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This week saw the publication of a paper by Dimitar Bechev examining the impact of the euro crisis on EU enlargement, in particular in the Western Balkans. Dimitar warns that whereas the EU used to export prosperity to the region, now it threatens to export instability.
August also saw the publication of our latest National Paper, aimed at examining the debate over Europe in individual countries. This time the focus was on the Netherlands, ahead of elections coming up on the 12th September, with Adriaan Schout and Jan Marinus Wiersma explaining how Dutch pragmatism lies behind the apparent shift from a traditional pro-European viewpoint to a more sceptical one. Next week we plan to publish a National Paper on Germany by
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The massive street protests, which started in December 2011, have proved a very considerable stress-test for Russia’s autocratic political system, built and steered by Putin for over a decade. Russia-watchers in Europe and the US debated how the Kremlin would respond. A few months ago the usual cohort of useful wishful thinkers argued that Putin, swayed by the rising middle classes, would accelerate Russia’s modernisation. In a sense they were right. Putin is modernising, but his efforts are directed at the repressive apparatus of laws and, possibly, institutions, rather than at the economy or the political system.
Tightening the screws
During 2005 and 2006 Russia adopted swaths of legislation designed to prevent events like the 2004 Orange revolution in Ukraine or the 2003 Rose revolution in Georgia. Electoral laws were toughened in ways that strengthened the pro-Kremlin ‘United
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One of the most discouraging aspects of the Syrian tragedy, which has now taken some 18,000 lives, is the zero role being played in it by public opinion in other Arab and Muslim countries. In the past, the non-existence of this public opinion had a justification in the authoritarian nature of the region’s regimes. Practically the only demonstrations you ever saw in their streets had to do with the regimes’ whipping up of anti-Western feelings, against the Iraq War, or in defense of the Palestinian cause, particularly in answer to the latest Israeli punitive action in Lebanon, the West Bank or Gaza.
As a result of this skillful manipulation of Pan-Arab feelings — fomented by the official media or in mosques, as the vicissitudes of policy requires — the so-called Arab Street became a global political factor of the first order. Though some, not without reason, denounced the whole
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