Sun 27 Feb 2011
As the ‘post-Cold War era’ turned into the ‘multipolar world’ era, the notion of Western democracy promotion underwent similarly dramatic changes. The West became too weak to pursue democracy-promotion head-on and was seen as being forced to fall back on old-school realist approaches to democracy. But just when this realist approach to democracy-promotion seemed to almost finally become dominant, the popular wave of protests in EU’s southern neighbourhod changed everything again. Now the question is what will come next.
The Realist Consensus
For the few couple of years the realist consensus on democracy promotion seemed to be on a seemigly unstoppable (repeated) rise. It marked the end of two decades of noisy, often arrogant, but equally often concerned tough talk and action to promote human rights and democracy. The idea was that time has come to focus on achieving certain, rather quantifiable interests, such as ensuring security, fighting terrorism, expanding trade or managing migration, rather than adopting vague goals like promoting human rights and improving governance. (more…)
Sat 19 Feb 2011
Having spent most of the week in Tunisia, here are some thoughts and observations.
… is very positive. It is not the end of a president (like Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004), but the end of an era. Since independence in 1956, Tunisia had only two presidents – Bourghiba and Ben Ali who ruled for 30 and 23 years respectively. In this sense Tunisia feels a bit like Central and Eastern Europe in late 80s-early 90s.
There is a lot of optimism, but even more short term confusion. There is no clear understanding, nor agreement on what to do the following weeks and months. There are no institutions, no leaders and no united platform of dissidents, NGOs or oppositionists (like Solidarnosc in Poland or Saakshvili in Georgia) to stir the country through the next months. The interim president is unelected with little legitimacy, there is no parliament, the interim government is very weak politically, and under constant assault from protesters who want jobs, salary raises etc. So far the government had to accede to most of the demands of the protesters, since it has little power to say no. With such tempo the country can easily go bankrupt (add the outflow of tourists, uncertainties of the investors etc).
The starting point of post-revolutionary transitions in Serbia, Georgia or Ukraine were much better, and even there many of the results are mixed. (more…)
Mon 14 Feb 2011
pentru mine personal revolutiile din tunisia si egipt ridica intrebarea daca aceste revolutii vor esua sau nu. uneori am impresia ca majoritatea revolutiilor esueaza (revolutiile per se reusesc, insa consecintele revolutilor sunt contra-revolutionare): fie sunt deturnate de radicali (rusia/urss in 1917, iran in 1979) si duc la un fel de reinstaurare a unor regimuri la fel de nedemocratice (animal farm sau kyrgyzstan dupa 2005), fie regimurile democratice sunt atat de haotice incat cetatenii ajung sa isi aminteasca cu nostalgie de vemurile pre-revolutionare (ucraina dupa 2005, rusia in anii 90). sau pana la urma revolutiile nu sunt nici esecuri, si nici succese, ci pur si simplu niste virgule in dezvoltarea unui stat (liban si revolutia cedrilor din 2005). din revolutiile recente am impresia ca revolta anti-milosevic in serbia a fost o revolutie de succes, si georgia – un fel de semi-succes (consolidare reusita al statului, dar nu si al pluralismului politic).
si prin urmare intrebarea e cum transformi o revolutie care a avut loc intr-un impuls pentru transformarea de succes al unui stat? in cazul egiptului si a tunisiei – care vor fi consecintele revolutiilor? dictaturi militare in locul dictaturilor lui ben ali si mubarak? noile guverne din egipt si tunisia sunt niste kerenskii si bakhtiari dupa care vor urma niste tipi mai brutali si mai eficace? vor deveni niste state de tipul pakistanului in care politicienii sunt fatada clasei politice, iar puterea reala e in mainile armatei? fratia musulmana la putere? si daca ajung la putere – ce se intampla cu islamistii? se transforma in musulman-democrati (echivalentul crestin-democratilor) ca AKP in turcia, sau devin reactionari ca iranienii? si daca sunt reactionari – poate chiar e nevoie de un stat islamist semi-esuat care sa trateze lumea de asteptarile utopice legate de islam (tot asa cum ‘realizarea’ visului socialist in urss a tratat o lume intreaga de tentatia comunismului ca alternativa de guvernare)? sau totusi revolutiile sunt un prim pas in directia haosului politic indelungat si indispensabil cu multe zigzaguri si ‘doi pasi inainte, unul inapoi’ care pana la urma duc la pluralism, asa cum s-a intamplat cu europa zguduita de revolutii odata la 20-30 de ani in sec 19?
Mon 14 Feb 2011
Just when the southern neighbourhood of the EU is shaken by a wave of revolutionary situations that toppled consolidated dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, the eastern neighbourhood seems to be in the middle of a trend towards authoritarian consolidation. So the paradox is that whereas the Southern neighbours look like those in the East in the revolutionary years of 2003-2005, but in fast forward mode, the Eastern neighbourhood seems to look increasingly like the south a few years ago – a collection of states with increasingly close economic relations with Europe, but with centralised, non-competitive politics, which routinely afford to ignore the EU on many political and security questions. Today, every country in the Eastern neighbourhood except Moldova is less pluralistic than it was 5 years ago (though Belarus arguably could not become worse).
Seen from Ukraine, Moldova or most of the new EU member states one of the most irritating aspects of the European neighbourhood policy is that it dumps together the Southern and the Eastern neighbours of the EU. The Eastern neighbours tend to be rather arrogant about the Mediterannean neighbours of the EU. (more…)