Poland the most ardent proponent of Ukrainian democracy?

CEE PETROVABy leveraging its advantages as a democracy promoter and its European Union membership, Poland has positioned itself as perhaps the most ardent and committed proponent of Ukrainian democracy, says Tsveta Petrova, an associate research scholar at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.

However, given Poland’s limited capacity and tendency to rely primarily on its own democratization model, Warsaw’s support has not been sufficient to help sustain Ukraine’s democratization or to address the structural obstacles to it, she writes for the Carnegie Endowment. Moreover, because Poland’s efforts have been colored by Ukraine’s relations with Russia, Warsaw has found it difficult to embed its approach within the EU in a meaningful way that would take advantage of the EU’s greater democracy promotion capacity.

Poland will continue to play a vital role in Ukraine, both through its own national initiatives and in galvanizing other EU member states, adds Petrova, a former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, and author of From Solidarity to Geopolitics: Support for Democracy among Postcommunist States.

As relations with Russia become more fraught, however, Poland will again need to strike a difficult balance between pushing for democratic reform in Ukraine, on the one hand, and a geopolitical response to Moscow, on the other. In addition, Poland will continue to face a trade-off between relying on the tested democratization best practices from its own history and building on its local knowledge and ties to innovate in response to Ukraine’s evolving struggle for democracy.


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Carter Center exits Egypt amid rights crackdown


egypt ngo trial fhThe Carter Center, the democracy and human rights NGO founded by former US president Jimmy Carter, is closing down its office in Egypt due to restrictions on civil society and political groups:

The centre said the “severe narrowing of political space” and a restrictive environment for media, political parties and civil society groups was behind the closure of its office, which opened three years ago. The group added that it would not monitor Egypt’s forthcoming parliamentary elections, which it said were “unlikely to advance a genuine democratic transition”. The move comes amid increasing pressure on activists and rights groups in Egypt.

Ahead of a November 10 deadline to register with the government, rights groups have been further alarmed by a smear campaign by local media, the FT’s Heba Saleh adds:

 Al-Bawaba, an internet portal, last week listed the names of several of the most active local human rights groups and alleged that they were “receiving millions from international organisations attached to US and western intelligence agencies”. 

Under the headline: “A list of 16 human rights groups which received foreign funding and carried out activities threatening Egyptian national security”, it published amounts allegedly donated by bodies such as the European Union’s Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the US National Endowment for Democracy and George Soros’s Open Society Institute.


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Africa’s Media Boom: The Role of International Aid


africa cimaThis year, 2014, marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the symbolic end of the Cold War in 1989. It also marks the anniversary of the beginning of an extraordinary proliferation of media outlets in sub-Saharan Africa, which swept across the continent, freeing Africa’s press and liberating the airwaves from monopoly by the state. Economics, technology, and socio-political forces all played major roles in this boom of Africa’s media. But one of the untold stories of these changes is the role of donor aid in this process. 

This is the subject of the Center for International Media Assistance’s latest report, Africa’s Media Boom: The Role of International Aid, by veteran international media consultant Mary Myers. It explores these questions:

  • How much of a catalyst were foreign donors in this mushrooming of Africa’s news media?
  • What were the motives and mechanisms of this aid?
  • What difference did it make at the time, and subsequently?
  • Was media proliferation necessarily a good thing-did it lead to pluralism and genuine freedom?

For more information on the Center for International Media Assistance, please explore http://cima.ned.org, or contact us at cima@ned.org.


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Ukraine: elections, conflict, and EU’s Eastern Partnership

ukraine euromaidanIn 2009, the European Union established its Eastern Partnership to advance political association and economic integration with six neighboring nations to its east. However, in November 2013, Ukrainian President Yanukovych refused to sign an association agreement with the EU, triggering mass protests in Ukraine that ultimately led to his departure and accusations that the EU “sleepwalked” into a conflict in Ukraine. Although the EU long asserted that the framework was never directed against Russia, the agreement with Ukraine was perceived in Moscow as a step too far. In the wake of the ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia, some are questioning whether the EU’s Eastern Partnership should be fundamentally altered—and, if so, how?

Against the backdrop of simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian people will go to the polls on October 26 to elect a new parliament. The new parliament members will then have to form a majority coalition and begin to tackle the pressing challenges facing the country. The herculean tasks include not just the violent conflict in the east and the troubled relationship with Russia, but needed economic and political reforms as well as measures to curb corruption. Questions remain about Ukrainian public expectations and potential tensions in the immediate aftermath of the vote.

On October 29, the Center on the U.S. and Europe at Brookings and the Heinrich Böll Foundation will host a panel discussion assessing next steps for Ukraine and the EU’s Eastern Partnership. The first panel will explore the Ukrainian election and what it means for politics within Ukraine, the Ukrainian economy, and Ukraine’s relations with Russia and the West. The second panel will focus on international perspectives on the EU’s Eastern Partnership and the EU’s role in supporting Ukraine in this time of turmoil.

2:00 pm Panel 1: Between Battle and Ballot Box: Ukraine
Anders Åslund Senior Fellow Peterson Institute for International Economics Adrian Karmazyn Chief, Ukranian Service Voice of America
Lilia Shevtsova Senior Associate Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Steven Pifer Senior Fellow The Brookings Institution
Moderator: Fiona Hill Senior Fellow and Director, Center on the United States and Europe  The Brookings Institution
3:45 pm   Panel 2: What Next for the EU’s Eastern Partnership and Neighborhood Policy   
Samuel Charap Senior Fellow International Institute for Strategic Studies Rebecca Harms Member and President of the Greens/EFA European Parliament
Oleksandr Zaystev Fulbright Scholar Kennan Institute Moderator: Riccardo Alcaro Visiting Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe The Brookings Institution

When: Wednesday, October 29, 2:00 to 5:15PM

Where: The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036

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