By Heather Conley, Special to CNN
Heather Conley is senior fellow and director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The views expressed are her own.
Peace is not a word that would necessarily be associated with the European political landscape these days.
Yet today, at least 20 out of 27 European heads of state and three heads of the European Union (Council, Commission and Parliament) are in Norway to witness the awarding of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the EU "for over six decades having contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
As these leaders assemble in Oslo, we will again be reminded of Europe’s institutional and political complexity. No less than three EU officials are accepting the award; two leaders – European Council President Herman Von Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso – are giving speeches.
By Hans Kundnani, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Hans Kundnani is editorial director at the European Council on Foreign Relations. The views expressed are his own.
The overwhelming feeling in Europe following Barack Obama’s re-election was a sense of relief. Although European approval of his administration’s foreign policy has dipped since he took office in 2009 – particularly over his increased use of drones and his perceived failure to put greater pressure on Israel – Europeans overwhelmingly preferred him to Mitt Romney. Indeed, according to one poll carried out in 12 European Union member states before the election, 75 percent said they would vote for Obama and only 8 percent for Romney if they could choose.
Still, Obama’s second-term foreign policy has the potential to divide Europe – and to divide Europe and America. Two developments in particular will shape Obama’s second-term foreign policy – deficit woes and a pivot towards the Asia-Pacific. Both will create tough choices for Europeans as they struggle to deal with the euro crisis.
By Fotis Filippou, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Fotis Filippou is regional campaign coordinator for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International. The views expressed are the author’s own.
A new memorial in Berlin to commemorate hundreds of thousands of Roma who were systematically murdered by the Nazis during World War II is an important official step towards marking the atrocities of the past. But given the treatment of Roma in today’s Europe, the monument near the Reichstag should give current political leaders pause for thought about the 12 million Roma who continue to face prejudice and persecution across the continent.
And we’re not talking about some vague sentiments here. Anti-Roma feeling in many European countries still translates into official policies that result in segregation of Roma from the rest of society, deepening and exacerbating their existing poverty and marginalization. In some instances, discrimination bubbles over into racist violence, when hatred espoused by extreme right-wing parties is acted out by youth mobs and vigilante groups.
By Nicholas Walton, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Nicholas Walton is the communications director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. The views expressed are his own.
From outside, Europe looks the same as ever – more riots on the streets of sunny Southern European countries and a niggling sense that the Old Continent is still failing to face up to an existential crisis. From inside, the situation is certainly more complicated – and potentially far scarier. Not only is the crisis still very much alive, but it seems to have moved into a third and very worrying phase.
First we had a banking crisis; then we added a sovereign debt crisis; now we also have a political crisis, and one that strikes to the heart of what the European Union was designed to achieve.
Think back a few years to a time when Greeks and Spaniards (not to mention the Portuguese and many, many others) did not routinely head to the streets or go out on strike to protest against the personal disasters that many of them now face. Back then, the European Union brought the promise of a new model of international association that swapped the primacy of the nation state, via the surrender of a fair chunk of sovereignty, for a new way of doing things. At its core were the largest single market in the world and a belief in liberal democracy that united the people of (eventually) 27 member states, with others drawn in by the EU’s powerful magnetic field. The euro was another plank in the long road towards integration, and the Schengen zone of passport-free travel was another proud boast. Then the crisis hit, and the “project” has been creaking ever since.
By Nick Witney, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Nick Witney is a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and former head of the European Defense Agency. The views expressed are his own.
It has been a good couple of weeks for extremists on both sides of the divide between the Western and Muslim worlds. In Benghazi, jihadists killed the U.S. envoy and three colleagues – an act of barbarity guaranteed to create shock and revulsion. Like-minded fanatics fanned the flames through attacks on embassies across the Middle East. The authors of the poisonous little video that began it all thus found themselves succeeding beyond all possible expectation.
Better still, from the perspective of this improbable coalition of hate-mongers, has been the way in which, in the run-up to the U.S. presidential poll, the “clash of civilizations” narrative has been embraced by many in the Western media. So much for the Arab Spring, we are told, when the heirs to the toppled autocrats turn out to be anti-Western Islamists. So much for the chances of Arab democracy, when the right to freedom of expression is so little respected. Time to stop apologizing, and stand up for “Western values.”
Such conclusions may tell us more about their authors than about the real world. Islamists were, after all, soundly defeated in Libya’s recent elections, and the United States is in a minority of Western countries where an absolute right to freedom of expression is not constrained by some form of “hate speech” legislation. Yet the mutual suspicion, and sometimes antipathy, between the Islamic and Western worlds cannot be gainsaid. It has been going on for centuries – and the appearance of large Western armies in two Islamic countries over the past decade, let alone the issue of Palestine, has done little to help. Which makes it all the more important for the West to do whatever it can to help the Arab Spring succeed.
By Guy de Jonquières, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Guy de Jonquières is a senior fellow at the European Centre for International Political Economy. The views expressed are his own.
There has never been a time when it mattered more for the European Union to be able to speak firmly, coherently, and constructively to China. Sadly, however, the German government and the European Commission appear to be doing their best to undercut the EU’s ability to wield international influence and its ambitions to be taken seriously in Beijing.
Europe has, of course, never rivaled U.S. clout in Chinese eyes, partly because it lacks hard power. And steadily increasing frustration with the EU’s cumbersome decision-making and frequent internal divisions is causing Beijing to bypass Brussels and deal directly with national capitals.
By Sebastian Dullien, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Sebastian Dullien is senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and professor for International Economics at HTW Berlin – University of Applied Science. The views expressed are his own.
Throughout the euro crisis, it has been remarkable how often the financial markets have gotten things wrong when analyzing policy decisions. After almost every major summit of the past couple of years the markets have reacted with immediate enthusiasm, sending share prices and bonds soaring and bringing spreads down. However, the relief never seemed to last long, and within a few days markets soberly realized that the steps announced after each EU summit were less far-reaching than originally thought, and insufficient to put an end to the euro crisis.
Last week, the financial markets were disappointed by the words of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. Instead of at once beginning to print money and buying periphery bonds (as some market participants had hoped), or at least cutting the main refinancing rate further from its already low 0.75 percent, the ECB simply announced that its council “may consider undertaking further non-standard monetary policy measures according to what is required to repair monetary policy transmission” (ie bring down excessively high spreads between the yields of periphery bonds and those of Germany) and would work on modalities over the coming weeks. Mario Draghi even made it clear that the ECB would only buy periphery bonds if the country in question had agreed on a program with the EFSF/ESM bailout funds. Markets didn’t like the news, and reacted with rising spreads on periphery bonds and falling share prices. The euro also weakened.
By Jane Winter, Special to CNN
Jane Winter is director of British Irish Rights Watch, an independent non-governmental organization. The views expressed are her own.
Peace has broken out and nobody needs to worry about Northern Ireland anymore. At least, that’s what the British government would like you to think. The reality is different.
Fourteen years on from the Belfast/Good Friday peace agreement brokered by U.S. Senator George Mitchell, active paramilitaries are still out there with the capacity to inflict serious violence and do real damage to the peace process. Hardly a day passes without an attack on the police or some innocent Catholic or Protestant.
However, it’s not just the paramilitaries that put the peace process at risk; our decision makers also have a lot to answer for.
By Andrzej Jonas, Special to CNN
Andrzej Jonas is editor-in-chief of The Warsaw Voice. This is the second in a new series looking at how the world sees the U.S. election, and what the Obama presidency has meant for ties with other countries. The views expressed are the author's own.
If people in Poland could vote for U.S. president, Barack Obama would probably get at least half the vote. While that’s probably much less than in the liberal countries of Western Europe, where Obama could by some estimates count on nearly 80 percent support, it’s still a substantial figure considering Polish President Bronisław Maria Komorowski only had the backing of just over half of his countrymen in the last election.
Of course, my compatriots aren’t necessarily experts on U.S. politics, but then neither are many voters in America. People there, as is the case almost everywhere, are often guided by superficial impressions and assessments. But whatever their views on Obama vs. Romney, one thing is clear – Poles are no longer head over heels in love with America the way they were back in communist days, when the U.S. was seen as the epitome of success and freedom.
Editor’s note: GPS speaks with historian Niall Ferguson about the rise of China, the likelihood of conflict in Asia and whether Europe is relevant. Watch GPS on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET for Ferguson's take on the euro crisis.
One of the biggest stories in international terms this century has clearly been the gradual shift in power from West to East, and especially the rise of China. Is China’s continued rise inevitable?
Not much in history is inevitable, but the shift from the West to the East looks like a pretty profound trend that it’s hard to imagine suddenly stopping. The IMF has China’s GDP exceeding that of the United States within four years, and the way growth rates are right now, something amazing would have to happen here in the U.S., and something very terrible would have to happen in China, for that not to take place.
So I think this is the biggest trend in economics, and perhaps geopolitics, in our lifetime. It goes back to the late 1970s and the reforms of Deng Xiaoping. I don’t think it’s going to stop for at least another 10 or 20 years, at which point demographics and other forces will start to slow the Chinese economy down. But this isn’t something that is just about to collapse, and those that think there’s a China implosion just around the corner are engaging in wishful non-thinking. It’s not going to crash. It may slow, but it’s not going to implode.
By James Neild, Global Post
It’s summer in the Mediterranean. Sun seeking holidaymakers lounge on sandy beaches, glittering yachts glide into and out of quaint old harbors and packed cruise ships hop between idyllic islands.
But it’s no holiday further out at sea, where migrants float crammed together in rickety boats or cling to sinking rafts, some choking on their final breaths as they and their dreams of finding a better life in Europe perish under the sparkling water.
By James Wither, Special to CNN
Editor's note: James Wither is professor of National Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. The views expressed are solely those of the author.
The bus bomb attack on Israeli tourists at Bulgaria’s Burgas Airport represents the first significant success for what some have alleged are Iranian-backed terrorists who have mounted a sustained campaign against Israeli diplomats and tourists around the world.
Just a few days before the Burgas attack, a suspected Hezbollah operative was reportedly arrested in Cyprus. He was found with information on resorts, flight schedules and tour bus companies frequented by Israeli tourists. However, the Israeli Counter Terrorism Bureau didn't issue a specific travel warning to tourists following this arrest.
Burgas Airport was an easy target, but arguably no easier than most other European airports. In Israel, airports have routine outer perimeter screening of passengers and visitors. In the absence of a specific warning, enhanced security of this kind is neither considered financially viable nor practicable for airport authorities elsewhere. Bulgarian security services have published security camera pictures of the suspect, a young, long-haired man with a backpack, who posed as a normal holiday traveler and hung around the airport for an hour before he placed the bomb in the hold of his chosen target bus.