It looked like 2020 was supposed to be an annus horribilis for international trade. Instead, despite the pandemic, the international trade system withstood the impact, though not without some bruises. Global trade flows contracted by about 5%, much less than during the 2008-9 financial crisis: an overall better performance than what had been estimated during the first wave of Covid-19 which, due to sudden and rigid lockdowns, paralyzed many supply chains.
The majority of Ukrainians consider the UN peacekeeping mission to be the most preferable way to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine. However, proposals for said UN peacekeeping intervention, like any other peacekeeping mission, have never been a subject of serious negotiations, either between Kyiv and Russia-backed rebels or between Kyiv and Moscow in the Normandy format.
The October 10th Parliamentary elections in Iraq certainly represent a litmus test for the interim government led by Mustafa al-Kadhimi, which only a year and a half ago took the helm of a country rocked by mass popular protests against the pervasive corruption, lack of economic opportunities, and a season of constant insecurity emanating from recalcitrant militia groups and the broader Iran-US geopolitical rivalry.
The fall of Slobodan Milosevic on October 5th 2000 was supposed to be watershed moment in Serbia’s democratic transition. Reforms were implemented slowly and not without resistance. Over the last decade, however, the new regime led by the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) has done its best to discontinue and reverse institution-building efforts of its democratic predecessors. The young party rode on the promise of fighting corruption and organized crime, thus gaining unprecedented popular support, but its bombastic measures came short of actual results.
All Western Balkan countries have, at least officially, committed to joining the European Union and promised to fight organized crime head-on, as one of the priority areas during their accession talks. The European Commission’s Country Reports have repeated ad nauseam that the key focus should be on having a track record in prosecuting organized crime with final convictions.
Una ripresa post-pandemica sostenibile richiede un ripensamento dei piani di investimento dei governi. Per superare le sfide servirà una visione a lungo termine.
The Balkans, which lie at the heart of South-Eastern Europe, have historically been an important transit route for drugs, especially for heroin coming from the East to be trafficked across Europe.
The German elections are just around the corner. After Angela Merkel’s 16-year-long reign, Germany seems to be heading towards a three-way coalition with the Social Democrats as the senior partner.
Will the new government support a swift, green and digital transition? Between Washington and Beijing, what changes for Berlin’s foreign policy? Will austerity make a comeback in Germany and the EU? And which prospects for German relations with Italy and France?
In some of the countries of the Western Balkans, criminal groups and political elites have grown increasingly interdependent. In particular, Serbia’s and Montenegro’s societies have suffered the most from these links. The two countries have long been considered frontrunners in the EU integration process, whose final completion, however, is difficult to foresee. Similarly, Albania’s EU negotiating process has also been delayed for years, in part because of the country's role in global drug trafficking schemes.
At the heart of the European project, the Franco-German tandem provides impetus for further integration within the EU. However, Brussels is yet to decide which direction it wants to take, and the French and Germans still have to agree on their position with regards to economics, foreign affairs, or enlargement. The geopolitical context provides a call for action for an EU which endeavours to become increasingly “geopolitical” and aims at “speaking the language of power”. How can the French and Germans cooperate, and which hurdles are they going to face?
The Germans did not pay much attention to this year’s election campaign until early September. The consequences of the pandemic, July’s devastating floods, and the dramatic collapse of Afghanistan dominated discussions in the media and among the public. But the 26th of September is now just around the corner and the race for the Chancellery has been in full motion in the last weeks.