Putin now enjoys a position he could not even dream of four years ago: through his aggression against Ukraine, he has brought back the Cold War; from a fragile strategic partnership, Russia is once again a security challenge for Europe.
Furthermore, the migration crisis is helping Putin to forge stronger alliances with the far right in Europe, which is thriving on the issue. In Syria and elsewhere too, Russia keeps strengthening its military presence by supporting dictatorial regimes. Last, but not least, Putin has managed to intricate himself even in the US presidential campaign.
As for the EU and Ukraine, the situation will only get increasingly complex and confusing. It is thus high time for the EU to toughen up its policy towards Russia. Once and for all, Putin´s margin for manoeuvring in Europe must be curbed, and the problem must be passed on to his home field.
Putin´s margin for manoeuvring in Europe must be curbed.
This can only be achieved by taking a clear and unified stance, namely in the form of large-scale economic sanctions. Perhaps also the cutting of gas and oil deliveries from Russia should at least be debated. But many member states still shy away from this, particularly those which are the most affected by either the EU’s or Russia’s sanctions to date.
In my opinion, it is necessary to make Putin occupy his time with his own domestic problems which are bound to arise from such sanctions. This would make it more difficult for him to carry out his subversive activities on the different external fronts. As for Ukraine, civil war notwithstanding, the country needs to accelerate the reform process.
Also against the background of these developments, the recent EU summit was expected to take a stronger stance against Russia. Regrettably, EU leaders have only managed to express their concerns over the events in Syria and the growing Russian propaganda efforts throughout Europe. In a world ridden with war, at a time when the EU has a hard time figuring out which problems to solve first, this is simply not enough.
The fact that the summit was not able to adopt clearer conclusions demanding extensions of the sanctions demonstrates a serious lack of EU unity, an inability to close ranks especially after Brexit.
Meanwhile, Putin is pursuing his own efforts: the influence he has been exerting over certain European countries is beginning to bear fruit in the form of their vague positions on sanctions. These countries prefer to defend their economic interests instead of taking difficult strategic positions.
They should do it not only for the sake of Ukraine, of the residents of Aleppo, but also for the sake of the future of the EU.Viktória Jančošeková Eastern Europe EU-Russia Security
Minsk reloaded: why Putin’s Russia is winning and Europe is not
27 Oct 2016
The latest coup attempt in Turkey came as a surprise both due to the baffling logic behind it and the awkwardness of its implementation. Of course, many reasons existed that made some in the army unhappy with Erdoğan. However, the leadership of the army had been already replaced with Erdoğan’s loyalists, while the population would not support a coup.
Many both within and outside Turkey disapprove of his authoritarian tendencies: the resumed war against the Kurds; his early support of Islamist rebels in Syria; the crackdown on democratic freedoms and free press; humiliating apology to Russia’s Putin after all previous sabre-rattling; and, finally, his desire to change the constitution aiming at super-presidency. However, Erdoğan still enjoys the support of about half of Turkey’s population, due to the prosperity he brought to many, his appeal to traditionalist feeling, clever populism and macho charisma.
Erdoğan, like many opportunistic rulers, is excellent at turning even the most unfavourable circumstances to his personal benefit. This pattern is being reiterated once again, as the coup is used as a pretext for doing whatever he intended to do anyway – pursuing a one-man rule by cleansing of all opposition. Still, the coup serves as a gloomy harbinger of future troubles, as Erdoğan tries to use these events to further strengthen his already formidable authority and clout. However, it is far from obvious that this will be equally beneficial for the country’s democratic future or even prosperity.
Indeed, the writing is on the wall for Turkey. Apart from the slowing of the Turkish economy, one may expect falling investment amid potential instability and civil strife, as well as scared-off tourist flows diverted to safer destinations. If capital punishment is introduced that will mean a long-term goodbye to European integration plans, while cooling relations with Europe will hurt both trade and the international standing of the country.
Immediately after the coup, Federica Mogherini explicitly warned Turkey that countries allowing the death penalty cannot join the EU. However, John Kerry’s warning sounded even more chilling – while America stands squarely on the side of the elected leadership in Turkey, NATO also has a requirement with respect to democracy. Now, if Turkey’s government is ready to drop the Western support and its European aspiration, and even risk losing its NATO membership, it is difficult to imagine any bright future either for the country or its leadership.
Now one may look at all of this from a totally different, Caucasian perspective. Turkey is one of the key actors in the South Caucasus, and either its weakening or its alienation from the West may damage the currently existing fragile balance and bring around instability, along with strengthening the Russian dominance. After the attempted coup, Erdoğan has applied efforts to restore ties between Turkey and Russia, and such rapprochement may even lead to Turkey’s political realignment.
Erdoğan’s actions have caused strong criticism from Turkey’s NATO allies for the unproportional crackdown on alleged opponents, while Turkey in its turn has praised Russia for its support since, and Erdogan will visit Russia on 9 August, which now, according to Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek “isn’t just our close and friendly neighbor, but also a strategic partner”. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in his turn stated, that Turkey receive “unconditional support” from Russia over the coup attempt, while anti-U.S. sentiment was rising in the country.
There is one more important development in the Turkey-Russia relationship: beyond lifting all anti-Turkish sanctions introduced after the downing of the Russian military aircraft in Syria, Russian officials started talking about the revival of the South Stream gas pipeline project, which may negatively influence alternative energy projects involving Azerbaijan and Georgia. No doubt such changes may indeed endanger the big-scale projects aiming to bring Caspian gas and oil to the West, with Georgia serving as an important transit hub.
Some other developments related to events in Turkey can already be expected in the South Caucasus. Turkey’s weakened geopolitical weight or its geopolitical realignment may in turn lead to the dangerous weakening of Azerbaijan’s position vis-à-vis Armenia regarding the Mountainous Karabakh issue and may bring back the flaring of hostilities if not full-blown war.
Immediately after the coup, Azerbaijan’s president Aliev sent a letter of unequivocal support to Erdogan, but other developments are even more expressive. Already on July 20, Azerbaijan’s Education Ministry announced that an allegedly Gülen-affiliated Qafqas University in Baku has been closed down, and more action along the same lines is expected, as Gülenists have been actively supporting educational institutions both in Azerbaijan and in Georgia.
But the repercussions of the Turkish coup may go even further, both in reality and in public perception. Even the timing of the recent hostage-taking and violence in Armenia’s capital Yerevan has been paradoxically linked by some observers to developments in Turkey. While in the case of Georgia Turkey can hardly be seen as an important military factor, Turkey’s weakening and the total regional domination of Russia hardly gives grounds for expecting anything good for Georgia’s pro-western aspirations and security.
On the whole, the recent developments in Turkey give cause for concern and illustrate that the future of the region remains in limbo.Teona Lavrelashvili Defence Democracy Eastern Europe Foreign Policy Security
A failed coup in Turkey and its possible repercussions: the view from the Caucasus
28 Jul 2016
A lot remains unclear regarding the attempted coup that shook Turkey. But it is possible to draw some preliminary conclusions about its background and implications.
The coup was not planned and implemented within the chain of command. The Chief of General Staff and the heads of the crucial First Army and Special Forces remained loyal to the government. This, not people on the street, was the key reason the coup failed. Not least, it allowed President Erdogan to slip out of Marmaris before being caught and to get to Istanbul.
The coup appears to have been hastily put together and poorly implemented. The failure to seize or liquidate the president, cabinet, and vital communication infrastructure made it possible for Erdogan to regain the initiative. This suggests that the plotters’ hands were forced, and that the coup was launched prematurely. There are suggestions that a list was leaked before the coup of officers scheduled for discharge and arrest, which could have precipitated the coup, explaining the lack of proper preparation.
The most vexing question concerns the exact identity of the coup plotters. Who were the architects behind what appears on the surface to be a faceless, even leaderless coup? The Turkish government is pointing fingers at the Fethullah Gülen movement – something that may seem counter-intuitive, because it was precisely Erodgan’s confrontation with them two years ago that led him to let the military back in from the cold and rebuild for himself a ruling coalition much more right-wing nationalist in nature, united by the struggle against the Kurds.
But that said, it has long been assumed that Gülenist cliques were present in the military at mid-career ranks. But no one believes that Gülenist officers had risen to the ranks of three or four star generals. Thus, while it is very likely that Gülenist officers were involved, it is equally obvious that they could not have carried this out on their own. The more senior generals apparently involved do not seem to have any Gülenist affiliations.
Hence, the coup may have been carried out by an unholy alliance between a faction of old-school Kemalist and Gülenist officers. If this is the case, it would mean that while Erdogan allied with the top military brass against the Gülenists, another military fraction allied with the Gülenists against Erdogan.
This is what Turkey has come to: its politics in the past few years can best be understood as a struggle for power between two Islamic sects. In the process, Turkey’s military appears now to have at least three separate fractions and to be much more politicized and divided than has been assumed.
A further important aspect of the coup was President Erdogan’s response: he mobilised his supporters through the use of Islamic rhetoric that would have been unthinkable even five years ago. Mosques were ordered by the State religious directorate, which Erdogan has built up into a behemoth, to broadcast calls for prayer all through the night and to call regime supporters out on the streets. Often, the call appears to have been framed as “Jihad”.
And indeed, those who came out to oppose the coup almost exclusively looked like Islamist activists singing Islamist chants. It is already apparent that President Erdogan has concluded that Islamist mobilisation was what saved him, hence the remaining inhibitions against further Islamisation of Turkey will dissipate. Erdogan’s Turkey is likely to more openly deploy Islamist rhetoric and policies.
The Gülen fraternity’s alleged responsibility for the coup is already being used as pretext for a full-scale purge of state institutions. Unlike previous occasions, the coup gives Erdogan the opportunity to arrest and jail opponents by the thousands. It is already clear that repression will spread beyond Gülenists: entire lists of scholars, journalists and officials to be jailed have already been leaked. Whatever is left of Turkish democracy is about to be neutralised, and if Erdogan completes this repressive purge, it goes without saying that Turkey can no longer be called a democracy.
The failed coup will have important foreign policy implications. Erdogan and his entourage have long believed the Gülen fraternity to be following Washington’s orders, and senior government officials have already suggested that the U.S. was behind the coup. Erdogan appears to be making extradition of Gülen a litmus test of the U.S.-Turkish alliance, a demand that will likely not be granted, given the lack of any kind of concrete evidence. In fact, the involvement of Gülenist officers does not necessary implicate the ailing preacher himself in the coup.
In any case, the U.S.-Turkish relationships has been put at risk, and Secretary John Kerry’s threat of consequences for Turkey’s NATO membership has shown that perhaps Washington is tiring of Erdogan’s antics. The most likely immediate point of contention will be the Incirlik military base, which the U.S. uses to hit ISIS targets in Syria.
Similarly, Turkey-EU relations will be impacted, most immediately because it is hard to imagine how the EU will now go ahead with visa liberalisation. In turn, that likely puts the cynical migration deal between Brussels and Ankara to death. If Turkey reinstates the death penalty, which is quite plausible, Turkish-EU relations are likely to deteriorate even further.
In conclusion, it is important to see the coup attempt as an indication of the deeper decay of the Turkish state under Erdogan’s rule. As Erdogan has sought to concentrate power in his own hands, the exercise of power has become increasingly informal, all checks and balances removed, and all institutions including his own political party increasingly ineffectual. This made the coup possible in the first place, and future coups can be avoided only if Turkey develops strong, accountable democratic institutions.
But instead, under Erdogan’s personal rule, Turkey’s destabilisation is likely to continue. Thus, European leaders now need to see what has been obvious for some time: rather than an ally with which to handle regional problems, Turkey will itself increasingly be the problem.Svante Cornell Democracy Foreign Policy Islam Security
A botched coup and Turkey’s descent into madness
19 Jul 2016
Most of the recent commentary around Russian politics has been focused largely on one issue, the high personal approval ratings of Vladimir Putin. But the Russian political system is complicated, and even the ruling force consists of many elements: government, the ruling ‘United Russia’ party, Parliament, regional governors, and so forth.
There are strong indications that, despite Putin’s personal approval rating remaining quite high, approval ratings for all other elements of the system of power are essentially down to pre–Crimea annexation levels and even lower. There are strong and growing signs that the Russian population is deeply unhappy with the current situation, and that discontent has a chance to spill over into the territory of political consequences.
Despite the fact that Putin’s overall hold on the country remains largely unchallenged, authorities run a very serious risk of showing weak results at the upcoming Parliamentary elections in September 2016. The weak result of the ruling party at the previous State Duma elections in 2011 sparked a large-scale political crisis in the country, although the party did not even lose a majority in Parliament.
It is too early to predict specific results of the September 2016 Parliamentary elections, but the weaker the result for United Russia, the more reason to expect some modification of the current system towards power-sharing deals, softening of the ‘vertical of power’, emergence of a more dialogue-based environment and calls for some kind of transformation of the Russian political system.Crisis Elections EU-Russia Security
From Disapproval to Change? Russia’s Population May Surprise Putin at the Next Elections
09 Jun 2016
Security and defence have become the new front lines of the European project. The time has come to build a Security and Defence Union capable of delivering security to Europe’s citizens and the wider continent in a challenging international environment.
It should be based on five qualitative leaps: a security strategy for Europe, an institutional revamp, renewed military ambition, integration of defence capabilities and a new partnership with NATO.
With the forthcoming Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, the follow-up ‘white book’–process and the Commission’s defence action plan, 2016 offers the strategic sequence necessary for the Union to move forward.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Georg Emil Riekeles Defence Leadership Security
Georg Emil Riekeles
A Security and Defence Union
08 Jun 2016
‘Europe has never been so prosperous, so secure nor so free.’ Even if they still partly ring true today, the first words of the 2003 European Security Strategy would probably not be written in 2016. The context in which we think about security and formulate strategies has changed dramatically. Since 2003 the EU has expanded by 13 member states and NATO by 9 member states. The Lisbon Treaty has created new Common Security and Defence Policy institutions, and introduced a mutual defence clause, invoked for the first time last year.
Moreover, revolutions in Eastern Europe and in the Arab world have radically changed our neighbourhood. We have witnessed a financial and economic crisis, Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine, the rise of the so-called Islamic State, violent terrorist attacks in the very heart of Europe and a refugee crisis unprecedented since the Second World War. The instruments and institutions of European security stem from a different time and are not able to deal with the world’s changed realities. To adapt, the EU needs a new strategy, and new tools to implement it.
In our neighbourhood, Russia has increasingly used military means to achieve political goals. As you will be able to read in this issue of the European View, Europeans differ on how to deal with Russian aggression and whether NATO should provide permanent forces in Eastern Europe, thereby reassuring the Baltic countries, Poland and others. Our answer, however, must be firmly rooted in our transatlantic alliance and must abide by international law.
Recognising the de jure annexation of Crimea by Russia would represent a diminution of European security. Reaffirming the rule of law vis-à-vis Russia and strengthening our security partnerships are essential to guaranteeing our common security. As Prime Minister of Slovakia, I strived to bring my country into the EU and NATO. I have myself witnessed the strength that lies in our transatlantic and European partnerships.
The barbaric attacks in Paris and Brussels were attacks on our Western and European communities. It is Europe’s values and ways of life that are under threat. Our response must therefore be a European one, made in cooperation with our allies. European security and defence could become the new driving force of the EU, especially in this time of rising Euroscepticism and disillusionment with Europe. The time has come to place European security at the forefront of the European project.
In the wake of such tragic events, we all have an important responsibility to propose concrete solutions on how best to strengthen European security. The authors in this issue offer suggestions on how to assure cybersecurity, formulate a digital foreign policy, improve intelligence sharing, and establish a real Security and Defence Union. They also clarify the role institutions, such as NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, should play.
This issue of the European View delivers important contributions to the debate about a new European security strategy. We are witnessing a defining moment in European security. Defending our citizens is not only fundamentally important: it is literally a matter of survival.Mikuláš Dzurinda Leadership Security
European security: a defining moment?
07 Jun 2016
Ukraine is currently undergoing one of the most decisive phases since its independence. It has to both contain the Russian aggression in Donbas and deal with the consequences of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
This requires substantial effort and resources, which Ukraine is lacking. At the same time, it is also undergoing a deep and comprehensive transformation process in order to have a chance of firmly standing on its own feet. The struggle for security (survival) and the future (development) is continuing in parallel.
The article argues that the Minsk II agreements are unlikely to be implemented in the foreseeable future due to the political calculations of Russia, which is playing the blame game with Ukraine. The article also reasons that Ukraine has a unique window of opportunity to focus on reforms, thus building the pillars of its future strength, as it has been able to avoid the deterioration of the security situation in the east.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Robert Golanski Eastern Europe EU-Russia Security
One year after Minsk II: consequences and progress
25 May 2016
In the post-Soviet space as well as the Middle East, Western leaders have largely failed to heed ample evidence that the goals of the Russian leadership are fundamentally opposed to those of the EU and the US. Whereas Moscow seeks to counter Western influence and roll back the US’s role in the world, the West has proposed a win–win approach, seeking to convince Moscow that its ‘true’ interests should lead it to cooperate with the West.
When this has not worked, Western leaders have ‘compartmentalised’, isolating areas of agreement from areas of disagreement. This approach has come to the end of the road because the assumptions that undergird it are false. So long as Western powers fail to understand the fundamental incompatibility of their interests with the deeply anti-Western interests of the current power brokers in the Kremlin, they are unlikely to develop policies that achieve success.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Svante Cornell EU-Russia Foreign Policy Middle East Security
The fallacy of ‘compartmentalisation’: the West and Russia from Ukraine to Syria
25 May 2016
The second biggest contingent in Iraq after US forces, contractors have become something of a staple in contemporary conflict resolution and peacekeeping operations. The rise of private security and military firms is not a recent phenomenon. It has been a given since the end of the Cold War, thanks to a particular momentum in the market for force.
Traditional armed forces have had their budgets cut and have sometimes had to undergo drastic economic reforms. At the same time, the market for force has seen the arrival of huge numbers of highly qualified military personnel. These developments have been beneficial to the rise of private military and security companies. However, they have also exposed the weakness of international law and regulation (and EU regulation in particular) when it comes to dealing with these firms.
Read the full article in the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Anna van Oeveren Defence Security
Anna van Oeveren
ʽCry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war’: regulating private military and security companies
24 May 2016
Over the last 10 years, Russia under Putin has turned into an illiberal empire that is determined to weaken the West as a precondition for its own survival. This fact is still not fully appreciated by those Western leaders who believe that a return to cooperation with Russia is both necessary and possible.
Germany’s Social Democrats are particularly prominent among these leaders. They intend to use Germany’s 2016 presidency of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to lay the groundwork for a step-by-step confidence-building effort, eventually leading to a new European security architecture. Such hopes are utterly futile. They are based on old illusions about détente and Ostpolitik.
Moreover, they are understood by the Kremlin to be signs of weakness and appeasement. Instead of answering every Russian act of aggression with new offers for talks, the West should prepare for a long confrontation with Russia, maintain unity, and strengthen defence and deterrence.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Roland Freudenstein Defence EU-Russia Security
Why there will be no Helsinki II—and why confidence building with Putin’s Russia is a bad idea
19 May 2016
This article examines why the EU should finance defence research. The answers are found in the role the EU increasingly plays in guaranteeing its own security and providing security in Europe’s neighbourhood.
Against this backdrop, and to compensate for the steady decline in defence research and technology investment, in 2013 the European Commission suggested undertaking preparatory action in this field. This initiative has received support from the European Council and the European Parliament on several occasions.
The Parliament put itself in the driving seat for establishing a pilot project in the fiscal year 2015. All the ongoing efforts serve the purpose of establishing a fully fledged European Defence Research Programme starting in 2021. This programme could have the added value of catalysing future cooperative defence programmes, thus delivering urgently needed capabilities for European armed forces.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Michael Gahler Defence EU Institutions Security
The added value of EU defence research
12 May 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime has taken control of the traditional media in Russia: TV, radio and newspapers. As Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has stated, the Kremlin sees the mass media as a ‘weapon’.
Now Russia’s leadership is trying to take control of social media too, and for this massive operation a new information warfare tool has been mobilised—an army of fake social media Putin-fans, known as ‘trolls’.
My investigation has discovered that coordinated social media propaganda writers are twisting and manipulating the public debate in Finland, too. Trolls and bots distribute vast amounts of false information in various languages, and target individual citizens for aggressive operations.
Aggressive trolls have created a feeling of fear among some of my interviewees, causing them to stop making Russia-related comments online. Trolling has had a serious impact on freedom of speech, even outside Russia.
Thus, it should be viewed as a national security threat that needs to be addressed accordingly. The question is: how should the Kremlin’s trolls and disinformation be countered?
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Jessikka Aro Defence EU-Russia Internet Security Technology
The cyberspace war: propaganda and trolling as warfare tools
12 May 2016
Ex-post investigations of major terrorist attacks in Europe have highlighted the contradiction between the seemingly free movement of terrorists across Europe and the lack of EU-wide intelligence sharing.
In response, EU policymakers have repeatedly promised to improve intelligence sharing across Europe, and some have even floated the idea that Europol should be turned into a centralised EU criminal intelligence hub, akin to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In this article, I argue that despite the clear need for borderless intelligence sharing as a response to borderless terrorism, Europol is highly unlikely to become a genuine intelligence agency in the foreseeable future.
Experience to date with Europol suggests that it is one thing for Europe’s policymakers to make public promises to improve the fight against terrorism via better intelligence sharing across Europe, and quite another thing for them to persuade the relevant national agencies to comply.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Oldrich Bureš EU Institutions EU Member States Security
Intelligence sharing and the fight against terrorism in the EU: lessons learned from Europol
12 May 2016
Most of the refugees arriving in Europe are fleeing civil war and unrest. However, it is important to recognise how the second-order effects of climate change—which can undermine agriculture and increase competition for water and food resources—are contributing to instability and decisions to migrate.
While migratory decisions are complex, climate change is an increasingly important contributing factor: it is threatening humanity’s shared interests and collective security in many parts of the world. The cumulative effects of these trends have serious implications for the stability of nations that lack sufficient resources, good governance and the resilience to respond.
While there is a need for greater understanding of the detailed causes of migration, as well as the associated economic and political instability, a growing body of evidence links climate change, migration and conflict in troubling ways.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Michael Werz Max Hoffman Environment Migration Security Sustainability
Europe’s twenty-first century challenge: climate change, migration and security
03 May 2016
In Asia the rise of both China and India is becoming a reality. Their growth is of an unprecedented scale. While the US continues to be the only superpower, it needs the help of like-minded countries to deal with international challenges. Beyond 2030, the G3—the US, China and India as the pillars of a tri-polar world—may become a reality.
In order to cope with changes of this magnitude, increased cooperation between the US, Europe and democracies in Asia is essential. To be successful in adopting this new strategic landscape, it is necessary to strengthen the ties between Europe and democracies in Asia. In this regard, rule-making is the key area for success.
Japan is contributing to these efforts by applying a comprehensive engagement policy towards China while strengthening its alliance with the US. Establishing strategic ties with India is also important. Japan and Europe can do much to help achieve stability. After all, Japan needs a strong and engaging Europe, just as Europe needs a strong and active Japan.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Masafumi Ishii Foreign Policy Globalisation Security
Regional security in Asia: Japan’s strategy for stability and the role of Europe
03 May 2016
Calls for the permanent deployment of substantial combat forces in Eastern European NATO states, primarily in the Baltics and Poland, have been part of the debates on strategy among the member states for years. In the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, the defence capabilities of the Eastern European allies must undoubtedly be strengthened.
However, in light of the yet-to-be-implemented measures that the allies decided upon at the Wales Summit, a more general shift of international security challenges towards ‘hybrid’ warfare scenarios, Russia’s centrality in the Middle East peace process and the long-term viability of the Alliance, permanently deploying substantial combat forces in Eastern Europe would not strengthen the security of Europe and the coherence of NATO.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Roderich Kiesewetter Ingmar Zielke Defence EU-Russia Foreign Policy Security
Permanent NATO deployment is not the answer to European security
03 May 2016
The relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been conditioned by many factors, from the religious divide between Shia and Sunni interpretations of Islam to the regional role played by external forces, such as the US. We are currently witnessing the collapse of the traditional Middle East order, most dramatically in Syria.
This breakdown has been accompanied by a rapprochement between the US and Iran. But far from producing a more stable situation, it is nurturing a reaction by Sunni states, led by Saudi Arabia, that may lead to more regional rivalries and confrontation. There are two camps—the Shia led by Iran and the Sunni led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—that are colliding in several places, from Syria to Yemen.
It is a clash of divergent religious branches but above all of power and strategic interests. Thus far the tensions have, to some extent, been kept under control. But they may well escalate in the near future.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Rafael L. Bardají Islam Middle East Security Transatlantic
Rafael L. Bardají
Religion, power and chaos in the Middle East
03 May 2016
The security threats Europe is now facing, such as hybrid warfare, propaganda campaigns and information warfare, frequently include a digital dimension. At the same time, digital tools offer an immense potential for change in the European neighbourhood, not least in their ability to equip and inspire pro-democracy protesters, particularly those facing a repressive security apparatus.
Digital policy cannot therefore become an afterthought but needs to be deeply integrated into Europe’s foreign policy and diplomatic efforts. Furthermore, the US’s long-held Internet hegemony is beginning to fade, placing the EU in a good position to lead global Internet governance initiatives and ensure that they develop along open and liberal lines.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Łukasz Antoni Król Foreign Policy Internet Neighbourhood Policy Security Technology
Łukasz Antoni Król
Digital foreign policy: how digital tools can further Europe’s foreign policy goals
12 Apr 2016
The terrorist attacks in Brussels on the second day of spring 2016 have inspired renewed calls for better sharing of intelligence between the EU’s national governments. For example, Guy Verhofstadt, the chairman of the liberal (ALDE) group in the European Parliament, called on 25 March on the European Commission to propose legislation to make mandatory the exchange of counter terrorism intelligence between all 28 national services. The Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, also called for the establishment of a European Intelligence Agency.
So, is a new agency needed? In my opinion, there are good reasons for caution.
According to the Lisbon Treaty, the member states are in charge of intelligence agencies. But intelligence gathering and sharing, the traditional preserve of nation states, obviously needs to be concentrated on the continental scale. This is in order for the European continent to face up to the increasing threat from Islamic (as well as right-wing) terrorists.
The problems in the way we Europeans currently operate our ‘secret services’ are numerous.
- Some knowledge about attackers in the Charlie Hebdo (January 2015), Paris (November 2015) and Brussels (March 2016) cases existed in Europe and Turkey. This knowledge did not reach the right authorities at the right time. According to the Czech interior minister Milan Chovanec, until recently only five or six countries fully shared information in the framework of Europol, the EU police agency.
- A small common intelligence agency, the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (EU INTCEN), has existed since 2002 (originally under a different name). This body relies on publicly available information, information from EU embassies as well as information delivered by the member states. (It then passes analyses on to the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and the Political and Security Committee of the EU). The member states set the rules for data protection. EU INTCEN does not receive operational intelligence.
- A prominent EU member, the UK, is part of an intelligence alliance, calledthe Five Eyes. Comprising also the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, no other EU country has been allowed into this powerful club.
- National intelligence agencies are not working sufficiently with one another, within countries. For example in Czechia, the rivalry between the several agencies, each controlled by a different government minister, is notorious.
- Many EU members do not spend enough on intelligence, a trend exacerbated by the recent economic crisis and the efforts to balance national budgets.
If there are all these problems, why not create a European intelligence agency, which would demand a mandatory exchange of information between the member states?
Suggesting the creation of a new agency is easy; explaining how it will work under the current circumstances is another matter. In my opinion those who call for a new agency got the wrong end of the stick.
There are two main problems with setting up a European intelligence body with its own capacity to gather information.
- Firstly, EU-level bodies are notoriously ‘leaky’ when it comes to classified and secret information. Although hard evidence is hard to come by, these bodies are probably penetrated by non-European intelligence services. These services do not necessarily belong to friendly countries.
- Secondly, it is not clear which body would supervise such a new agency. The European Parliament has yet to establish a sufficient record in relation to such a delicate task.
So before the issues of trust, security of information and democratic oversight are resolved, it is hard to see how a new EU-level agency would help.
Let us therefore work much better with the tools we already have, including pragmatic cooperation with a key partner, Turkey. The European Parliament and Commission should exert a stronger pressure on national governments to implement the existing anti-terrorist legislation and fulfil their legal obligations.There are 88 binding anti-terror laws in place at the EU level.
For example, the member states need to feed databases, such as the Schengen Information System, with substantive criminal intelligence information. They need to step their cooperation within Europol. Europol and Frontex, the EU’s border control agency, should also be allowed to share information. There are many such measures which can be achieved with the existing agencies and laws.
One piece of new legislation that is sorely needed is the Passenger Name Record legislation which would allow gathering and storing travellers’ data.
The goal in all this is to increase the speed of information exchange and making sure information comes to the right authorities at the right time.
Only when we have exhausted these options, let us start contemplating a new EU-level intelligence agency.Vít Novotný EU Member States Security
A European Intelligence Agency: The Cons Outweigh the Pros
06 Apr 2016
Twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, there is no viable alternative on the horizon to NATO’s security umbrella over an expanded Europe. The idea floated a quarter of a century ago that Europe could scale down its defences and even dismantle the North Atlantic Alliance exposed a flawed fixation on an ‘end of history’ scenario that has never materialised. In practice, the forces of state nationalism and imperialist revisionism in Russia have proved stronger than those of liberalism and international cooperation with the West.
In many respects, a ‘return of history’ scenario has become more evident in and around Europe, with Russia re-emerging as a revanchist power and threatening Europe’s entire eastern flank. In addition, the EU itself faces existential problems, from the financial and institutional to the demographic and political. In a potentially unstable and fracturing continent, NATO is the sole remaining institution that upholds international security. And it may become the sole multinational organisation that can provide Europe with a measure of coherence. Moreover, NATO is the binding glue of the transatlantic link with Washington.
Read the full article in the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Janusz Bugajski Defence EU-Russia Security Transatlantic
Only NATO can defend Europe
04 Apr 2016
Security of energy supply is one of the three main objectives of the EU energy policy, on a par with competitiveness and environmental protection. However, prominence of the energy security as a policy area rose with the 2009 gas crisis and the 2014 conflict in Eastern Ukraine, prompting the EU to adopt Energy Security Strategy.
According to the strategy, EU countries should strengthen their ability to face possible supply disruption and improve coordination of their respective emergency and solidarity mechanisms. They should further reduce their dependency on particular fuels, energy suppliers and import routes and increase domestic energy production, while taking demand moderating measures.
All these goals have been long on the policy agenda of the V4 countries. After the exposure to gas crisis in 2009, considerable improvements in terms of route diversification have been made. However, there are new challenges, mainly stemming from geopolitical situation and possible new gas infrastructure that could disrupt the ongoing integration into a bigger regional gas market. V4 power sector has been long viewed as relatively unproblematic compared to gas sector but new and very serious challenges are arising with adoption of ambitious environmental policies and growing RES volumes.
This paper provides a brief overview of the main challenges and areas we view as problematic or particularly important. It is a subjective selection, covering only power and gas sector issues. To make the paper concise and relevant, we chose not to touch upon other important energy security related issues linked to oil, coal or nuclear fuel. Also, to put the discussion below into a context, we provide some key statistics for gas and power sector in V4 countries but we do this in the annex to save some space and maintain the focus.
The second part of the paper contains recommendations that would help policy-makers address the current challenges and strengthen the energy security in the Visegrad region and the EU as a whole.Energy EU Member States Resources Security
V4 – Energy Security and Regional Markets: Challenges Ahead
20 Dec 2015
After four years of war, Syria threatens the balance of its neighbours and the security of the entire Mediterranean basin. Europe’s interests are directly at stake in a conflict where it did not have the appropriate tools to react with at first: long procedures, a lack of cohesion between EU institutions, an absence of military culture in a country that shows no sign of appeasement and the inability of EU Member States to define a joint stand in the Middle East are fair criticism of Brussels’ performance.
And yet, more than four billion euros were spent to heal wounds and help suffering communities while EU diplomats try to bring all sides to the negotiating table. With regional powers such as Russia, Iran, Turkey or Saudi Arabia playing on opposite sides, it appears that no factions can reach a decisive victory on the ground, as Bashar Assad, the Islamic State and the Syrian opposition are holding on against each other. Europe learned from the conflict’s dynamics and adapted its own foreign instruments to this violent context, notably in support of partners and civil society groups.Foreign Policy Middle East Security
Innocence and War: Searching for Europe’s Strategy in Syria
15 Dec 2015
Over the past 15 years, Western powers have been engaged in numerous battles in which technology has eventually prevailed over a patient but daring field presence. Today’s adversaries, such as Islamic State, are well aware of this cultural bias: they are using our post 9/11 exhaustion to grab territories and spread offensive ideology. Western countries have no choice but to adapt partly to its adversaries’ methods. Stability and peace will require cold cultural compromises as the pursuit of our interests and values requires a new tolerance threshold towards violence.
Read the full FREE article published in the December 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Michael Benhamou Defence Security
The West and the return of violence
01 Dec 2015
Many Western politicians have drawn attention to the presence of Russian military equipment in the Donbass. NATO has released several satellite images depicting suspicious movements of the Russian army (RA) near the Ukrainian border and of border crossings of military equipment.
All of this is further confirmed by evidence that military equipment used only by the Russian Armed Forces is now in the hands of separatists and by developments in the battlefield, especially the surprising separatist counteroffensive at the beginning of August and September 2014.
In spite of the factual evidence, some European media consider the question of Russian intervention to be simply a matter of opinion. They approach the issue from this perspective, apparently in order to maintain as much objectivity as possible. This uncertainty on the part of the media is supported by public figures who reject the idea that Russia is involved in the conflict.
The end result of all this is that views on the issue are considered to be nothing more than personal opinions. The contradictions between the facts on the ground and media reporting prevent parts of European society from understanding what is happening in Ukraine.
As we see it, the situation in Ukraine must not be perceived as a matter of opinion. The public has a right to true and clear information and this is our contribution to providing it.
Using publicly available information, the paper provides irrefutable evidence that Russia has provided weapons to Ukrainian separatists and intervened in Ukraine. It is the presence of T-72B3 tanks, in particular, that proves beyond all doubt that the Russian military has intervened in Ukraine.Defence Eastern Europe EU-Russia Security
Caught in the Act: Proof of Russian Military Intervention in Ukraine
30 Jul 2015
The ongoing saga of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme continues this month.
Sizeable elements, notably in the US, question the very basis of the negotiations while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech to the US Congress declared Iran the great enemy of our time. But the European Union remains committed to finding a diplomatic solution.
Many deadlines have come and gone since negotiations began in early 2014. Many critics point to the lack of a substantive agreement after so many rounds of negotiations as evidence of failure. But whether or not a deal gets brokered over the next few weeks, the very continuation of these negotiations bears testament to the ongoing success of European diplomacy.
After the deadline last November resulted in deadlock, Catherine Ashton, former EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy stood side by side with Muhammad Javad Zarif to announce that talks between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the international interlocutors known as the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) were to be extended for a further seven months. Though announcing no concrete result, the press conference was remarkable.
There was to be no talk of aggression, none of the militarism that marked the Ahmedinejad era of Iranian politics. Rather, we saw an affirmation the commitment of both sides to find a diplomatic resolution.
This transformation is the result of a wide array of factors: the inauguration of the Hassan Rouhani administration; the coalescence of Western and Iranian interests in opposition to the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria; and likely, the combined economic imperatives of the international sanction regime and imploding oil prices. And of course, the prioritisation of the issue by the US.
However, one, often overlooked, factor was central in keeping Iran at the negotiating table and ensuring that diplomacy did not make way to confrontation: the role of the European Union as a diplomatic power and mediator. The devoted commitment of the EU to seeking a diplomatic solution is paying dividends. Its diplomacy with Iran marks one small victory of European diplomacy in the post-Lisbon Treaty era.
When talks have stalled, some have called for an escalation of sanctions against Iran. Maybe they are right. Perhaps, negotiations with the Islamic Republic are futile. And certainly such an approach would be legitimate if the Iranian government pulled out of negotiations or even if its negotiation stance was one of obfuscation or obstruction. But this does not seem to be the case. No sources are claiming a deadlock, rather diplomacy is, far from atypically, taking longer to pay dividends than originally expected. Diplomacy with Iran is remarkable precisely because it has been so unremarkable.
In such a context, calls for escalating sanctions are, somewhat understandably, viewed by Iran as akin to asking them to negotiate under threat. Such a strategy, rather than paving the way for a solution, seems likely to only encourage the pursuit of a nuclear programme as a source of Iranian national pride.
Therefore, the resolute determination of the European Union to pursue a diplomatic solution is of immeasurable importance. Catherine Ashton, as EU lead negotiator with Iran, has never wavered from commitment to brokering a deal with Iran. While US-Iran relations still threaten to return to a conflict between “The Axis of Evil” and “The Great Satan” the EU has treated Iran as a legitimate negotiating partner and in doing so has helped ensure that they are one. The EU has emerged as a credible negotiator that Iran is willing to put its faith in and overcome its continued distrust for the West.
European policy has been instrumental in committing the Rouhani administration to negotiations. The current government in Tehran is now utterly dependent on reaching a negotiated settlement with the P5+1. If Rouhani cannot deliver an agreement with some relief from international sanctions, it seems unlikely that his administration can survive long.
Of course, Iran is unlikely to be a major ally of the West in the foreseeable future. Its confessional vision of the world order clashes fundamentally with liberal democratic conceptions of the international system. Iran’s long term support for various terrorist groups in its neighbourhood and its existential conflict with Israel further prevent any true alliance emerging.
Nonetheless, it is now increasingly apparent that a convergence of Western and Iranian interests is emerging in the Middle East, at least in the short to medium term.
While Iran has fomented regional disorder in the past, it is clear that the Rouhani administration recognises the danger of weak and/or failed states on its border. As such, the Islamic Republic has emerged as an important component of efforts to build stable state institutions in its neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan. Iranian influence in Iraq is far from universally positive but without it, it is unlikely a coalition could have been established around Haider al-Abadi who was elected prime minister last July. Similarly, the personal intervention of Iranian foreign minister Muhammad Javad Zarif was instrumental in cobbling together a government in the fragile politics of Afghanistan.
Most pertinently, however, is the joint threat that the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ poses. In a fundamentalist interpretation of Sunni Islam, IS strives to ‘re-establish’ Muhammad’s caliphate and unite the world’s Muslim population into a united state, Dar al’Islam, in conflict with the world of war (read: infidel), Dar al’harb. To this end both the infidel West and apostate Shi’ia Iran are sworn enemies but geographical proximity amplifies the threat to the Islamic Republic. Although unwilling to follow US leadership and join international efforts against IS, Iran has joined the conflict against IS with a number of military interventions in Iraq. Some Iraqi politicians have even stated their belief that Iran is more committed to the fight than the West.
As we enter 2015, the process of negotiation has been firmly established as the solution to international tensions arising from the Iranian pursuit of its nuclear programme and opportunities for strategic partnership are emerging. More importantly, a return to the confrontational politics of the Ahmedinejad era seems unlikely. True, it would likely be impossible to have arrived at this point without the efforts of the White House but similarly diplomatic progress is hard to conceive of with the Trojan efforts of the EU and Catherine Ashton in particular. The continuation of negotiations with Iran is evidence that the EU has an important role to play in international diplomacy.Eoin O’Driscoll Defence Foreign Policy Middle East Security
Devoted to diplomacy: the case of EU-Iran nuclear talks
19 Mar 2015
The ceasefire negotiated in Minsk last week by the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine (with delegates from the Separatists) is supposed to end the fighting, it fixes the ‘line of contact’ along the old one of the Minsk I agreement of September 2014, postulates the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, assures administrative decentralisation and Ukrainian government control of the border with Russia, and calls for the withdrawal of all foreign troops.
But we can safely predict that a sizeable part of these conditions will not be met, above all by Russia and the separatists. That is because it is obviously in the interest of the Russian government to destabilise Ukraine and try to prevent a successful transformation of Ukraine into a free and prosperous country with the rule of law. Hence, the confrontation with Russia will continue, and last week has shown that the United States is an indispensable strategic partner for Europe when our most vital interests are concerned.
IN FOCUS is a new series of commentaries in which the Martens Centre looks closely at current policy topics, dissects the available evidence and challenges prevailing opinions.Defence Democracy Eastern Europe EU-Russia Security
Ukraine after Minsk II: The military situation on the ground
13 Feb 2015
The Ukraine crisis has reignited debate in Europe surrounding the EU’s lack of a fully functioning single energy market. It has brought home to all member states the general need for a more coordinated energy policy, even though they may differ on aspects of what needs to be done. This research highlights that integration of the internal single energy market should still be the EU’s main instrument to reach its three goals of cost competitiveness, security and emission reduction.
A roadmap for completing the single energy market is proposed based on a harmonised EU-wide system of renewable energy subsidies and significant infrastructure investment in many Central and East European member states. These smart investments would form part of a coherent, long-term investment plan for the European energy sector and would enable these member states to improve their energy security through greater investment in gas storage and interconnectors.
The goals of energy security, affordability and sustainability have never been higher on the EU’s agenda. All three goals would be served if Europe truly unified its energy market. National leaders have it in their hands to complete this slow and difficult integration process, if they can just summon up the necessary political will to do so.Energy Renewable Energy Resources Security Sustainability
Refuelling Europe: A Roadmap for completing the Single Energy Market
22 Dec 2014
Jana Hybášková has served as the Ambassador of the European Union in Iraq for almost four years. She speaks fluent Arabic and is highly familiar with the current situation in Iraq. When speaking about the conflict with the Islamic State, she points out the influential role played by Chechnya: “We confirmed that key flows of Islamic State arms, munitions and finance comes through Chechnya.”
What type of conflict do we see in Iraq? Is it really a religious war?
Religions plays a very important role, IS is instrumentalising Sunni Salafi Islam, which has vast potential for radicalisation. They’re worse than Al-Qaeda. But it’s much more than just a religious war, enforcing a sectarian type of religion. Organised crime, including the trafficking of women and children, selling human organs and illicit oil plays a major role in the Iraqi conflict. The antiquities market is similarly important. They use the experiences of Ba’ath military command and tactics and use the Caucasus Emirate as a model for their proto-state.
Who are actually the people behind IS and who is their leader Abu-Bakr al Baghdadi?
No one here knows the proper identity of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He definitely is not the man from the Youtube pictures from one of the Mosul mosques. We only know, from certain privileged information, that from the very beginning he created a centralised leadership nucleus together with two other prominent Ba’ath leaders. That means that the old Ba’athist party is a significant presence in the creation and the structure of the Islamic state. The Chechnyan presence is also significant. This is not widely acknowledged in Europe but we have confirmed that key flows of Islamic State arms, munitions and finance comes through Chechnya. It is well known that there were contacts between the Chechnyan Islamist Dokka Umarov’s representatives and Iraqi insurgency groups during the winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
Unfortunately, the Caucasus Emirate has served as a model for the Islamic State. So if we continue to label Islamic state as simply a terrorist group, we are missing the point and we are making a strategic mistake. We have to admit that they are state structures. It is not just a group of people who performing hit-and-run attacks, they are a group of people who put international advertisements seeking to hire top oil engineers and experts, they are a group of people who run a financial economy, who have ministries, who desperately try to provide nine millions of people with 24/7 electricity and who are able to generate quite substantial means from exporting oil. Unfortunately, Islamic state is much more than a terrorist group.
Is the Islamic State structure now strong enough to survive the elimination of its current leadership?
I think that the future is now being decided in Kobane. The Battle for Kobane is reminiscent of the Somme or Verdun. It is a place of no strategic importance but it has become a war of attrition consuming more and more Islamic State resources. The Battle for Kobane is reducing and degrading the military capacities of the Islamic State, forcing withdrawal from places such as Baiji or Zumar Zhoud, connecting Kurdistan and Sinjan, which are more significant strategically. Holding the Islamic State at Kobane is, therefore, likely more effective than airstrikes. Of course, airstrikes can be effective if used in conjunction with Iraqi security forces on the ground. At the moment Iraqi security forces require major restructuring, training and changes in command structures. All this, however, will take a considerable amount of time.
Does Islamic State, with all its brutality, have the support of the general population?
We do not have very precise information about what is happening inside of the Islamic State. The brutality there is enormous. We have learned of Pol Pot style deportations of populations, families are divided, males and females are segregated, non-Sunni men are humiliated and sent to areas out of the key urban cities while women are enslaved. On the other hand, we have very clear information about some Sunni tribes trying to resist IS. Sadly I recently received information that the Abu-Nimer tribe that resisted IS was recently executed. The same fate is likely awaiting the Barawa family which is trying to protect the strategic Haditha town. There are victims not only among Christians and Yazidis but also among the Sunnis.
There are around 1.8 million internally displaced people and refugees, around half a million people have no access to humanitarian assistance. They are in the deserts, the Kurdish mountains to the North and south of Kirkuk. In the North we have a very dramatic humanitarian crisis where we cannot reach around 200 000 Sunnis. Some Sunnis from the area around Kirkuk have now no other option than to return back to the Islamic State. This should be a serious warning for us. At the same time, as I have already said, IS is developing a state structure – it provides electricity and water to people, it runs ministries, shops and hospitals which wasn’t always the case under Maliki’s administration.
You are talking about Sunni resistance. So the fight isn’t just between the Muslims and ‘the others’?
The key enemies of the IS are the Shia, not the Christians or Yazidis. But the enemies of IS include also non-radical Sunnis. For instance the Kurds are predominantly Sunni but they are still on the other side of the barricade. IS is pushing a very strict type of Salafi Islam called the Raqqa law which bans sports; music; cigarettes; alcohol and forces women to stay at home. Many Sunnis are, on the contrary, quite liberal. But of course the position of their Sunni opposition is much better than that of Christians. The Yazidis are worst off, they are not ‘people of the Book’ and are considered worshippers of devil and therefore are targets for genocide and extermination.
Who is buying all the illicit things like oil or women?
I cannot comment on this, it is currently- being investigated by the United Nations.
How many fighters does the Islamic State control? In a vast territory of 120 000 km2 with 9 million inhabitants, they have to resist many enemies: Kurds, the Syrian army, Western armies and others. How do they manage this?
Estimates differ so much that I’m not going to say an exact number. I understand that for the Europeans the issue of foreign fighters is extremely important and highlighted but there are definitely much more foreign fighters coming from Arab and Islamic countries than from the European Union. I mean fighters from Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, and Algeria and of course Pakistan and Afghanistan but also a vast number of the Chechnyans and people from the Islamic component of the former States of Soviet Republic. The leader of the Islamic State of Chechnya Dokka Umarov offers the IS a great support.
Is IS a threat for the European Union? Do they intend to commit terrorist attacks in Europe as they say in their online magazine Dabiq?
I don’t think that at this very moment they will commit an attack in Europe. They are now concentrating on building the state, on building their internal structure and strengthening internal statehood. How this would in long-term reflect European security is of course a big question. However, European concern should be focused on the 50 million refugees and displaced in the world. More than 2.5 million refugees are in the vicinity of Europe, most of them coming from Iraq and Syria. This refugee crisis in the immediate vicinity of Europe cannot stay unnoticed. It will definitely influence Europe economically but also will have security repercussions.
What should Europe do now?
Some Member States are offering military support, but the issue is much broader. The current coalition has sixty eight states that offer a wide range of supports. However, I think we could be better organized through EU military staff, especially on the information side. I would actually create an EU information fusion centre on the military activities of the Member State but this must be done by the Member States. The European External Action Service cannot play any role in this beyond suggestion. I’m very grateful to Germany that just donated 82 million dollars for humanitarian assistance to Iraq which is an enormous amount. I’m also happy with the support of France, UK, Italy, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden. Unfortunately I must be critical of the United Nations structures which are quite slow.
We also need to push the new Iraqi leadership, the government lead by the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, towards reconciliation, to bring back justice, to approve a law on federal courts and a provincial law on federalisation. The Sunnis felt abused in Iraq during Nuri al-Maliki’s government, this must change. We must also support a dialogue about the oil revenue sharing between the Kurds and the rest of Iraq in order to bring Kurds back to the table and to empower much better cooperation and coordination between the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi security forces.
Was this our mistake during Nuri al-Maliki government, that we didn’t pressure him enough to make the necessary reforms?
Yes, we should have exercised much stronger international pressure so that he would lead an inclusive government and perform the necessary reforms. But we all turned mainly to the United States. Unfortunately, Obama decided in 2011 to evaporate the US presence in Iraq almost overnight. The word ‘evaporate’ describes this decision, because he didn’t negotiate any kind of long-term post-presence strategy. That was the wrong decision and we are paying the price for it now. Maliki was denying all the legitimate needs of the Sunni population, he didn’t issue amnesty for tens of thousands of illegally detained Sunni hostages, he abused counterterrorism laws and he couldn’t ensure basic services to the province of Anbar.
When the Sunni population in Anbar started to demonstrate, the predominantly Shiite security forces massacred them in Hawija. This Hawija massacre was never properly investigated. So Sunnis were asking and asking the Iraqi government for protection, health, education and energy services for more than fourteen months and none came for them, on the contrary they had to face security oppression from the Shia militias. So they turned for protection to the Syrian jihadist group Al-Nusra, the former high level representatives of the Iraqi Ba’ath party and to the Chechnyan leaders.
How long can the conflict last?
It will be a long-term engagement. I don’t see it as a matter of weeks or months.
Can Iraq as a state hold together?
After being here for three and a half years I’m a strong believer in the country. The chance still exists but we need a lot of work, energy and money. The future of the whole region is questionable.
Interviewed by Vladka Vojtiskova, edited by Eoin O’Driscoll.
Jana Hybášková serves as the Ambassador of the European Union in Iraq (since 2011). She is a Czech politician and diplomat; from 2004 to 2009 she was a Member of the European Parliament for the European People’s Party. She graduated in Arabic at Charles University in Prague, she was Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Slovenia, Qatar and Kuwait.Foreign Policy Islam Religion Security
Islamic State in Iraq is inspired by Chechnyan Emirate
25 Nov 2014
After the Second World War it became clear that several European countries had failed to meet their defence tasks in the years before this war unfolded. In the Netherlands a broad consensus emerged that it was necessary to increase the level of defence spending. In the beginning of the fifties the share of defence in terms of GDP raised from around 4% to almost 5% GDP. However, in the late 1950s this share dropped to 3% GDP. In the thirty years of the Cold War the relative share of defence remained stable around the 3% GDP. After the fall of the Berlin Wall this share dropped sharply. Nowadays, Dutch defence expenditure is scarcely more than 1% GDP (1.1% GDP in 2013).
As a consequence Dutch defence is weak, and it remains to be seen whether we can contribute significantly to the necessary fight against the Islamic State (IS) or deliver a reasonable share for a new fast NATO force protecting the eastern border of Europe. And there is no room for other challenges that might occur in the (near) future.
However, except the USA, the Dutch situation of decreasing defence expenditures since the war is no exception. In figure 1 the share of defence expenditure as a percentage of GDP is shown for several NATO states as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, France, USA and UK.
Figure 1: Defence Expenditure level (% GDP) in NATO countries
It should be noticed that the defence expenditure share of Germany, Belgium and Spain are somewhat lower than the Netherlands. But also the level of France and UK, which have been important defence powers, have been decreased significantly. Nevertheless, both countries can still meet the NATO obligation to spend at least 2% GDP on defence. However, this is not case for the Netherlands (and Belgium, Germany and Spain also). For the USA the large shares of Korean-war (13%) and the Cold-War (6%) are already history. Due to the war against terrorism the shares have been raised at the beginning of the 21st century.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration changed this policy and the level declined again, though remains well above the NATO norm. Recently, Obama delicately points out the imbalance within NATO. He stressed that Europe should do more to acquire its own safety guarantee. This also in the knowledge that many countries in Europe have further reduced their defence expenditures since the euro crisis.
In the Netherlands, recently, a policy change has been made. In 2015 the defence budget will raise with 100 million euro. However, this is hardly more than the estimated GDP increase of the current expenditure level, so that the Dutch share at most slightly increases. This is of course not sufficient at all. Therefore, I would suggest a clear budget norm for defence for the coming years not only for the Netherlands but for other EU countries as well. Also because the danger is considerable that when the current tension in the world will decrease or there will be a new budgetary crisis our territory protection will be placed at the bottom of the priority list again.
In my view, the trend rate of the defence spending should exceed GDP growth significantly because only on this condition the Netherlands (and others) will meet the NATO standard of 2% of GDP in due term. If we really want to give priority to international peace and security, a significant impulse towards defence is necessary and also a clear budget norm to achieve it.
1. Data have been given since the moment that countries have joined NATO (see Military Expenditure Database van Stockholm International Peace Research Institute http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/milex_database)Raymond H.J.M Gradus Defence EU Member States Security
Raymond H.J.M Gradus
Defence spending: A clear budget norm is necessary
14 Nov 2014
The abduction of Estonian Secret Service Official Eston Kohver was an extraordinary event, even by the standards of the Cold War. It was yet another episode in the series of moves which Russia has been making recently to put pressure on NATO. Russian nuclear bombers have made incursions into US and Canadian air defence identification zones, Russia has seized the Lithuanian flagship vessel in international waters and Russian aircrafts have been violating NATO airspace with an increased frequency.
This is why Kohver is neither an Estonian-Russian problem, nor an isolated incident in a security operation gone off track. It is part of Russia’s attempt to undermine the system of Euro-Atlantic security.
Russia is pushing NATO to its extremes, testing its unity. In a run-up to the latest NATO Summit, a number of NATO members worried that Moscow would view NATO’s resolve to strengthen security and defence capabilities on its Eastern frontiers as a provocation. The Russians now are making it clear that they do. If the Kremlin has its way, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will enjoy NATO’s collective defence guarantees only formally, without having the needed military capabilities. If there are attempts to change this, there will be costs. The abduction of Kohver, for instance.
By attacking NATO on its own territory, Russia is also trying to put a final bullet into NATO’s enlargement agenda. Attacks on NATO’s security will divert attention to the challenges within the current borders. As NATO is regrouping to defend its existing members, any talk about extending security guarantees to Georgia, with 20% of its territory under Russian occupation, or to Ukraine, with an open economic, political and military confrontation with Moscow, becomes obsolete.
Vladimir Putin aspires for a resurrected Empire as his legacy. Getting back Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, is not an option. Even Putin must understand that. By launching an offensive on NATO members, however, Moscow is pushing the line of defence further away from Ukraine, away from Georgia. Moscow empowers those who oppose enlargement and assert that accepting the Baltic countries to NATO was a mistake. It is part of Russia’s well-orchestrated plan to impose on the West a new ‘Munich’ agreement. This would imply abandoning any plans to bring democracy to Georgia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, thus forcing them to become the vassals of Moscow, once again.
Therefore, Kohver is a prisoner of war, a war which Putin has declared on the West. The fact that we have not found a name for this war yet, does not make his abduction in a foggy Baltic forest any less sinister.Salome Samadashvili Baltic Defence Eastern Europe EU-Russia Security
Eston Kohver: a prisoner of war?
29 Sep 2014
For the time being, France is still committed to delivering both Mistrals to Russia, but on the other hand, it is unthinkable that France would help modernise the Russian navy given the aggressive behaviour of Russia in Ukraine and the general future outlook for the whole region – and especially the rather offensive character of the weapon system concerned. This commentary assesses the viable alternative to the sale of the Mistrals to Russia.
IN FOCUS is a new series of commentaries in which the Martens Centre looks closely at current policy topics, dissects the available evidence and challenges prevailing opinions.Defence EU Member States EU-Russia Security
EU-Russia relations: How the EU should handle the Mistral case
16 Sep 2014
On the 1st of August 1975, the then Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave was one of the signatories of the Helsinki Final act governing relations between European states. He signed along the United States, all other European countries (except Albania), and the USSR, which at the time encompassed both Russia and Ukraine.
Article one of the Helsinki Final Act said that the signatory states would “respect each other’s sovereign equality, juridical equality and territorial integrity” and that they would refrain from the “use of force or the threat of the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”.
As a small militarily neutral European state, Ireland has a greater interest, even than has a state which enjoys the comfort of a military alliance, in ensuring that these clear interstate principles are respected.
The Russian annexation of Crimea by force and its present increasingly overt invasion of Eastern Ukraine is obviously a flagrant breach of the Helsinki Final Act. It is the first of its kind since the end of the Second World War, unless one includes the NATO action against former Yugoslavia over the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, which was then part of sovereign former Yugoslav territory. I argued at the time that this was a dangerous precedent.
As Taoiseach, I happened to have been invited to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the very day the Assembly was voting to admit the Russian Federation to membership of the Council. I spoke in favour of Russian accession. Russia became a member on 28 February 1996. The Council of Europe is the source of a dense and comprehensive network of treaties on many topics, including human rights. The Council of Europe, and its Treaties, only have meaning to the extent that its members are willing to abide by international law.
The European Union itself also rests on the foundation of respect for international law. The EU only EXISTS because there is an assumption that international Treaties will be respected in ALL circumstances. The EU has no force to govern its own members beyond the force of international law in the form of EU Treaties. The European Court of Justice interprets these Treaties and its rulings are accepted by all EU states.
Dividing the EU has been a long standing Russian goal, and President Putin’s aggressive tactics appear to be succeeding in the goal of dividing the EU, in a way that previous Russian efforts have failed. At a meeting I attended last June, the new EU Foreign Representative, Federica Mogherini, admitted that, as then Italian Foreign Minister, she had been “advocating for Putin” within the EU. Her promotion will now encourage Putin, and is more eloquent than any verbal warning he may have been given about the EU ending its “partnership “with Russia, whatever that means.
Within the EU, countries like Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Italy are relatively accommodative towards what Russia is doing, while others, like Lithuania, Poland, Estonia and Latvia are alarmed and looking for resolute action. The bigger EU states are, painfully and unsuccessfully, trying to balance commercial interests against professed principles. The Russian tactics are very similar to those adopted by Hitler in his dealings with the Czechs in 1938, and the present tactics of the EU are not dissimilar to those adopted by the French and British Governments of the day.
As 28 nations, the EU will never be able to move with the dexterity of an autocracy like Russia, but if it is not to have its policies dictated in the Kremlin, as a result Russian pressure on energy supplies, it needs to make a radical change in its own energy policies. It needs to build a proper energy union in Europe, independent of Russia, with complete inter connection of its energy distribution grids. That will require a lot of (job creating) investment, and the diversion of funds from current consumption. But a long term decision like this would create a new momentum with which Russia could not ignore.
The EU also needs to reflect on the contradictory messages it is sending out about nuclear disarmament.
Libya, which had got rid of its nuclear weapons programme, was attacked by EU countries, who were supporting the ouster of the Gaddafi regime. In an agreement to encourage it to give up the nuclear weapons on its territory, Ukraine’s sovereign integrity was guaranteed, in the Budapest memorandum, by a number of countries, including Russia, the UK, and France. Against the background of what happened in Libya, more recent developments in Eastern Ukraine reduce the incentives for nuclear disarmament in a very dangerous way.
Given the vast economic superiority that EU countries enjoy over Russia, it is surprising that they have so little influence on it. If EU countries refused to buy Russian gas, Putin would have to stop and think. But the effect of such a decision would hurt some EU countries much more than others, and that would require the EU to set up a budget big enough to compensate the countries that would suffer the most. The biggest resistance to this would come from countries, like the UK, that do not want a large EU budget. Likewise German business interests who are heavily invested in Russia.
It is really difficult to see who can now stop Putin, except perhaps an awakened Russian public opinion that will become sickened by the casualties Russian soldiers will suffer in a needless war against another Slav country.John Bruton Defence EU-Russia Security
Events in Ukraine threaten both the international rule of law and nuclear non-proliferation
05 Sep 2014
Russia’s tactics in annexing Crimea and destabilising Ukraine have torn up the assumptions, on which the relationship between the West and Russia had been based since the end of the Second World War.
Forcible annexations of neighbouring territory, a reality in the 1930’s, are now a reality again, thanks to what has happened in Crimea.
Power politics, and spheres of influence of great power, have replaced international law and respect for sovereignty, as the motive forces of European security.
As recently as 1994, EU countries, including Britain and France, reached an international agreement with Russia guaranteeing Ukraine’s frontiers, in return for the non trivial matter of Ukraine abandoning its nuclear weapons, and thereby weakening its deterrent security capacity in an important way. With the annexation of Crimea, that agreement has now been put in the bin.
Already, the EU is visibly divided on how to respond, even though international law on this matter is clear.
On the 1 August 1975, the then Irish Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave was one of the signatories of the Helsinki Final act governing relations between European states. He signed along the United States, all other European countries (except Albania), and the USSR, which at the time encompassed both Russia and Ukraine.
Article one of the Helsinki Final Act said that the signatory states would “respect each other’s sovereign equality, juridical equality and territorial integrity”, and that they would refrain from the “use of force or the threat of the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”.
As a small militarily neutral European state, Ireland has a greater interest, even than has a state which enjoys the comfort of a military alliance, in ensuring that these clear interstate principles are respected.
As Taoiseach, I happened to have been invited to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the very day the Assembly was voting to admit the Russian Federation to membership of the Council. I spoke in favour of Russian accession. Russia became a member on 28 February 1996. The Council of Europe is the source of a dense and comprehensive network of treaties on many topics, including human rights. The Council of Europe, and its Treaties, only have meaning to the extent that its members are willing to abide by international law.
The European Union also rests on the foundation of respect for international law. The EU only EXISTS because there is an assumption that international Treaties will be respected in ALL circumstances. The EU has no force to govern its own members beyond the force of international law in the form of EU Treaties. The European Court of Justice interprets these Treaties and its rulings are accepted by all EU states.
Dividing the EU has been a long standing Russian goal, and President Putin’s aggressive tactics appear to be succeeding in the goal of dividing the EU, in a way that previous Russian efforts have failed. At one end of the spectrum, countries like Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Italy and Hungary are relatively accommodative towards what Russia is doing, while others, like Lithuania, Poland, Estonia and Latvia are alarmed and looking for resolute action. The bigger EU states are, painfully and unsuccessfully, trying to balance commercial interests against professed principles
The talks in Geneva yesterday have had two important tactical outcomes, the fact that Russia appeared to do business with the new Ukrainian authorities at all, and that it agreed to a request to all armed groups to desist from forcibly occupying official buildings. This will presumably apply equally to the Maidan protesters in Kiev as to the pro Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine. But as Russia does not accept any responsibility for the pro Russian protesters inside Ukraine, Russia will be able to wash its hands of responsibility if the occupations continue.
The key test will be whether the Presidential elections take place peaceably and fairly in May, and whether outside election observers are allowed to do their work.
Putin has shown that he is capable of moving fast, and of changing direction unexpectedly to suit the needs of the moment, while Europe is still laboriously scratching its head.
As 28 nations, the EU will never be able to move with the dexterity of an autocracy like Russia, but if it is not to have its policies dictated in the Kremlin, as a result Russian pressure on energy supplies, it needs to make a radical change in its own energy policies. It needs to build a proper energy union in Europe, independent of Russia, with complete inter connection of its energy distribution grids. That will require a lot of investment, and the diversion of funds from current consumption. But a long term decision like this would create a new momentum with which Russia could not ignore.John Bruton EU-Russia Foreign Policy Security
Putin is splitting up the EU, and tearing up Europe’s post war security order
18 Apr 2014
Recent months have seen rather little enthusiasm from security experts regarding the upcoming Defence Summit on 19 December. It seems as if despite the pressing issue of increasing security challenges around the EU, no vital decisions are expected to be made when EU leaders will meet this week.
And this although at the beginning experts and politicians were thrilled at the prospect of having a summit that mainly focuses on defence issues with the aim to push member states out of their national defence policy closets. The latest report by the European External Action Service (EEAS) on CSDP in October 2013 outlines ambitious plans and ideas to improve the European defence system that have been on the table for years. The question is, will states move beyond official statements and promises?
Certainly, the pre-Christmas summit lays the ground for the European Council to press ahead with reforms in the areas of operational effectiveness, defence capabilities and the strengthening of Europe’s defence industry. Issues to be dealt with are the reinforcement of the capabilities of the European Defence Agency (EDA), avoiding duplications between NATO and the EU and concrete steps to prevent uncoordinated national budget cuts by member states. Some Brussels insiders, however, fear that discussions on the NSA surveillance affair and calls from southern European countries to tackle illegal immigration at Europe’s external borders could attract most of the attention at the summit.
Notwithstanding these concerns, some aspects should definitely be discussed properly at this summit:
First, indeed, since the ratification of the Code of Conduct of Pooling & Sharing initiatives in by EU Defence Ministers just a year ago, some member states have already made a remarkable effort to harmonise their military capabilities. Take for instance the Netherlands and Belgium, who are conducting coordinated naval training and logistics. Nevertheless, the fact that any naval missions abroad still remain in the hands of each member state has been rightly criticised by senior military officials. We definitely need more investigation in this matter.
Pooling & Sharing initiatives have partly been implemented, as for instance in areas of satellite communication, and this testifies a positive trend in this regard.
But again, fragmented governmental satellite communication systems co-exist. The same applies to EU-wide cooperation in research and technology on cyber defence.
Second, recent joint initiatives on air-to-air refuelling (AAR) by Italy, France and Sweden in September are indeed crucial steps to improve Europe’s military capacities. Nevertheless, cooperation on AAR should be further developed to eventually establish a European multinational multirole tankers fleet.
Third, again the EU should grab the opportunity at this gathering to advertise the increasing role of the European Defence Agency (EDA) in matters of security and defence policy, established to better coordinate member states’ activities in technology, research and procurement. In particular, EDA’s particular capacities and skills to encourage more consultation by EU nations with the agency are of importance.
Fourth, states complaining of high defence expenditures should use the summit to advocate the introduction of a European Defence Review, to get an idea of what Europe’s national military capabilities are. In addition, Europe requires a serious debate on responsibility and effectiveness when it comes to the deployment of EU battle groups.
Fifth, the provision of a fair and effective European defence market, offering also SMEs the opportunity to have a share of the production, should be high on the agenda.
It is understandable that in times of financial crisis member states are obliged to reduce their defence spending.
While it is always debatable whether to engage in any military operation with our partners, capacities, skills and levels of cooperation need to be developed to the extent that we are able to do so if necessary. Some EU states need a wake-up call at this defence summit to realise that more cooperation on the EU level actually means investing less and gaining more.
Let’s face it, our continent cannot afford to lag behind in defence capabilities, given an increase in unpredictable security issues, in particular at Europe’s southern borders, accompanied by a gradual strategic shift of US interest to the Asia Pacific region.Benjamin Tedla Hecker Defence Foreign Policy Leadership Security
Benjamin Tedla Hecker
Political will required to achieve concrete results during today’s Defence Summit
18 Dec 2013
Georgia is unquestionably the most open polity of the South Caucasus, and its political development will be a bell-wether for the prospects of democratic development across Eurasia. This research paper analyses the achievements and shortcomings of the Rose Revolution era as well as the prospects for the country under the leadership of the Georgian Dream Coalition. Furthermore, it discusses the influence of Russia on Georgia’s development on the path of European integration and democracy-building. In the past decade, Georgia has transformed from a failed state to a functioning one; President Saakashvili helped modernise Georgia’s conception of itself and moved Georgia irrevocably toward integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions. Prime Minister Ivanishvili has continued Georgia’s foreign policy priorities of EU and NATO integration, declaring these to be irreversible. Meanwhile, Russia is doubling down on its efforts at coercive integration of the post-Soviet space, with the explicit purpose of undermining the east–west corridor. Should Georgia’s democratic progress be reversed, the very feasibility of democratic governance in post-Soviet countries as a whole would be called into question. Should it continue to progress towards European norms, the viability of the model of state–society relations that Vladimir Putin euphemistically terms ‘sovereign democracy’ would instead be challenged.Democracy EU-Russia Foreign Policy Neighbourhood Policy Security
Getting Georgia Right
02 Dec 2013
GENEVA WAS THE BEST POSSIBLE DEAL BUT CAN ONLY BE THE FIRST STEP (By Marc-Michael Blum)
The Joint Plan of Action regarding Iran’s nuclear programme that was agreed on in Geneva on November 25th, also often just referred to as “the deal”, has produced strong opinions either in favour or against. Even though at a CES publication launch earlier this year I said I feel rather pessimistic regarding a solution of the issues associated with the Iranian nuclear programme I will side with those feeling positive about the deal. Why that? Because it was the best possible deal at this moment and it is preferable to having no deal at all.
Yes, the sanctions imposed on Iran have hit the countries economy hard and they probably constitute the major factor for Iran to get back to productive negotiations but anybody who might think that these sanctions would bring Iran to the point to fully give up its nuclear programme (and the potential to fuel processing and enrichment specifically) made unrealistic assumptions in the first place. Apart from the fact that external pressure often produces even stronger resistance to give in, the complicated machinery that makes up Iran’s political decision-making process and power distribution would not allow for anything going beyond to what was agreed in Geneva at this point.
So while I agree that ending enrichment activities and the dismantling of facilities would have been preferable it was clear from the beginning that this could only come at the end of a long process and not at the beginning of a 6-month interim agreement. So what do we get? If the agreement is followed (and I will say something about cheating in a moment) Iran will suspend 20% enrichment of Uranium and will either turn existing stockpiles into oxide form, which is not usable for weapons, or reduce the enrichment grade by blending. In addition no more centrifuges can be added and recently installed ones cannot be commissioned. Also work on the Arak reactor that is a possible source for weapons-grade Plutonium is suspended. This is combined with rather strong verification provisions that allow IAEA inspector unprecedented access to facilities.
All of this would ensure that that the time Iran needs for a burst programme to produce enough highly enriched Uranium (or Plutonium) for a nuclear weapon is significantly lengthened instead of shortened as it would have been the case without a deal and with new centrifuges installed. This gives time for further negotiations aiming at a more long term if not final resolution of the dispute on the Iranian nuclear programme and this is what this agreement is all about: Time. But what if the Iranians cheat? If there are strong indications that the agreement is not followed it should be declared void and sanctions should be tightened.
Admittedly it might be hard to do that at some point and its time for the 3+3 to define their red lines now. However if you assume that Iran will for sure cheat there is no need for any further attempts to resolve the problem by diplomatic means. The only option then, if you were not willing to accept an Iranian bomb, would be military action with all possible consequences. This means giving up political options and in my opinion is highly irresponsible. If the decision for Iran’s leadership is either to go for a nuclear weapon to be immune to attempts of external regime change or to suspend nuclear ambitions in order to avoid possible internal change (as happened to so many other countries during the Arab spring) my bet is currently on the latter and the world should make the best of this opportunity. However, lets not forget that things in the Middle East are never easy and always complicated.
This conflict is embedded in numerous others: The clash between Sunni and Shia Islam, the tensions between Arab countries and non-Arab Iran, the conflict of Israel and its Muslim neighbours, increased instability in the region after the Arab spring revolutions, just no name a few. What we see are not only negotiations between the 3+3 and Iran but we also have a number of invisible stakeholders sitting at the table with their concerns and wishes. Will this agreement lead to better sleep for people in Israel or for the leaders of the Gulf countries? Not quite, but on the other hand it should not lead to new nightmares either. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog post are entirely those of the author and do not represent those of any organisation.
GENEVA WAS A BAD DEAL. NOW LET’S GET A BETTER ONE (By Roland Freudenstein)
“Peace for our time” is reportedly what Chamberlain said when he stepped off the plane from Munich in September 1938 where he had negotiated a fateful deal: He had given in to most of Hitler’s demands regarding Czechoslovakia, got little in return and so ended up bringing World War II a good deal closer, as we know today. In many of the critical comments these last days, not only in the Israeli ones, Geneva has been labelled the new Munich. Now, historical parallels should always be handled with care. But I do believe that those who now pride themselves of having averted war, may have actually brought it closer in the end. So let’s look at the drawbacks, the alternatives, and the consequences of Geneva.
What’s bad about the interim agreement? In December 2006, the UN Security Council demanded an immediate end to all uranium and plutonium enrichment in Iran. Over the past years, an elaborate sanctions regime has been built up, which is never easy and took a lot of time and effort. As we see, it has started to bite. But in Geneva last weekend, the West, as part of the 3+3 powers, has not only vowed to impose no new sanctions (which were well on their way), but actually to ease the ones in place. Let’s spell it out: The UN demand of 2006 has now been officially thrown out the window. Western insistence that Geneva is not equivalent to a recognition of Iran’s “right to enrichment” changes little here. Now that the Iranian negotiators have received their heroes’ welcome by regime-sponsored crowds in Tehran and Ayatollah Khamenei has made clear that Iran’s “right to enrichment” was recognised, it is hard to see how the regime can, in future, agree to any deal that would take it away
On sanctions, however, the international and domestic pressure in the West to ease them further will increase. And it should be obvious that even if and when Iran is caught red-handed at cheating, calls for the reintroduction of sanctions will be labelled as “dangerous provocations” that would only antagonize the mullahs. Geneva is a one-sided agreement that leaves Iran’s efforts to achieve nuclear breakout capacity basically intact. It has strengthened the regime domestically, so it can continue to oppress democrats, and internationally, so it can continue to export terror and commit crimes against humanity, such as in Syria. It’s a bad deal.
What would have been the alternative? According to the advocates of Geneva: War. Well, military action to disable Iran’s nuclear weapons programme has always been an option that even Barack Obama never took off the table. And that’s where it should remain. But quite obviously, the main and immediate alternative to both war and a flawed agreement would have been to move to the next round of sanctions while trying to make the regime understand that it has to stop enrichment immediately, and close down (not temporarily limit) all preparations for producing plutonium in Arak. With only current sanctions in place, that may have been difficult to achieve even with the Rohani regime. But it was worth trying tougher sanctions to drive up the cost of enrichment.
Where do we go from here? Now that the interim agreement has been signed, it will be of utmost importance to achieve in the upcoming negotiations what could not be achieved so far: The dismantling of the Iranian effort to develop nuclear weapons. Pressure, including tougher sanctions and military threats, must be upheld, and the temptation to get carried away by our diplomatic “success” must be resisted. As France demonstrated a few weeks ago, it is possible to keep the Obama administration from “kicking the can down the road” on the Iranian nuclear programme.
Because one thing should be clear: If Iran retains any capacity to break out and race to the possession of nuclear weapons within a matter of months, a possible consequence is still an Israeli military strike – because Israelis will never accept a nuclear armed Iran, and they have good reasons for that. But the certain consequence would be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Which would surely bring the world closer to a devastating war than a further escalation between the West and Iran due to increased pressure. To prevent such an arms race, not to succeed in diplomacy at any price, must be the main concern of Western leaders in the negotiations ahead.Marc-Michael Blum Roland Freudenstein Defence Foreign Policy Middle East Security
Iranian Nuclear Program: The Geneva Deal Pros and Cons
26 Nov 2013
The allegations by Edward Snowden that the United States National Security Agency (NSA), for which he worked, spied on diplomatic missions of the European Union in Washington and New York, and even on the building where EU Summits take place in Brussels, are very serious. They require a deliberate and sustained response, not something exaggerated, or that will last only for a one day news cycle, and later expose contradictions in the EU positions.
The truth is that fundamental values are at stake here for the EU. The founding idea of the EU was that relations in, and between, states should be governed by rules, rather than, as previously, by raw power. States and individuals should be equal before the law. The Snowden allegations, if true, reveal a grave breach on international law by an agency of the United States government. This is not something that can emoted about in the short term and then later brushed aside with a worldly wise and jaded shrug, on the basis that ”everyone is at it.”
A CLEAR BREACH OF THREE ARTICLES OF THE VIENNA CONVENTION
The law on this matter is crystal clear. The Vienna Convention of 1961 codifies the rules under which diplomats and embassies do their work. But the rules themselves go back, in customary international law, to the 16th century. The 1961 Vienna Convention has been ratified by the United States. Indeed the US relied successfully on that Convention in the International Court of Justice, when its own diplomats and Embassy were interfered with by Iran in 1979. It is in the national interest of the United States to ensure that this Convention is respected, without question, and as a matter of routine, in order to ensure protection for its own missions abroad.
The Vienna Convention says, in article 22:
“the premises of a (diplomatic) mission shall be inviolable”.
”A receiving state shall not enter them, except with the consent of the Head of Mission”
“The receiving state is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission from any intrusion.”
Article 24 of the Convention says the “archives and documents of the mission shall be inviolable” and Article 27 extends similar protection to it correspondence.
The Snowden/Der Spiegel allegations suggest that listening devices were placed in the EU Mission in Washington, without consent, which would be a blatant breach of Article 22. No such consent was given in my time in Washington. They also suggest that the NSA hacked into the computer system of the EU missions, which would be a clear breach of both article 24 and 27 of the Vienna Convention.
Reacting to these allegations, US figures, like the former head of the CIA, made no reference at all the US obligations under international law, to the US interest in protecting diplomacy, or even to the unfairness and bad faith involved in spying on partners with whom one is supposedly negotiating in a transparent way. Instead he sought to dismiss them, by hinting vaguely about intelligence gathering by some EU states.
But what is alleged was not a case of the US reciprocally countering supposed illegal activities by some EU states. It was hostile and illegal activity, by the US, directed against the EU itself, and the EU does not do have either the capacity, or the authority, to carry on any reciprocal surveillance of US missions in Europe, and does not do so. The ex head of the CIA knows that perfectly well.
In any event, I do not understand the point of what the NSA was supposedly doing. The activities of the EU Missions abroad and of the Council of Ministers in Brussels deal with subjects on which the facts are well known, and on which negotiating options are also fairly obvious. They can be easily discovered by US officials, simply by asking. They do not involve sensitive questions concerning the security of the United States, which is supposed to be the concern of the NSA.
There will, very occasionally, be commercially sensitive and confidential information shared with the EU Mission in Washington by European or American companies, which might be useful to its competitors. Apart from the illegality involved, the NSA would have no legitimate reason to seek out, collect, or share that sort of commercial information. I believe what is involved here is a case of a security bureaucracy gradually extending is role, and engaging in “mission creep” just because it can and because nobody is stopping it. The missions of Agencies are often lazily defined and open to multiple interpretations. That may well be the case with the NSA.
BUT TRADE AND INVESTMENT TALKS SHOULD CONTINUE
What should the EU do now? I will start by saying what it should not do.
It should not suspend the negotiation of a possible Trade and Investment Pact with the United States. In fact, it should recognise that these allegations strengthen the EU’s hand in these negotiations, in the sense that the US now has to demonstrate its good faith. Nor should it expect an early, full, or contrite admission from the United States of what might have happened, or make that a precondition for anything.
Instead, The EU should adopt a twin track approach. It should continue with the trade and investment negotiations, as if nothing had happened. But, simultaneously and separately, the EU and its member states should follow the example set by the United States itself in 1980 and take a case in regard to these allegations of breaches of the Vienna Convention to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. This assumes that it can obtain sufficient documentary evidence of the Snowden allegations from Mr Snowden, or from Der Spiegel. Pursuing a legal route would de-politicise the issue in the short term and allow time for things to cool down.
Surveillance technology has advanced a great deal since 1961 when the Convention was concluded. A new judgement from the International Court in this case would be helpful. It would re-establish and modernise the norms of behaviour we would want all countries to respect in future, notably emerging powers like China. President Obama, who, probably more than any previous President, understands the significance of international law, and who wants to bring countries like China fully within its strictures, should welcome such a robust reaffirmation of the Vienna Convention.
[Originally published in http://www.irishtimes.com]John Bruton EU-US Foreign Policy Security Transatlantic
US spy affair: a case of international law?
11 Jul 2013
Henna Hopia Defence Foreign Policy Leadership Security Transatlantic
Breaking down the Walls: Improving EU-NATO Relations
05 Jul 2013
Europe needs to use the strengths of both the EU and NATO to effectively respond to the ever more diverse threats that require collective efforts. This is the only way through which European security can be guaranteed in the face of struggles with limited resources and decreasing defence funding, as well as the further US disengagement from Europe. For this to happen, and as both organisations share most of the same member states, it is vital to achieve better cooperation between the EU and NATO. Attempts to strengthen EU-NATO relations have been made, but these have not been enough. The attempts always hit the same walls: both between the EU and NATO, and within these organisations. All EU Member States and the organisations themselves must now take responsibility and end the futile competition between the EU and NATO that is undermining European security.Defence Foreign Policy Security Transatlantic
Breaking Down the Walls: Improving EU–NATO Relations
29 May 2013
On the 22nd of April 2013, the Centre for European Studies (CES) kicked off a new series of events entitled ‘Food for Thought’; the first event in the series, entitled ‘Leading from Behind: U.S. Foreign & Defence Policy Ten Years after Kagan’s Of Paradise and Power’ welcomed Kenneth Weinstein, CEO and President of Hudson Institute in order to discuss Obama’s foreign policy and its implications for the transatlantic relationship.
In his introductory remarks, CES Director Tomi Huhtanen emphasised the importance the Centre for European Studies, as the official think tank of the European People’s Party attaches to transatlantic relations. As part of the transatlantic research agenda, the Centre for European Studies regularly publishes studies and organises events with experts and senior officials from both sides of the Atlantic; one of the most important events of this kind is the Transatlantic Think Tank Conference, a conference which takes place every year in Brussels and Washington.
Dr Weinstein started his intervention by recalling that ten years ago, the launch of a second U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein exposed intra-NATO differences of temperament and philosophy in sharp relief. This stark divergence of perspective on both sides of the Atlantic then led political scientist Robert Kagan, in a famous essay and subsequent book titled ‘Of Paradise and Power’, to declare that Europe and the U.S. had come to inhabit two separate planets entirely. According to Kagan, the Americans were ‘from Mars’, emphasising force projection in international affairs, while Europeans were ‘from Venus’, favouring ‘laws, rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation.’
Ten years later and taking into consideration the different imprint left by President Obama on US foreign and defence policies, the metaphor seems to have inversed and the planets seem to have realigned, according to Dr Weinstein. In support of his argument, he cited the examples of Libya, Syria or Mali, where the Europeans had taken the (military) lead. In the meantime, looking at troop draw-downs in Iraq and Afghanistan or diplomatic engagement with Iran, Americans seem to have turned inward ‘with an almost Venusian vengeance.’ In an even more worrying development, Dr Weinstein pointed out that US’s unilateral acts vis-à-vis its European partners were frustrating the latter, leading to a decline of influence of the West as a whole in global affairs.
After this initial setting of the scene, the participants engaged in a lively comments and questions session, whose main conclusions were the following: the US and the EU need to continue to work together during these challenging times for the transatlantic Alliance, especially with the rise of new world powers such as China and others. While neither the Mars nor the Venus approaches are sufficient on their own, the two powers need to combine them in a manner that leads to improved outcomes, particularly when it comes to intervention, reconstruction and withdrawal strategies. In the case of Syria, for example, the ‘leading from behind’ doctrine should materialise into concrete actions that provide a model and set an example for future transatlantic burden sharing.
The fact that the Europeans are recently sometimes taking the leadership in their own neighbourhood is not per se a bad thing, and it can signal that they are ready to be a real partner in the transatlantic framework – although this has, in the past couple of years, pertained to France and Britain only, not to the entire European Union. However, American leaders need to communicate their changes of strategy better, so that the Europeans do not feel alienated. Last, but not least, Dr Weinstein concluded that both American political parties should communicate strategic doctrine principles better and more often to the American public, so that they build public support for US foreign policy.Defence EU-US Foreign Policy Security Transatlantic
President of Hudson Institute: ‘The US and the EU need to find common ways to engage globally’
23 Apr 2013
The Centre for European Studies is proud to participate as a Strategic Partner at GLOBSEC 2013 (Bratislava Global Security Forum), a high level conference that will take place during April 18-20, 2013.
Founded eight years ago, the GLOBSEC Bratislava Global Security Forum has become a unique foreign policy and security platform – giving a Central European twist to the strategic debate on transatlantic foreign policy, economy and security. With the participation of over 500 key stakeholders from more than 40 countries, GLOBSEC has acquired a stable position among the elite club of major conferences in Europe and North America and is often compared with prestigious forums held in Brussels or Munich.
Organised by the Slovak Atlantic Commission in cooperation with a wealth of institutional and international partners, GLOBSEC 2013 will welcome, among others: H. E. Radoslaw Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland; H. E. Karel Schwarzenberg, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic; H. E. Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood; Yves Leterme, Deputy Secretary General, OECD, Paris; Hon. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, Washington, D.C.
This year, the Forum focuses on issues central to transatlantic and regional cooperation, including European economic prospects and the future of global economic governance. Panellists will also engage in debates over the character of Central European defence cooperation and Central Europe’s energy concerns. Other burning issues to be tackled at GLOBSEC 2013 include NATO’s post-ISAF role, new threats to cyber security, China’s role in the global financial crisis and challenges on Europe’s South-East doorstep.
As part of a packed programme, CES Deputy Director and Head of Research Roland Freudenstein will appear as a speaker in a panel entitled ‘Addressing Iran: Prevention or Treatment?’; he will be joined by Richard Norton-Taylor, Security editor with The Guardian, Amb. Kurt Volker, Executive Director, of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, Ayman Khalil, Director of the Arab Institute for Security Studies in Amman and Emily Landau, Director of Arms Control and Regional Security Program with the Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv. CES Research Associate Katarina Králiková will moderate a panel on Arab transitions as part of the Young Leaders Forum side programme. Visiting Fellow Henna Hopia is also attending the Forum as commentator during one of the dinner sessions, entitled ‘UK in the EU: with Europe but not of Europe?’
For more details concerning GLOBSEC 2013, past editions and live streaming of this year’s public sessions, please visit: http://www.globsec.org/globsec2013/Defence Eastern Europe Foreign Policy Globalisation Security
CES joins GLOBSEC 2013 in Bratislava as Strategic Partner
16 Apr 2013
Marc-Michael Blum Defence EU-US Foreign Policy Security
Rethinking the bomb: Europe and nuclear weapons in the XXI century
10 Apr 2013
The Centre for European Studies is proud to participate in the 2013 edition of the Brussels Forum organised by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an event that will take place in Brussels during March 15-17, 2013.
The Brussels Forum is an annual high-level meeting of the most influential North American and European political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges currently facing both the EU and the US. Participants include heads of state, senior officials from the European Union institutions and the member states, U.S. Cabinet officials, Congressional representatives, Parliamentarians, academics, and media. The Brussels Forum has, since its first appearance in 2005, become the most important annual Brussels-based international conference on global politics, security and economics. The number of participants regularly exceeds 400 participants.
As part of this year’s event, the Centre for European Studies is organising a breakout dinner on Saturday, March 16 on the future of democracy support in the EU’s neighbourhood. In the East, the colour revolutions of the 2000s have given way to increasing authoritarian tendencies. Countries such as Ukraine and Georgia seem to turn away from the West. In the Middle East and North Africa, the enthusiasm of the initial Arab revolts of 2011 has fizzled out. While Syria is steeped in civil war, liberty seems to be threatened again in Egypt and Tunisia. Several economies are in free-fall. What can the EU do to better support democratic developments in its neighbourhood? Which new instruments and methods promise better results than what we could achieve in the last 8-10 years? Tomi Huhtanen, CES Director will deliver the welcoming remarks and Roland Freudenstein, CES Deputy Director and Head of Research will moderate the debate between high level experts and Forum participants.
The CES participation in the Brussels Forum adds to the importance that the Centre attaches to transatlantic issues. As part of the transatlantic research agenda, the Centre for European Studies regularly publishes studies and organises events with experts and senior officials from both sides of the Atlantic; one of the most important events of this kind is the Transatlantic Think Tank Conference, a conference which takes place every year in Brussels and Washington.
For more details concerning the 2013 Brussels Forum and to follow the livestreaming of the public sessions, please visit http://brussels.gmfus.org/.
[Picture source: Brussels Forum 2012 Flickr gallery]EU-US Neighbourhood Policy Security Transatlantic
CES proud Forum Partner of the 2013 Brussels Forum
15 Mar 2013
The question of what Europe’s nuclear strategy should be is rarely discussed. While Europe continues to play a crucial role on issues relating to non-proliferation, particularly in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme, nuclear strategy is generally considered to be within remit of Russia, the United States and NATO.
The paper identifies possible scenarios where the deployment of nuclear weapons may be justified. It also examines the use of tactical nuclear weapons, traditional means of arms control and the implications of a nuclear Iran. The author establishes a compelling case for the immediate development of a coherent European nuclear strategy. This strategy should take into account the role of nuclear weapons in maintaining peace and security in modern Europe.
While conceding that during periods of financial and political crisis dialogue may not be considered a priority, the author maintains that it is essential in order to limit the risk of proliferation or the use of nuclear weapons.Defence EU-US Foreign Policy Middle East Security
Rethinking the Bomb: Europe and Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-First Century
06 Mar 2013
A political decision was made at NATO Lisbon summit 2010 to end the now 102 000 strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission by the end of 2014, possibly still leaving a small contingent in place. This would leave the main security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) with 350 000 men.
However, are politically set timelines always realistic when applied on the ground? Notwithstanding President Hamid Karzai’s reassurance that Afghanistan has progressed and become more stable during the past decade, and that NATO is convinced the ANSF will deliver, the Afghan forces still lack important skills. As a senior US defence official last week put it, only a very small percentage of Afghan units are capable of fully independent operations, even though the ANSF should take control of the whole country by mid-2013. Also, according to the Global Terrorism Index, Afghanistan is the third on the list of countries under terrorist attack, and alongside with Iraq and Pakistan the attacks have more than quadrupled in the past decade, reaching their peak in 2007. Afghans themselves are afraid: will they again be left alone as many times before?
Afghanistan has more or less become NATO’s raison d’être in the past decade, so it needs to continue securing Afghanistan even after 2014. Indeed, a new training, advising and assisting mission will commence after ISAF, but its exact size and scope remain unknown. At the Chicago summit, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made one thing clear: ‘It will not be ISAF under a different name. It will be a new mission, with a new role for NATO.’ The US will again have the key role and it’s currently negotiating the mission with Afghan officials; details are to be announced in the coming weeks. Estimates of the number of troops involved run from 6000 to 30000. The mission could also be very limited if it focuses only on core tasks such as counter-terrorism, as the Pentagon has indicated. Nevertheless, the new mission should be strong and long-lasting enough to prevent the emergence of a power vacuum.
The war for hearts and minds
The insurgents, such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, are waiting for such a vacuum. Over the past few years they have expanded their attacks to cover the whole country, and changed their strategy from military targets to soft ones, using suicide attacks and road side bombs against the Afghan police, civil servants and civilians including children. In addition to demonstrating their power to attacks whenever and wherever they want, their aim is to create distrust amongst the Afghan people towards a government that is unable to protect them.
The international and Afghan troops are also facing a newer more terrifying weapon, the ‘green on blue’ attacks, where the troops are killed by the very people they train – the Afghan soldiers and policemen, insurgents in disguise or recruited members of the forces. Some claim the recruitment vetting procedure has not been able to keep up with the rapid expansion of the forces, and ISAF is now improving the security protocols.
Nevertheless, the insider attacks have already caused a crisis of trust between the coalition and Afghan troops. The contributing countries have been demoralised by news of casualties, a lack of improvement in the security situation and slow progress in state reforms. The sense of belief of the mission has been undermined also by internal divisions in NATO, such as the feeling in the US that Europe is not doing enough. The political left has generally supported ending the mission and some Allies have decided to exit before the agreed timetable: France under President François Holland pulled its combat troops out just earlier this week, following the Netherlands (2010) and Canada (2011). President Barack Obama has also expressed his intention to withdraw the troops as fast as possible.
Peace deal or civil war
There are different scenarios as to what will happen to Afghanistan. The best, but also the least likely solution, would be a successful transition leading to a loss of interest by the insurgents. Also difficult, but already underway, is an attempt to negotiate a political settlement between the Afghan government and the insurgents. As it’s become evident that no military solution is possible, this has become the main objective also for the West. So far President Karzai hasn’t been able to get parties around the table under his ‘High Peace Council’. Keeping the Taliban’s close ally Haqqani network out of the talks might also delay matters (they were recently blacklisted by the US and UN). Also, as 2014 approaches, one might ask how willing will the Taliban be to negotiate.
No real progress is expected anytime soon, but some individuals from the Afghan government and the Taliban are meeting for the first time this week in Paris. If there is no result before the coalition leaves, the third, and at this point most likely, scenario could happen. This would mean Afghanistan falling back into a civil and proxy war with large parts of the country under a ruthless Islamist rule, and acting as a safe haven for terrorists such as al-Qaeda. The presidential elections in April 2014 will be decisive: will the people trust the government, or will the country drift back into chaos.
The peace talks should also address regional aspects. The Western interest in Afghanistan might diminish, but its strategic position, energy routes and rich materials, remain relevant to the regional powers. Even though there is not much the EU and NATO can do to influence these powers, we should recognise their impact on Afghanistan, and therefore on our own security.
Pakistan’s fate is most closely interlinked with Afghanistan’s and its general elections in 2013 will have a huge impact on the region. Pakistan claims to be committed to a stable Afghanistan, and the US is paying it to fight the insurgents, but at the same time Pakistan is accused of offering the Taliban sanctuary. On top of this, the Pakistani Taliban now intends to focus their attacks more on US forces in Afghanistan instead of the Pakistani government. Pakistan was a supporter of the Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and now it’s demanding that the Haqqanis should be involved in negotiations. In the end, what Pakistan wants is to counterbalance India.
In turn, India has no sympathy for the Taliban and it helps the Afghan government by donating funds and training the forces. Trade is important to all the regional players however it’s China whose interests in Afghanistan are mostly economic. It wants a stable Afghanistan to invest and gain from its raw materials, and it tries to stay out of fights. However it objects to a permanent US presence in Afghanistan, as does Iran. Iran also has a strong economic position in Afghanistan and a large minority of Afghan migrants and refugees, who it’s now rejecting because of a dislike of Afghan pro-American policies. Regardless of this it supports the Afghan government, but also the Taliban to some extent to erode US dominance.
Competing with Iran for influence is its archrival Saudi Arabia. Turkey also plays a significant role as a regional power and a mediator between the Afghanistan and Pakistan. For its own security’s sake, Russia wants to see a stable Afghanistan and containment of Islamist extremism. On the other hand, it has no interest in making Afghanistan look like a success for the West.
Towards the future or back to the past
In the end transparent and lawful governance and real economic opportunities for people is what would guarantee stability in the country. President Karzai has been accused of insufficient reforms, and Afghanistan remains the third most corrupt country in the world. It’s also the source of 90 per cent of the world’s opium, and 2012 saw an 18 per cent increase in its cultivation. The drug business not only contributes to organised crime and is a global concern, but is one of the Taliban’s main financial sources.
Continued international support for reforms is needed and funding of over 12 million euros for economic and political transition in Afghanistan by the international community has been agreed. Merely donating, however, is not enough: the EU should not leave the business opportunities just for the other powers but increase our own economic ties as well; that would also contribute to a long-term development in Afghanistan.
Our enemy’s worst enemy is the modernisation of society. The Afghans themselves, especially women, are worried what would happen to their embattled human rights and education efforts, should international support diminish. One open question is whether EU Member States will decide next summer to continue the EUPOL mission after 2014. EUPOL, which works on judicial reform and rule of law, on top of senior police training, cannot however remain without sufficient military protection and there are already concerns as several provinces are now left to their own devices.
Without our help, Afghanistan might have a grimmer future, a repeat of the past or even worse, which would mean a grimmer future for the whole region, and for all of us.
Conclusions: What Europe should do
• The EU should strengthen its trade with Afghanistan for mutual benefit, identify where Europe could invest and export its know-how.
• The EU and NATO together should create a comprehensive strategic concept on Afghanistan and the region, also identifying roles and tasks for both organisations.
• The EU should continue its EUPOL mission and NATO guarantee sufficient military presence after 2014, basing exit-decisions on realities on the ground. A long-term engagement in Afghanistan is in Europe’s own interest.
Picture source: author’s archiveHenna Hopia Defence Foreign Policy Security
Afghanistan – Back to the Past? Update on EU and NATO involvement
20 Dec 2012
It’s said that security is indivisible. But to the same extent that security cannot be subdivided, threats to security can be reduced to smaller units and analysed individually. This collection of articles subjects security – inevitably a central, existential concern for every state, nation and individual – to a somewhat more multifaceted treatment. The aim of this collection is to provide a new impulse for stronger cooperation. Particularly noteworthy is that the book brings together a wide variety of European voices pursuing a common goal. This sounds very optimistic and also necessary, as we cannot afford long and cumbersome processes, especially in the field of security policy. Threats and crises have the capacity to hit us with sudden inevitability, as the civil war in Libya has demonstrated. We must be able to act at the moment of crisis, not only later. Preference is given to a proactive security policy that is focused on avoiding all crises and military conflicts from the outset. Thus, this collection of ideas is being published at the right time. We are in dire need of a broad debate on the future of European Common Security and Defence Policy that brings together as many clever thinkers as possible. The following pages are well suited to acting as a starting point for such a debate.Defence Immigration Security
Conservative Foreign and Security Policy
18 Dec 2012
The global trend for contracting out the supply of military and security services to private military and security companies is growing. Security is being transformed from a service for the public or common good into a privately provided service. The present paper by Nikolaos Tzifakis argues that the implications of outsourcing security services to private agencies are not a priori positive or negative; proper regulation of private military and security services is important.
The author recommends that states should determine their ‘inherently governmental functions’ and keep these functions out of the market’s reach. States should attempt to mitigate some of the shortcomings in the operation of the private market for security services by preventing supply from determining its own demand. States need to avoid contracting out services to corporations that enjoy a monopoly in the market. Instead, they should open competitive bids for all private security contracts.Defence Foreign Policy Security
Contracting out to Private Military and Security Companies
23 Jul 2012
There is every indication that the international system is undergoing a period of significant transformation. The substantially higher growth rates of the emerging-market economies in comparison with those of the developed economies are changing the global distribution of power. Studies project that if economic trends are not reversed in the coming years, China will surpass the US and become the world’s largest economy, India will emerge in Japan’s place as the third-largest economy and Brazil will outpace Germany as the fifth-largest. This book underscores the complexity of forecasting international politics and proceeds cautiously to investigate the questions of change and continuity, examining several actors with respect to multiple issues and across different levels of analysis. Taken as a whole, this collection of essays offers a series of snapshots of different aspects, and from varying angles, of an international system in motion.Foreign Policy Globalisation Security
International Politics in Times of Change
02 Jan 2012
The purpose of this research paper is to critically review the policies of the European Union towards Africa, to consider some important future challenges for the interregional relationship and to present some useful policy recommendationsForeign Policy Security Trade
EU-Africa Relations: Dealing With the Challenges of the Future
01 Jan 2010
European views on Turkey’s membership in the EU have been split between those in support of its full integration and those advocating a privileged partnership. To the extent that many of the latter proposals imply that Turkey will be partially integrated within Europe in certain areas, the question of Turkey’s accession is probably not about ‘if’, but about ‘how much’ integration there will be within the Union’s structures. The purpose of this book is not to offer a definitive response to this question. The book aims instead to examine the complexity of the issues pertaining to Turkey’s prospective EU membership by presenting several, often divergent, accounts of the political, security and socio-economic dimensions of the entire process. The book provides a forum for an exchange of views among distinguished scholars and researchers from different national backgrounds in order to contribute to the ongoing public discussion of Turkey’s accession.Enlargment European Union Foreign Policy Integration Security
Turkey’s Accession to the European Union: An Unusual Candidacy
05 Jan 2009
It is a common perception that poverty is fertile breeding ground for terrorism. Or at least, fuel for such activity. But not all poor areas produce extremism; we know where young men absorb extremist ideologies, and where, for instance, jihadists receive their training. In the beginning we bumped into the problem of definition; what is terrorism? What kind of terrorism are we looking into? Should we leave, say, separatist acts outside? Then the decision had to be made: this conference was to concentrate its efforts on understanding the logic and driving forces behind Islamist terrorism, and whether a better directed development policy could play any role in fighting it – given that poverty and lack of opportunities do play a role in an individual’s decision to join a radical group. Security in Europe – or globally, for that matter – is of course not entirely dependent on religious fanaticism. There are new threats we are aware of, and which we should better prepare for. There was also a question about the possible links between security and development, and how they interact.Development Extremism Foreign Policy Security
Fight against terrorism and Development Policy: Two Sides of the Same Coin
02 Nov 2008
NATO and the European Union have developed, enlarged and grown closer to each other. With common security threats, which are global in nature and hold both new and old elements, the tasks of these two organisations have aligned. Now it is important to ask what must be done to avoid overlapping ef orts and to create beneﬁcial synergies. The nature of these organisations offers possibilities and generates standards for further cooperation and integration. The purpose of this paper is to describe developments in the ever changing security environment of Europe, and the steps the EU and NATO have taken to tackle these threats. Could there be more profound defence cooperation between the EU and NATO?Defence European Union Foreign Policy Security
The Finnish Perspective: European Defence
02 Jun 2008