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(I’m not an expert in Latin America or Argentina. However, I always had an interest in the region, its culture and I do speak Spanish as well. Usually I would not write about Latin America and focus on other topics instead, but since the Falklands topic was a lot in the news recently I decided to sum up my thoughts about it)

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Recently Argentina, with the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War (April 2012) approaching, has once again re-started the old debate about whom the Falklands (Malvinas in Argentina) should belong to. Once again the tensions between the two countries, Argentina and the UK have increased. Argentina’s president Cristina Kirchner even accused the UK of militarizing the dispute by sending a naval ship into that region, and made a formal complaint to the UN.

This is nothing but a repetition of old patterns. The Falklands War in 1982 was started by the then-ruling Argentinian military junta. Amongst many other reasons, the main reason was to divert attention from domestic problems. Back then the Argentina was under rule of a military dictatorship of General Galtieri, so there were clearly political problems. But moreover there were economic difficulties which were undermining the military junta’s control. What could be a better diversion than a war? Later on the defeat in the war meant the end of the dictatorship.

Today the pattern appears the same. A need to divert public attention from domestic problems, means that  Argentina’s President is again spurring up the old debate. She convinced many other Latin American countries to refuse ships from the Falklands in their ports. She called UK and British Prime Minister David Cameron “neo-colonialist”.

Argentina does have domestic problems, and in my opinion this whole sabble-rattling  just proves that the internal problems are actually getting worse. Why else would Cristina Kirchner be diverting attention like this? Already back in 2010 Argentina was facing some economic and political difficulties. The Economist was fiercely criticizing the government’s policies. Both economic and political. (High inflation, control of the Central Bank, conflict with the media)

It is very unlikely that since 2010 the problems disappeared or things improved, if anything they most likely got worse. Recently when I talked to one young Argentinian he did say to me that in his opinion with Cristina Kirchner and her policies Argentina is “becoming Venezuela”.

To make a point, the Falklands never belonged to Argentina and the fact that they belonged to Spain before they became British does not change anything. And does anyone care what the inhabitants of the Falklands think? They do not want to be Argentinian, nor do they wish to discuss the sovereignty of the islands. Despite everything that Argentina says, its claims to those islands will never be legitimate.

One should not forget that oil is involved. No doubt Argentina would like to get piece of the action. If Argentina really wanted to control the Falklands or at least have some influence there, it should do the opposite and start cooperating with the UK: open its sea ports, its airports and its economy to the Falklands. Argentina and Buenos Aires, especially, would make an ideal land base for processing and further transporting the oil from the Falklands. Free movement of people between the islands and the continent would definitely enable many Argentinians to move onto the islands and this could make those, “really more Argentinian”. There’s great economic potential in cooperation for all the parties involved and it could finally make Argentina and the UK put their history of hostility behind them. The economic potential that this cooperation offers would benefit Argentina’s economy and help resolve its economic problems and Cristina Kirchner would not have to divert the public’s attention away from it by making populist claims.

Instead of trying to divert attention from a problem, it is better to try solving it.

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It won’t come as a surprise to anyone today that Europe or more specifically the European Union (EU) is in trouble. Everyday new events linked to this crisis are being reported in the media from all over the world. In this post I would like to express my opinion about what is going on and maybe clarify the whole issue a bit.

What the EU is starting to resemble more and more these days is actually a loose Confederation of Nation-States rather than a real European Federation that speaks with a unified voice as it was supposed to after the Lisbon Treaty that passed in December 2009. Only 4 months after the treaty was passed and 18 months after the start of the Global Financial & Economic Crisis began, this whole European economic mess started. It all started in the same place where the current European Civilization did very long ago, in Greece.

I named this blog post the Holy Roman Empire of the European Nation(s), because the EU today is starting to look more and more like the very old state called Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation which existed between 962 to 1806. (To find out more than just the Wikipedia page, you can also click here.)

The EU is not a federation because it doesn’t speak with one voice. Nobody can really figure out who (if anyone, really) is in charge of the EU. Is it the European President Hernan Van Rompuy, Head of the EU Commission José Manuel Barrosso or the French-German duo “Merkozy”? Nobody really knew who was in charge of the Holy Roman Empire either.

I remember that during one history lesson our teacher told us that the position of the Holy Roman Emperor, (the ruler  who was formally in charge of that Empire) was just a representative figure and somebody who would not hold any real power, but only a prestigious post. She then went on to mention that it was a position best compared today to the office of the Head of the European Commission (José Manuel Barrosso). She said it before the Lisbon Treaty was passed and before Hernan Van Rompuy became the EU President. Today I’m sure she would say that one of the two men ressembles the Holy Roman Emperor the most.

The Holy Roman Empire was, in reality, a loose confederation of smaller German States, where each had a good degree of independence. The German Princes were interested in exactly that. Today, the EU is becoming more loose and loose. Until 2008/2009 it seemed that Europe was moving more and more towards an eventually unified entity. That was the trend. These days the trend is opposite. Previous national and regional agendas and tendencies are becoming more obvious. The biggest problem of the EU today is the Eurozone Crisis, but the fact is that not all the EU members actually use the common, Euro, currency. The EU has within itself a free travel area called the Shengen Area. This allows European citizens to travel freely and easily within Europe without a need for Passport. However, not all the EU members are a members of this group either.

The European Union can thus be divided into the countries that have the common currency (Eurozone) and those that don’t and into countries that are members of the Shengen Area and those that aren’t. Some countries aren’t members of either (UK, Romania, Bulgaria, the last two are supposed to join eventually). The latest British decision to VETO another EU Treaty meant that UK will be out of future EU agreements. Some countries such as Poland and Czech Republic announced that they aren’t interested in joining the Eurozone in the foreseeable future.

The EU, thus, looks more confusing and loose and non-united than ever. But, this does not mean that before it was more united or that it is less united today. It is just no longer moving towards unification as it was until 2009. The EU is just as united as it was in 2009. New problems and challenges, however showed differences which were always here but were not apparent. The Eurozone Problems are being solved by Germany & France, while other problems such as the question of Democracy in Hungary is solved on the EU level from Bruxelles by the Commission. This shows again a duality of leadership. Some things are decided on the nation-level, some still on the EU level and some countries (i. e. UK) remain more or less independent.

But, today there is still a talk of a common European identity or at least of an EU-Identity. So, since Europe still is unified through the EU but loose within it into nation-states and other groups it can really be considered a unified confederation but which is loose and whose members are rather independent. Exactly a kind of a Holy Roman Empire of European Nations. Or for those who strongly believe in a European Identity, of a European Nation.

Concerning the Eurozone Economic Crisis and the Greek Economic problem, based on my economic knowledge and common-sense, I think that Greece will eventually default. In the end, I do remain cautiously optimistic about the EU’s and the Eurozone’s Future. The Euro will survive 2012 and the future in tact. It will however be different.

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For those who are interested in the coverage of these issues, a very good source is The Economist’s Website on Europe News and its Charlemagne Blog.

Another good source and a way to see Canadian Perspective on these issues is the Broken Europe Section at The Globe and Mail.

I wrote 2 previous posts that do touch the EU issue. One about Poland and the other about Slovakia.

Finally I thought I would add some Cartoons showing this European Crisis.

Enjoy!

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I was originally planning to have my next post about something else but because of the recent day events I decided to write quickly about an important current event. This post is quite long so if you want to skip to the point just scroll down towards the end.

In the recent days, Slovakia, the place I proudly call home, became world famous. This didn’t happen in a positive way however. We did not win the World Cup or anything.

Media from all over the world reported on how Slovakia is the only country in the Eurozone (countries within the European Union (EU for short) that use the Euro currency) that has not yet approved the European bailout mechanism or the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF, for short).

Now thanks to this vote the ruling government in Slovakia actually fell.

My point in this post is to show that indirectly, in a way, this is also the fault of the EU Bureaucracy in Brussels. I’m a little upset because some things could have been done better and more effectively by more simple reasoning. Also I think that the fall of this government is not good news for Slovakia at all.

Although the foreign media did indeed mention the inner politics in Slovakia and how one of the government coalition parties (SaS) is refusing to approve the bailout fund because Slovakia is relatively poor, none really mentioned the fact that Slovakia will have to contribute the 2nd biggest portion of its GDP. In short it will have to carry the biggest burden. This the whole time is the reason why the vote is being delayed in the first place.

This isn’t about money but about proportion. Even though Slovakia will have to contribute only something about 2 % and probably the smallest amount of money to the EFSF, it will have to contribute the biggest portion of our GDP.

I’m not even going to get into the fact that Slovakia worked very hard to be able to accept the Euro currency and we still have the lowest average wage in all of the Eurozone and we would thus have to be more in debt just to save a country like Greece that did irresponsible fiscal and economic policies.

The other fact I’m not going to get into is that this whole plan of bailing out Greece multiple times cannot possibly work and Greece will default eventually. Two of the recent plans to save Greece are practically organized defaults. So Slovaks would actually be contributing our money to saving something that would eventually fail anyway.

I’m surprised that no one really reported that Slovakia (the poorest Eurozone member) would contribute the most as percentage of the GDP. This does not make sense to me.

Why should the poorest of the countries carry the biggest burden?

Back in 2009 Ireland was given an exception in the EU when it wanted it first failed to adopt the Lisbon treaty. Many countries in the EU such as UK and Sweden also have exceptions of various kinds.

Why didn’t Europe even consider doing some sort of a compromise with Slovakia? Seriously? I’m not a euro-skeptic nor do I want my country or my government to seem to be euro-skeptic, but there could have been ways to do an efficient compromise.

I want Slovakia to contribute to the Euro Bailout Fund because, again, I’m not a euro-skeptic. But the portion of Slovakia’s GDP in contributing could have been smaller. I know that mathematically and economically it would have been inefficient to have every single of the 17 countries to contribute the same percentage of GDP.

But, again, why should the poorest ones pay the biggest portion of the GDP and thus carry the biggest burden? Estonia is probably just as poor (or just as rich, depending on your point of view) as Slovakia. The average wage in Estonia is 786 Euros, in Slovakia it is 762. Yet it contributes the same part of the GDP as Slovakia does. Approximately 13%. Slovakia will have to contribute 11%. Economies like France and Germany where the average wage is over 2000 Euros would only contribute 8% of their GDP.

I’m not against the bail-out completely. I think that countries like Portugal, Spain, Italy  and Ireland will be fine eventually and helping some of them with the bailout mechanism would actually work. But even with that in mind I think, Slovakia and other poorer Eurozone countries (Estonia, Slovenia or Malta) would have deserved to contribute less.

Neither am I saying that the other 16 countries in the Eurozone that adopted the EFSF are stupid. I’m not trying to make a point that only Slovakia should have been offered a compromise or a specific deal. Every country which had problems with the EFSF should have been offered an alternative.

Here is my point: The EU could have tried to understand more in detail why Slovakia is so stubborn to adopt the bailout fund. It could have tried to give Slovakia a compromise or a kind of an exception. It did it for Ireland and other countries.

The answer to rescuing economies in debt is not by indebting the other poor and less competitive economies which are doing still pretty good.

A very reasonable, effective and simple plan would have made us guarantee  a smaller portion of our GDP to the EFSF and this sum could have been shared by bigger economies for whom it would have been only a fraction of their GDP. There, this simple.

Slovakia probably would have accepted it right away.

But no such incentive ever came from Brussels. (If it came and I actually missed it, then please send me links, because I don’t want to seem like a demagogue).

On the other hand, why didn’t our government ask for some concessions from the EU or the other Eurozone Countries? Here I do criticise Ms. Radičová for not asking for anything from the EU. (If she did then I actually missed it.)

I definitely don’t think that the SaS party back in Slovakia did the right thing. It is the direct cause of the government’s fall, but it is actually right. Slovakia shouldn’t carry the bigget burden to save an irresponsible Greece when it has its own problems currently in health care with insufficient doctors.

Now because of the problems with voting for or not of the EFSF Slovakia’s government fell. Not just any government. A good “pro-market oriented” government fell. First of all I think our (now ex-) Prime Minister Iveta Radičová did a mistake in threatening to resign and in joining this vote with the vote of confidence in the parliament.

It is clear that Mr. Fico (the leader of the main opposition party) was working his own agenda and interests and was thus clearly not euro-oriented. He explicitly said that he would not vote for the EFSF to let the current government fall but would vote for it later and ask for early elections.

Anyone from Brussels who had looked at the issue just  a little bit closer would have immediately realized it.

Why didn’t Mr. Barroso, head of the European Commission send any messages to Mr. Fico? Why did he let a government fail? He only pressured the Slovak government to adopt the EFSF. Only the European Socialists Party were pressuring Mr. Fico to accept the European Bailout Fund.

Had Mr. Fico been pressured more, the EFSF would have passed and Slovakia would still have a working progressive government. Again, just that simple.

If Mr. Fico really is a pro-european politician then he would have voted for the bailout fund anyway and would not have just been attempting to make a government fail.  Now of course he is going to vote for it so that he does not seem anti-european or euro-skeptic.  Can’t anyone in Brussels or in the EU Commission see what he is doing? It was pretty obvious.

I do not want to seem anti-Fico here or be too partisan, because Ms. Radičova’s party back in the day in 2008 did something similar when  it was blocking the passage of the Lisbon Treaty. That wasn’t right either.

I do think that Slovakia could just got on with the EFSF, and the life would go on, but I think it is a mistake still.

By not trying to give any alternative to Slovakia, the EU actually, although, indirectly caused a government to fall.

My biggest fear is that Mr. Fico’s new government (he will most likely win the new early elections) will be as bad as it was in the years of 2006-2010. I hope I’m wrong and again everyone deserves another chance. I fear of renewed non-transparency in government, renewed excessive public spending and nationalistic rhetoric.

Finally, I also think that the way everyone in the EU expected Slovakia to vote was close to ridiculous. They actually expect Slovakia to vote again and again until they say yes? So in short all the “NO”-s don’t count but one “YES” will? This is absurd and I dare say “close to undemocratic”. I am sure that the coalition parties in Slovakia met and tried to reach an agreement or a compromise before each vote.

But how can the EU just expect a national parliament to change its mind if it doesn’t offer anything in exchange?

If the EU is to be a success and I wish for it to be a great one, it cannot just ignore small countries’ realities. Nor am I saying that no country should ever make sacrifices but the ones that are being asked from Slovakia are economically too big and yet easily manageable. In a way I think that this is also a failure of common sense.

The EU Bureaucracy should also consider the dangers of falling governments and should try to study the country’s needs and troubles more in detail. The EU should also watch out for populists who are just viewing their own interests.

Again, I’m not anti-european nor a euro-skeptic. I’m not against the EFSF as a whole either. I’m just upset about how things in the EU are being done and my home country has to suffer from it.

In summary these are the issues I have a problem with:

  • The EU did not offer any alternative or concession or compromise to Slovakia and it should have
  • Nobody from the EU really pressured the other Slovak parties to accept the EFSF
  • The poorest and least competitive economies have to carry the biggest burden which goes totally against the common sense

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If you went to Brussels these days, besides French and Dutch which are the official languages spoken in Belgium you would also hear a lot of English since Brussels is a very international city and is much visited by tourists. Another language, however, that you would hear quite frequently these days is Polish.

That would be for one simple reason. Poland is currently holding the rotating EU Presidency which it took on July 1st 2011. Every six months a different EU member state holds the rotating presidency with a different agenda. Every Presidency also has a website. The Polish Presidency’s website can be seen here.

Some expert analysis reacted to this event rather positively, such as a post at the GMF Blog, while others, such as The Economist’s Charlemagne made the point that Poland should be rather cautious.

It’s true that the rotating EU Presidency by one country is not as prestigious or important as it was before the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, but it is still a great opportunity for Poland to prove itself. However, Poland will have a tough time leading the way in resolving the biggest current crisis in the EU which is the Eurozone debt crisis, since it is not a member of the Eurozone and still holds its own currency the Polish Zloty (PLN).

In my opinion Poland IS the new EU power and it has a lot of  potential to improve the EU and its problems. For starters Poland is the most populous of the post-communis members of the EU with a population of 40 million and is the 6th biggest country in the EU by area. It has the potential to become the newest big EU Power with a similar stature as France, Germany, UK or Italy. Poland is no longer a battlefield or an issue over which other powers play or fight, but is a new player and a power itself. It could become  a sort of a “leader” of Central and Eastern European countries that are members of the EU.

Poland however does face a dilemma. Is it the “Newest of the Big” or the “Biggest of the New” amongst the EU members, just like the Charlemagne article mentioned. In my opinion it shouldn’t try be both since it is impossible and might cause problems and make its presidency look bad and useless and boring as many previous ones were. Instead it should really try to be the “Newest of the Big” in order to finally make the distinction in the EU, into “New” and “Old” members, finally disappear. This distinction is doing nothing but destroying the fragile unity within the EU.

Poland doesn’t have to try to be the “biggest of the new” since it always has been and always will be exactly that. Being able to gather behind itself the other EU states of Central and Eastern Europe will also help it to be more influential and it can become a responsible leader which could try to defend those countries’ interests. This, however, should not happen at the expense of other EU member states. Poland should try to become a New EU Power naturally, as it most probably will, and not by trying too hard.

Nevertheless Poland has its own problems just like any other EU country does. Like many post-communist countries it has problems with corruption. It still has a long way to in improving its infrastructure. Poland like many other Central and Eastern European countries has to get rid of its reputation as a Russophobe and being “too pro-atlantic” and “too pro-american”. The anti-missile defence plan that was supposed to be based in Poland made these matters more critical.

This finally brings me to the subject of the title of this post. The history and the nature of Polish-American relations.

In the early summer of 2011 Poland was one of the centers of attention in the world. On May 27th Barrack Obama visited Poland. Afterwards, just a little over a month later on July 1st Poland took the over the rotating presidency of the EU. Lots of things happened to Poland, this summer, that made it stood out and become more and more important. Besides Barrack Obama’s visit and the start of the Polish EU Presidency, a prominent think-tank, The German Marshall Fund which has offices in Washington DC, Brussels and all over Europe opened an office in Warsaw. The opening happened on the same day as the US President Barrack Obama visited Poland. No coincidence. Another interesting article to read about these events and Poland’s role is in the Economist by Edward Lucas.

The US-Polish Relations go back further than the Anti-Missile Defence Plan in Europe. (A plan that was abandoned by Obama and made relations with Russia more complicated) The history of US-Polish ties and, in this case also, alliance is just as long as the history of US-French Alliance.  We all know the heroes of the American War of Independence, such as of course George Washington, the great general who became the first US President. Many know the general who led the French troops that supported the American Revolutionaries, Lafayette.

Many don’t know (I didn’t myself, not so long ago) that there is also another hero of  the American revolution who was an important general and helped the American Troops win lots of battles. He was a European too and he was Polish. His name is Tadeusz Kosciuszko. In the USA he is a hero. Naturally he is also a national hero in Poland, since he also led a Polish Uprising against the Russians back in the 18th century.

In Washington DC next to the White House, at the LaFayette Square there is a statue of Kosciuszko (see photo further below). A Chair of studies at a graduate school in Washington DC, The Institute of World Politics, is named after him. The Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies. A Polish based think-tank is also named after him. The Kosciuszko Institute (I included the link to this think-tank in “Think-Tanks and other NGOs” Link Category on my Blog).

Yes, Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s name is difficult to spell  and difficult to pronounce. In Europe you hear of him rarely outside of Poland, Lithuania or Russia, but in American history books he is quite famous.

This proves that US-Polish relations go back very far in the past. Poland after it was partitioned for the third time between Prussia (later Germany), Austria and Russia in 18th century was not forgotten by the newly born United States. The US President Woodrow Wilson was very much in favour of an independent Poland after WW1. After WW2 Poland was a crucial subject during the negotiations between he war-time allies, UK, USA and USSR. During the communism, the Polish resistance and finally the pro-democracy Solidarity movement was supported by the United States. Finally when Poland regained freedom in 1989 US was the biggest provider of help.

And don’t forget the big Polish immigration into the United States and how the Polish-American community and diaspora helped to build great American Cities such as New York, Pittsburgh or Chicago.

Poland’s relation with the United States will continue to be just as crucial as the relations United States has with Britain, France and Germany. This relationship isn’t only important for the United States’s presence in, and relationship with, Europe but is also important both for NATO and thus the atlantic relations and for the EU. The next big country towards the east, and a potential regional power, besides Russia, is Ukraine. It is exactly the EU’s relation and partnership with Ukraine that will be one of the main topics of Poland’s EU Presidency.

For those of you who are interested in finding out more about Ukraine, I wrote a blog post about it back in July 2011. You can view it directly by clicking here. And don’t forget that next year’s Euro Football Championship, the EURO 2012, will be held in Poland and Ukraine. It’s an important event not only from a sports perspective.

Congratulations and Thank you if you made it to the end of this long blog post and read it entirely. I hope you learnt new things about Poland and its relations with the US and its role within Europe. I’m also glad if I ignited a bigger interest in Poland and Central Europe in you.  Poland is also a very nice country to visit. If you ever go there do me a favour and visit my home country of Slovakia as well. It’s right next door and is worth it.

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Hello,

The few of you who read my posts probably noticed that over a month ago I started adding links to a new link category called Cyber -Security on the right side of my blog webpage. I thought I should write a short post about why I started putting up these links.

I have decided to add these links for one simple reason. Cyber – Security happens to be one of my biggest interests and that is for one simple reason. It is one of the most important current topics. It is becoming increasingly a more and more important part of our every day life. Cyber – Security and Cyber Warfare which, not so many years ago, was partly science-fiction, is becoming more current and a more common security issue in International Affairs.

In this post I will not be writing a cliché narrative about how Cyber-Security and Cyber Warfare are becoming important. I won’t be writing loads of paragraphs about WikiLeaks, Chinese Cyber Espionage or other stuff that is constantly hitting the news and almost everyone already knows about. My bottom line is this: Cyber – Security and Cyber Warfare are important issues which will become predominant in just few years to come. It is one of my biggest interests and all these links are for those who are just as interested as I am and wish to learn more about it. This is just  a collection of articles by experts, videos, blog posts, links to organizations and interviews with experts that explain the entire spectrum of Cyber – Security. I have done a lot of work for those who are interested in cyber – security by managing all the traffic and selecting informative and relevant links.

I will be adding new links regularly and will find a new link in case one is broken or does not work. I welcome any feedback and any suggestions for a new link that you think is relevant and deserves to be put up.

Thanks a lot and I hope you enjoy finding out about Cyber – Security

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Last Thursday July 7th I attended a great event here in Washington D. C., organized by The Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institute and the Peterson Institute. The main topic of this event, was Ukraine, its problems of governance and the implications for its Foreign Policy.

One of the speakers was Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor and author of many great books. His insight as usual was awesome and full of intelligence. When talking about the difficult relationship that Ukraine has with Russia he mentioned a very interesting fact.

Generally Russia is always considered and considers itself the “older big brother” of Ukraine. Something like Germany was to Austria-Hungary back in the 19th and the early 20th century. Well, Russia definitely is bigger and during the time of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, Russia did control Ukraine. But when one looks back in history he/she will find out that it is actually Ukraine, which is the older (not the bigger of course) brother of Russia. Russia and Ukraine share a lot of common history and culture. This relationship goes back to the 9th century AD to the times of Kievan Rus.

Kievan Rus is where the Eastern Slavic Culture finds its origin. Kiev was the first great city of Eastern Slavs and the Kievan Rus later expanded eastwards to modern day Russia where Moscow was later found. Later throughout the centuries the settlers in the East became a different nation known as Russians.

In brief, modern day Ukraine is where the Russian culture and civilization originated. Historically then, Ukraine is actually Russia’s older brother.

But politically as well. Ukraine is more western than Russia. Ukraine, even today with the administration of Yanukovych has a pretty good democratic record (but far from perfect of course). One should not think of Yanukovych as a super pro-russian president. He does do things which are in the interest of  his country. This does not mean doing stuff that Russia always likes.

Moreover, Ukraine is where the democratic Orange Revolution of 2004/2005 happened. Even Samuel P.Huntington, in his famous work “The Clash of Civilizations”, talks about Ukraine as the place where, as he describes it, the “Western” and the “Orthodox” cultures meet. Ukraine is more western and democratic than Russia, so even politically it is Russia’s older and , in this case, “more responsible” and “more democratic” brother.

Returning back to the event I was writing about in the beginning. Brzezinski also said that Poland is the country (which also happens to hold the Presidency of the Council of the EU at the moment) which can help Ukraine the most. Don’t forget that the Euro 2012 Championship will be taking place in Poland and Ukraine. Just the fact that these countries decided back in 2005 to host this championship together is a strong indication of their strong ties. Poland as a EU member might this way help Ukraine become more recognized and more accepted as a European country.

Ukraine should also consider tightening its relations with Turkey with which it does share, according to Brzezinski, some common history. These two countries also have converging interests.

Finally there is the problem of the corruption in Ukraine. Is it a home-grown Ukrainian problem in particular? It might be. But it is rather a legacy of those awful Soviet totalitarian times. It is the legacy of the post-Soviet corruption. It is the cumulative effect from fanatism to self-interest. Many other Central European countries that have problems with corruption have it, among other things, because of the fact that they used to be totalitarian regimes that make the population cynical.

One more thing to take into account. Ukraine now has had over 20 years of independence and democracy. There is a whole new generation of young people who grew up in this new free regime and they will change Ukraine’s image and nature forever. They have a strong sense of national identity which is getting stronger and more consolidated every year.

In the end, if Russia finally gives up Ukraine and decides to abandon this neo-imperialism it might at last become a westernized country that will be European. As Brzezinski puts it: “Russia with Ukraine is an neo-imperial non-european power. Russia without Ukraine is a European power”.

I hope that you all enjoyed reading this and maybe even learnt something new. Thank you for reading.

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Has anyone of  you ever thought which city on this planet could be considered to be the capital of the world?

The first thing that probably comes to everyone’s mind is New York City. It is not a bad guess. New York City is a great metropolis located in the world’s most influential country. It is a place where all the cultures meet and where some of the most famous cultural events of this planet happen. The United Nations Headquarters is there and the Wall Street which is almost the beating heart of the world’s financial markets is also in New York City.

New York could most certainly be characterized as the cultural or even the financial capital of the world. But which city is the political one? Judging by the importance of decisions and the scale of their impact on the planet it is a city which actually is not that far from New York City. It is the capital of the United States of America, Washington D.C.

Think about it for a minute! Washington D.C. is the capital of the world’s most powerful nation. The White House, The US Congress, The US Department of State, The US Department of Commerce and The Pentagon are all located in this city not far from one another.

The decisions taken in the White House by the most powerful person on Earth have a tremendous effect and can directly orindirectly affect the lives of all the people on this planet. On the other end of the Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., the American Congress takes decisions which determine the direction in which the USA is going. This again has a tremendous effect on the world. Only few blocks from the White House is the US Department of State which executes the US Foreign Policy. This policy affects International Relations and influences the foreign policies of every other country on Earth. The US Department of Commerce, the US Federal Reserve and the US Treasury make the decisions that influence the US Economy and the trade that the USA does with the rest of the world. These decisions have a vast influence on the World Economy and thus the livelihoods of almost every single person on Earth. Finally, located on the other side of the Potomac River south of downtown Washington D.C. is the Pentagon which directs the world’s most powerful army and is able to deploy it anywhere on Earth. This probably affects people’s lives over the rest of the Earth the most.

So in brief, just few blocks from one another in the same city are the places where some of most influential decisions on this planet are taken. This truly qualifies Washington D.C. as the capital of the World.

This idea was first given to me after reading a book written by Zbigniew Brzezinski called The Choice, published in 2003. (It is a great book and I highly recommend it.)

Some could of course argue that there are many other places on Earth such as New York with the UN, Brussels in Europe, Moscow or Beijing in which decisions taken there have a great effect. Certainly. But none of those cities can compare itself to Washington D.C. No other place on Earth has so many agencies so close in one place with influences of such a vast scale.

Moreover, Washington D.C. is also the place where some of the greatest universities focusing on International Relations, Political Science and Diplomacy are located. According to Brzezinski being a graduate of one them is a must in order to be successful in International Politics on the highest level.

Apart from universities, Washington D.C. is the place where some of the most known and most influential foreign policy think-tanks are located. Every major international lobby and business lobby has an office in Washington D.C. Many international organizations such as the IMF or The World Bank have their headquarters in Washington D.C. And of course every country has an embassy in Washington D.C.

If you are a student of International Relations or if you are into politics or even just into business Washington D.C. is the place to be. That is why I really appreciate my time here in Washington D.C. as a student of IR. By coming here you meet people from all over the world and from every single area of IR.

Washington D.C. truly is the Capital of the World.

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