The ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 26/07/2017

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Andrzej_Duda_Zgromadzenie_Narodowe_6_sierpnia_2015_04.JPG

European Council on Foreign Relations—J. Hosa / Poland: The importance of being president

  • Polish President Andrzej Duda, who vetoed 2 of the 3 bills on the reform of the judiciary, must have realized that hundreds of thousands of protesters are not a negligible minority, but a force with legitimate concerns about the future of Polish democracy.
  • Support for the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party –from which Duda comes—has never broken a ceiling of about 40% and currently hovers around 38%. That may be enough for it to stay in government, but President Duda needs over 50% of the vote to be re-elected. Thus, he has to remain in the centre.
  • Reactions from PiS show that it is as shocked by the veto as everyone else.
  • The chances are that PiS will try to override the presidential veto, but for that it would need to get a 3/5 majority in parliament, and it would mean PiS going to war with its own President.

South China Morning Post—S. Chen / Why Beijing is speeding up underwater drone tests in the South China Sea

  • China is testing large-scale deployment of underwater drones (or “gliders”) in the South China Sea with real-time data transmission technology, a breakthrough that could help reveal and track the location of foreign submarines.
  • This latest effort by China coincides with US President Donald Trump’s reported approval of a plan to give the US Navy more freedom to carry out patrols in the South China Sea.
  • Gliders have been used in the past year on US Navy destroyers to locate submarines, according to Western media reports.
  • Gliders can travel long distances without needing to recharge their batteries for weeks or even months. And because they produce virtually no sound, its existence can be unknown to the submarines.

Brookings—S. Pifer / Will Ukraine join NATO? A course for disappointment

  • Following the visit to Kyiv by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg earlier this month, President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine would seek to meet the alliance’s membership criteria by 2020. However, Poroshenko is setting himself and Ukraine up for disappointment.
  • Ukraine has a right to choose its orientation, but it is difficult to see NATO saying yes to Ukraine in the foreseeable future.
  • Bringing Ukraine in with the ongoing disputes (the simmering conflict in the Donbas and the frozen conflict in Crimea) would mean that NATO would immediately face an Article 5 contingency against Russia.
  • In the meantime, Kyiv should continue to deepen its cooperation with NATO and incorporate the reforms that it would undertake in a membership action plan in its annual action plans with the alliance. Then, Ukraine needs to implement the plan, becoming a more modern and resilient European state.

Foreign Affairs—D. Skrpec / Croatia, Russia, and the Balkan Great Game

  • After the elections last September, the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) turned away from its nationalist, ultraconservative base, moderating its rhetoric while focusing on economic recovery and pursuing a less aggressive foreign policy vis-à-vis the country’s Balkan neighbors.
  • To avoid snap elections after a controversial bailout, PM Plenkovic formed a surprising, even more centrist coalition with the liberal Croatian People’s Party in April.
  • However, the future of Plenkovic as PM is not certain. Conservative HDZ members have left in protest to form a new party. Should the country’s politics once again become polarized, hard-line conservatives could revive Croatia’s support for Bosnian Croats in their calls for their own autonomous entity.
  • Although central European countries such as Slovenia have succumbed to Russian business proposals and adopted a pro-Russian foreign policy, Croatia’s new government has remained a staunch ally in the West’s campaign to resist Russian expansion in the Balkans.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. 

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