Program Publications

Local elections in Hungary
Orbán no longer invincible, but his party is still the strongest
by András Rácz
ICDS, October 22, 2019
On 13 October 2019, Hungary held its municipal and local elections, which resulted in opposition parties taking over Budapest as well as several countryside cities.
Donbas Peace Talks 2.0
Donbas Peace Talks 2.0Russia’s Objectives and Ukraine’s Limits
by Cristina Gherasimov, András Rácz
DGAPkompakt 18 (October 2019), 6 pp.
On October 1, 2019, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy agreed to meet Russia’s conditions for holding peace talks already this autumn. Moscow’s readiness to play, however, should not be mistaken for willingness to solve the conflict. So far, the Kremlin has not made any concessions in Eastern Ukraine that would be irreversible; consequently, it seems to only be testing Zelenskiy’s limits. Both Zelenskiy and the EU need to be cautious not to reward easy-to-reverse steps with major, strategic benefits.
Eastern Challenges for Josep Borrell – and the EU
by Milan Nič, Cristina Gherasimov
DGAPstandpunkt 26 (September 2019), 3 pp.
As the European Union’s next designated HR/VP, Josep Borrell will have to deal with major global challenges and the EU’s internal travails to shape foreign policy more assertively. In particular, two flash points on the EU’s doorstep – the eastern Ukraine and Serbia-Kosovo – will be early tests of Borell’s ability to enhance the Union’s ability to project influence as a global power and help build its capacity for strategic autonomy.
Putin’s Regime on the Path to More Repression
Putin’s Regime on the Path to More RepressionAfter Russia’s Regional Elections
by András Rácz
DGAPviewpoint 24 (September 2019), 3 pp.
In the Russian regional elections on 8 September 2019, the ruling party United Russia managed to largely hold on its control over state assemblies and governorships. Even in Moscow, where United Russia was significantly weakened, there was no liberal breakthrough. But the elections did not solve any of the inherent political and social tensions—it only made them more visible. Thus, protest potential is going to remain high, which will likely cause the regime to become even more repressive.
Eurasia: Playing Field or Battle Field?
Eurasia: Playing Field or Battle Field?Defining an Effective German and European Approach on Connectivity Toward China and Russia
by Jacopo Maria Pepe
DGAPanalysis 4 (July 2019), 22 pp.
Eurasia is emerging as a fluid continent where resurgent great power politics by Russia and China is marginalizing Europe and the Western liberal order. Moscow and Beijing are linking their Eurasian integration projects, the Belt and Roads Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). To avoid marginalization, the EU and Germany should define an interest-driven, flexible and regionally diversified approach toward Moscow and Beijing, focusing on Greater Central Asia and Greater Eastern Europe.
From Ostpolitik to EU-Russia Interdependence
Germany’s Perspective
by Stefan Meister
Published in "Post-Crimea Shift in EU-Russia Relations: From Fostering Interdependence to Managing Vulnerabilities", 2019, Kristi Raik & András Rácz (eds.)
With the Russian annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, followed by Western sanctions and Russian counter-sanctions, German decision-makers had to learn that economic and energy interdependence not only creates win-win situations but also means vulnerability. The reaction was a shift from the dominance of the economy in German policy on Russia to a securitisation and politicisation of relations with Moscow.
Moldova’s Power Transition
Moldova’s Power TransitionA Chance for the EU to Act in Its Eastern Neighborhood
by Cristina Gherasimov
DGAPstandpunkt 18 (June 2019), 3 pp.
A new transfer of power has taken place in the EU’s Eastern neighborhood that raises vigilant hopes for the future of the Eastern Partnership. This is a chance for Moldova to address its democratic deficit and rebuild its international reputation after vested interests captured its state institutions. The new government, however, needs the support of EU partners. While this pro-reformist executive brings big opportunities – including for the EU – it also poses risks that need to be cautiously considered.
Russians Adrift on the Sea of Values
Russians Adrift on the Sea of ValuesMikhail Dmitriev on the changing values of Russian society
by Alena Epifanova
„Public consciousness of Russians is deanchored from static ideas which were stabilizing attitudes, now it is like a ship without an anchor on the high seas,“ – economist Mikhail Dmitriev on his study, indicating a change in values in Russian society.
Russia and the West 2028
Russia and the West 2028Forward-Looking Scenarios in Russian-European-American-Relations
The Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and the Robert Bosch Center at the German Council on Foreign Relations partnered with the Robert Bosch Foundation to explore Russia-European-American dynamics in a turbulent time. In 2018, we decided in the last project phase to generate a number of scenarios – narratives of alternative futures – that can enable decision-makers to play out the potential ramifications of choices they face today.
Point of No Return
Point of No ReturnViktor Orbán’s Divorce from the EPP
by Milan Nič, András Rácz
DGAPkompakt 7 (May 2019), 4 pp.
A few weeks after the European People’s Party (EPP) suspended the membership of Hungary’s ruling populist party, Fidesz, it looks unlikely that their relationship could be repaired. Seeing his leverage decreasing, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been paving the way for divorce. The EPP leaders seem to have made up their minds as well. A re-arrangement of the European party system is already taking shape ahead of the upcoming European elections (23–26 May 2019), not only afterwards.
Rupture in Kiev
Rupture in KievUkrainians Vote for Change to Consolidate Their Democracy
by Cristina Gherasimov
DGAPviewpoint 11, April 24, 2019, 4 pp.
The landslide victory of Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Ukraine’s presidential runoff is a breakthrough in the post-Soviet space that rarely offers chances to political novices. The vote highlights Ukrainians’ discontent with the political establishment. It shows a new set of factors at work in shaping the polls, and civil society’s readiness to accept risk to consolidate their fragile democracy. For the European Union and Germany, the change offers an opportunity for new momentum in relations with Ukraine.
The Mystery of Volodymyr Zelenskiy
by Iryna Solonenko
Berlin Policy Journal, April 19, 2019
The comedian has played the president on Ukrainian TV for years. Now he’s likely to be elected to the real office. Who is Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and what or whom does he stand for?
Security First, Technology Second
Security First, Technology SecondPutin Tightens his Grip on Russia’s Internet – with China’s Help
by Andrei Soldatov
DGAPkompakt 3, 7. März 2019, 5 S.
Since his return to the Russian presidency in 2012, Vladimir Putin has sought to bring the Russian internet under his control. Digital businesses in Russia pay dearly for his expensive system of surveillance and censorship. This slows down the pace of innovation and puts the modernization of the economy at risk. Even then, technical control over the internet remains shaky. The Kremlin is seeking Chinese assistance to enforce restrictions and be able to cut Russia off from the global internet.
Armenia Needs a New Opposition
Armenia Needs a New OppositionHow the EU Can Help Institute Checks and Balances
by Cristina Gherasimov
DGAPstandpunkt 6, March 6, 2019, 3 pp.
In Armenia, last year’s Velvet Revolution ended a long period of autocratic rule. On assuming the office of prime minister, former opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan acquired a constitutional authority enhanced by wide popular support and the lack of effective opposition in parliament. While this helps him implement reforms, the absence of strong checks may prove harmful in the long run. The EU should help rebuild Armenia’s checks and balances to ensure the country’s sustainable transformation.
Moldova’s Weak Democracy Is a Growing Risk for Europe
by Cristina Gherasimov
First published as Expert Comment, Chatham House, February 26, 2019
The country’s politics have been captured by a corrupt elite, creating a worrying security risk on the edge of Europe.
„A state does not get a Silicon Valley at the press of a button”
„A state does not get a Silicon Valley at the press of a button”Jane Zavalishina about Russia’s digital economy
by Alena Epifanova
Russia’s potential for digital innovation is enormous, talents abound and banks as well as state authorities are often more digitally adept than their Western counterparts when it comes to dealing with end customers. Nonetheless, the conditions set by the state impede the sector’s competitiveness. This also hinders much needed investments for Russian start-ups that require access to global markets.
Nord Stream 2: The Dead-End of Germany’s Ostpolitik
by Stefan Meister
Berlin Policy Journal, February 20, 2019
The fight about the pipeline was supposed to give Germany cause to rethink its foreign-policy. Instead, Berlin is supporting a project that will hurt its credibility.
Hurdle Race with a Slow Start
Hurdle Race with a Slow StartPublic Administration Reform in Ukraine
by Iryna Solonenko
DGAPkompakt 25 (October 2018), 6 pp.
Launched in 2015 after the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine’s public administration reform is a serious attempt to overhaul the existing system based on recognized European principles. However, its implementation has been patchy due to various obstacles including poor leadership and resistance to change. To tackle these drawbacks, it is important to establish a reform task force led by the prime minster and improve legislation. Support from Germany and Europe will also be decisive for the reform’s success.
Between Old and New World Order
Between Old and New World OrderRussia’s Foreign and Security Policy Rationale
by Stefan Meister, Pavel Baev, Pavel Felgenhauer, Alexander Golts, Alexander Kolbin, Peter Pomerantsev
DGAPkompakt 19 (September 2018). 30 pp.
Political decision-making under Vladimir Putin is informed by a military-technological rationale, and military might is seen as a main tool of Russian foreign policy. Modern nuclear capabilities are key for Russia as they are regarded an effective bargaining chip that will also bring Moscow back to eye-level vis-à-vis the US. Yet, the Kremlin regards all manners of hybrid warfare – including disinformation, cyber-attacks and Russian-engineered international media coverage – as equally legitimate.
Risk Report Russia
Political Risk Scenarios for Russia
by Sarah Pagung
Conias Risk Intelligence, Risiko Report (08/2018), 32 pp.
Re-elected on March 18, President Vladimir Putin remains firmly in the driver seat of Russian politics. For many international investors, he stands, despite a poor democratic record, for a sufficient degree of political stability and a benevolent policy towards foreign businesses. Russia benefits from vast resources and remains the undisputed center of the post-Soviet space. Beyond the development of global commodity prices, the question of who will succeed Putin will be vital for the future of Russia.