Zbigniew Brzezinski had once described Russia’s energy policy as an initiative “to separate the Central Europe from the Western Europe”; something able to divide Member States’ solidarity on the EU and NATO’s potential enlargement in the post-soviet space. Therefore, the EU was not happy leading its member states’ ‘preferential relationship’ with Russia, notably on the South Stream.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.
– Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN 1948).
‘Before the law stands a gatekeeper’ – this is how Franz Kafka’s short parable begins. A man from the countryside (K) arrives in front of a legislative building to be admitted to the Law. However, the gatekeeper stands in front of the door, always deferring the man’s admittance. K waits patiently, at times bribing the gatekeeper; in return, he is told: ‘I am taking this only so that you do not think you have failed to do anything’. The gatekeeper informs K that the latter can try to enter the Law, but he also reminds the countryman of the former’s power to keep him away from the gate: ‘It is possible’ to be admitted, the man is told, ‘but not now’. K waits his entire life before the Law, and dies outside the building. The parable ends here.
By Irina Savchenko
NB: This is an updated version of the article posted earlier on March 13th, 2014
A referendum is to take place in Crimea on the 16th of March, 2014, about whether or not the Crimean peninsula will join Russia. This was announced a mere ten days before the referendum date. The timing is of the essence obviously; the question is, why now? Why suddenly Ukraine became a physical play-ground between the West and Russia? Is it due to the long tensions building up between the USA and Russia or due to the recent overthrow of Mr. Yanukovich? These and many other questions need to be answered, as Ukrainian future is being shaped.
The Syrian civil war and now Ukraine. These are only two examples of crises over which the United States and Russia have bumped heads recently. Some might be tempted to call this a “new Cold War,” but it’s really not. Yes, the geopolitical competition and power struggle might be obvious and similar. And even the race for maximizing the spheres of influence. But the ideological context is different and therefore there is no clash of politico-economic systems, not to mention that calling the current international system “bipolar” is simplistic, to say the least. What we have now is a primarily intra-systemic, capitalist, geo-economic competition fueled and exacerbated by identity politics, history and national security considerations. Continue reading
By Steven Craig*
Europe’s energy sector is in a perilous state. The recent divestments of Shell, ExxonMobil, Total and other major oil companies from key European markets, combined with the permanent closure of some 1.8 million barrels per day of European refining capacity since January 2010, have highlighted the severity of decline in Europe’s energy sector. Eroding demand, saturated markets and stringent regulatory policy have transformed Europe’s once robust energy sector into barren wastelands of European industry. These developments threaten to usher in an era of prolonged energy dependency. Continue reading
A great deal of ink has been used in the last four years to consider, analyse or simply to describe the current global economic crisis. The simplest and most understandable statement, derived from the beginning of the last century, which could describe eloquently and concisely the global economic crisis comes from Keynes: “If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has”.
The global economic crisis could be characterised as a momentous event, which has influenced the economic, social, and broader political realities to a large extent worldwide. In the case of the Greek economy, a variety of factors have led to the creation of an economic chaos where the austerity measures and other similar policies are used to address the problem of economic recession.
This essay attempts to examine and analyse this issue in order to answer the question of whether the austerity measures and the privatisation policies are ideal solutions for tackling the crisis. In the first part the term “economic crisis” shall be defined in order to clarify our terminological basis. Thereafter, the second part will present a brief historical background of past crises while it will also set this essay’s theoretical framework. In the third part there shall be examined, first, the new economic agenda that emerged from the outbreak of the economic crisis of 2008; subsequently there will be analysed the crisis in Greece and the implemented policies; and finally it will include a discussion about the possible future scenarios.
It seems that on July 1, 2013, Croatia will become European Union’s (EU) 28th member-state after all – that is if EU still exists as we know it today. The referendum that determined Croatia’s future with the Union took place on the 22nd of January, 2012, and had an admittedly poor outcome of about 43.5%. This means that most of the eligible voters did not even bother to support or reject their country’s bit for accession into the EU. Of course, the EU welcomed the result of the referendum while Croatia’s Prime Minister thinks of it as a “historic decision”; but the question remains: if the EU is facing its deepest political and economic crisis yet and the ballot results were anything but indicative about what the Croatian public opinion wants, then why is everyone so happy about it?
Although there are some reasons for both the EU and Croatia to be happy about this development, it is a matter of subjectivity whether they could counterbalance the above mentioned negative factors. To unpack this problem we briefly look into the situation in Croatia and the EU.