Several (post-)Socialist governments established new state awards in the past years, which all carry the name ‘Order of Friendship’. The term ‘friendship’ here is genealogically related to the Stalinist concept of ‘friendship of peoples’. Western political theories, on the other hand, have largely abandoned this appellation in international relations. The burgeoning of ‘friendship orders’ is culturally contingent on a collectivist mindset, while the general popularity of state awards can be attributed to the increasing attention governments pay to public diplomacy.
By exclusively targeting foreign citizens, the Transnistrian “Order of Friendship” is confined to a limited scope: The tiny republic enjoys recognition only by a few Russian-backed breakaway regions. The recipients therefore consist of disputed leaders from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, some Russian politicians with influential NGOs, and a Soviet-era singer whose connection with the Donbass placed him on the EU’s list of sanctioned people. The political logic revealed in the government’s implicit criteria for “awardworthiness” is that of a narrow understanding of diplomacy.
Why do China and Poland view each other as significant partners under the 16+1 formula? Based on a comparative analysis of the two countries’ respective goals and expectations, this article will put forth possible explanations, and point towards options the Chinese government could address to promote the Sino-Polish cooperation a step further.
Russia and Turkey agreed to build the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline in August 2016. This benefits Bulgaria’s and Greece’s ambitions to turn into a regional gas hub, even more so when potential supplies of LNG, shale gas, and natural gas from Azerbaijan are taken into account. Despite the V4’s opposing stakes in energy policy (not wanting to “lose” Ukraine), talks about an Graeco-Bulgarian "Anti-Visegrad Alliance" are exaggerated.
In the Visegrad countries, traditional Armenian cross-stones (or khachkars) are silently countering Azerbaijan’s major role as a future gas provider to the EU. The diaspora-funded activities often obtain local governments' support for their seemingly unharmful nature. However, the khachkars have the potential to subtly and enduringly change the public’s perceptions in the V4, whose governments are seen as crucial drivers behind the EU’s Eastern Partnership.
The Visegrad countries’ total ODA flows have increased impressively between 2007 and 2014, the main recipients of which are those EaP states which directly border the EU, especially Ukraine. The Visegrad Group’s joint aid programme focusing on the EaP countries - the “Visegrad 4 Eastern Partnership” - funds specific projects related to the development of civil society in the EaP states. A strengthening of the common Visegrad framework for the coordination of development assistance efforts would be possible in order to channel development assistance in a more efficient and integrated manner.
Though the Hungarian minority in the West of Ukraine is not the largest one in the country, it could still play a crucial role during the current crisis in Ukraine. The minority’s quests could become an asset for Russia. The far-right Jobbik (the third largest party in Hungary financed by Russia) has already shown its will to get Ukrainian Transcarpathia back. This ambition is highly unrealistic; nevertheless, it could, in theory, lead to more separatist discourses, which would weaken the country even more.
The Visegrad Group countries displayed an unprecedented degree of cooperation during the Brexit negotiations. But not only the interests of the V4 countries are affected by this. Studies confirm that the inflow of Central and Eastern European workers benefits the British welfare state. The section on social benefits and free movement of the Brexit deal is therefore not only undermining the integrity of the European Union, but also directly damaging the British economy.
The four Visegrad states — “condemned to cooperate” due to high stakes regarding UK social welfare benefits — were seen as a major obstacle to the British EU reform proposals. This helped their group’s branding; and their own Euroscepticism might now be mollified by their negotiation success.
Trade relations are a fundamental dimension of international economic ties, furthermore they have been widely regarded as a cornerstone of peaceful and prosperous interstate relations by thinkers like Mill or Schumpeter. The following article scrutinises the development of trade relations between Great Britain and the Visegrad Group in the light of the recent “Brexit” debate.