Tagged Putin

…but only after Victory Day for some Whether attending the Victory Day (9 May) parade or not, numerous world leaders have passed by Moscow in recent days, confirming the country’s global importance in terms of geopolitics and economics. The late arrivals, Ms. Merkel and Mr. Kerry, had to go there in their search for a solution to…

“It’s Europe Day!” my wife called out when I showed her the invitation flier to Kriek & Frites party on May 8-9 at Place Jourdan in Brussels. Neither the flier nor its typically Belgian offer implied any connection with the EU. Given my early school days were spent in the Soviet Union, I associated the dates rather with the end of World War II. So what’s this Europe Day anyway? I distantly remembered that it had something to do with the day on which France and Germany decided to unite their coal and steel industries, hoping that this would prevent them if not from ever again piling up tanks and cannons…

Meeting between President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece in Moscow, 8 April 2015 Mr Putin and Mr Tsipras discussed a broad range of bilateral cooperation matters, especially in the trade, economic, investment, cultural and humanitarian fields. The two leaders exchanged views on the international agenda. Following the talks, Mr…

One can only hope that Boris Nemtsov’s death, the protests, investigation and soul-searching that will follow it, will prove a turning point towards a more transparent, tolerant and democratic Russia. The country needs a new start. Let’s see if President Putin can change course and steer such a positive transition.

President Putin’s visit to Budapest on 17 February has raised eyebrows externally and provoked protests within Hungary. Many Hungarians feel that their country is drifting to the East, while its present and future lies with the West. Prime Minister Orban does have some valid points for explaining his association with Mr. Putin. What is more worrisome in the long-run is the authoritarian affinities between the two.

The leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine agreed on Sunday, 8 February, to press ahead with the diplomatic initiative by Ms Merkel to ease the tension in Eastern Ukraine. Germany is convinced that even discussions of supplying weapons could escalate the fighting and encourage Ukraine in a war it could never win against a much stronger Russia. The German Chancellor defended her decision to maintain economic sanctions and avoid the use of force by referring to her own experience of waiting patiently for the Cold War to end. “I am surprised at how faint-hearted we are, and how quickly we lose courage,” she remarked.

The streets of Budapest on Sunday, 1 February, were full of people demonstrating against their government. The policies of Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, are widely seen as pro-Russian. The timing of the demonstration was also chosen to maximize the reach of their message, as Angela Merkel was expected in Hungary in order to address the government’s commitment to EU sanctions against Russia. Angela Merkel did arrive in Budapest on Monday, 2 February, and held a joint press conference after her talks with Orban. It did not look that their meeting had gone well.

The recent escalation of fighting in Eastern Ukraine challenges once again Europe’s position. The differences in opinion among EU members regarding the severity of the sanctions against Russia reflect the varied historical trajectories of the European countries. Traditionally, Italy finds itself on the moderate side on matters regarding Russia, while Poland squarely in the hawkish camp. The recent events and Polish reactions regarding the possible visit to Auschwitz by Mr Putin are indicative of these tensions.

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