Europe’s Military, Stronger Together?

Parliament welcomes Croatia to the EU with a special flag ceremony at the entrance of the EP in Strasbourg. Source: European Parliament, Flickr.With the crisis in Ukraine and the growing antagonism between Russia and the west, security and defence is an increasing concern for many in the European Union. The EU was created as a peace project after the two devastating World Wars. In this mission it has been remarkably successful, so successful that the 2012 Nobel Peace prize was awarded to the EU precisely for its success in creating peace within Europe. But as it did during the years of the Balkan war, the shadows of war seems to once again loom close to our borders; the situation in Ukraine has reminded Europe that peace must not be taken for granted. While national defense forces and NATO are still the cornerstones of Europe’s security, the EU is starting to play an increasingly important role when it comes to military matters. The EU has an extensive military cooperation, with its own standing armies. In the face of conflict, how will the EU as a joint security and peace project develop in the future? Your vote decides on the 25th May 2014. 

By Lotta Herz

Sanctions: An efficient diplomatic tool?

“Keep Sanctions Against South Africa”, at a march in the UK in 1990. Source: Craig Bellamy, FlickrOn the 29th of April 2014 the BBC reported Russia’s condemnations of the ‘Iron Curtain’ style sanctions being imposed on them due to their recent actions in Ukraine. Since late November last year there have been ongoing changes in Ukraine, with mass protests organised to oppose President Yanukovych and his government. On the 1st of March 2014 the Russian Parliament approved President Putin’s request to use force in Ukraine in order to protect the rights of Russian people living there, and to protect Russia’s interests. Both the United States and the EU have begun imposing sanctions in the form of travel bans and asset freezes from March 17th. Throughout this crisis there appears to have been firm opposition from both the US and the EU to using military force to protect Ukraine’s borders, and therefore sanctions have played a vital role in the West’s response to this crisis. Sanctions have become a popular method in diplomatic relations; but have these measures really had the desired effect? Can sanctions be appropriately targeted in order to impact the higher echelons of a society, while not crippling the domestic economy so that ordinary citizens do not suffer indirectly?

By Kate O Donnell