2017 is expected to be an interesting year, at least in terms of predictable events.
2017 is expected to be interesting, at least in terms of predictable
events, such as the elections in Germany, France and the Netherlands, as well
as London's activation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. We
invited Iulian Chifu, head of the Center for Conflict Prevention in Bucharest,
to tell us his opinion on some of these events.
The first major event is the
inauguration of the Trump administration at the White House in Washington.
Among other things, the new president announced he will be taking the United States out of the Transpacific
Partnership, as well as repealing Obamacare and the clean energy policies.
According to the Financial Times, the 45th president is closely
watched at the beginning of his administration, especially when first meeting
the Russian President Vladimir Putin, considering that US intelligence services
suspect that the Kremlin tried to facilitate the unexpected election victory of
the Republican candidate.
Here is what Iulian Chifu had to say about it: "It is extremely important,
because we are talking about the handover of the American administration. At
the same time, we have to be clear that administrations do not change
substantially a country's security and defense policies, just its priorities,
as well as the nuances in approach, because the information base of the entire
administrative system is the same. We are waiting to see what the Trump
administration looks like, we will see what the level of continuity is, and
what the new elements he is bringing in are."
Trump's plans to rebuild
relations with Russia will bring to the surface the weaknesses of American
allies in Europe, who cannot defend themselves against Russia by themselves if
the US does not observe its security commitments, according to an article in
the Washington Post written by Judy Dempsey, researcher with the Carnegie
Europe organization in Brussels. The other major upcoming event is the
activation of Article 50 of the EU Treaty by March at the latest. This vote by
the British people will leave the Union without a member state with vast
experience in security and defense. This will create confusion, according to
"The UK and Brexit is a major
issue for the EU, especially since few people in the world know what the Brexit
will look like. It is the first time that a state exits the EU, and it seems
this experience will not necessarily be the most favorable, considering the
premises of the UK leaving and the dislocation of a number of industries in the
European space. Also, the negotiation designed by Euroskeptics and the people
who generated the Brexit seems to be a utopia. Which is the possibility of
staying in and taking advantage of the single market, the free circulation of
goods and services, but equally blocking the free circulation of workers within
the British space. I believe that right now there are a lot of question marks
regarding the Brexit, which will be a new experience, and the UK's ability to
absorb this new experience, not necessarily this year, during negotiations, but
more at the moment it might leave the EU."
France this year is also electing its president. Francois Hollande
announced he would not run again, and polls indicate that the electorate displays
a high level of confidence in the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Here is
analyst Iulian Chifu again:
"This is a first, we have a
Socialist party that seems to come in only 4th with its best rated
candidate, the former PM Valls. We also have a new center left political
movement, led by Emmanuel Macron, which has a chance to get into the second
round of elections, even ahead of Ms. Le Pen. Also, we have the obvious
candidate of the right, Francois Fillon, with the best chance of becoming president
of France, but embracing many of the elements promoted by Ms. Le Pen, elements
rather to the extreme right, having not so much to do with leaving the EU,
which Ms. Le Pen is touting, but rather with free circulation and relations
with the Russian Federation."
The elections in Germany, the situation in Syria and Russia's
involvement in this conflict, as well as the NATO summit in Brussels, preceded
by a gathering of defense ministers, are additional high impact events, which
we will be talking about in our future installments.