Future prospects for EU – Chinese cooperation on cybersecurity Răspunde

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The world today is obviously threatened by different actors than it used to be 60 years ago. Globalization, information technology developments, and the growing importance given to the “free”, “non-regulated” internet are shifting governments’ focus from traditional threats such as military concerns towards something else; wars can now be fought online, and extremely sensitive information can be accessed by highly-skilled, well-motivated private individuals while they are having their breakfast on the other side of the world.

In the current context, there is a push for more regulation of the virtual world, while cyberterrorism has become quite the usual topic in the media. A very popular example can be given by the revelations made by Edward Snowden, a former US government contractor who released a series of documents containing extremely sensitive information regarding secret surveillance activities conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). Snowden was forced to flee the country and, after moving from Hawaii to Hong-Kong and then Russia, his whereabouts remain to this day unclear; Snowden became in the process, one of the most well-known people in the world.

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The new rise (and fall) of populism in Romania. Dan Diaconescu People’s Party and discourse theory Răspunde

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Discourse theory goes beyond simply studying historical events and focuses on the context as well, on the discourses shaping a society. A dominant discourse tries to create a chain of equivalence by linking floating signifiers with a positive value (e.g. “freedom”, “justice”, “fairness”). This chain of equivalence then opposes, takes distance from, and even demonizes other such chains enshrining contrasting ideas (e.g. “oppression”, “injustice”, “unfairness”). Some of these seemingly “empty” signifiers manage to stabilize themselves around the meanings of other signifiers, thus becoming nodal points of a certain discourse –the most important objects of that discourse.

PPDD fits the description of a populist party and, given the social, economic, and political context before and during the 2012 general elections in Romania, the party’s successful opportunism should not be surprising nor neglected. On the other hand, PPDD also proves right Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau’s hypothesis that, once getting into power, populist parties lose most of their political support. Up to this point, the party’s policies have not been harmful, but questions about the democratic deficit in Romania must be raised. Moreover, both the traditional political parties and the electorate should be more careful in the future, since PPDD proved that creating a (successful) populist party, from scratch, in Romania, is a relatively easy task. More…

Bosnian Winter Răspunde

Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of two entities, three constitutional nationalities and three religions. Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is populated with Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and Croats, while Republic of Srpska is over 90% Serb. This complicated structure, crafted by international forces to pacify tendencies of three nationalities towards independent ethnic states, solved none of the original problems, but brought 20 year long political deadlock upon the country and double administration among the ethnic lines. The deadlock situation created partitocratic system, with politicians and warmongers as privileged citizens, holding multiple government positions with recorded highest salary rates in the region, feeding the nation’s trauma of a new violent ethnic conflict under ‘divide and conquer’ parole, using it as an excuse not to change enormous and useless administration.

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The Intricateness of a Regime: Difficulties and Prospects of the Future of Côte d’Ivoire as a Distinctive Political Design 1

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Is transition always progress? Is liberal democracy the ultimate and natural destination for everyone? When it comes to predictions, there are regions of the world that are particularly attractive, due to their complex situations.

Like in many cases of sub-Saharan Africa, the evolution of Cote D’Ivoire in political terms raises many questions regarding especially the direction of this evolution.

The announcement in 2013 of Henri Konan Bédié and Alassane Ouattara that they will be running for president in the 2015 elections leads to a problematic situation. In a first row, both Bédié and Ouattara, having passed the age limit imposed by the Constitution (Art. 35), from a technical point of view, no longer qualify for such a position. In this respect, the decision of the two to run for office clearly undermines the Constitution. However, before looking into such technical features, it is necessary to try and outline the nature of the Ivorian regime in a broader sense. And the answer is never a clear-cut one. More…

The contemporary international system and its driving forces Răspunde

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The current international system comprises an immense amount of academic concepts and empirical, real world elements, so its characteristics are both complex and numerous. My argument is that the capitalist structure is the most important of these characteristics, the central pillar around which all other elements revolve.

In this essay, I will argue for the central role of the capitalist structure by linking it to other secondary elements (democracy, the high interaction capacity in the system and its size). I will also make the argument that the current international system was born around the 1500s (as opposed to 1648 and the Peace of Westphalia). More…

De week-end: To The Right Honourable David Cameron, His Excellency Martin Harris 1

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Dear Mr Cameron,

Dear Mr Harris,

Rumours have it that your government plans to run a series of ads discouraging Romanian (and Bulgarian) nationals from going to UK. While some fellow Romanians are slightly annoyed by this I welcome this opportunity and encourage you to go on with your plans. You see, we are a rather sarcastic lot. A famous literature critic put it this way: frustrated with his wife’s prolonged labour, Nae mocks and denies the entire Romanian civilization. We would be more than willing to mock your civilizations also, if a proper incentive is provided. And your plan does provide a fine incentive indeed.

Secondly, living in a post-communist country, even after 20 years, we still maintain a discreet occasional smugness regarding those in the West who have never experienced “true evil”. This is most likely shared with Bulgarians also; it is a regional thing. More…

In Central Asia, It Is Better to Speak of Confrontation than of War 1

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On December 28th, 2012, Arielle Thedrel published in the French newspaper Le Figaro an article entitled Une Guerre de l’Eau Menace l’Asie Centrale, alluding to the uneasy situation of water-management in Central Asia, at the several occasions of (past and future) confrontation and at the political acrimony among the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. For the purpose of clarity, by Central Asia here is meant as formed by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. There is indeed a lot of talk about “water wars” in Central Asia, about a possible collapse of the region, about the likely unravelling of the stability of the area due to clashes over hydro resources.

To me, what we observe in Central Asia is more a confrontation than a war in perspective, a confrontation kept as such by diplomatic efforts made by the state leaders, by the role of international organisations, by the systemic and prospective danger of Afghanistan spilling over and by the presence of Russia, albeit weaker than in the past. There is acrimony, there is conflict, but there are also attempts to scale down risky behaviours, sharp statements and disruptive actions. While weak and perhaps superficial, these attempts should be considered in a thorough analysis of water problems in Central Asia from a political-diplomatic perspective. What I am suggesting, therefore, is not foolish or naïve optimism, but a more thorough and less emotional assessment of the overall regional balance of interests in the region. A proof of this is that a water war in Central Asia has been claimed for at least ten years if not more, and still these states not only have avoided it, but have been able to reach a legal agreement as that of 2008, then abandoned. The hope for the future, therefore, is not that war will be avoided, but rather that these diplomatic and political stalemates will develop in concrete action to make water management in the region better in the interest of all parts concerned. More…

Al patrulea proiect pentru România (2): The Murmuration Răspunde

Think about this: the current anti-Băsescu societal reaction is quite similar to a murmuration. Much of the political action is planned (at least I do hope so) but improvisations are widely spread. So, you need to know why some people disapprove government actions but do not protest? – it is simple: people and cabinet are in the same murmuration. Want to understand why the party does not get fed up with mr Ponta and forces him to resign on accusations of plagiarism? – it is easy again: the protocol (section: “Down with Băsescu!”) will not allow it. More…

Egypt. Waiting for a revolution Răspunde

After 30 years of military state of exception (the Emergency Law), Egypt’s transition from dictatorship is unsurprisingly still negotiating its institutional destination regarding the delicate equilibrium of a democratic political regime, as this is evident in the present talks concerning the powers of the new president, the new Constitution, the structure of the legislative and the role of the judiciary. Most dramatic is the very process of demolishing the old regime while it’s key-players still hang on to their self-assumed prerogative of “protectors” of the “Revolution”. Even if this meant until now torture and murders in the streets and the state prisons, sexual harassment and rape, encouraging religious clashes between Muslims and Copts or between pro-Mubarak youth and the people in the public squares of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Port Said, Al-Mansoura, Qena, Minya etc. To get rid of the past is very much different than trying to look into the future and in all probability this will be the long-term institutional and public deadlock for Egyptians and other people caught in the “Arab Spring”. They are not the firsts to find themselves in such a collective nightmare. More…

Ronald Asmus: Russia is a revisionist, but also a declining power Răspunde


In one of the last interviews he gave to the press, the late Ronald Asmus reiterated the importance of strategically reassuring NATO’s vulnerable allies against threats coming from inside and outside Europe. The security guarantee provided by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty needs to be strengthened in order to maintain the cohesiveness and the credibility of the Alliance in a new security environment. Ronald Asmus argued that the strategic reassurance of NATO’s Central and Eastern European allies should have been a precondition of reset policy with Russia. More…

Don’t leave the streets! Egypt’s revolutions still to come 1

Those of us Eastern Europeans, who did not witness the 1989 revolutions, are nevertheless the children of a revolution. If we were too young to discern for ourselves the communist fall, we grew up during the making of the narratives of the revolution, in which innumerable stories and actors fought hard in the streets, in the media and inside the newly crafted institutions to convince us of their truth. More…

Ronald Asmus: The Little War that Shook the World Răspunde

In March 2010 I interviewed the late Ronald Asmus about his last book published in 2010, A Little War that Shook the World: Georgia, Russia and the future of the West. The book discusses the circumstances that lead to the 2008 South Ossetia War which pitted Georgia against Russia, and its implications for European security.

Which was the message and aim that Russia intended to send to NATO and to the West more generally using as leverage the war with Georgia from August 2008? More…