WASHINGTON—Today’s headlines about Syria obscure a major triumph for Western policy. Ukraine seems to be heading toward an informal settlement largely on European and U.S. terms. Yet this success could threaten the very Western unity that brought it about.
The refugee crisis is a drama. But it is also an opportunity. It could provoke the European Union (EU) member countries to face reality, to accept that migration – and especially refugee – policies are no longer a competence single states can handle efficiently and to agree on a new common EU migration and refugee policy management.
Germany is hotly debating the refugee crisis, but astonishingly that does not translate into an intensified interest in its root cause, which is, to a large extent, the way the Assad regime is conducting the war in Syria.
In his speech before the United Nations General Assembly last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly called for international cooperation based on common interests, underlining that possible disagreements and compromise-based solutions are the core of international relations.
President George HW Bush called for Germany to be a Partner in Leadership with the United States in May 1989, six months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. He did this in anticipation of the changes that were building, sensing that with the end of the Cold War, Germany would be the central power in Europe.
“History is irony on the move,” European philosopher Emil Cioran wrote some half a century ago. And he has a point. Twenty-five years ago, East Europeans destroyed the Berlin Wall and opened their arms to the world beyond their borders.
In Ukraine, the Kremlin’s overarching goal has been to bring that country back under Russian control. But as Ukraine has become a stronger state that is integrating itself with the West, the likelihood for the Kremlin’s success is getting smaller every day. In order to distract from this strategic defeat, Russian President Vladimir Putin has increased his military engagement in Syria.
Sofia, Bulgaria — COMMENTING on the flow of migrants making their way through Hungary to Austria and Germany, a Hungarian journalist told me recently: “We don’t have cities anymore. Only an extended railway station.”
What do the civic protests in Armenia have to do with Maidan and the U.S. State Department? The short answer is nothing, really. Yet, the Russian media would disagree, framing the issue through Moscow’s perceptions and narratives. The discourse surrounding Russia’s recent actions within its neighborhood has clearly underlined the importance of both.