Bulgaria’s new president: What happens next?

On 13 November Bulgarians elected a new president – general Rumen Radev, the ex-commander-in-chief of the Balkan country’s air force, supported by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). In a runoff election the 53-year old Mr Radev secured almost 60% of the vote, 23 percentage points ahead of Tsetska Tsatcheva, the runner-up nominated by the ruling center-right GERB[1] party. The landslide defeat triggered prime minister … Read more…

Eastern Europe and Brexit: Avoiding an ‘ever looser union’

As the Bratislava summit of the other 27 EU member states nears, shuttle diplomacy has intensified. After Theresa May’s tour of European capitals in late July, Angela Merkel met with fellow leaders last week. Both have had to acknowledge the concerns of Central and Eastern European countries – Slovakia for example holds the current presidency of the Council of the EU, whereas around 800,000 Poles … Read more…

Interview: Paramilitary groups in Central and Eastern Europe — necessary or outdated?

The operation of paramilitary groups in Central and Eastern Europe has been quite active, albeit less publicized, in recent years. The Ukraine conflict seems to have activated such organizations. Marian Majer, head of the Slovak Security Policy Institute, provides information on such units, especially those in Slovakia, and situation around them. Rusif Huseynov: Dear Mr. Majer, past couple of years, the paramilitary groups in Central and Eastern … Read more…

Bulgaria goes to Warsaw Summit with Black Sea in mind

The 2016 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, the Alliance) will begin in Warsaw on 8 July. The meeting of NATO heads of state is expected to address issues, which are seen as essential for the security environment in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) in view of Russia’s perceived aggressive posture in the region. Some of those will include eastward force deployment in … Read more…

Russia’s nuclear energy expansion – a geopolitical footprint?

For all Russia-watchers, oil and natural gas usually dominate the media discourse on Russia’s energy policies and the role they play in the country’s foreign policy deliberations. From the European perspective, this is entirely understandable, keeping in mind the paramount importance of Russia as a supplier of the blue fuel for a major part of the continent. I have myself many times written on the … Read more…

Bulgaria on course to diversify gas supply sources

Bulgaria has recently moved ever closer to diversifying its sources of natural gas supply. This time, it seems it may be happening with less geopolitical grandeur and fanfare. After years of flirting with Russia over its monster pipeline projects on the Balkans, a 182km long gas interconnector link with Greece may do the trick. The source? Most probably Azeri gas. On 17 May in the … Read more…

Turkey and the Kurds: yesterday, today, tomorrow

Whatever the end of the quagmire in the Middle East will be, it can be confidently claimed that the Kurdish problem is now looming larger than ever in the politics of the region. In Syria, the YPG, armed groups under the local Kurdish party PYD, are among the most solid and reliable forces fighting against radical jihadists; in Iraq, the prospects of possible independence exert … Read more…

Bulgaria and Poland – an episode in Warsaw’s push toward the Black Sea?

It is common knowledge that more than two decades ago the European continent was mainly divided between two rival geopolitical blocs – “Western”, mostly the EU and the North-Atlantic club, and “Eastern”, dominated militarily and economically by the USSR. This Eastern Bloc occupied a geographical space spreading from the flatland of the Great East European Plain along the Baltic coast in the north to the Black … Read more…

What is really at stake for Ukraine after the Dutch referendum?

Preliminary results from yesterday’s referendum in the Netherlands on the final ratification of an EU-Ukraine association agreement showed that nearly two thirds of participants said “no” to the deal. Many experts and observers were quick to express their doubts over the practical consequences of the plebiscite, due to its non-binding nature and the EU Council’s decision making rules with respect to foreign policy treaties. As … Read more…

Polish-German relations: New challenges and old strategies

The new government in Poland and its attitude towards Germany and the European Union, the refugee crisis and the related decisions taken by the EU and Angela Merkel as well as the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Germany and Russia  are the current challenges for Polish-German relations. The relationship between the two countries has so deteriorated just 50 years after one … Read more…