By Michael D. Mosettig, Former Foreign Producer at PBS News Hour                        

 

The words from the Secretary General of NATO were strong and bracing. The question on the minds of most of his Washington audience: was anyone in Moscow listening?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen wrapped up two days of talks with Obama Administration officials with an appearance at the Brookings Institution. The title of the speech, submitted in advance, was, "The Future of the Atlantic Alliance: Revitalizing NATO for a Changing World." Its original purpose was to describe how NATO would handle its summer withdrawal from Afghanistan and its plans for a September summit in Wales.

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armensahakyanphotoAs the Ukrainian crisis threatens to bring simmering tensions to a boil, another former Soviet state, Armenia, recently faced with similar choices, is quiet.   The core issue in both countries was having to choose between Europe and Russia.  Both countries have strong ties to both the West and to Russia. Like Ukraine, Armenia was engaged in the EU’s “Eastern Partnership” initiative, and also like Ukraine, it had initialed, after long negotiations, an Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union.   However, several months before last year’s Vilnius Summit, during which signatures were expected on these agreements, Serzh Sargsyan, President of Armenia, traveled to Moscow and issued a joint statement with Russia announcing Armenia’s desire to join the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union.

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By: Hannah Morris, Editorial Assistant

During the first week of February, Italy’s navy rescued over one thousand illegal migrants from boats just southeast of the island of Lampedusa in a period of just 24 hours. In January alone, two thousand illegal migrants landed in Italy, ten times the number of arrivals in January 2013. In the third quarter of 2013, a total of 42,600 illegal immigrants arrived in the EU, almost double the number compared to 2012.[1] Unsurprisingly, the swelling numbers of illegal immigrants, whether coming from North Africa or the Middle East, is causing great concern among EU lawmakers, member state leaders and their citizens.

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On February 19, 2014, The European Institute, in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania and the Embassy of Sweden, held a breakfast discussion with The Honorable Vytautas Leskevicius, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for European Affairs for the Republic of Lithuania and His Excellency Björn Lyrvall, Ambassador of Sweden to the United States, focusing on the increasingly potent role that the partnership between Nordic and Baltic states has assumed in defining both regional and European foreign policy priorities.  Particular emphasis was placed on sustaining the EU’s Eastern Partnership Initiative following last year’s Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and on assessing the implications of the volatile situation in Ukraine.

By Caroline Larsson, European Institute

The upcoming summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, November 28-29, will be pivotal for the future of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership, an initiative through which the EU has sought to engage with a number of former Soviet republics, who are not members of the EU. Action on the proposed EU association and trade agreements with Ukraine has become the touchstone.

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