Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Seminar: Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership

Location: University of Birmingham, Muirhead Tower Room 121
Date: Tuesday 17th February 2015 (18:00-19:30)
Contact: events@fpc.org.uk

Speakers:
Rt Hon John Spellar MP, Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister (Labour)

James Carver MEP, European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee (UKIP)

Dr Kataryna Wolczuk, Reader in Politics and International Studies,  CREES, University of Birmingham

Dr Rilka Dragneva-Lewers, Senior Lecturer, CREES, University of Birmingham

Dr Kevork Oskanian, Research Fellow, CREES, University of Birmingham

Chair: Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre

Friday, 23 January 2015

Putin's Plan to Fight Recession in Russia also Increases Kremlin's Control of the Economy


The Russian rouble started 2015 in much the same way it finished 2014: badly. After losing nearly 50% of its dollar value between July and the end of the year, the rouble lost a further 7% in January. The primary cause of this continued decline is the falling price of oil: Brent crude has dropped from US$53 dollars per barrel at year end to just under US$48 per barrel, a decline of nearly 10% for the year so far.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Playwright, Prisoner and President: the Life of Vaclav Havel

A review of Michael Zantovsky, Havel: a Life, London: Atlantic Books (2014)

By Tim Haughton

You only really appreciate someone when they have left. The death of Vaclav Havel in December 2011 provoked a week of mourning, warm and generous words from his political foes, and for many ‘perhaps a rediscovery’ of the man who had played so many different roles in his life: playwright, political prisoner and president (p. 14). Michael Zantovsky’s outstanding new biography published a quarter of a century after the Velvet Revolution swept away the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, provides a colourful, well-written and perceptive account of the life, work and impact of Vaclav Havel.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Putin Meets the Press – as State takes Tighter Grip of Economy


Vladimir Putin has delivered his annual press conference and at the top of the agenda was the Russian economy, reflecting that the turmoil buffeting the Russian rouble has reached critical levels.

After a steady depreciation over recent months, the rouble reached an all-time low on December 16. The country is on the verge of a recession as a result of falling oil prices and the impact of Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Long Shadows of War: The Aftermath and Legacies of Conflicts in Europe


This year is full of poignant anniversaries; none more so than the outbreak of the First World War. Whilst the century of the outbreak of ‘the war to end all wars’ has focused attention on the causes of the conflict, as the contributions to the forthcoming edited volume, Aftermath: Legacies and Memories of War in Europe, 1918-1945-1989 highlight, the sight of poppies in the first half of November should also give us pause to reflect on the long shadows cast by that war.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Round-table: The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict - The Uses and Misuses of History

This round-table will discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - one of the most complex and protracted ethno-territorial conflicts in the post-Soviet space. It will focus on the role of historical narrative in the political discourse of all parties involved in the conflict. We will gather together scholars and policy-makers with in-depth empirical, scholarly and political experience of this turbulent region. The round-table is organised by The University of Birmingham Research Group on the Caucasus in collaboration with the Centre for Russian, Eurasian and European Studies and the Department of Political Science and International Studies of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham.

Date: Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Time: 16:00 - 18:00h.
Location: University of Birmingham (Edgbaston Campus), Muirhead Tower, Room 121 

Friday, 26 September 2014

The (E)U-turn on Ukraine: Pragmatism or Surrender?

by Dr. Rilka Dragneva and Dr. Kataryna Wolczuk

Few bilateral agreements have had such a turbulent history and implications as the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine. The refusal to sign the agreement by then president Yanukovych triggered massive protests in Ukraine resulting in his overthrow in February 2014. This in turn provoked Russia’s response: annexing Crimea and fuelling separatism in Eastern Ukraine, including direct military incursion in August 2014.

Importantly, the Agreement envisages a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which entails tariff changes but also provides for Ukraine’s integration into the EU single market. Russia has objected to both, alleging potential damage to its economy. Clearly, an important aspect of this ‘damage’ lies in the fact that the DCFTA precludes Ukraine’s membership into the Eurasian integration bloc, something which Russia has actively sought and presented as a viable (and indeed preferable) alternative to integration with the EU.