Five things you should know about foreign policy this election

Half a century ago, the US Secretary of State Dean Acheson said that Britain “has lost its empire, but has yet to find a role”. The same is true today.

Map of the British Empire, 1886.

Are we still stuck in the imperial mindset? Flickr/Boston Public Library. Some rights reserved.

MAIN FOCUS: Cyber attack on TV5Monde | 10/04/2015

Unknown hackers brought international programming at the French-language television network TV5Monde to a halt on Wednesday night, and left warnings by the terrorist militia IS on the station’s website. Sensitive IT systems should be better protected against such attacks, commentators urge, saying that many states are not interested in concerted cyber defence measures.

 

The number of illegal migrants arriving in Greece by sea has tripled in the first three months of 2015, the Greek coast guard said on Thursday (9 April).

The period saw 10,445 migrants arriving, compared with 2,863 for the corresponding months last year.

Yanis Varoufakis has reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on the repayment of a loan instalment of around 450 million euros, IMF head Christine Lagarde announced after meeting with the Greek Finance Minister on Sunday. Commentators say Syriza’s representatives are just play acting, and expect a third bailout package to be on the agenda as early as this summer.

 

Swiss told to vote again on free movement – except this time the stakes are higher

Despite the Swiss public voting for restricting EU free movement, the EU has flat-out refused to enter into negotiations on this topic. Open Europe’s Pawel Swidlicki looks at the implications not only for the wider EU-Swiss relationship but also for the UK.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has called on the European Union to reform its institutions and use the EIB to boost investment in Greece. He believes the EU should address the structural inequalities that plague its weakest members. EurActiv France reports.

European vs Arab revolutions: regimes, ideas, violence

Why did east-central Europe find a non-violent freedom path in 1989-91, while the Arab world failed to do so after 2011?

Gennady Yanayev, the vice-president of the USSR, went on television on 19 August 1991 to declare that he and seven colleagues on a “committee on the state of emergency” were taking control of the world’s second most powerful state. The usurpers, key figures in the Soviet leadership, acted in the belief that Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika reforms were taking the Soviet Union to the verge of disintegration. The self-appointed committee – having detainedGorbachev in his holiday dacha on the Black Sea coast – emptied prisons in expectation of the need to make thousands of arrests; seized radio and television outlets; declared a curfew; and deployed columns of elite troops with mechanised infantry to city centres, most importantly Moscow. The “August coup” was underway.

Hungary’s Jobbik party scorns ‘neo-Nazi’ label
The slow dance between Minsk and Brussels

The crisis in Ukraine is making Belarus more dependent on Russia. But it has also made the Belarusian leadership keener to balance its close ties to Moscow with a warmer relationship with Brussels.

Most Europeans think little about Belarus, a country of ten million people that nestles between Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. It has been politically stable for a long time: Alexander Lukashenko was first elected to the presidency in 1994, and is virtually certain to win the next presidential election, in November. But even though the authoritarian political system seems immutable, the economy and the foreign policy may be less so. The EU needs to wake up to the geopolitical opportunities that could arise in Belarus.

The strange silence over Brexit

Despite the historic nature of a Brexit referendum, it has been worryingly absent during this election. Serious discussion in the press is almost non-existent.

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