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The co-governing conservative parties TOP 09 and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) are vying for predominance on the right wing of the political scene. The most essential dispute concerns European policy coordination. The issue of responsibility for the European agenda may turn out to be a source of incessant competence disputes inside the government.
In August, France intensified criticism of Romania and Bulgaria for their lack of progress in the process of the integration of the Roma minority. The French secretary of state for European affairs Pierre Lellouche warned that the problems would cause a delay in Romania’s accession to the Schengen area. The technical preparations for adopting the Schengen acquis are advanced in both countries, however it cannot be ruled out that the French authorities will be trying to delay the enlargement scheduled for March 2011.
OSW Commentary | | Marcin Kaczmarski
Both this rhetoric and the atmosphere of co-operation in relations with the USA and the EU contrast with the assertive and aggressive Russian policy which was symbolised by and culminated in the Russian-Georgian conflict of 2008.
Point of View | | Anna Kwiatkowska-Drożdż
The consequences of the present debate on how Germany suffered during the war do matter and will continue to matter both for Germany itself and for Germany’s relations with its near neighbours. Contrary to popular belief, the debate, still underway and in the shape imposed by Erika Steinbach, is likely to bring some benefit to Poland.
Analyses | | Iwona Wiśniewska
The unusually high temperatures seen in Russia since mid-June have caused a huge series of wildfires in central Russia. The scale of the disaster has laid bare the weakness of Russia’s state structures against natural disasters and also the negative consequences of centralised power under Vladimir Putin’s governments and the neglect of fire prevention measures.
On 9 August the IMF published the contents of a memorandum signed with the government and central bank of Ukraine. The implementation of the memorandum guarantees Ukraine US$15.1 billion as part of a new standby programme. Implementation of the provisions of the memorandum will be conducive to an improvement in the economic situation and may lead to further reaching structural and institutional reforms. The Ukrainian leadership is also gaining a political alibi; the taking of socially expensive decisions is being presented as a consequence of Yulia Timoshenko’s incompetent governments, following which it became necessary to apply for IMF funds.
On 12 August BP-Azerbaijan, the operator of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, announced that since July of this year a part of the oil flowing through its pipeline originates in Turkmenistan. This means that the BTC route has replaced the previous export route for Turkmen gas through Iran to a considerable extent. The change of transmission route is being blamed on worsening financial conditions for transport via Iran, in part as a result of an intensification of sanctions against Iran by the UN in June of this year.
On 16 August a committee of the United Russia party put forward three candidates to President Dmitri Medvedev for the position of governor of the Kaliningrad Oblast. The current governor, Georgy Boos, was not among them. This means that the Kremlin has taken into consideration the dissatisfaction of the residents of the region towards the policies of Boos and, not wishing for further protests, have decided to change the governor.
On 6 August James Giffen, former advisor to President Nursultan Nazarbayev, admitted to tax irregularities and the American prosecutor announced the withdrawal of corruption charges which had been levelled at him since 2003. The final decision of the American court in this case (November 2010) will mark the closing of the biggest corruption scandal in Kazakhstan and bring an end to speculation concerning the possibility of making charges against President Nazarbayev and will clear the air in relations between Astana and Washington.
On 12 August the Russian Border Guard admitted that at the beginning of the month at the request of Rospotrebnadzor, the chief sanitary inspectorate of Russia, it had introduced a ban on imports of Moldovan wine. Despite the fact that Rospotrebnadzor the same day denied the information, Moldovan wine has not reached the Russian market. The embargo has a political character and comes as a result of Moscow’s dissatisfaction with the policies of the current Moldovan government; they may also be recognised as a means of supporting pro-Russian parties ahead of parliamentary elections planned for this autumn.