FIIA Reports 35-36
Katri Pynnöniemi (ed.): Russian critical infrastructures: Vulnerabilities and policies
The Russian policy on critical infrastructure protection was outlined in the early 2000s and has been consolidated in recent years as a part of the national security strategy. It is built upon the civil defence system of the Soviet era, a system that has been modernized under the auspices of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia.
The Russian policies on critical infrastructure protection (CIP) are evolving against a background composed of an uneasy combination of factors: the degeneration of infrastructures critical for the country’s economic and social development, and the de-legitimization of political institutions responsible for protecting ‘population’ and ‘territory’. The recent major catastrophes in Russia, the forest fires in 2010 in particular, have become examples of political events that offer a point of reference for the current regime’s failure to uphold its promises of ‘order and stability’.
Global climate change and the extraction of natural resources in the Arctic region are regarded as both a challenge and an opportunity for Russia. In Russian and European discussions, the Northern Sea Route is usually viewed in terms of opportunity, as it will form one of the major corridors of the global commercial flows. The extraction of oil and gas reserves in the Arctic is a long-term project that has intensified in recent years, although the pace of development has slowed down of late. However, it is generally acknowledged that the ‘opening of the new northern frontier’ is anything but simple. Climate change, and the possible melting of the Russian permafrost resulting from it, poses a real challenge that adds an entirely new dimension to the notion of ‘critical infrastructures’.
European foreign policy is at a complicated crossroads. The European model is challenged by changing patterns of global power and interdependence, and the economic crisis is producing a backlash on the integration project. National foreign services are under the dual pressure of the economic crisis and an overall decline in the importance of traditional diplomacy, while the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty and the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) are supposed to stimulate an internal logic towards more EU integration and burden-sharing in foreign policy.
This report asks how to equipe European foreign policy for the 21st century. What kind of diplomatic system will be at the service of European foreign policy, forging together EU and national elements? How are the EEAS and national diplomacies going to find a modus vivendi and a new division of labour?
The authors argue that the EEAS needs to be at the centre of an emerging EU system of diplomacy, shaping it and not just being shaped by others, and creating a new sense of unity. At the same time, it is essential for the legitimacy and effectiveness of European diplomacy that the EEAS interacts smoothly with national foreign services.
FIIA Working Papers
Timo Behr & Aaretti Siitonen: Building bridges or digging trenches? Civil society engagement after the Arab Spring
When seeking to engage and assist Arab civil society, western donors are faced with several broad challenges in the new regional context. First and foremost, they will have to avoid doing anything that could deepen the growing divisions among different segments of Arab civil society.
Second, donors ought to encourage an effective and balanced relationship between state institutions and civil society. While before the revolutions many Arab countries suffered from a strong and autocratic state, today state weakness has become an equally great challenge.
Third, donors will have to find a way to engage with the new actors, organizations and social movements that have been at the forefront of the Arab Spring uprisings. To engage with some of these actors will be challenging given their non-hierarchical organizational structures, virtual membership, unclear legal position, and sometimes undefined goals.
Finally, donors will have to tread carefully in the highly sensitive new operating environment in the Arab transition countries. In order to regain trust with state institutions and civil society actors, donor engagement needs to build on national development strategies and local needs assessments.
Foreign donors, of course, can only do so much in order to support the development of a liberal and pluralistic civil society in the Arab world. Far more important than effective and well-designed development projects is the ability of different segments of Arab civil society to reconcile their differences and to endorse diversity. In order to support this process, donors will have to exercise patience and will have to avoid actions that contribute to further social polarization. To this end, sending the right political message will often be just as important as well-designed projects.
The recent transformation in Myanmar has brushed up the country’s international status and image, and Western and Asian countries alike are eager to reap the benefits of the ongoing changes, but the economy and financial sectors are in dire need of reform.
In order to increase the awareness for further reforms, Western input is vital. Given the fact that the EU has always been a strong economic player in Myanmar and in East Asia in general, it is in a position to offer important incentives for further change by increasing development aid, rewarding gradual political reform, and investing in joint ventures while taking into account social responsibilities.
The greatest challenge likely lies in Myanmar’s continuing ethnic tensions. Here the EU can offer expertise on conflict mediation and capacity-building, acting as a “middle power” or regional stabilizer.
In spite of these remaining challenges, the ongoing gradual reforms are more than a cosmetic contrivance for Western consumption, and are likely to continue. Current key actors in the ruling USDP party have been groomed for a future role as civilian leaders in the “discipline-flourishing democracy”, and are reform-minded. The national elections in 2015 will reveal to what extent the ruling elite is genuinely dedicated to further democratization.
True democracy in the Western sense will require substantial changes in the constitution. This, however, is impossible without the support of the military and will therefore likely be a lengthy process.
FIIA Briefing Papers 120-121
Charly Salonius-Pasternak: Carving out his place in history: What challenges will Barack Obama tackle in his second term?
As he begins his second term, President Barack Obama’s place in history is assured. A successful second term would set him on the path to becoming one of the most highly regarded presidents in US history.
Domestic politics will continue to be Obama’s focus during his second term. He will oversee the implementation of his signature first-term accomplishments, and seek additional policy changes in how the US approaches immigration and climate change.
President Obama’s second-term foreign policy team will continue the Pivot to Asia, while refining the emerging Obama Doctrine. The use of drones, Special Forces and cyber weapons will continue, as lower-cost tools to directly address threats to US national security.
Europe must take far more responsibility for its defence and regional security, for its relationship with neighbours in the east and the south, and the EU should strive to achieve a Transatlantic Free Trade Area, while President Obama remains in office.
The EU-Russia strategic partnership has had its ups and downs but is currently facing a very different challenge. Despite many arguments, Brussels and Moscow never doubted the overall significance of their relationship. However, at the present time, they are evidently less interested in treating each other as priority partners.
By banning US citizens from adopting Russian orphans, the Putin administration is attempting to deflect attention away from corruption issues and utilise anti-American sentiment to discredit opponents. But these latest efforts at manipulating public opinion may have unintended consequences.