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Russia's role in Central Asia

13-03-2017

Some 25 years after the breakup of the USSR, Russia is still the dominant player in Central Asia. China and the EU have more trade and investment in the region, but Russia is in the lead on security and defence. Moscow consolidates its influence through a series of Russia-led regional organisations, such as the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

Some 25 years after the breakup of the USSR, Russia is still the dominant player in Central Asia. China and the EU have more trade and investment in the region, but Russia is in the lead on security and defence. Moscow consolidates its influence through a series of Russia-led regional organisations, such as the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

State of Play of EU-Mauritania Relations

23-02-2017

Mauritania, an important ally of the EU in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel, faces several inter-related development challenges: ensuring an efficient use of the revenue derived from natural resources, economic diversification and improved governance. The severity of these development challenges is increased by difficult political relations between the three main ethnic groups in the country, the dominant group being the Arab-Berber Bidhan. They constitute less than one-third of the country ...

Mauritania, an important ally of the EU in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel, faces several inter-related development challenges: ensuring an efficient use of the revenue derived from natural resources, economic diversification and improved governance. The severity of these development challenges is increased by difficult political relations between the three main ethnic groups in the country, the dominant group being the Arab-Berber Bidhan. They constitute less than one-third of the country’s population, but dominate economically and politically. The Haratin, the largest group in the country, is made up of descendants of black Africans enslaved by the Bidhan (freed or still enslaved). The third group in the country is the West Africans or Black Mauritanians. Mauritania’s post-independence history is marked by repeated attempts by this group to assert its non-Arab identity and claim for a more equitable share of political and economic power. The tension that these divisions create is a problem in itself, but they can also be appropriated by violent Islamist insurgencies in the region. The urgency of this challenge is further complicated by the likelihood of increased climate change effects that the country is currently not adequately prepared for. This study therefore discusses the main political, economic and development challenges that contemporary Mauritania is faced with, illustrating how these challenges can only be properly grasped with consideration to their historical evolution. Based on this, the study investigates the current basis for EU-Mauritania relations and suggests a select number of policy areas for consideration, as this relationship continues to evolve around issues of mutual concern such as security and development.

The Yazidis: An ongoing genocide

09-12-2016

The award of the 2016 Sakharov Prize to Nadia Murad Basee Taha and Lamiya Aji Bashar highlights the fate of their people, the Yazidis, one of the communities most affected, in proportion to their total population, by the violence committed by ISIL/Da'esh (or ‘Islamic State’).

The award of the 2016 Sakharov Prize to Nadia Murad Basee Taha and Lamiya Aji Bashar highlights the fate of their people, the Yazidis, one of the communities most affected, in proportion to their total population, by the violence committed by ISIL/Da'esh (or ‘Islamic State’).

The Frozen Conflicts of the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood and Their Impact on the Respect of Human Rights

08-04-2016

The present study provides a detailed overview of the actual human rights situation in the frozen conflict regions of EU’s Eastern neighbourhood, namely in Crimea, Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The focus of the analysis is on the access to the justice system, as well as on the abilities of the de jure or de facto authorities to administer justice. Particular attention is paid to Crimea because the rapidly worsening human rights situation there affects far more people ...

The present study provides a detailed overview of the actual human rights situation in the frozen conflict regions of EU’s Eastern neighbourhood, namely in Crimea, Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The focus of the analysis is on the access to the justice system, as well as on the abilities of the de jure or de facto authorities to administer justice. Particular attention is paid to Crimea because the rapidly worsening human rights situation there affects far more people than the population of the other four frozen conflicts combined. International community actions, as well as the role of civil society in protecting human rights are also analysed.

Autor extern

Andras RACZ (Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Finland)

Serbia and Kosovo: Normalisation of relations

09-03-2016

Resolving their deep-seated rivalries has been one of the conditions placed on Serbia and Kosovo for achieving their shared goal of EU entry. Since 2011, an EU-mediated dialogue has sought to strike a balance between their past conflicts and present aspirations. Although tensions persist, the goal is to translate the deals signed by both sides into reality, and to keep their dialogue going.

Resolving their deep-seated rivalries has been one of the conditions placed on Serbia and Kosovo for achieving their shared goal of EU entry. Since 2011, an EU-mediated dialogue has sought to strike a balance between their past conflicts and present aspirations. Although tensions persist, the goal is to translate the deals signed by both sides into reality, and to keep their dialogue going.

Kyrgyzstan: Social situation

02-02-2016

Kyrgyzstan is the second most impoverished country in Central Asia, after Tajikistan. The country has made progress in many social areas, especially the health sector, with outstanding results in reducing child mortality and under-nourishment. However, the poorly performing education sector requires further attention and resources. Inter-ethnic tensions between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks threaten the already fragile political, economic and social stability of the country.

Kyrgyzstan is the second most impoverished country in Central Asia, after Tajikistan. The country has made progress in many social areas, especially the health sector, with outstanding results in reducing child mortality and under-nourishment. However, the poorly performing education sector requires further attention and resources. Inter-ethnic tensions between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks threaten the already fragile political, economic and social stability of the country.

Myanmar/Burma's 2015 elections: Democracy at last?

28-10-2015

Twenty-five years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party won an overwhelming electoral victory, only to be denied power by the SLORC junta. The 2015 elections give the party and its leader a second chance to end decades of direct and indirect military rule. In the absence of opinion polls it is impossible to reliably predict the results. While the NLD is widely seen as the likely winner, the incumbent USDP party, closely linked to the former junta, and ethnic parties will probably win substantial minorities ...

Twenty-five years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party won an overwhelming electoral victory, only to be denied power by the SLORC junta. The 2015 elections give the party and its leader a second chance to end decades of direct and indirect military rule. In the absence of opinion polls it is impossible to reliably predict the results. While the NLD is widely seen as the likely winner, the incumbent USDP party, closely linked to the former junta, and ethnic parties will probably win substantial minorities. The 2012 by-elections are an encouraging precedent, raising hope that elections in 2015 will be considerably fairer than in 2010. It is however unlikely that they will be completely transparent and credible, among other things due to the large share of the population excluded from voting. With one quarter of parliamentary seats filled by military appointees, the NLD needs to win two thirds of elected seats in order to command an overall majority. Failing this, it will have to form a coalition, possibly with the ethnic parties. On the other hand, with military support, the USDP only needs to win one third of elected seats to stay in power. The newly constituted parliament will then elect a president, who in turn appoints the new government. With Nobel and Sakharov prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi constitutionally excluded from the presidency, no obvious alternative has emerged. A victory for the opposition would be a major step forward for democracy. However, difficult reforms will still be needed, and a military backlash cannot be completely excluded either, potentially repeating the tragic events of 1990.

Myanmar/Burma: Ethnic conflict threatens unity

22-10-2015

Myanmar/Burma faces no major external security threats; it enjoys friendly relations with its neighbours, all of which, like it, are signatories of ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. Internal threats are more serious, with the country racked by long-running ethnic insurgencies. Over the past few years, most of the rebels have signed ceasefires but a final peace accord remains elusive. Recent years have also seen mob violence targeting the country's Muslim minority. Resolving these issues is ...

Myanmar/Burma faces no major external security threats; it enjoys friendly relations with its neighbours, all of which, like it, are signatories of ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. Internal threats are more serious, with the country racked by long-running ethnic insurgencies. Over the past few years, most of the rebels have signed ceasefires but a final peace accord remains elusive. Recent years have also seen mob violence targeting the country's Muslim minority. Resolving these issues is of crucial importance for the country's democratic transition.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Political parties

15-09-2015

The intricate political system of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) reflects its multi-ethnic texture and complex history. Its entities' dominant ethnic composition and the established power-sharing mechanisms have so far fostered ethnic voting and left little chance for non-nationalist political parties. The result has been political instability and dysfunctional institutions in need of reform.

The intricate political system of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) reflects its multi-ethnic texture and complex history. Its entities' dominant ethnic composition and the established power-sharing mechanisms have so far fostered ethnic voting and left little chance for non-nationalist political parties. The result has been political instability and dysfunctional institutions in need of reform.

Bhutan and its political parties

26-11-2014

Bhutan is a long-time isolated South Asian monarchy in the Himalayan mountains between India and China. TV broadcast was only introduced in 1999, making Bhutan the last country in the world to introduce television. Bhutan gained international exposure as the initiator of the concept of Gross National Happiness. Since 2008 it is experiencing a king-driven transition from absolute monarchy to democracy.

Bhutan is a long-time isolated South Asian monarchy in the Himalayan mountains between India and China. TV broadcast was only introduced in 1999, making Bhutan the last country in the world to introduce television. Bhutan gained international exposure as the initiator of the concept of Gross National Happiness. Since 2008 it is experiencing a king-driven transition from absolute monarchy to democracy.

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