Symβiosis aims to provide resources, commentaries and analysis, on political, social and cultural ideas and developments affecting change and policy, original and creative, based on arguments, able to propose and debate solutions to critical issues, maintaining a broad intellectual scope and global reach that readers need to understand the choices shaping lives, and reflecting on Greece, the Balkans, Europe and the world.

 

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The battle for Ukraine's energy allegiance

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Date added: 10/11/2010
Date modified: 10/11/2010
Filesize: 161.72 kB
Downloads: 473

By Natalia Shapovalova

As the main route of Russian gas into Europe, Ukraine is vital to European and Russian energy security. While the EU seeks to secure gas supplies by integrating its eastern neighbour in its energy market, Russia is increasingly seeking to prevent EU-led reforms in Ukraine in order to secure stable gas export incomes and continue exerting power over its ‘sphere of privileged interest’.  

Ukraine’s elite is not interested in reform, but maintaining the status quo is no longer viable. As the country is loosing its transit role and the economy is increasingly inefficient, Ukraine is presented with an ever-starker choice between the energy security guarantees of the EU and Russia.

The geopolitics of Abkhazia's sovereignty

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Date added: 09/23/2010
Date modified: 09/23/2010
Filesize: 252.6 kB
Downloads: 465
15/09/2010
Author : Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security (IPRIS)
By Vasco Martins | Portuguese Journal of International Affairs - N°3 - Spring/Summer 2010

The events of August 7th, 2008 in South Ossetia may have jumpstarted military hostilities between Russia and Georgia in this breakaway region. The conflict ended nine days later and reshuffled the balance of power in the Southern Caucasus, specially in Georgia, which saw its territorial integrity damaged after Russia officially recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Ronald Asmus' seminal description of the events that led to the war of August 2008 between Russia and Georgia provides a critical window into the movements and political decisions that spurned and enabled the August war's end result. Asmus describes Russian military movements along Georgian borders before the 7th of August, a greater South Ossetian capacity for shelling – possibly provided by the Russian army – and Mikheil Saakashvili's dilemma between engaging the incoming Russian army to defend the People and his Presidency, or following the advice from the West and doing nothing.

Saakashvili choose the former.1 However, was this a scheme to trap the Georgian President into a situation he could neither win nor forfeit? Was there a bigger plan behind all of these events? Predictably, the spillover for Abkhazia came at lightning speed, triggered by the deployment of several thousand Russian troops in the region and the mobilization of its Black Sea Fleet stationed in Sevastopol towards the Abkhaz and Georgian Black Sea coast. The consequences were set to be enormous.

Notwithstanding the importance of assessing the progression of the conflict, this article will not focus on military developments or on Georgia's political decisions throughout and after the conflict. This article will provide a critical analysis of the geopolitical motivations of the Russian leadership in recognizing the independence of both breakaway provinces. It argues that the war in South Ossetia was not only a reaction to regional and international circumstances, but that in fact the entire episode might have been engineered by a 'hard line' faction of the Russian leadership, as a way of pushing for the carefully planned recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Four hypotheses are presented in this article in an attempt to assess the benefits and geopolitical gains of Abkhazia's independence and close association with Russia, a move that would allow the latter to dramatically broaden its presence and influence in the Caucasus and the Black Sea. Stemming from countering NATO expansion in the region and dispelling any hopes Saakashvili might have of membership in the West, while adding two military bases to its roster and using the region as a platform to assist with the construction of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Russia had an outstanding motivation for recognizing Abkhazia as an independent, albeit heavily associated, state.

Moreover, this association would allow to roll back the internal liberal movement brought on by Dmitry Medvedev's curricula, which was believed to be a threat to the established vertical power of the Russian regime. The recognition of Abkhazia was intensely criticized by Western powers, who continue to support Georgia despite some restrictions. Nevertheless, this presented an opportunity to settle several geopolitical issues surrounding the Black Sea and the Southern Caucasus, and the benefits of such recognition proved to be immensely more profitable than any criticism or even sanction attached to the violation of established European security doctrines.

The State of Play of EU-China Relations 35 Years After Their Establishment

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Date added: 09/02/2010
Date modified: 09/02/2010
Filesize: 224.24 kB
Downloads: 471

Madariaga Report - 26 July 2010

Benefiting from the presence in Brussels of a delegation composed by members of the China Reform Forum, the Central Party School and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the InBev-Baillet Latour Chair at the College of Europe and the Madariaga – College of Europe Foundation organised a meeting on the state of play of EU-China Relations 35 years after their establishment, held on Monday 26th July from 09.00 to 12.30.

The event opened with a keynote speech by  Mr. Chen Baosheng, Vice Chairman of China Reform Forum and Vice President of the Central Party School on China's recent developments and future perspectives of cooperation between the EU and China. A discussion session then followed, benefiting from the participation of Professor Gong Li, the Central Party School; Professor Zhang Zhongjun, Deputy Director of the General Office at the Central Party School, Mr. Wang Xudong, Secretary General of CRF and Mr. Wu Yaokun, Director of the Department of Academic Initiatives at CRF. Professor Jing Men, Chair holder of the InBev-Baillet Latour Chair and Professor of EU-China Relations at the College of Europe and Pierre Defraigne, Executive Director of the Madariaga - College of Europe Foundation chaired the meeting and contributed to the discussions.

Does the Crisis Experience Call for a New Paradigm in Monetary Policy?

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Date added: 09/02/2010
Date modified: 09/02/2010
Filesize: 1.05 MB
Downloads: 446

John B. Taylor

CASE Network Studies and Analyses Report No. 402 evaluates monetary policy during the financial crisis by dividing the crisis into three stages: pre-panic, panic and post-panic. Author John B. Taylor explains that the monetary policy paradigm in place before the financial crisis worked very well; the crisis occurred when policy makers deviated from that paradigm and undertook extraordinary measures which fell short of their expectations. Rather than calling for a new paradigm in monetary policy, John B. Taylor promotes a stricter adherence to the rules already in place.

John B. Taylor is an economist known for his research on the foundations of modern monetary theory and policy, and his experience in international economics. His research has been applied by central banks and financial market analysts around the world.

John B. Taylor visited Warsaw June 20-23, 2010. During his visit, he gave presentations at two key events and attended meetings with CASE experts, academia, policy makers, bankers, and economic journalists.

More information about the visit with links to event videos and presentations can be found here.

Moscow after the smoke: A change of thinking is needed

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Date added: 09/02/2010
Date modified: 09/02/2010
Filesize: 568.25 kB
Downloads: 453

Vadim Kononenko
Finnish Institute of International Affairs

At best, Russia’s modernization needs to be ecological. At the very least, the Kremlin should factor the likelihood of a climate catastrophe into its development plans and invest in environmental management and protection.