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Belarus on the brink

25-08-2020

As usual in Belarus, the 9 August presidential election was marred by fraud, repression and state violence against the opposition. As expected, the long-standing President, Aleksander Lukashenko, claimed a landslide victory. What was unusual this time, however, was the scale of Belarusians' disappointment: peaceful protests and strikes spread throughout the entire country in response to the stolen election, despite brutal crackdowns. What started as a national crisis now represents a wider struggle ...

As usual in Belarus, the 9 August presidential election was marred by fraud, repression and state violence against the opposition. As expected, the long-standing President, Aleksander Lukashenko, claimed a landslide victory. What was unusual this time, however, was the scale of Belarusians' disappointment: peaceful protests and strikes spread throughout the entire country in response to the stolen election, despite brutal crackdowns. What started as a national crisis now represents a wider struggle between truth and lies, democracy and autocracy, raising the stakes for both Minsk and Moscow, whose nervousness has spilled over into mounting aggression.

Outcome of the European Council video-conference of 19 August 2020

25-08-2020

The European Council video-conference meeting of 19 August 2020 was called by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, due to the increasingly worrying situation in Belarus after the recent national elections. As Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, summarised, the European Council decided to convey three clear messages from the meeting: i) the EU stands with the Belarussian people; ii) the EU will place sanctions on all those responsible for violence, repression ...

The European Council video-conference meeting of 19 August 2020 was called by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, due to the increasingly worrying situation in Belarus after the recent national elections. As Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, summarised, the European Council decided to convey three clear messages from the meeting: i) the EU stands with the Belarussian people; ii) the EU will place sanctions on all those responsible for violence, repression and the falsification of election results; and iii) the EU is ready to accompany the peaceful democratic transition of power in Belarus. While mainly focusing on Belarus, the Heads of State or Government also discussed two further issues during the video-conference meeting. First, as regards the tense situation in the eastern Mediterranean as a result of increasingly hostile Turkish activity, the European Council expressed its full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, recalling and reaffirming its previous conclusions on the illegal drilling activities, and called for de-escalation. Second, on the situation in Mali, EU leaders expressed their deep concern over the events in the country, which have a destabilising impact on the entire region and on the fight against terrorism, and called for an immediate release of prisoners and restoration of the rule of law.

Serbia at risk of authoritarianism?

02-05-2019

Among the Western Balkan countries aspiring to EU membership, Serbia is seen as a frontrunner in terms of its democratic institutions, level of economic development and overall readiness for accession. However, in November 2018 opposition politician, Borko Stefanović, was beaten up by thugs, triggering a wave of protests that has spread across the country. Week after week, thousands have taken to the streets, accusing Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić, and his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) of ...

Among the Western Balkan countries aspiring to EU membership, Serbia is seen as a frontrunner in terms of its democratic institutions, level of economic development and overall readiness for accession. However, in November 2018 opposition politician, Borko Stefanović, was beaten up by thugs, triggering a wave of protests that has spread across the country. Week after week, thousands have taken to the streets, accusing Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić, and his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) of authoritarian rule, attacks on independent media, electoral fraud and corruption. Although the protests only started recently, they highlight worrying longer-term trends. Press freedom has been in decline for several years, particularly since Vučić became prime minister in 2014. A large part of the media is now controlled either directly by the state or by pro-SNS figures. Independent journalists face threats and even violence, and perpetrators are rarely convicted. In the National Assembly, the governing coalition uses its parliamentary majority to systematically block meaningful discussions of legislative proposals. In protest, the opposition started a boycott of plenary debates in February 2019. The tone of verbal attacks by SNS politicians and their allies on independent media, the political opposition and civil society is often virulent. Criticising government policy is framed as betrayal of Serbian interests. The aim seems to be to marginalise critical voices while concentrating power in the hands of the SNS-led government. Elected to the mainly ceremonial role of president in 2017, Vučić nevertheless remains the dominant figure. If Serbia's drift towards authoritarianism continues, it could become a major obstacle to EU accession, for which 2025 has been mentioned as a possible date.

EU-Moldova people-to-people contacts

14-03-2019

Since the Republic of Moldova joined the Eastern Partnership regional initiative 10 years ago, its ties with the EU have grown closer. In recent years, however, the country's political, economic and societal stability has become increasingly wobbly, and public trust in institutions and even NGOs remains low. The EU is working to strengthen the role of civil society organisations in public life.

Since the Republic of Moldova joined the Eastern Partnership regional initiative 10 years ago, its ties with the EU have grown closer. In recent years, however, the country's political, economic and societal stability has become increasingly wobbly, and public trust in institutions and even NGOs remains low. The EU is working to strengthen the role of civil society organisations in public life.

The election impasse in Haiti

27-04-2016

The run-off in the 2015 presidential elections in Haiti has been suspended repeatedly, after the opposition contested the first round in October 2015. Just before the end of President Martelly´s mandate on 7 February 2016, an agreement was reached to appoint an interim President and a new Provisional Electoral Council, fixing new elections for 24 April 2016. Although most of the agreement has been respected , the second round was in the end not held on the scheduled date.

The run-off in the 2015 presidential elections in Haiti has been suspended repeatedly, after the opposition contested the first round in October 2015. Just before the end of President Martelly´s mandate on 7 February 2016, an agreement was reached to appoint an interim President and a new Provisional Electoral Council, fixing new elections for 24 April 2016. Although most of the agreement has been respected , the second round was in the end not held on the scheduled date.

Will the Afghan Government Deal Provide the Country the Stability it Needs?

21-10-2014

A dangerous political crisis ignited in Afghanistan this year – just months before the International Security Assistance Force was to be replaced by a reduced US and NATO force. Both presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, alleged that the second, June round of the presidential elections had been marred by fraud. A power-sharing agreement was finally reached between President Ghani and 'CEO' Abdullah in September, following intense international pressure. The outcome has frustrated ...

A dangerous political crisis ignited in Afghanistan this year – just months before the International Security Assistance Force was to be replaced by a reduced US and NATO force. Both presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, alleged that the second, June round of the presidential elections had been marred by fraud. A power-sharing agreement was finally reached between President Ghani and 'CEO' Abdullah in September, following intense international pressure. The outcome has frustrated the Afghan people, whose high turnout at the poll, despite high security risks, demonstrated a real commitment to democracy. Turnout in the 2015 parliamentary elections will suggest whether voters' disappointment persists. Providing a minimum of security to the population and to international agencies will be the new government's highest priority. Violent attacks are on the rise, though government camps may disagree on whether and how to negotiate with the Taliban insurgency. Disputes about the appointments of high officials from different political and ethnic groups may also distract Ghani from one of his principal goals: fighting corruption. The European Parliament could ask the EU to reinforce its support for the new government and reiterate its call that a new EU-Afghan agreement stress democracy and human rights – particularly those of women.

EU policy towards Belarus

05-09-2013

The EU maintains a policy of critical engagement with Belarus, including imposing sanctions. Nonetheless, on 24 June 2013, the Council suspended the EU travel ban on the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vladimir Makey, to facilitate diplomatic contacts with Belarus.

The EU maintains a policy of critical engagement with Belarus, including imposing sanctions. Nonetheless, on 24 June 2013, the Council suspended the EU travel ban on the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vladimir Makey, to facilitate diplomatic contacts with Belarus.

Kuwait's Political Crisis Deepens

22-02-2013

Parliamentary elections were held in Kuwait on 2 December 2012 despite a deepening political crisis and the opposition's call to boycott the polls. The vote had been programmed after a pro-reform parliament, elected in February 2012, was disbanded by the country's Constitutional Court. In a bid to weaken the opposition’s influence, Kuwait's Emir changed the electoral system before the election. Kuwait has been experiencing political stalemate for many years, the result of a constitutional struggle ...

Parliamentary elections were held in Kuwait on 2 December 2012 despite a deepening political crisis and the opposition's call to boycott the polls. The vote had been programmed after a pro-reform parliament, elected in February 2012, was disbanded by the country's Constitutional Court. In a bid to weaken the opposition’s influence, Kuwait's Emir changed the electoral system before the election. Kuwait has been experiencing political stalemate for many years, the result of a constitutional struggle between the elected parliament and the ruling family. Questions of corruption and patronage have undercut progress and dialogue since the 1960s. The outcome of the December 2012 elections — a parliament dominated by pro-government members — may further poison the political atmosphere. Today, the opposition is still staging demonstrations, calling the Emir's actions into question and challenging the new parliament's legitimacy.

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