Has the Hour of European Sovereignty Come?

On 12 September 2018, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, delivered his final State of the Union speech (a custom that dates back to 2010) in front of a half empty chamber of MEPs, but with old-school charm and wit. It was basically his farewell address ahead of the appointment of a new Commission after next year’s European Parliament elections, which may see a rise in status for right-wing extremism across the board. Through this unofficial barometer of the EU’s state of affairs and spirit, this year he promised that “we will keep working to render this imperfect Union that little bit more perfect with each passing day” by planting “the seeds of a more sovereign Europe”, the leitmotif of his address. Read more ...

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Gas Discoveries in the East Mediterranean Basin and the acquisition of EMG’s pipeline in context: A Review of Domestic and Geopolitical Challenges

On 26 September 2018 the ‘most significant energy deal’ in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin was concluded. Under this deal, Israel’s Delek Drilling LP, Noble Energy Inc., and Egyptian East Gas Co. buy a 39% stake in the pipeline owner Eastern Mediterranean Gas Co. (EMG) for $ 518 million, with Delek and Noble contributing $185 million each and the remainder being paid by East Gas. As further explained below, this deal grants the buyers exclusive rights to lease and operate EMG’s subsea gas pipeline, which runs from Ashkelon (southern Israel) to Egypt (the Sinai Peninsula). Delek and Nobel, who are also partners in Israeli gas reservoirs (Tamar and Leviathan), designate this pipeline for the export of 64 million cubic meters of gas to Egypt over 10 years. This deal was welcomed and endorsed by both Egypt and Israel. To properly grasp the significance of this deal and to better understand why two countries that rarely agree on regional issues put forth a uniform front on this matter, it is necessary to take a step back and review the broader normative and factual context in which this deal arises. That is the focus of the following review of gas discoveries in the East Mediterranean Basin (EMB). Read more ...

Tilting the East Asian Balance of Power: Japan’s Remilitarisation

Is remilitarisation a bad thing? It may be in an ideal world where power politics do not exist and geopolitical constraints do not shape state behaviour. However, in a world dominated by realist considerations, the argument can go both ways. Essentially, whether militarisation is considered a bad or a good thing depends on the vantage point of the one who asks the question. If Japan were to rearm itself, however, it may be argued from the same vantage point that this would be a good and a bad thing at the same time. Read more ...

The Strategy of Influence behind China’s Belt and Road Initiative

China has systematically presented its Belt and Road – or One Belt, One Road – Initiative (BRI) as an international development project, destined to build a “community with a shared future for mankind” throughout Eurasia and beyond. In official discussions and statements, Beijing has carefully avoided the word “strategy,” which might have created the impression that the generous offer of massive investments in infrastructure along the new Silk Road conceals in reality an imperial and hegemonic design. Nonetheless, suspicions as to the real motifs of the BRI persist, especially in light of the Chinese military buildup and reforms undertaken in recent years. Read more ...

China’s Offering in the Western Balkans

China’s role in the contemporary international order has exponentially grown over the past decade and has culminated with president Xi’s announcement of the ‘millennium project’: One Belt One Road (or the Belt and Road Initiative).  Considering that no country is currently offering such an ambitious endeavor to the world in the near future, China has underlined its leading position in the global agora. And a key role in the revitalization of the ancient Silk Road was put forward for the Western Balkan countries. Read more ...

The Abe Doctrine’s Future in a Challenging Security Environment

The “Abe Doctrine,” set out in a speech by the Japanese Prime Minister on January 18, 2013, is indeed revolutionary since it revisits Japan’s role in international affairs and means to reassert the country’s position as a regional great power.  Yet, it may set in motion forces inside and outside of the country with considerable geopolitical and economic implications. The challenges that this strategic doctrine faces today are clearly visible in the context of the nuclear proliferation crisis in Asia. Read more ...

The European Union’s Perennial Turkish Dilemma

Given their geopolitical position and economic interdependence, in all likelihood, Turkey and the European Union (still) have much to offer each other. Going back from the establishment of the modern republic on the ruins of the former Ottoman Empire, throughout the long Cold War years, and then in the post-9/11 era, Turkey’s officially stated position in the liberal world order has been that of an aspiring Western power and European partner, with Islamic characteristics. Read more ...

Geopolitical Influence on Media and Media Freedom in the Western Balkans

In the beginning of the ‘2000s, media in the Western Balkans failed to face problems of corruption, manipulation and political propaganda that – in time – evolved to be an easy target for external actors and open possibilities for increasing their soft power in certain countries and, therefore, in the entire region. This brief aims to analyze how globally (or regionally) relevant powers – US, Russia and Turkey – are using the media in Western Balkan countries and its loopholes to maximize their geopolitical interests. Read more ...

The Kurdish Conundrum

In less the one month from now, the Kurdish Regional Government from Iraq shall hold a referendum for determining the fate of the polity: independence or remaining a part of Iraq. The Kurds' struggle to achieve statehood may seem odd in an age when nation states are regarded as obsolete, but the opportunity that arose with the disintegration of the Iraqi state and army in the heyday of the ISIS expansion could not be overlooked. Read more ...