When her name was originally floated to replace Catherine Ashton, experts and policymakers were hesitant, favoring more household names like former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt or former Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski. Much of its ultimate success is because of the steps Ashton took starting in , kickstarting the nuclear talks and building a working relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The creation of such a strategy document was a major step forward for European foreign policy.
Underestimating the Kremlin stems from an ideological worldview that Mogherini took to Brussels. From a European Council edict , Mogherini created the East StratCom Task Force , which develops communications campaigns to promote EU policies in the Eastern Partnership countries—an EU project with six post-communist states—and expose Russian disinformation campaigns. While the Task Force sounded promising in theory, experts consistently lament its lack of resources.
They called on Mogherini to triple the size of the East StratCom Task Force, to increase its budget to 5 million euros, and to name and shame Russia.
Time will tell what comes of those requests. Beyond Russia, Mogherini has also endured a series of other missteps. Not only is the European security landscape increasingly fractured, Mogherini has also had to deal with a U. The channels and structures for developing European foreign policy have evolved since the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, and the process is still underway.
We have already made great strides, especially since the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon, which expanded the mandate of the High Representative and the European Exterior Action Service, charged with representing the EU abroad.
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Nevertheless, we must continue working to achieve greater integration and a clearer sense of direction. At this point in time, international issues largely dominate the European political scene. The EU has maintained relations with Ukraine since it became an independent state in Later, in , the EU and Ukraine began negotiations on the Association Agreement, a free trade treaty with a few political ramifications.
However, ratification of the agreement was postponed after the case of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko led to a diplomatic dispute. In , when everything was finally ready for the agreement to be signed at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, President Yanukovych refused to ratify the treaty. From that moment on, protests by citizens and the pro-European opposition against the Yanukovych government and its alignment with Moscow grew more frequent and intense.
The diplomatic and economic crisis led to an escalation of violence and tension between pro-Russian and pro-European factions, with notorious consequences in Crimea and the eastern regions of Ukraine. A few months later, the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk proclaimed themselves independent republics, a decision which, according to the Kremlin, had to be respected. In this agreement, which planted the seed of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE , the participating states committed to respect the inviolability of frontiers, the territorial integrity of states, and non-intervention in internal affairs, among other principles.
Furthermore, in the Budapest Memorandum , the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia specifically agreed to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and in exchange Kiev gave up its nuclear weapons. For its part, the European Union has always desired to maintain good relations with Ukraine, though ideally without straining EU-Russian relations or being forced to choose between Russia and Ukraine as a trade, security, or other type of partner.
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Russia has proved, as it already did in Georgia in , that it is prepared to use force and ignore its contractual obligations. From a military standpoint, the agreement basically entails a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons. Politically, it calls for a constitutional reform to give the provinces of eastern Ukraine greater autonomy. At the end of the process, the central government in Kiev will once again have full control over the Ukrainian-Russian border, currently in the hands of the rebels.
For months, a ceasefire has been in effect in the conflict zone, albeit with frequent accusations of truce violations on both sides. Although it seems that Moscow, currently plagued by serious economic troubles, has no intention of resuming military action, it is not yet clear whether it is willing to negotiate. We will have to wait and see how events unfold in the coming months, once the local elections in Ukraine have been held.
These are scheduled to take place across the country except in the eastern territories controlled by pro-Russian separatists, who have called their own independent elections in violation of the Minsk II terms. Given the tremendous magnitude of the dispute with Russia, resolving the situation needs to be a priority on the European agenda. It is worrying that countries which are neighbours of both the EU and Russia believe they must choose between strengthening ties with Europe and being loyal to Moscow. Europe is affected, to a large extent, by political instability in North Africa and the Middle East given their geographical proximity.
The number of people seeking asylum in other countries is growing exponentially, surpassing the figures recorded during World War II. The spread of war and violence across the region is creating a major humanitarian crisis. At present, there are more than four million refugees from Syria alone, according to data supplied by the UN Refugee Agency.
Although the majority seek asylum in neighbouring countries and remain in the region, every day many of them risk their lives to reach Europe. This situation represents a major challenge for European nations. We must be quick in our humanitarian response and honour our legal obligation to give asylum to those fleeing from persecution. This dire emergency should also spur us to step up our involvement in the search for solutions to the conflicts that have forced so many to seek refuge in Europe.
The rise of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda factions have made the situation even more dramatic for Syrian civilians. The growing division of the country, which culminated in the creation of two governments and allowed Islamic State militias to gain footholds in parts of eastern Libya such as the city of Derna , makes it even harder to maintain security as the country is assailed by myriad internal and external challenges. In addition to terrorism, the repercussions of the Libyan conflict for migratory pressure and the possibility that it may spread to the rest of this already debilitated region pose real threats to Europe.
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In the early days after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, in , it looked like Egypt was on the verge of a transition to democracy. In the presidential elections the Muslim Brotherhood, led by Mohamed Morsi, was voted into power, albeit with a very slim majority and a highly polarized electorate. Since then, although violence has diminished, the country has been governed by a military dictatorship.
This clash has once again evidenced the rift between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, a determining factor of many other conflicts in the region, and the role of Iran and Saudi Arabia as the respective leaders of these factions. There are several causes underlying the dynamics of confrontation in the region, but one is fundamental for understanding the current situation: the antagonism between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
The division between these branches of Islam is, of course, religious, but it also has strong geopolitical implications: Iran, with a Shiite majority, and Saudi Arabia, where the majority are Sunni Muslims, have been vying for supremacy in the region for years. This tension is at the root of many ongoing conflicts.
In Syria, the civil war still raging between the regime of Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces has already caused more than , deaths and the forcible displacement of over twelve million people both within Syria and to other countries. This means that, of the total Syrian population at the start of the conflict, over half has been displaced.
The radicalization of the rebels opposed to Al-Assad, the involvement of so many foreign powers in the conflict in one way or another, and the terrifying rise of extremist terrorism all represent enormous obstacles on the road to peace. Meanwhile, the rest of the international community has been hesitant and reluctant to get involved, influenced by the memory of past experiences in Afghanistan and Iran.
Since the chemical weapons disarmament deal between the United States and Russia, there have been several attempts to open a new dialogue, though none have prospered. In the interim, the Syrian opposition has splintered and the more radical factions have gained considerable ground. The rise of terrorist groups, namely the Islamic State and al-Qaeda factions, have made the situation even more dramatic for civilians and significantly complicated the task of designing a solution to the conflict, a solution that would also be critical for resolving many other regional conflicts.
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Today there is only one bastion of hope in the region, though even there it is increasingly tenuous: Tunisia, where a successful political transition was carried out after deposing the dictator Ben Ali, and today the country is a democracy. However, the situation is fragile and the threat of terrorism is also present, as confirmed by the tragic events that took place several months ago.
The intensity of civil conflicts is exacerbated by another highly destabilizing element with disastrous consequences: fundamentalist terrorism, with the main concern today being the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Although this organization was established in Iraq in and played an important role in the Iraq War during the early years of its existence, the Syrian civil war was where it grew and flourished. In the group severed its ties to Al-Qaeda and is steadily gaining ground in Syria and Iraq, where it already controls a significant part of the territory.
Despite being a local organization, ISIS has global ambitions whose scope has already been made apparent to us. These statistics also suggest that the roots of fundamentalism are not limited to the region where this and other like-minded terrorist groups were spawned, for there are numerous individuals in many other parts of the world who seem to share their intentions.
In addition to the risks posed to Europe by conflicts and disputes along its borders, we must consider other challenges of a global nature. As stated earlier, today we live in a global world where borders are increasingly permeable, and many of the security threats we now face are global as well. Security issues such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons, organized crime, arms and human trafficking, inequality, and pandemics affect us all.
Cyber risks are one of the most obvious global threats today. These technologies have enormous benefits, but they also entail substantial risks, as the information they contain or convey can be accessed and used for criminal purposes. The number, magnitude, and impact of cyberattacks are on the rise, and so is the level of concern about the high vulnerability of the internet, a tool on which practically every economic activity relies in this day and age. The internet was designed as an essentially open platform, because its creators did not anticipate that it would be used to offer a wide range of critical services requiring tighter security.
The difficulty with cyberattacks is that they take place in a setting—cyberspace—characterized by its broad accessibility, which by definition makes it less secure. Moreover, cyberattacks can be perpetrated with total anonymity. The difficulty of tracing attacks and the fast pace of technological change makes it very hard to come up with a response capable of dissuading hackers. IT security mechanisms cannot be designed for just one jurisdiction, because there are no political borders in cyberspace.
The only effective path is multilateral action. The same is true of climate change, which threatens to destroy our environment and means of subsistence, especially for future generations. Even though scientists have been studying the phenomenon of climate change since , and despite the fact that states agreed to prevent dangerous climate changes by joining the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC in , diplomatic progress in this area has been very slow.
The European Union is responsible for a significant part of past and current CO2 emissions, and must therefore play a leading role in the efforts to mitigate climate change and help other countries, especially developing nations, to do the same. This has been the most important summit of recent years, and it is imperative that all participating countries reach a consensus and set ambitious goals for the future.
In this respect, European states have a duty to take the lead, set a good example, show strong political will especially with regard to climate finance , and use their diplomatic experience and power to facilitate an effective agreement in Paris. Europe ceased to be the centre of the modern world long ago. Other countries have now come to the fore, propelled by strong economic growth, and are claiming their rightful place in the international political arena.
European countries should draw two important conclusions from this new scenario. Firstly, we need to focus our attention on the evolution of emerging powers like China, India, and Brazil. We must make it an urgent priority to study and thoroughly comprehend their reality, the track record of their growth, their values, histories, and interests, because the balance of world power is shifting towards them, forcing us to alter our perspective. It is vital that the European Union revise its strategic interests and the framework of its relations with China and other Asian countries.
The Asia-Pacific region has recently acquired great strategic importance in international relations. We have already witnessed the reorientation of US interests in Asia, negotiating and signing the TPPA and establishing trade ties with these countries. The region is marked by numerous territorial and border disputes, nationalist movements, and a considerable level of distrust among countries.
When analysing this part of the world, security issues are often overshadowed by its spectacular economic growth. However, there are enough elements in place for important security challenges to emerge, and the EU should monitor them closely. One potential risk is located in the South China Sea. All of them have claimed sovereignty over these waters on more than one occasion. Some offer historical justifications, while others base their claims on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The South China Sea is a vital intersection of maritime traffic for all seven countries.
In particular, the Strait of Malacca is the shortest route between Asian oil consumers and their suppliers in Africa and the Persian Gulf. Moreover, this sea has an abundance of rich fishing grounds and estimated reserves of eleven billion barrels of oil and trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Thus far, disputes over the waters of this sea have been fairly low-key. Tensions between these countries mark the South China Sea as a new centre of interest for global security and, more generally, for international relations.
Although this region may seem far removed from Europe and its interests, problems here could have devastating consequences for the global economy. The second conclusion is that, given the influence they have acquired of late, the emerging economies must be included in global governance structures. Recently we have seen how China is taking steps to create global governance organizations. The two routes will form a network linking Asia and Europe. An example of success in this area is the free trade agreement signed with Vietnam in August For example, in an Asian continent that has achieved economic but not political integration, the EU can offer the benefit of its extensive experience in regional integration, something that would contribute decisively to promoting long-term stability in the region.
The EU must offer an appropriate response to the magnitude of the challenges it faces and what is expected of it in the world. Approval of this policy, slated for June , will be a major step forward for the EU and hopefully will address the most pressing needs in this area. One of the ways in which the EU can implement its foreign policy quite successfully is through diplomacy. The EU is regarded by many as an experienced mediator in settling numerous conflicts, and it is precisely in the role of negotiator that it manages to achieve many of its goals. The nuclear deal with Iran, signed this past July, is a good example of what the EU can accomplish thanks to its diplomatic skills.
It was the EU who initiated negotiations with Iran in , and at the time we Europeans were the only ones involved in the talks. The agreement recently signed with Iran regarding its nuclear programme has opened a window of opportunity for bringing greater stability to the Middle East.
As for our relations with Russia, it is very important that we attempt to strengthen ties and recover the mutual trust that has been lacking since the beginning of the Ukraine dispute. However, the EU must firmly insist on the observance of international law; this has to be our red line. The harmonious coexistence of Europe and Russia in the Euro-Asia region is undoubtedly a very positive thing for both countries.
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