May 9 was Europe Day - for the EU. The Council of Europe, however, set May 5 as its Europe Day. Europeans, it seems, can't even agree on when to celebrate their unity. Worse, the EU in particular is having yet another identity crisis involving self-doubt and internal recriminations. This time, however, it seems different; a recent poll by the Pew Research Centre warns that support for the EU has fallen from 60% to 45%. Perhaps most EU citizens realise that things are more serious this time, because the stakes are higher. The creation of the euro zone has locked a subset of EU countries into an uneasy, and unbalanced, relationship with each other, while simultaneously causing some non-euro EU
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Last week’s bombing of the French embassy in Tripoli continues to be surrounded by question marks. By the time French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrived in the aftermath, no one had claimed responsibility for the attack. Over the weekend, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan held a much delayed press conference reported in the Libya Herald, in which he referred to the attack as an act of terror carried out by those who “want to stop the formation of the Libyan state.”
While the security situation in Libya has remained a major cause for concern since the fall of Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, unlike the attack in Benghazi in which US Ambassador Christopher Stevens died last year, last week’s car bombing was in the capital and constituted the first major attack on a foreign embassy there.
Immediately after the attacks, links were made to the French intervention in nearby Mali, given
Spain’s foreign policy is in a critical state. Due to the crisis, true; but also due to decisions made in recent years. We need only take a close look at the three pillars that sustain the exterior action of any country: diplomacy, defence and development. As for diplomacy there are a number of elements that have combined to create the present situation. Most obvious of these is the crisis, which has had a serious impact on Spain’s capacity for international action. Spain, which always had to jockey for elbow room between the big states of the EU, now has a hard time not just being influential but merely being heard in Europe, not to mention outside it.
The crisis has also relegated the Foreign Ministry to a back seat in favor of Economy and Finance, whose decisions are now the ones that count internationally. This tendency, which is general in Europe, means that foreign ministers,
This week Vladimir Putin met with Angela Merkel in Hannover to open the world’s largest industry fair – the “Hannover Messe”. But the political honeymoon between Germany and Russia – a cornerstone of German foreign policy since the 1990s - seems to be coming to an end. Relations between both countries can be described as “frosty” after their “strategic partnership” resulted in mutual irritations and disappointments. Putin’s return to the Kremlin, the persecution of the opposition and the Pussy Riot trial were a severe blow to German elites’ beliefs that the Russian state and society would be on a slow but steady path towards modernization.
Despite all German efforts (Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s “partnership for modernisation”) a ‘Russian spring’ never happened – a fact which led to frustration and anger in Berlin. After Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik and Steinmeier’s “new Ostpolitik”,
Breaking with a decades-long tradition of having Morocco as the first destination for a French President’s first official visit to North Africa, Francois Hollande’s two-day (April 3-4) stop in Morocco came three months after his historic trip to its rival Algeria in December.
The French President’s trip to Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco, which was carefully planned by French and Moroccan business circles, and during which he was accompanied by nine ministers and more than fifty business leaders, signaled that France is aiming to consolidate relations with its main ally in the Maghreb. Hollande seeks to reclaim the Republic’s status as Morocco’s first commercial partner after losing that title to Spain last year.
Despite the fact that his trip took place amid a political storm in France around the indictment of the former Minister, Jerome Cahuzac, Hollande’s agenda
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