Wednesday 20 Sep 2017 | 13:59 | SYDNEY
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Europe

Turkey’s EU accession: A useful fiction

By any measure, the German Chancellor debate between Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz last weekend was a dispiriting, monotonous affair. On irrelevant issue after irrelevant issue, both candidates spoke around each other, barely acknowledging one another's presence and finding themselves more often

How Trump’s new approach to Pakistan might pan out

Perhaps the most notable part of President Trump's new Afghanistan 'strategy' is its treatment of Pakistan, with Trump saying out loud what was once largely debated and threatened in private: The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan. We can no

US-Russia relations: No light at the end of the tunnel

Each month – each week – brings new and alarming developments in US-Russian relations. No one seriously expects any improvement in the near future. The only question is: how much worse can things get? During the initial period of the Trump presidency, the fear was that Trump would make some

Humanitarian corridors: Safe passage but only for a few

There is a counter-narrative emerging in Europe’s approach to irregular migration, even as EU governments seek new ways to discourage desperate journeys across the Central Mediterranean route to Italy. Via the skies over Rome and Paris, other journeys are getting safer, as church groups fly asylum

Clash or compromise: The return of history in Poland

Poland today gets almost uniformly bad press in the West, replete with stories alleging that Beata Szydło's government has all but dismantled the foundations of democracy on orders from Jarosław Kaczyński, Chairman of the governing Law and Justice Party (PiS), often identified as its é

Boris Johnson: Three cheers for the Anglosphere

Boris Johnson clearly has a soft spot for Australia. No white bread politician, his whole manner is a breath of fresh air. Not only was he smart enough to renounce his dual citizenship, he has turned dishevelment into an art form. He was at it again last night, delivering the 2017 Lowy Lecture

Macron puts his stamp on French foreign policy

French President Emmanuel Macron is striking a new, pragmatic and self-confident tone in the country's foreign policy, for which he's received a lot of kudos. The recent reception for US President Donald Trump in France is a perfect illustration of this new approach. Macron invited Trump to attend

Trump in Warsaw, Hamburg and Paris

Trump divides. Most people are either staunchly against or for US President Donald Trump – if not the man, then what he supposedly stands for. As most commentators find themselves in the former camp, there is no shortage of Trump critiques. Thus this piece will concentrate not so much on

The G20 Hamburg riots and the German election

In many ways, the city-state of Hamburg embodies the self-image that contemporary Germany likes to project. With sparkling new galleries and trendy cafés interspersed among rough-and-tumble beatnik quarters and burly workers' bars, it exudes an elegant but unpretentious charm. The gleaming new

Russia is weaker than it looks

G7 leaders recently agreed to maintain their sanctions on Russia imposed over its belligerence in the Ukraine. The sanctions are there to punish Russian aggression and deter any further territorial expansion. But the debate over how to restrain Russia often misses a clearer understanding of the

Italian push for early election crashes

Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, newly re-elected as leader of the governing Partito Democratico (PD), was triumphant. In an attempt to force an early election, Renzi had negotiated a four-party deal for a new electoral law. The deal (approved by centre-left PD, centre-right Forza

French foreign policy under President Macron

Now the French election cycle is complete, what’s next for France’s foreign and security policy? Macron’s victory on 12 May was decisive (he received 66% of the votes), but his real triumph has been the parliamentary elections. Optimists in his camp would never have anticipated that he would

Angela Merkel: Independent but not alone

The times are not easy for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She faces a national election in September and has assumed the mantel of primus inter pares in Europe since the euro crisis. And now, in the immortal words of another European leader to an American president, she is seeing a US president '

Angela Merkel declares independence, sort of

German Chancellor Angela Merkel might have just told the Frankfurt beer hall crowd earlier this week that 'The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out'. But she didn't stop there, choosing instead to emphasise the just-completed NATO and G7 meetings with President

Europe’s mixed views on China’s Belt and Road

China’s Belt and Road summit is over but the Chinese narrative is only just getting started. In a video released by the state-owned media outlet China Daily, a Western father tells his daughter a BRI bedtime story: 'China’s idea does not only belong to China. It belongs to the world'. Yet the

Macron and the uprooting of France

For months the world has waited with bated breath for Emmanuel Macron to save France, Europe and democracy by succeeding in his outwardly improbable campaign to become the next French president. Now that he has, it is time to ask: what, with the 'Far Right' duly slain, does he actually have a

From Macron to Renzi: The centre fights back

Emmanuel Macron's decisive victory - 65% to 35% - over Marine Le Pen has calmed fears of a Eurozone crisis and boosted the hopes of centrists and business in Europe that the momentum for populist parties has stalled, at least for now. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman was quick to describe

'A Wary Embrace': Response to Stephen Blank

Stephen Blank's very generous comments on A Wary Embrace arrived too late to cover in my response to the original contributions in The Interpreter debate. But he brings up a number of additional points that deserve a reply. The nature of the China-Russia relationship Blank somewhat

Le Pen’s support grows but Macron still in front

Emmanuel Macron's odds of becoming French President have narrowed in the final sprint to Sunday's election, with four in every ten voters* set to back the extreme-right candidate Marine Le Pen. A fierce opponent of immigrants, Muslims and the EU and an admirer of Vladimir Putin, the Front National

UK elections: A May day in June

After promising repeatedly there would be no early election, Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap poll for 8 June, ostensibly to secure an electoral endorsement for the UK's Brexit negotiating position. May argues she needs the clear backing of British voters to stop other parties

‘A Wary Embrace’: The author responds

This post is part of a debate on Bobo Lo's Lowy Institute Paper, 'A Wary Embrace'. Other debate posts can be found here. In their excellent responses to my Lowy Institute Paper, A Wary Embrace, Kyle Wilson, Peter Rutland, Alexander Gabuev, and Marcin Kaczmarski raise a number of interesting points

The popes and the Islamists

As we approach Easter, it's worth looking at how institutional Christianity and radical Islamism interact in the contemporary world. The bomb attacks on Coptic churches in Egypt highlight the occasional focus by Islamist groups on Christian targets in the Middle East. Just as outsiders

How China and Russia avoided the Thucydides trap

This post is part of a debate on Bobo Lo's Lowy Institute Paper A Wary Embrace. Other debate posts can be found here. With every energy or arms trade deal and joint veto in the UN Security Council, the question of whether Russia and China have formed an alliance becomes more salient. These two

Sweden unites in wake of terror attack

Nice, Berlin, London and then Stockholm. The wave of Islamic-inspired, lone-wolf terror attacks sweeping through Europe reached the heart of Scandinavia on Friday, targeting Sweden, the country famously cited by Bin Laden as a symbol of freedom. Now 7/4 will be remembered by Swedes as the day when

China and Russia: Friends with strategic benefits

This post is part of a debate on Bobo Lo's Lowy Institute Paper A Wary Embrace. Other debate posts can be found here. Is the relationship between China and Russia just an axis of convenience – a limited partnership with no real empathy between the two parties, spiced by deep-seated and well-

Post-Brexit: Will the Kingdom stay united?

British Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to send the formal notice to Brussels that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union within the next two years has ignited restiveness on the fringes of the Kingdom. Scotland voted by 55% to 45% to remain in the Union in September 2014,

How Erdogan makes EU opprobrium work in his favour

The recent standoff between Turkey and several European countries shocked the world. For the first time in NATO and EU history, a member (or member candidate, in the case of the EU) state's foreign minister's plane was not allowed to land in EU territory (the Netherlands). Another Turkish

Finally, good news for the European Union

Three major recent developments appear to indicate that the EU, at long last, is on the up again: solid growth in the EU; the populist wave apparently cresting with Brexit and the Trump Administration; and it migration appearing to be manageable without totally wrecking 'Schengen',

The EU shouldn’t strike a Turkey-style deal with Libya

Last week, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that EU member states are not obliged to issue humanitarian visas to asylum seekers at their overseas missions. A humanitarian visa would enable a third-country national at risk of torture of inhumane treatment to apply in situ for entry

The Russian Revolution, a century on

A century ago today, Emperor Nicholas II, 'Tsar and Autocrat of all the Russias', pencilled his name to a document renouncing a throne three hundred years in his family's possession, not only for himself but also his son and chronically ill heir, Alexis. The date, according to the old Russian

European defence policy after Trump and Brexit

While international attention, especially from financial markets, is focused on how well nationalist-populist right movements in various EU member states perform in upcoming elections (Marine Le Pen in France, Geertt Wilders in the Netherlands, the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany), more

Marine Le Pen and the spectre of Frexit

National Front leader Marine Le Pen is one of the top contenders in this year's French presidential elections. And a President Le Pen would reconfigure international relations for good. Polls suggest the far-right leader will win the first round of voting on April 23 but lose the decisive run-off

What's behind Russia's missile treaty violation?

Earlier this week the New York Times broke a story that Russia is fielding new cruise missiles in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). This is significant, not because Russia stands accused of violating the Treaty, but rather how and why. The INF Treaty

Merkel's Faustian bargain with Erdogan

Angela Merkel’s visit to Turkey last week was met with wide-ranging scepticism. It was the German Chancellor’s first visit since the failed coup of July 2016, to which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded with an uncompromising offensive of suppression and violence. Having obtained the

French socialists reject centrism, want to dream again

The outcome of the French left's presidential primary vote this week marks an about face for the country's Socialist party. By electing Benoît Hamon as the presidential candidate, French socialists have shown that they want the party to return to core left-wing values and away from the business-

Little joy for Ireland in May's Brexit plan

I am a believer in the EU and I think what we need to do is to rediscover its great moments...What I think is rather sad…was the degree of fear that was in the discourse…It seemed to crowd out… all the things that the people of Europe can achieve together that go far beyond the elimination of

Theresa May’s Brexit cherry-picking is doomed to fail

In her two recent Brexit speeches, one delivered in London to the representatives of the 27 other EU-members and a second delivered two days later at Davos, May insisted that she wants a clean break: an exit from the single market (implicating the four freedoms) and from full membership of the

A grand bargain: What Russia now wants from the West

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America has elicited thousands of lines of newsprint as academics, journalists and the wider public seek to make sense of its implications. It has occasioned no less speculation in Russia, much of it shot through with a strong sense

Western democracy and the crumbling party system

After the election of Donald Trump I argued that populism may not be the right lens through which to view recent political trends in Western democracies ('Is there a global wave of populism?'). Instead what we have seen in the Euro crisis, Brexit, the Trump election and to a lesser extent in

The British left must rediscover its internationalism

When the United Kingdom first applied to join the European Common Market in the 1960s, the great Clement Attlee, former Labour PM, rose in the House of Lords to argue against membership. His objections were made on two bases: The harmful rigidity of a political union with European countries,

Russia's revolutionary centenary

Russians are preparing for a New Year heavy with historical symbolism. A hundred years after their revolution, the French celebrated 1789 as year zero not only of the Republic that had finally emerged as France’s settled form of government, but also of a new, Enlightened era in the history of

Merkel pays the price for a bold stance on refugees

In the East German city of Dresden upwards of 5000 protesters linked to the anti-Islam PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) party march through the streets every Monday. It's a confronting sight for the hundreds of newly migrated Syrians allocated to the city, a

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