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11 februarie 2020 - Special reports - Weekly review

D.S.M. WEEKLY REPORT - Main Political and Military Developments (WEEK 6 of 2020)

Monitorul Apărării şi Securităţii

I. FRANCE. Promoting a pro domo European policy. II. GERMANY / AUSTRIA. Small and middle-size EU contributors stick together. III. HUNGARY. Budapest promises support to Igor Dodon regime and proposes a solution to Kyiv. IV. KOSOVO. A new government is sworn in.V. Developments to track this Week 7 of 2020.

Sursă foto: Mediafax

This past week was marked by a series of visits meant to seek common positions for promoting specific interests, on three directions: Paris – Warsaw on bilateral and reforming Europe; Berlin – Vienna on reforming the EU and forging a European defense policy; Budapest – Chişinău - Kyiv following visible strategies. Then, the inauguration on a new government in Pristina reopens the path for negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, although enough roadblocks are still ahead.

I. FRANCE. Promoting a pro domo European policy.

By his visit to Poland, French President Emmanuel Macron sought to relaunch bilateral relations in view of identifying a partner in reforming the European Union and Europe’s defense policy that Paris proposed. In his speech regarding the French nuclear deterrence strategy, Macron proposed to the Europeans a way to build a European defense nucleus around the French deterrence capabilities which, however, remain… under Paris’s sovereign control.

a). Emmanuel Macron visits Warsaw. On February 3rd, the French President sought to relaunch bilateral relations with Poland. He proposed a larger role to Warsaw in current European circumstances: post-Brexit EU, with increasing nationalism and a decrease in popular confidence in a European common future, but also having France determined to impose its point of view through a deeper European integration according to Macron’s vision. His view reflects the position of a country which became EU’s main military power (both nuclear and conventional), but not economic and political. The French President eludes the last two facts when promoting such ideas conveniently serving… France.  

In Warsaw, Macron stressed the need of military integration among EU nations, presenting an optimistic view: “I’ll be happy the day Polish people can tell each other: ‘The day I’m attacked, I know Europe can protect us’. Because that day, the sense of European belonging will be indestructible”. Although Polish Conservatives are happy with such vision and the role their country would be offered, it is hard to believe that Poland, as other nations in the East, would exchange American deployed security for a French vague notion. Why would they exchange a crystal-clear “we-are-ready-to-die-for-Warsaw” American nuclear umbrella provided through NATO, for a hypothetical “peut-être, nous mourrons pour Varsovie” – the French nuclear umbrella stays under Paris’s sovereign control? Macron defended his initiative of strategic opening toward Russia, which concerns many Europeans, Poland included, by using the language “France is neither pro-Russia, not anti-Russia; It is pro-European”. For the Europeans in the East, with the Russian danger at their doorstep (the Kremlin designated NATO nations as adversaries), the defense policy demands much more than this metaphor. On the other hand, Macron chose a more realistic approach regarding NATO: “European defense is not an alternative to NATO, it’s an indispensable complement”. After describing the European defense as an alternative to NATO, Paris folds back on the idea of a complementary role. This occurs after the African experience, where France asked the United States not to leave it alone. But Macron is only one step far from the realistic solution: the European defense is part and parcel of NATO, and the extended European defense, in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA), can be achieved outside NATO, but not without NATO and the United States.

Relations between Poland and France went south in 2016, when Polish Conservatives (PiS) renounced a $3.4 billion worth contract with Airbus for helicopters. Later, the two nations piled up several differences, both in politics and regarding current threats (migration), and future threats (global warming). On politics, the gap widened as PiS chose to take measures against the rule of law in its reform of Polish judiciary. As a staunch European integrationist (in a project reflecting French national interests), Macron shunned nationalist governments like the Polish government by criticizing PiS reforms in Polish justice system. Polish President Andrzej Duda expressed his hope that Macron’s visit would mark a progress in French-Polish relations, and positively answered to French proposal of including Poland into the project for a European tank: “Today France is definitely a power on a European scale, and France’s role after Brexit will without doubt grow”. Macron stated that he touched the Polish justice reform issue in his talks with Duda, the issue which has brought European accusations that PiS breaches the rule of law norms, but Macron only voiced his hope that Warsaw’s dialogue with Paris would “intensify”. Practically, Paris dodged the issue and tossed it to Brussels, being more interested in relaunching bilateral relations with Warsaw. For PiS, the visit is a chance to “return back to the fold”, and make Poland take the place it deserves, that of a European first-class power, but free of major compromises regarding the justice reform. Regarding the European budget, the two nations share similar views, at least on agriculture subventions, but opposing views on migration[1].

Macron is in search of new alliances in Europe, on the backdrop of its differences with Germany regarding the French plans to reform the EU. These plans seem to be too ambitious, and Berlin, more realistic, more politically and economically powerful, opposes. However, Macron announced a Weimar Triangle Summit meant to reinvigorate this format. Poland will likely pick what it likes from Paris’s proposals: political stronger relations, unconditioned by changes in Warsaw’s domestic policies; cooperation in defense industry; and the role Paris offers at European scale, including in Weimar Triangle format. After so many tensions, two important European nations seek better bilateral relations despite divergent, if not opposing stances in many issues, pertaining both to security and policy. Very likely, this visit did not produce spectacular political results, but it opened channels of communication between these two European heavyweights, with chances of later identifying a common vision for the future of Europe. Together with the heavyweight in the north, Germany, and the one in the south, Italy, being the heavyweight in the west, and the one in the east, France and Poland form Europe’s “cardinal cross”.

b). France presented its nuclear deterrence strategy. On February 7th, in a long due speech at the French War Academy, President Emmanuel Macron brought clarifications regarding the Hexagon’s nuclear deterrence policy. To the willing European nations, Macron offered to open a “strategic dialogue” regarding the role of France’s nuclear deterrence strategy in the overall security of the Continent and called for resolve and a surge in European defense spending. Macron declared that willing European nations may participate in nuclear forces deterrence wargames conducted by France. He did not detail what this association would mean though, but he specified it would not mean sharing the French nuclear deterrence capacity. Instead, it would lead to discussions on this capacity and about deepening the “European joint strategic culture”. So, the decision on launching a nuclear attack would remain a sovereign right of France. By refusing to place the French nuclear deterrence capacity under the EU, Macron revealed his answer to the question recently raised by a German parliamentarian: Why France, who speaks so much about a common European defense, does not place its nukes under European command? The openness to the other Europeans in the nuclear issue matches Macron’s insistence that Europe should consolidate its strategic autonomy safe from increasing global threats, and that European nations should stop relying solely on the United States and NATO for securing Europe’s defense: “France’s vital interests now have a European dimension”. Macron specified that Brexit would not change anything in the nuclear cooperation between France and Great Britain. Of course, strong cooperation in this sensitive field, shaped by financial constraints as well, will continue, since it is and it has always been cooperation between sovereign nations, regardless their EU membership. However, it is worth mentioning that the U.K. submits its nuclear capacities to NATO, while France does not, as France it is not part of NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group, the allied forum deciding the nuclear policy in the Alliance regarding the nuclear capacities at NATO disposal (those offered by the United States and United Kingdom).

Paris wants to capitalize on the fact that, after Brexit, France remained the only nuclear power in the EU (which raises concerns to certain European nations, who notice a “French military hegemony”). Paris wants to achieve that by forging a European defensive consensus around its nuclear deterrence capacities, which remain though, under its sovereign control. By comparison, the United States transfers part of its nuclear capacity to NATO nations, thus putting them under what is called the “American nuclear umbrella”. France questions the trans-Atlantic cohesion, the very fact that the United States would enter a nuclear war to defend the Europeans under a nuclear attack, although Washington never showed any sign of hesitation, when the USSR, and now Russia have constantly tested this commitment (most recently by breaching the INF, which led to its demise). Only a unitary response of NATO nations to Moscow’s deployment of SSC-8 missiles will persuade Russia that the Alliance possesses a real response to this new challenge. In the opposite case, the Kremlin has the option to blackmail Europe deprived of any American protection. In this context, President Macron’s message is not comforting: “The issue is not for Europeans to know whether they must defend themselves with or without Washington... but our security derives also, inevitably, from a greater capacity by Europeans to act autonomously.” He made a prediction which many European nations would not agree with: “To build the Europe of tomorrow, our norms can’t be under American control. Our infrastructures, our ports and airports can’t be controlled by Chinese capital, neither can our digital networks be under Russian pressure”. And the reason for not agreeing to such vision is that Macron put together two obvious threats, the Chinese economic hegemony and Russia’s aggressive actions (much larger than the one Macron moderately mentioned), with an element strictly necessary to the trans-Atlantic Alliance, common norms with the United States in defense. On the other hand, Macron stated that “France is confident that Europe’s long-term security derives from a strong alliance with the United States” (“But our security derives also, inevitably, from a greater capacity by Europeans to act autonomously!”).

Macron requested the Europeans to quit the spectator role in a world where a new arms race began, as they are to “develop a greater action capacity facing the global disorder” [2]. Current post-INF context includes the response NATO is about to decide regarding Russia’s deployment of SSC-8 missiles. A dangerous element appears in these circumstances, as Europe risks becoming the post-INF confrontation theater: Macron requested the Europeans to fully participate in future negotiations on arms control, associated to a “strategic dialogue” about the role of France’s nuclear deterrence capacity. Paris suggests that the Europeans, rallied around French nuclear forces kept under French sovereign control, coagulate as a separate entity between the United States and Russia in the moment when the Alliance prepares to respond to SSC-8 missile deployment: “make no mistake: if a negotiation and a wider treaty are possible, and we want it… the Europeans should be part of it and signatories of this future treaty, since it’s our territory being threatened” (he might talk about the New START too!).

French position might complicate the Alliance response[3] to the SSC-8 deployment, especially since Germany is concerned about a too hard response, and is toying with the idea of a memorandum proposed by the Kremlin (which would leave Russia in advantage, as Moscow has already operationalized missiles threatening Europe). At the end of the day, Macron asks the Europeans to quit the spectator attitude, although this stance is comfortable under the American nuclear umbrella, and he offers the Europeans only a… spectator role watching the French nuclear deterrence exercises. In fact, Emmanuel Macron just put the French nuclear deterrence doctrine into a European framework, but he failed to make it a European doctrine. Romania’s position is clear, but it is important to understand the French point of view, both the positive elements which can be identified, and the negative developments it can cause.


II. GERMANY / AUSTRIA. Small and middle-size EU contributors stick together.

The February 3rd meeting between Sebastian Kurz’s and Angela Merkel has a special importance not only for the two nations, but at European level too. Cynically returned from a failed alliance with the Austrian far right to the normality of an alliance with the ecologists, Kurz noticed that he shares a common view with Berlin regarding the European budget, but he also shares divergencies, especially on migration.  

Kurz and Merkel agreed on national contributions to the European budget, but not on migration (and the bilateral issue of transit tariffs). Kurz met sympathy from Angela Merkel, as both countries declined to pay more to the European budget. Regarding the EU medium-term budget draft, Merkel declared that the two countries share the same situation, being net contributors (Kurz: “we are in the same boat”). Facing the European Commission proposal of increasing national contributions to 1.11% of GDP, and the European Parliament proposal of increasing contributions to 1.3% of GDP, the two nations want their contributions to remain at the level of 1% of GDP. After announcing that Merkel might use her veto right during the February 20th meeting, he specified that “it can be called veto or not, but we need unanimity in the European Council. This has not been achieved”. However, Merkel pointed that the net contributor position might be flexible: “one cannot reach a compromise working only with the 1.00% proposal”.

In fact, Germany’s position will depend on how much of Berlin’s contribution returns to its eastern lands. The agreement between Austria and Germany has a European dimension because it represents much more, it is an agreement between large and small net contributors, and it is reached through the German connection.

On migration, Austria opposes a reopening of Sophia Operation of rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, in time, a common position might be identified here too, with Germany bringing migration to close-up plane, during its EU presidency.

For Romania, Austria remains the West’s sweet and sour fulcrum to Central Europe. As during the Austro-Hungarian empire, it is Vienna, not Budapest to steer Romania’s way towards western Europe, as Budapest cannot and does not want it, at least now). However, at the February 20th European meeting, Austria and Germany will support a position opposite to Romania’s interests, and what is left for us is to try preserving our share of EU budget after negotiations with… them, in order to receive the money we so much need for development.


III. HUNGARY. Budapest promises support to Igor Dodon regime and proposes a solution to Kyiv. 

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó visited Chişinău and Kyiv, with specific messages: in Chişinău, he offered an unconditional support for European integration to a pro-Russian Dodon regime which only simulates pro-European reforms; and in Kyiv he presented a set of prerequisites Ukraine should achieve in order to have Hungary out of the way in its cooperation with NATO and EU.

  1. The visit to Chişinău. On February 4th, Andrei Ciocoiu, Foreign Minister of Republic of Moldova (RM), and his Hungarian counterpart, Péter Szijjártó, signed two cooperation agreements: one regarding Hungary granting fourty scholarships for RM students, and one regarding diplomatic training and information exchange. Hungarian Foreign Ministry will assign two diplomats to help RM on European integration. These symbolic gestures fade though, when compared to Hungarian declared support for “European integration of RM led by current government” and a possible visit by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to Chişinău. An initiative regarding a strategic partnership between the two countries was also discussed, and Péter Szijjártó has underlined that Budapest “advocates for a stronger cooperation with RM and will unconditionally support its European roadmap” (although RM, under Dodon regime, only fakes a European roadmap, having a roadmap toward… Moscow instead; or is it precisely for this reason?).

Péter Szijjártó’s visit to Chişinău was blandly presented as an amplification of cooperation between Hungary and RM. However, this event shows the political support provided to Dodon regime in view of rescuing it from isolation, in circumstances where the EU, as well as United States and Romania notice that Chişinău fakes reforms, but instead RM government only consolidates an authoritarian regime steering toward the East, but on western money. The action represents an element of continuity in Budapest’s policy of supporting any anti-Romanian regime in RM. Nevertheless, beyond symbolic elements and a limited economic support[4], Budapest no longer has the strength it once had, to use its claimed quality of “expert in RM”  for broadcasting a false image of pro-Russian and anti-European regimes in Chişinău. Budapest used to offer such fake picture to Brussels and Berlin, but now Viktor Orbán regime itself is disparaged in these capitals. Finally, Hungarian policy in RM benefits Russia, Igor Dodon being just a tool used by the Kremlin to control RM.

Amplified by Viktor Orbán regime, Hungary’s policy of “encircling Romania” has no long-term chance, being doomed to fail under inclement realities[5]. This policy lacks the capacity to reach a high level, due to RM’s and Hungary’s limited capacities, as well as due to Budapest’s status within the EU. Therefore, such policy can be described as something between uncomfortable (“two countries friendly to Romania thinking how to damage Romania’s national interests”) and ridiculous (considering that a “European drop-out”, the Orbán regime, provides support for EU integration to a “duplicitous by default” Orbán regime, which thinks nothing about such integration, but about steering RM towards the East instead, thus deceiving the West as much as possible).

  1. The visit to Kyiv. On February 8th, Péter Szijjártó met Ukrainian Prime Minister Dmytro Kuleba. In the context of disputes linked to the controversial law regarding a reduction in the level of education in mother language, Szijjártó declared that Hungary wishes to improve its relations with Ukraine: "The Hungarian government is interested in renewing good neighborly relations with Ukraine". He announced he “made a couple of suggestions” during his meeting with Ukrainian education minister, aiming to solve the problem, and he insisted Ukraine follows them: "We want the Hungarians who live in Transcarpathia to have the opportunity to preserve their native language". Kuleba responded that Ukraine wants Transcarpathia to become "a success story, thanks to the joint efforts of Ukraine and Hungary".

Hungarian reaction to Kyiv’s education law voted by Poroshenko’s nationalist oligarchs seems legitimate from a human rights point of view, as the law imposes important restrictions[6] regarding minority education in mother tongue. However, Budapest’s reaction was disproportionate (for reference, see Romania’s moderate reaction), as Hungary went as far as blocking Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO and EU as much as it could. In current circumstances, when Ukrainians lives with the Damocles sword of Russian aggression above their heads, the way Budapest acted looks like Ukraine being backstabbed by a former declared friend. The way Budapest behaves with Kyiv was implemented before against other countries in the region[7]. However, Hungary’s image in the EU suffered a continuous degradation and the chances to surge pressure upon targeted countries diminished too. Nevertheless, despite the aggressivity of its diplomatic actions, Hungary has the argument of a standing and coherent policy in support of Hungarian minorities in neighboring countries, doubled by an effectively used capacity of economic support to those countries.


IV. KOSOVO. A new government is sworn in.

On February 3rd, the Vetëvendosje (Self-determination) – LDK (Democratic League of Kosovo) government, led by Albin Kurti, passed with a slim six-vote majority in the parliament in Pristina[8]. Kurti declared to the parliament that he would fight corruption and nepotism, which are so widespread that they bacame a threat to the country’s future economy, foreign investors included. The new governemnt includes several ministers having studied in the West: finance minister Besnik Bislimim is a professor of macro-economy who graduated in Germany. To achieve balance in the alliance, LDK representative Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu was elected president of the parliament, replacing Glauk Konjufca (Vetëvendosje), who became Foreign Minister. On February 7th, Albin Kurti reiterated his intention to lift the 100% tariffs imposed to products imported through Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina; he specified he would do this only after his government would have introduced reciprocity measures in trade, politics and economy: "For us, it is unacceptable not to have symmetry in our relations". Kurti specified he would be the one to lead the team negotiating with Serbia. But, in order to get negotiations started, he wants Serbia and Kosovo establish the discussion agenda, in the presence of EU representatives. Also, he announced his government would sue Serbia before the International Court of Justice for crimes Serbian forces are accused of committing during the 1998-99 war.  

Finally, Kosovo has a government. And we talk not only about another government, but a new type of government, who yanks “the old UCK guard” from power, but led by a prime minister who must show he can leap from rebel idealism to leader pragmatism. Very likely, American pressure was that to produce this result (either you comply with the current imperative and find a governing solution or we ditch you). Serbia seems to be prepared for negotiations: President Aleksandr Vučić sent the signal that his country was prepared for dialogue, being tired of so many conflicts which shook the Serbs; the only requirement is that Serbia should not be humiliated (made to further pay for what happened long time ago). The best proof that resuming negotiations is in sight is the reaction by Russian ambassador to Belgrade, who asked himself “Why the rush?” ("The urge for the quick solution of the Kosovo issue is highly concerning"). However, he rejected the idea that Russia is content, for the moment, with current situation, because not solving the Kosovo issue is convenient to Moscow’s policy in Serbia and, in general, in Western Balkans. The question is whether the Vetëvendosje – LDK government, Albin Kurti respectively, will be able to overcome radicalism and begin negotiations with Belgrade. The announced reciprocity measures and suing Serbia at the ICJ are not elements to prop such developments, although the government commited to lift tariffs on products imported through Serbia. Doubts loom large over Kurti himself, about being able to overcome past grudges (he was imprisoned for two years in Serbian prisons) and radicalism. However, after a long time, the silver lining of a chance for dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade is shining.  


V. Developments to track this Week 7 of 2020.

► UKRAINE / TURKEY. The visit paid by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Kyiv was an opportunity for Ankara to reaffirm its support for Ukraine. After this event, it is interesting to see the practical way Turkey will do that, but also Moscow’s reaction (on the backdrop of a general degradation of Russo-Turkish relations). The visit reflected the efforts by the two countries to find paths in the region for economic and political cooperation. Although Ankara always declared it does not recognize Crimea’s annexation by Russia, the way President Erdoğan saluted the guard of honor, with the Ukrainian salute “Glory to Ukraine”, made an unequivocal message to the Kremlin.

► BULGARIA. Everything seemed to be fine: the EU turned the blind eye to what is going on in Bulgaria (the EU report on a “successful MCV Report” presented as a  gift to a power which did nothing to provide more justice to Bulgarian citizens), and the Borisov government passed the glitch of non-confidence vote after a tale-telling scandal on corruption (which attacks citizen basic needs, in this case, the water). However, all of a sudden, problems began to pop up: 1) by request of Bulgarian Prosecution Office, a well-known oligarch who has showed off for decades he was above the law, was arrested in the UAE; 2) the Prosecution Office requested the Constitutional Court the possibility to investigate Bulgaria’s president, Rumen Radev, after evidence surfaced he committed a felony (granting a house to his… future wife), and a recording where he made incriminating statements; 3) in response, President Radev announced the “withdrawal of confidence” to Borisov government – quite a formal gesture ("This government and administration are leading to the collapse of the state and depriving us of our future as a nation... Today we are witnessing an acute crisis in governance at all levels, a lack of will to reform and fight corruption” is what Radev norices... only now); 4) shocking, the United States announced banning an important... Bulgarian judge from entring the United States! It seems that, in Sofia, “the sh… hit the fan”, and, although omerta is too strong to allow quick resolution, it seems that the time of keeping the appearances is gone, albeit because Washington lost patience with the high level of corruption in Bulgarian institutions. The EU (especially the European Populars) has no alternative but to see for itself these realities.

►RUSSIA / BELARUS. The February 7th Putin – Lukashenka meeting provided no remarkable results, and the fact that Lukashenka left Sochi skipping the press conference is a signal to prove that. Later, Dmitri Kozak announced that Russia would deliver oil to Belarus “at global market price”. It seems that Russo – Belarusian tensions entered the last lap.

► UNITED KINGDOM / EUROPEAN UNION. On February 3rd, the two sides presented their objectives and strategy for negotiations on the trade agreement. Boris Johnson presented the basic principle “sovereignty before economy”. He refused to benefit economic advantages from the EU in exchange for further observing EU norms. His objective was “a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada’s – or more like Australia’s”.   

► UNITED STATES / RUSSIA. After the failed impeachment (domestic political division reached unprecedented levels), a triumphant President Trump might lose his patience regarding Russia’s policy of supporting the Maduro regime in Venezuela, the effects thereof being able to reflect upon the whole package of Russo-American relations.

► SYRIA / TURKEY. Turkish troops confronted Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Idlib. After Damascus troops opened fire against Turkish Observation Points in Idlib and killed six Turkish soldiers, Ankara’s troops responded with artillery fire, which caused the death of thirteen Syrian soldiers. President Erdoğan warned Russia to keep off its military response. Ankara sent un ultimatum to Damascus to withdraw from Idlib until the end of this month, and Russia sent a delegation to Ankara, in view of identifying a solution.

► AZERBAIJAN. Parliamentary elections should unfold according to the plan, and Heydar Aliyev regime is working to secure its continuity through a series of “reforms”. Azerbaijan became a kind of border country, as Yugoslavia used to be during the Cold War, between “recognized autocracies”, and “nations which are judged according democratic standards”, a kind of “neutral country”, as was proved by the last meeting, in Baku, between Russian Chief of Defense General Valery Gerasimov, and SACEUR, General Tod Wolters.

[1] To the French generous liberalism accepting migration, Poland opposes its anti-migration policy, in a country without immigrants, in fact without Muslim immigrants, because Warsaw already accepted more than a million Ukrainians, most of them Orthodox (against which, historically speaking, the Polish Catholic state always had a hostile or dominant attitude).

[2] What disorder, since there are only regional powers at play in the MENA, in the vacuum left behind by the United States? But America did not and will not withdraw from Europe, therefore there is no disorder here! Even the Ukrainian crisis, which began when Kyiv wanted to sign the association agreement with the EU, there was the United States to stabilize the situation. The European reluctance regarding France’s policy, especially in Eastern Europe, but also in Germany, is stemming from a realistic understanding of their defense needs, not from a conservative stubbornness unable to reach the level of understanding requested by Paris!

[3] Against the usual habit, the Pentagon announced the deployment of low-yield W76-2 nuclear warheads on SLBM submarines (USS Tennessee was the first), according to the American deterrence strategy. This is a first response to the SSC-8 deployment by Russia. However, a ground component will follow, with ground-based ballistic and cruise missile, albeit having only conventional warheads (thus compensating the lower effect at target with better precision, quite convenient for the Operational Theater Europe). Then, the European NATO nations will decide, together, if and where to deploy these missiles. And this is where the problems Paris might cause start. Although nations like UK and Poland, but other as well, are ready to host American missiles, divergencies within NATO regarding missile deployment will diminish the deterrence capability of those missiles, for political reasons. 

[4] RM’s trade with the EU crosses Romania too, and the economic support for RM comes from the EU, United States and from the same Romania.

[5] Romania had and will continue to conduct a fair policy towards her Romanians in RM (to whom it directly provides financial support and citizenship, but ceasing to subsidize the Dodon regime), as Bucharest also provides for her Hungarian minority at home.

[6] Hungary’s reaction was designed to block an important instrument of Russian aggression, which used linguistic and cultural links to implement aggressive anti-Ukrainian policies in the ranks of Russian speaking Ukrainians. Russian propaganda went as far as denying Ukrainian national identity (Putin said “Ukrainians are not a people”).

[7] Hungary used to improve its relations with these countries only after they capitulated to Budapest pressure. Otherwise, Budapest persisted with hostile diplomatic actions, either open or in disguise.

[8] On February 2nd, the two parties, who won the elections in October last year, Vetëvendosje and LDK signed an agreement on forming a new government. Together, the two parties hold 61 seats in the parliament of a total 120. Anyway, according to Kosovar Constitution, any coalition government must also include a representative of an ethnic minority. Therefore, in the new coalition, groups representing ethnic Serbs, Turks, Boshniaks and other minorities are included.