This meeting hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia, addressed trade issues in light of the current economic crisis and declining trade. Speakers included: Mauro Petriccione, European Commission's DG Trade Director for bilateral relations including the United States and China; Dr. Tihomir Stoytchev, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of Republic of Bulgaria; and William “Bill” Craft, Jr., Acting Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Programs at the U.S. Department of State.  All of the panelists agreed that despite the economic crisis, it is vital to avoid protectionism policies and that transatlantic cooperation is needed to keep world trade markets open.

The United States and the European Union have both changed their positions on the conflict in Georgia, informing Kiev the West needs to seek greater cooperation with Russia, according to a usually well-informed online intelligence service, Stratfor.

Its sources report that Georgia was given this message on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting of NATO in Brussels on March 5. The report says that Georgian Prime Minister Nikoloz Gilauri was told that NATO cannot protect his country militarily from Russia, even though Georgia is still promised eventual membership in the alliance. The warning reportedly came from both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Read More

This meeting focused on Europe’s increasingly troubled energy relationship with Russia, with particular emphasis on Northern Europe. Against the backdrop of the Ukrainian gas crisis and renewed pledges on the Nord Stream gas pipeline project, participants assessed Russia's influence in European energy markets and the critical interplay between Russia's economic downturn and energy export policies, as well as the attendant implications for the transatlantic relationship. Participants included Pekka Sutela, Head of the Bank of Finland's Institute for Economies in Transition; Anders Åslund, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics; Jaroslav Kurfürst, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Czech Republic; Dr. Phyllis Yoshida, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Energy Cooperation, U.S. Department of Energy; Tomas Gulbinas, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania and J. Robinson West, Chairman, Founder and CEO, PFC Energy. Ambassador C. Boyden Gray, former U.S. Special Envoy for European Union Affairs and Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy presented keynote luncheon remarks.

C. Boyden GrayRussia is at the heart of the difficulties of energy security in Europe. One of the problems, of course, is that Russia just isn’t investing enough in their own gas development. (It’s even more acute on oil: within five years, they won’t have enough to play games with, whether they want to or not.) It’s a key problem: they need to attract outside capital. Gazprom desperately needs it because it has huge debts and a very low stock price. So there is trouble ahead if we don’t collectively figure out a way to get that attended to, whatever their internal or external intentions are. Now on natural gas, Europe reportedly faces a shortfall of somewhere between 120-150 billion cubic meters annually by 2030. How can it be covered? This issue has a climate change component because if Europe doesn’t get the gas (from Russia or elsewhere), they are going to use other fuel for their power plants, including the coal-fired power plants they’re building now. How are they going to deal with the carbon emissions that result? As I read it in the papers, the EU plans to make it up by allowing member states to use “offsets” that will come – up to 50 percent of them – from outside the EU. In a sense, Europe would only do 50 percent of these nations’ purported clean-up and instead get cheaper offsets from operations in China or India or elsewhere.

Read More

Deiter DettkeThe transition of leadership in Russia could have paved the way for a new chapter in Russian history and Russia’s role in the world. Russia, which has always identified herself as an offspring of European civilization, seemed on its way to bolstering ties with the West. An era of consolidation during the Putin years – as Henry Kissinger pointed out recently – appeared to be over, and a new era of modernization seemed set to emerge. This trend is now in doubt after the trauma of events in Georgia. With its excessive use of military force and now its political escalation in extending unilateral diplomatic recognition to South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, Russia is challenging the foundations of European security after the cold war.

Read More

Get updates from EI@UMD