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Home > Publications > PISM Spotlights

PISM Spotlights

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Editors: Sławomir Dębski (PISM Director), Bartosz Wiśniewski (Head of Research Office), Rafał Tarnogórski (Managing Editor), Anna Maria Dyner, Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk, Sebastian Płóciennik, Patrycja Sasnal, Justyna Szczudlik, Jolanta Szymańska, Marcin Terlikowski, Tomasz Żornaczuk

31 October 2018
no. 77/2018
PISM Spotlight: Angela Merkel Announces End of Her Leadership of CDU
The day after the Christian Democrats’ disappointing results in the elections to the state parliament in Hesse, Angela Merkel announced that she would not stand again as the party’s leader. However, she intends to remain chancellor until the end of her current term of office. Merkel’s decision means that Germany is entering a period of change that may also affect its foreign and European policy.

Lidia Gibadło
29 October 2018
no. 76/2018
PISM Spotlight: A Political Twist after the October Elections in Brazil
The rightist Jair Bolsonaro won the second round of the presidential elections in Brazil held on 28 October. He will take over as the government head on 1 January 2019. He persuaded voters with solutions to reduce violence and corruption, despite stirring fears among many Brazilians with his antagonistic declarations and plans to increase the role of the military in the government. Stabilising the country’s financial accounts and tackling significant polarisation in Brazilian society will be the main challenges for Bolsonaro after he inaugurates his presidency.

Bartłomiej Znojek
24 October 2018
no. 75/2018
PISM Spotlight: Parliamentary Elections in Afghanistan: An Act of Defiance Amid War
Despite a series of terrorist attacks and organisational problems, parliamentary elections were held in Afghanistan on 20 October. Although the government in Kabul considered it a success, the election indicated Afghan democracy faces serious challenges.

Patryk Kugiel
23 October 2018
no. 74/2018
PISM Spotlight: U.S. to Withdraw from the INF Treaty
On 20 October, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. The move constitutes a response to violation of the INF treaty by Russia and the wide-ranging development of missiles prohibited under the accord by China, which is not a part not a party to it. At the same time, Trump suggested he is open to working out a new agreement with both countries.

Artur Kacprzyk
22 October 2018
no. 73/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Brexit Deal Still Not Signed Off
From the start, the Brexit negotiations were scheduled so that the EU-UK deal would have been signed during the European Council (EUCO) summit on 17–18 October this year. However, the negotiations stalemate has meant that the summit instead was the first meeting of the EU-27 leaders to discuss the ramifications of a “no-deal” Brexit and how this scenario might still be avoided. The technical conditions of Brexit remain undecided as does whether it is still possible to conclude a deal at all.

Przemysław Biskup
16 October 2018
no. 72/2018
PISM Spotlight: Elections in Bavaria: CSU’s Pyrrhic Victory
After the elections to the Bavarian state parliament, CSU remains the strongest group in the land, but the decline in support and loss of the independent majority puts the party among the losers. The vote was a success for the Greens, which became the second force in the landtag, and for Alternative for Germany (AfD), which will enter the Bavarian parliament for the first time. The consequences of the elections will be visible at the federal level, leading to further weakening of the grand coalition.

Lidia Gibadło
05 October 2018
no. 71-2018
PISM Spotlight: British Party Conferences after Salzburg
With just two weeks before the Brussels summit, when the Brexit deal was originally intended to be finalised, there is still doubt about the possibility of reaching a final compromise on the model of future relations between the EU and UK and the land border on the island of Ireland. In addition, during the Conservative party conference, a re-stiffening of the UK’s position became apparent. This increases the probability of the negotiations ending with no agreement, or the no-deal scenario.

Przemysław Biskup
03 October 2018
no. 70-2018
PISM Spotlight: Referendum in Macedonia on the Country’s Name
On 30 September, Macedonia held a non-binding referendum on whether to implement the agreement with Greece, which has made the accord a condition for its consent to Macedonia’s integration with NATO and the EU. The overwhelming majority voted in favour of the agreement but turnout was below the government’s expectations, which weakens its mandate to implement the agreement.

Tomasz Żornaczuk
02 October 2018
no. 69-2018
PISM Spotlight: USMCA: the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement
The U.S. has reached a compromise with Canada on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) after striking an earlier deal with Mexico. The agreement still has to be ratified but it is President Donald Trump’s biggest success in trade policy so far, gaining agreement on new, more favourable conditions for the U.S.

Marek Wąsiński
28 September 2018
no. 68-2018
PISM Spotlight: CDU/CSU Caucus Chairman Election: A Warning Signal to Merkel
On 25 September, the CDU/CSU parliamentary faction in the Bundestag elected its next chairman. Volker Kauder, who had held the position since 2005, was defeated by his deputy Ralph Brinkhaus, who is also the Christian Democrats’ vice president in North Rhine Westphalia. Since Kauder was a close associate of Angela Merkel, it signals the German chancellor has a weaker base of power.

Lidia Gibadło
26 September 2018
no. 67-2018
PISM Spotlight: China–Holy See Agreement: Politics before Religion
On 22 September, the Holy See and China signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops, the most crucial and controversial issue in their bilateral contact. Both sides deemed it a political success and it opens the way for the unification of both the underground and state churches as well as future talks on establishing diplomatic relations between them. The agreement may lead, however, to division among Chinese Catholics and accusations of collaboration with the Chinese authorities in restricting religious freedom.

Marcin Przychodniak
24 September 2018
no. 66-2018
PISM Spotlight: The Kim-Moon Summit in Pyongyang: Impetus for U.S.-North Korea Dialogue
On 18-20 September, the respective leaders of North and South Korea, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, met for the third time this year. The most important achievement of the Pyongyang summit is the agreement on confidence- and security-building measures on the inter-Korean border. There was no breakthrough on denuclearisation; however, announced North Korean concessions may be an impulse to resume talks between the U.S. and the North.

Oskar Pietrewicz
21 September 2018
no. 65-2018
PISM Spotlight: Ukraine Withdraws from Friendship Treaty with Russia
On 21 September, Ukraine officially informed Russia that it will not extend the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership, signed between the two countries in 1997. The treaty will expire on 31 March 2019. The Ukrainian authorities had objected to withdrawing from the treaty, probably out of fear it would have allowed Russia to accuse Ukraine of escalating the tension between the two countries.

Daniel Szeligowski
19 September 2018
no. 64-2018
PISM Spotlight: Three Seas Initiative Summit in Bucharest: Vision Becoming Reality
The Bucharest summit of the Three Seas Initiative (TSI) signalled that this regional cooperation format is coming of age. The summit gathered delegates from all TSI countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia), eight of which were represented by heads of state. The significance of TSI is acknowledged by the European Commission (EC). Germany took part in the TSI summit for the first time and the U.S. for the second time. The participation of senior officials from international financial institutions in the TSI Business Forum, as well as the decision to set up the Three Seas Fund was a welcome signal to the business community.

Bartosz Wiśniewski
18 September 2018
no. 63-2018
PISM Spotligt: Escalation of the U.S.–China trade war
On 17 September, the U.S. administration announced the imposition of an additional 10% on tariffs on goods imported from China, totalling $200 billion. They will go in effect on 24 September. At the beginning of 2019, the duties will increase to 25%. The Donald Trump administration wants to force changes in China’s trade policy but the higher duties will also harm the American economy, which is why the confrontational policy may run into resistance in the U.S. Another effect of the duties may be an increase in the flow of goods to the EU from both sides of the trade conflict, increasing competition for European companies.

Marek Wąsińki, Damian Wnukowski
17 September 2018
no. 62-2018
PISM Spotlight: European Parliament Triggers Article 7 against Hungary
On 12 September, European Parliament adopted a “reasoned proposal” calling on the EU Council to determine, based on Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values on which the Union is founded. Triggering this procedure is politically harmful to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who, despite numerous disputes with EU institutions, has so far successfully sought the support of the European Christian Democrats.

Veronika Jóźwiak
13 September 2018
no. 61-2018
PISM Spotlight: State of the Union
European Commission (EC) President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union on 12 September was above all a pledge to continue efforts to fully achieve the goals set in previous years. Juncker made a passionate plea for more ambitious EU action in the international arena.

Melchior Szczepanik
10 September 2018
no. 60/2018
PISM Spotlight: Parliamentary Elections in Sweden: Extreme Right Will Make it Difficult to Create a Government
On 9 September, parliamentary elections in Sweden took place. No coalition gained the outright majority needed to form a government. The shape of the next government will depend on a broad cross-party agreement whose overriding goal will be to maintain the political isolation of the Swedish Democrats (SD). Despite the lack of a clear winner, Sweden’s EU policy and its relations with NATO will not change.

Wojciech Lorenz, Marta Makowska
22 August 2018
no. 59/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Meeting Between Merkel and Putin: Intensification of Dialogue
On 18 August 18, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met at Meseberg Castle. It was the second meeting between these heads of state during the last three months, preceded by bilateral visits of foreign ministers of both countries. This suggests that Russia’s political isolation is coming to an end.

Lidia Gibadło
20 August 2018
no. 58/2018
PISM Spotlight: Reconstruction of the Belarusian Government
Using his constitutional powers, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka appointed a new prime minister on 18 August and reshuffled the Belarusian Council of Ministers significantly. The changes indicate the need for corrections to the state's economic policy, and one of the main goals of the new government will be to improve the macroeconomic indicators. The reshuffle will not be significant for Belarusian foreign policy.

Anna Maria Dyner
31 July 2018
no. 57/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Ramifications of Israel’s “Nation-State Bill”
On 19 July, the Israeli Knesset passed legislation titled “Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People”. The new law might increase tensions within Israel and, in the short term, deteriorate relations with regional partners.

Michał Wojnarowicz
27 July 2018
no. 56/2018
PISM Spotlight: Postponement of the EU-U.S. Trade war
On 25 July, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker met in Washington with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss EU-U.S. trade relations, under tension in recent months. The leaders agreed to start bilateral negotiations on the liberalisation of trade in industrial goods. It was also agreed that the U.S. administration would refrain from introducing new duties, in particular on imported cars while the negotiations are ongoing.

Marta Makowska, Marek Wąsiński
18 July 2018
no. 55/2018
PISM Spotlight: EU–China Summit in Trump’s Shadow
The 20th EU–China Summit in Beijing (16 July) took place amidst the Sino-U.S. trade dispute and President Donald Trump’s critique of EU trade policy. Although the U.S.’s one-sided and protectionist policy pushed the EU and China stances closer, it is not determined they will cooperate against the U.S.

Marcin Przychodniak
17 July 2018
no. 54/2018
PISM Spotlight: International Consequences of the Trump-Putin Meeting in Helsinki
The first bilateral talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump took place on 16 July in Helsinki, Finland. In remarks after their meeting, the presidents said they focused on Syria, Ukraine, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and U.S.-Russia relations. 

Anna Maria Dyner, Agnieszka Legucka
13 July 2018
no. 53/2018
PISM Spotlight: NATO Summit in Brussels
At the summit in Brussels on 11-12 July, leaders of NATO countries approved a series of decisions strengthening the response to threats and challenges to the Alliance. The meeting was, however, accompanied by intense disputes regarding defence spending in NATO. This issues remains the main source of tension within the Alliance, especially given the uncertainty regarding what actions U.S. President Donald Trump is willing to take to boost the pressure on the Allies.

Artur Kacprzyk
10 July 2018
no. 52/2018
PISM Spotlight: 20th EU–Ukraine Summit
On 9 July, the 20th EU–Ukraine Summit was held in Brussels. It was the first meeting at the highest level since the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement entered into force in September 2017 and, at the same time, the last one before Ukraine’s presidential elections, planned for March 2019. Contrary to the expectations of the Ukrainian side, the summit did not give political impulse to deepening bilateral relations.

Daniel Szeligowski
05 July 2018
no. 51/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Unveiling of the Monument to the Victims of the Maly Trostenets Death Camp
On 29 June in Maly Trostenets, Belarus, a ceremony was held to unveil a monument commemorating the victims of the former Nazi German death camp there. Besides the president of Belarus, the presidents of Austria and Germany, as well as the representatives of other countries (including Poland) took part. The organisation of the ceremony was one of many activities of the Belarusian authorities aimed at an exit from international isolation.

Anna Maria Dyner, Łukasz Jasina
02 July 2018
no. 50/2018
PISM Spotlight: How the EU Summit will Affect Migration Policy

During the European Council summit on 28-29 June, EU leaders adopted conclusions on the Union’s approach to human migration. The conclusions prioritise blocking the flow of migrants to Europe, again dismissing reform of the asylum system.

Jolanta Szymańska
28 June 2018
no. 49/2018
PISM Spotlight: Annulment of the Election of the Mayor of Chişinău: Domestic and International Consequences
On 25 June, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Moldova annulled the results of the 3 June mayoral election in Chişinău, won by the opposition candidate Andrei Năstase. The controversial verdict was reached despite social protests and calls from the EU and U.S. respect for democratic principles. This makes it easier for oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, who is Moldova’s de facto leader, to retain power. However, at the same time, this moves Moldova away from European standards.

Jakub Pieńkowski
25 June 2018
no. 48/2018
PISM Spotlight: Elections in Turkey: Erdoğan’s Double Victory
On 24 June, parliamentary and presidential elections were held in Turkey and, according to unofficial results, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was re-elected president with about 53% of the votes. The majority of parliament was won by the People’s Alliance, consisting of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the National Movement Party (MHP), which together also gained about 53% of the votes. The turnout was 87%. The result strengthens the conservative-nationalist alliance and means a continuation of current foreign policy.

Karol Wasilewski
21 June 2018
no. 47/2018
PISM Spotlight: The U.S. Withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council
On 19 June, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It is the subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) responsible for monitoring the state of human-rights protection and providing appropriate assistance to members of the UN with respect to compliance with international obligations. The U.S. decision weakens the international system of human-rights protection.

Rafał Tarnogórski
21 June 2018
no. 46/2018
PISM Spotlight: Meseberg Declaration—France, Germany Present Their EU Reform Plan
Just ahead of this month’s European Council summit, France and Germany presented long-awaited joint ideas on EU reform, the most important of which concern the euro area and migration policy. The declaration, signed in Meseberg (Brandenburg, Germany) by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Macron is a sign that the process of deepening integration may soon accelerate.

Sebastian Płóciennik, Jolanta Szymańska
18 June 2018
no. 45/2018
PISM Spotlight: Colombia’s Conservative Next President—A Potential Turn in the Peace Process with FARC and ELN
Iván Duque emerged the victor in the second round of Colombia’s presidential elections held on 17 June and will take over as the head of government on 7 August. His victory likely sharpens the conditions surrounding the peace process initiated by the outgoing government of President Juan Manuel Santos with the largest guerrilla movements in the country: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). In foreign policy, closer cooperation with the U.S. and tighter relations with Venezuela can be expected.

Bartłomiej Znojek
14 June 2018
no. 44/2018
PISM Spotlight: Less Is More—The Future of the EU, by the Dutch Prime Minister
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, invited by the European Parliament, on 13 June presented his view of the future of the European Union. Its key elements are closer to the position of Poland’s government than the ideas put forward by French President Emmanuel Macron. Its budgetary implications are, however, very far from the Polish stance. 

Melchior Szczepanik
13 June 2018
no. 43/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Summit of (Artificial) Unity—Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Leaders’ Meeting in Qingdao
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Qingdao (9–10 June) has been used by China to emphasise Asia as the world’s centre of gravity, the group’s ability to build a coalition, and its consensual decision-making process. China portrayed SCO unity by contrasting the Qingdao meeting with the unsuccessful G7 summit in Canada.

Justyna Szczudlik
13 June 2018
no. 42/2018
PISM Spotlight: Kim-Trump Summit: Success for North Korea
On 12 June, in Singapore, the first-ever summit between a North Korean leader and sitting U.S. president took place. The Kim-Trump meeting was a success for the North. It has strengthened its international position. Its earlier concessions, such as a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests, proved to be a reasonable price for Kim Jong-un to pay for the opportunity to meet the U.S. president directly. The general nature of the adopted statement showed that the most problematic issue, namely denuclearisation, is far from solved.

Oskar Pietrewicz
12 June 2018
no. 41/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Division Summit—G7 Meeting in Canada
The G7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada, (June 8–9) highlighted the differences between the U.S. and other members of the group. The disputes concerned trade policy, the approach to climate change, as well as relations with Russia, which President Donald Trump stated he wanted to see back in the group. The result is that the importance of the group and its ability to set the tone for discussions on global topics is decreasing.

Marek Wąsiński, Damian Wnukowski
09 June 2018
no. 40/2018
PISM Spotlight: Elections of New Non-Permanent Members of the UN Security Council

On 8 June, the UN General Assembly elected five new members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for the 2019-2020 term. The results of these elections are of special significance to Poland because of its current membership of the Security Council.

Szymon Zaręba
05 June 2018
no. 39/2018
PISM Spotlight: Socialists Take Power in Spain
Spain’s Socialists have succeeded at bringing about the fall of the government of the conservative People’s Party. The new cabinet also will not have a stable majority in parliament but there is a better chance of progress in the negotiations on the future of Catalonia.

Melchior Szczepanik
30 May 2018
no. 38/2018
PISM Spotlight: International Investigation into the Flight MH17 Incident
On 24 May, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) presented its results to date of the investigation into the final flight of a Malaysian Air Boeing 777 (MH17), shot down in July 2014 over eastern Ukraine. The findings place the responsibility for the incident on Russia. If the Russian authorities refuse to cooperate with the international judicial process, the EU should consider imposing additional sanctions on Russia.

Daniel Szeligowski
29 May 2018
no. 37/2018
PISM Spotlight: Prospects of U.S. Tariffs on Imported Cars
The U.S. Department of Commerce launched an investigation on 23 May regarding the threat to national security caused by the excessive import of cars, light trucks, and automotive parts. The decision to impose duties is not settled and exemptions may be allowed; however, these tariffs would hit important U.S. allies, since 80% of cars imported into the country come from Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany, and South Korea.

Marek Wąsiński
28 May 2018
no. 36/2018
PISM Spotlight: Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of Koliyivshchyna in Ukraine
On 17 May, the Kyiv City Council decided to hold a ceremonial commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the peasant uprising called Koliyivshchyna, citing it as a symbol in the fight against “aggressors and occupiers” who occupied Ukrainian territory.

Łukasz Jasina
28 May 2018
no. 35/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Antitrust Case against Gazprom Comes to an End
On 24 May, the European Commission issued a decision in the case against Gazprom regarding upstream gas supplies in Central and Eastern Europe. The decision obliges the Russian company to change its business practices, citing abuse of its dominant position in the internal gas market. The Commission did not fine Gazprom, however.

Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk
24 May 2018
no. 34/2018
PISM Spotlight: Five Star Movement and League will Form Italy’s Next Government
After more than two months of difficult negotiations, several Italian parties have managed to reach agreement on the formation of a government. The cabinet will be created by the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S) and right-wing League (formerly Northern League). Their programme may cause conflicts between Italy and its European partners.

Jolanta Szymańska
16 May 2018
no. 33/2018
PISM Spotlight: Singapore to Host Planned Trump-Kim Summit
Singapore will be the site of the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and the leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un. This city-state of more than 5 million people has hosted events of comparable rank. Singapore portrays itself as an “honest broker” in difficult relations between parties in conflict.

Oskar Pietrewicz, Justyna Szczudlik
07 May 2018
no. 32/2018
PISM Spotlight: Brexit Negotiations after the 2018 Local Elections in England: The Confirmation of Uncertainty
On 3 May, local government elections were held in some of the most densely populated parts of England, including in London and 34 other metropolitan cities, in which more than 22 million people were eligible to vote. Importantly, they covered areas that in 2016 played a key role in shaping the result of the EU membership referendum. The local elections constituted the first practical test of support for the political parties since the last general election in June 2017.

Przemysław Biskup
30 April 2018
no. 31/2018
PISM Spotlight: Inter-Korean Summit: Still Waiting for a Breakthrough
On 27 April, on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone, the leaders of North and South Korea held the third-ever inter-Korean summit. The meeting between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in was an image-building success for both sides, but the provisions of the Panmunjom Declaration—especially regarding denuclearisation and a peace treaty—are not groundbreaking. The summit showed that an improvement in mutual relations is treated by both Koreas as a prerequisite for solving security problems on the Peninsula.

Oskar Pietrewicz
27 April 2018
no. 30/2018
PISM Spotlight: World Premiere of the Movie "Sobibor" in Warsaw
On 23 April 2017, the movie Sobibor, directed by Konstantin Khabensky, had its world premiere in Warsaw’s Teatr Dramatyczny. Local premieres will take place soon in Vilnius and Moscow. The film, distributed in dozens of countries, tells the story of the last two weeks of the Sobibor Nazi German Death Camp, during which there was a rebellion and mass escape of prisoners. The narrative of the film presents the events in a manner characteristic of Russian historical policy. The world premiere coincided with a dispute between Poland and Russia regarding the commemoration of events shown in the movie.

Łukasz Jasina
16 April 2018
no. 29/2018
PISM Spotlight: Đukanović Elected President of Montenegro
The presidential election in Montenegro, held on 15 April, was won in the first round by Milo Đukanović, who received almost 54% of the votes. His main opponent, Mladen Bojanić, an independent candidate supported by most opposition parties, obtained about 33%. Đukanović’s victory means the current trends in Montenegrin politics will continue, including its pro-Western course, but also the slow pace of solving internal problems.

Tomasz Żornaczuk
13 April 2018
no. 28/2018
PISM Spotlight: U.S. Senate Considers Pompeo as Secretary of State
The United States Senate has begun consideration of Mike Pompeo’s nomination as the next Secretary of State. Trump picked the current CIA director to replace Rex Tillerson apparently given his greater rapport with the president on key international issues. The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee hearing with Pompeo cast a light on the most pressing foreign policy challenges facing the Trump administration, as well as the defining political fault lines. Pompeo will probably secure the committee’s backing, but a vote of the full Senate could go either way. 

Bartosz Wiśniewski
11 April 2018
no. 27/2018
PISM Spotlight: Between East and West? Russia’s Third Way
On 9 April, on the website of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, Vladislav Surkov writes in “The loneliness of the half-blood” (“Odinochestvo polukrovki”) that “geopolitical loneliness” will be a factor conditioning Russia’s foreign policy in the future.

Anna Maria Dyner
09 April 2018
no. 26/2018
PISM Spotlight: Elections in Hungary: A Strong Mandate for Orbán
The parliamentary elections in Hungary on 8 April were clearly won by the ruling Fidesz-KDNP coalition. With 98.96% of the votes cast counted, the coalition picked up 48.64%, retaining a majority of parliament. Among the opposition parties, the far-right Jobbik was the most successful, with 19.44% of votes. Also crossing the electoral threshold was the Hungarian Socialist Party and the party Dialogue (MSZP-P), which started from a joint electoral list that netted 12.32%, followed by the Greens (LMP) with 6.91%, and the leftist Democratic Coalition (DK), with 5.57%.

Veronika Jóźwiak
06 April 2018
no. 25/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Baltic States–U.S. Summit in Washington
On 3 April, the presidents of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, Latvia, Raimonds Vējonis, and Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, met in Washington with U.S. President Donald Trump. The talks were held amid the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the independence of the Baltic states. A declaration signed in Washington confirms U.S. security guarantees for the three countries and sets the direction for further cooperation.

Kinga Raś
05 April 2018
no. 24/2018
PISM Spotlight: Kim Jong-un’s visit to China
On 25–28 March, Kim Jong-un visited China at the invitation of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. It was the first foreign visit of the North Korean leader since taking power at the end of 2011. The visit was part of the North’s diplomatic offensive, ongoing since January. It also confirmed that China plans to play a leading role in solving problems related to the Korean Peninsula.

Oskar Pietrewicz
29 March 2018
no. 23/2018
PISM Spotlight: New Pan-African Free-Trade Area
The African Union, at its summit in Kigali on 21 March, approved the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area. It is a first step towards real economic integration of the continent. However, several problems will make its implementation difficult.

Jędrzej Czerep
26 March 2018
no. 22/2018
PISM Spotlight: Change of U.S. National Security Adviser
On 22 March, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that John Bolton will be his new chief of the National Security Council (NSC). He will be Trump’s third presidential national security adviser, after Gens. Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster. Bolton’s new role also should be seen in the context of the latest change to the head of American diplomacy.

Artur Kacprzyk, Marcin Andrzej Piotrowski
23 March 2018
no. 21/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Significance of the President of Peru’s Resignation
On 21 March, President of Peru Pablo Pedro Kuczynski announced his resignation. It came as his position weakened because of corruption allegations and mounting pressure from the majority in the Peruvian parliament. The political changes may adversely affect Peru’s position in Latin America but not its status as an important promoter of democracy in the region.

Bartłomiej Znojek
16 March 2018
no. 20/2018
PISM Spotlight: Resignation of the Government in Slovakia
On 15 March, President Andrej Kiska accepted the resignation of Robert Fico, the longest-serving prime minister of Slovakia (2006–2010 and 2012–2018). Peter Pellegrini became the new head of government and announced changes to the cabinet. Support for the largest party, Smer-Social Democracy, is weakening and public opinion is demanding a snap election in the middle of the parliamentary term.

Łukasz Ogrodnik, Tomasz Żornaczuk
16 March 2018
no. 19/2018
PISM Spotlight: UNSC Opens “Arria Formula” Meeting on Russia’s Occupation of Crimea
On 15 March, the anniversary of the start of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, an informal consultative meeting of the members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) took place. It was carried out in the “Arria formula” on the joint initiative of Poland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK, and the U.S., and with the participation of Ukraine.

Rafał Tarnogórski
15 March 2018
no. 18/2018
PISM Spotlight: Change of Leadership at the U.S. State Department
On 13 March, U.S. President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and announced he has nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be his replacement. Tillerson’s ousting was no surprise and there was speculation Pompeo would be named the next Secretary of State. The change is a signal that Trump wants to control American foreign policy more closely. The president has initiated new tariffs on steel and aluminium and declared he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over its nuclear and missile programmes.

Andrzej Dąbrowski
13 March 2018
no. 17/2018
PISM Spotlight: A Transpacific Agreement without the U.S.
On 8 March, representatives of 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region met in Santiago, the capital of Chile, to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It is the new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the United States renounced in January 2017. The CPTPP is an expression of opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policy and an attempt to strengthen cooperation among the countries of the region in the face of China’s growing clout.

Damian Wnukowski
09 March 2018
no. 16/2018
PISM Spotlight: The U.S. Sanctions on Steel and Aluminium
On 8 March, President Donald Trump imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminium imported into the U.S. This action serves primarily to keep one of the president’s election promises. The tariffs will apply to all countries, unless exempted, such as Canada and Mexico. The result of the U.S. tariffs might be further deterioration of the transatlantic trade cooperation.

Marek Wąsiński
06 March 2018
no. 15/2018
PISM Spotlight: British Brexit Politics and the Prospect of a Snap General Election
The two leading British political parties are preparing for a critical juncture constituted by votes in parliament concerning Brexit and the possibility of a snap general election. This is visible after a series of highly publicized speeches made in the last two weeks by leading ministers and their counterparts in the shadow cabinet. Brexit has become a clear party cleavage in the UK.

Przemysław Biskup
05 March 2018
no. 14/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Deal Is (Almost) Done: Germany Will Have a New Government
On 4 March, it was announced that 66% of the almost 380,000 members of SPD voted in an internal party referendum in favour of forming a coalition with CDU/CSU. Thus, the biggest obstacle to Angela Merkel’s new government has disappeared.

Sebastian Płóciennik
05 March 2018
no. 13/2018
PISM Spotlight: Another Stage in the Russia-Ukraine gas conflict
After an unfavourable verdict from a Stockholm arbitration court in its dispute with Naftogaz, Gazprom has unilaterally refused to deliver gas to Ukraine that should have started in March. With the politically motivated decision, the Russian company is trying to hit Ukraine during the severe cold of winter with the hope of undermining its reputation as a transit country.

Bartosz Bieliszczuk, Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk
02 March 2018
no. 12/2018
PISM Spotlight: Putin’s Presidential Address: Plan for His Fourth Term
On 1 March, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed parliament. During the talk, he set the domestic policy priority as an improvement in the living conditions of Russia’s citizens. In foreign and security policy, Putin said Russia will focus on strengthening its armed forces and defence potential, in particular its nuclear capabilities. The military portion of Putin’s address effectively dominated the attention afterward, though it was also addressed to Russians. 

Agnieszka Legucka
01 March 2018
no. 11/2018
PISM Spotlight: Naftogaz-Gazprom Dispute Ruling: Russia’s Loss, Ukraine’s Opportunity
The final ruling by a Stockholm arbitration court in a dispute between Naftogaz and Gazprom over gas contracts has strategic importance to Ukraine’s authorities. It is a political victory for them and paves the way for further Naftogaz reforms and that of the whole Ukrainian gas sector. The ruling, together with the reforms, opens the door to foreign stakeholders to invest in the Ukrainian transmission system and management firms.

Bartosz Bieliszczuk
26 February 2018
no. 10/2018
PISM Spotlight: The Wiesenthal Center’s Warning of a Travel Advisory for Poland
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) issued a statement on 21 February stating it is considering issuing a Travel Advisory for Jews travelling to Poland. According to an SWC representative, the advisory would suggest travel in the country be limited to memorial sites connected with the Holocaust and Jewish cemeteries. The stated reason would be threats to Jews in Poland. 

Łukasz Jasina
23 February 2018
no. 9/2018
PISM Spotlight: Resignations of Chişinău and Bălţi Mayors: Consequences for Moldova’s Domestic and Foreign Policy
On 16 February 2018, Dorin Chirtoacă, the mayor of Chişinău, resigned. Three days earlier, Renato Usatîi, the mayor of Bălţi, a city of 100,000 residents and the second-largest city in Moldova (excluding Tiraspol in Transnistria), announced his resignation. The early elections of these mayoral posts will be especially important because they will offer a glimpse of the Moldovan public’s mood ahead of parliamentary elections in autumn.

Jakub Pieńkowski
19 February 2018
no. 8/2018
PISM Spotlight: Tillerson in Ankara, a Chance for Normalisation in Turkey-U.S. Relations
On 15 February in Ankara, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. The visit was meant to reduce tensions in Turkish-American relations and showed that both sides are interested in normalisation.

Karol Wasilewski
29 January 2018
no. 7/2018
PISM Spotlight: Russia’s 2018–2027 Rearmament Programme: Significance for Poland and NATO
On 24 January, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the adoption of the State Armament Programme for 2018–2027. The Russians plan to spend RUB 20 trillion (more than $355 million) to modernise its armed forces. The priority will be spending on nuclear forces, which indicates that Russia will focus primarily on maintaining its deterrence capabilities.

Anna Maria Dyner
24 January 2018
no. 6/2018
PISM Spotlight: Reconciling the Differences: French and German Economists’ Manifesto on the Future of the Eurozone
On 17 January, a manifesto signed by 14 leading German and French economists was published. The document contains—as the title indicates—a “constructive proposal for the reform of the euro area,” and its most important points refer to the stabilisation of the banking sector, public finances, and crisis prevention. This is another important voice in an increasingly intense discussion about the future of European integration.

Sebastian Płóciennik
22 January 2018
no. 5/2018
PISM Spotlight: Turkish Military Operation Olive Branch in Syria
On 20 January, the Turkish military began an operation in the Syrian province of Afrin. It is directed against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which control the province. The pretext for launching the offensive were reports that the U.S. plans to establish a border force in the north of Syria that would include, among others, the YPG.

Patrycja Sasnal, Karol Wasilewski
17 January 2018
no. 4/2018
PISM Spotlight: President Trump’s Ultimatum on Iran Nuclear Deal
On 12 January, U.S. President Donald Trump announced demands regarding the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). They were directed to the U.S. Congress and other powers-signatories to this agreement. If they are not met by May 2018, the U.S. might withdraw from JCPOA. Trump also stressed that this was the third and final time he would waive implementation of older American sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme. At the same time, Trump introduced some new U.S. sanctions in response to Iran’s suppression of recent protests in the country.

Marcin Andrzej Piotrowski
15 January 2018
no. 3/2018
PISM Spotlight: Russia Strengthens Military Presence in Kaliningrad
On 11 January, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced the remobilisation of the 689th fighter aircraft regiment in Kaliningrad. The unit will be equipped with modern Su-35 and upgraded Su-27 fighter jets. Following the decision to deploy Iskander-M systems to the oblast, this is another demonstration of Russia’s strengthened military presence in the Baltic Sea basin, which is changing the balance of power in the region.

Anna Maria Dyner
12 January 2018
no. 2/2018
PISM Spotlight: UK Government Reshuffle
On 8–10 January, British Prime Minister Theresa May reshuffled her government. Changes in the ministerial team are meant to prepare for the second stage of the Brexit negotiations, which are to begin in March.

Przemysław Biskup
11 January 2018
no. 1/2018
PISM Spotlight: Return of Inter-Korean Talks
On 9 January, North and South Korea held official talks for the first time in more than two years. The main themes of the meeting that took place in Panmunjom were the North’s participation in the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang in February and reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The talks could contribute to a short-term improvement of the situation in the region, but it is very unlikely that the North Korean nuclear programme will be discussed in this format.

Oskar Pietrewicz


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