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TOPIC: european union

Geopolitics

A Rare Look At Europe's Most Violent Border Crossing

Many migrants want to enter the EU via the Greece-Turkey border. Time and again, it is the scene of violence, and the EU border guard Frontex is also said to be involved. Die Welt managed to visit a place that is off-limits for journalists and usually remains hidden from the public.

EVROS — A photo, 92 naked migrants, some of them wounded. Did Turkey force people across the land border into Greece? That's what the Greek government is saying. Is Greece covering up its own crimes against refugees with the photo? That is what Ankara claims.

The border river Evros is one of the routes for migrants who want to go to the EU – and time and again the scene of violence and violations of the law. The EU-funded border protection agency Frontex is said to be involved in these activities. On the other side of the border, in Turkey, migrants are used as leverage.

The Greek-Turkish land border made headlines in early 2020 after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unilaterally declared it open. Thousands of migrants rushed to Greece; Greek border guards fended them off with stun grenades and tear gas.

At the time, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said two sentences essential to understanding his government's migration policy: "This is no longer a refugee problem. This is a blatant attempt by Turkey to use desperate people to push its geopolitical agenda."

And according to the Greeks, when asymmetric warfare is the problem, humanitarian aid is not the answer. Defense is.

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Viktor Orbán May Be Far More Vulnerable Than You Think

Orbán's Fidesz party won an unprecedented fourth term last April. However, even as the prime minister consolidates his power, he faces growing opposition at home. Teachers are protesting, inflation is rising, and Orbán's blaming his favorite target, the EU, is wearing thin.

October 23 is the anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and this year thousands of people marched through Budapest to protest the current government of Viktor Orbán. They demanded higher salaries for teachers' and called for curbs on inflation, not unlike demonstrations elsewhere around the world.

But Orbán's Hungary is its own singular reality, even if the world is still trying to understand the four-time prime minister's ultimate intentions. It is not the first time he has faced protests, but current efforts to calm the waters have done little to calm the waters.

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Tensions In Norway Border Town, A Perfect Kremlin Recipe To Divide The West

In a remote region of Norway, a tense standoff is taking place between a tiny town and its giant neighbor to the east, Russia. The Kremlin is accused of using the area as as a staging ground for its policies to divide the West.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to its most tense relations with the West since the Cold War, playing out in the halls of international diplomacy and the global movement of arms and energy supplies. But the showdown is also alive on more local settings, most recently pitting Norway's remote northeastern region of Finnmark against its giant neighbor to the east.

The latest escalation in a series of events occurred last Saturday when Russian Consul General Nikolai Konygin was set to give a speech in the small town of Kirkenes to commemorate the Red Army’s liberation of the town from Nazi Germany and their Norwegian collaborators.

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Konygin, who was accompanied by visitors the Russian border city of Nikel, was met with Norwegian protesters who turned their back on the Consul General during the speech and began waving Ukrainian flags. The scene looked like a miniature battlefield as the Russian entourage remained facing the consul general while waving Russian flags.

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One Clear Sign Iran's Protests Are Working

The Western world has taken note of the desperate fury of Iranians protesting against a 40-year dictatorship in their country. Now there are signs that the West has finally lost patience with the a regime based on repression and subterfuge.

-Analysis-

More than a month of anti-government protests and strikes may have finally dragged Western governments from their inaction and complacency toward the Iranian regime. They may even have concluded, belatedly, that it would be best to postpone the multilateral talks to renew a nuclear pact with Tehran.

The slogans, demands and grievances of Iranians against state violence have finally broken through abroad, as the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States gingerly add names to their lists of sanctioned Iran officials and agencies.

Admittedly, the latest inclusions approved by the EU were not related to the suppression of protests in Iran but to the military supplies sent to Russia.

What has prompted the West to temper its appeasement of the Islamic Republic?

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Italy
Paolo Valenti

Giorgia Meloni Tries To Break Italian Tradition — And Forget Liz Truss

Meloni serving her full five-year term will be a minor miracle in the famously fickle world of Italian politics, whose political instability the UK now appears ready to outdo.

-Analysis-

TURIN — The timing caught Europe’s attention: Exactly one day after Liz Truss resigned to become the shortest-serving British prime minister in history, another conservative leader, Giorgia Meloni, announced the formation of her government to become Italy’s first-ever woman prime minister.

The comparison is notable less for their shared gender or ideology than for the very question of political staying power. With Truss’ successor set to be the UK’s fifth prime minister in six years, British weekly The Economist’s cover quipped: “Welcome to Britaly.”

Yes, for decades, the European model of political instability has been Italy.

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Migrant Lives
Carolina Drüten

How An Erdogan-Assad Truce Could Trigger A New Migrant Crisis At Europe's Border

In Turkey, resentment against Syrian refugees is growing. And President Erdogan – once their patron – is now busy seeking good relations with the man the Syrians fled, the dictator Bashar al-Assad.

ISTANBUL — At some point, they'd simply had enough. Enough of the hostilities, the insecurity, the attacks. In a group on the messenger service Telegram, Syrians living in Turkey called for a caravan – a march to the Turkish-Greek border, and then crossing into the European Union.

Tens of thousands of users are now following updates from the group, in which the organizers are asking Syrian refugees in Arabic to equip themselves with sleeping bags, tents, life jackets, drinking water, canned food and first aid kits. The AFP news agency spoke to an organizer who wants to remain anonymous because of possible reprisals. "We will let you know when it's time to leave," said the 46-year-old Syrian engineer.

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Geopolitics
Stefano Stefanini

Giorgia Meloni Is No Real Threat To European Unity

After far-right politician Giorgia Meloni emerged as the top vote-getter in Italy's election, the question on everyone's lips is what will her relationship be with the European Union. The risk of her pushing for an Italian exit from the EU is slim.

-Analysis-

ROMEGiorgia Meloni has unquestionably earned the trust of Italians. But now she will have to work on earning the trust of the rest of the world, especially the world to which Italy belongs: the West and Europe.

Italy cannot afford political isolation, economic self-sufficiency or cultural marginalization.

"Italy first" does not represent the national interests. Not for an Atlantic, European and Mediterranean middle power that belongs to organizations scattered around the globe — a dense network of interdependencies and ties on which our security and well-being depend.

New leaders are often given a trial period on the international scene. Not so for Meloni, who will get to the prime minister seat with the Russian-Ukrainian war at the center of Europe and a pressing energy emergency.

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Economy
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

In the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading — and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

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In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

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In The News
Irene Caselli

September Is Rolling Ukraine’s Way — Will It Hit A Wall In Rome?

September 23-24

  • Burning hijabs in Iran
  • Elizabeth II’s life in magazine covers
  • One big “flying” sea turtle
  • … and much more.
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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Yves Bourdillon

How Western Sanctions Are Quietly Undermining Russia's Fighting Power

Despite what the Kremlin claims, Western sanctions against Russia are working. Perhaps most important is the embargo on electronic component exports, which prevents the Russian army from rebuilding tanks and missiles severely depleted in the war.

-Analysis-

PARIS Europe is shooting itself in the foot.

That was the narrative that spread among both the public and economists: the European Union sanctions against Russia were bound to backfire, without ever really taking a toll on Moscow — power shortages this winter in the West, while Russia "bathes in cash" thanks to soaring energy prices and a rising ruble. All the while, the received wisdom told us, Moscow will be able to skirt any EU export embargoes via the black market or thanks to its Chinese ally.

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The ever masochistic European Union was blindly following the U.S, rather than truly defending our interests by advocating a rapid diplomatic solution, a formula that ultimately means "just let Putin take Ukraine".

The only problem is that this narrative is that it's a myth. It is a line of rhetoric based on a lack of understanding of the real objectives and functioning of sanctions.

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THE CONVERSATION
Kevork Oskanian

How Russia's Setbacks In Ukraine Could Reignite Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

Azerbaijan’s recent shelling of Armenia is the worst hostilities since the war in 2020 over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. While in the past, Russia, a historic ally of Armenia, sought to restore peace, the Kremlin may make a different calculus this time.

-Analysis-

Almost two years ago, what is now referred to as the “Second Karabakh War” broke the uneasy truce which had been in effect between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1994. After 44 days of intense fighting – with thousands of dead on both sides – it ended in a precarious, Russian-mediated ceasefire on November 10, 2020.

The nine-point document setting out the terms of the ceasefire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region of the South Caucasus largely cemented the gains made by Azerbaijan during the war. Among others, it provided for a withdrawal of Armenia’s troops from Azerbaijan and the restoration of economic and transportation links between the two countries.

This is particularly important for Azerbaijan, whose access to its Nakhchivan exclave is separated by Armenia’s Syunik province. The agreement also included arrangements for the stationing of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh until at least 2025.

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Geopolitics
Valon Murtezaj

The Paradox Of Putin's War: Europe Is Going To Get Bigger, And Move Eastward

The European Union accelerated Ukraine's bid to join the Union. But there are growing signs, it won't stop there.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has upended the European order as we know it, and that was even before the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline was cut off earlier this month. While the bloc gets down to grappling with the unfolding energy crisis, the question of consolidating its flanks by speeding up the enlargement process has also come back into focus.

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In a critical meeting on June 23-24, the European Сouncil granted candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova and recognized the “European perspective” of Georgia – a nod acknowledging the country’s future belonged within the European Union.

Less than a month later, Brussels brought to an end the respectively 8- and 17-year-long waits for Albania and North Macedonia by allowing them into the foray of accession negotiations.

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