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HUNDRED YEAR QUESTIONS FOR EUROPE

HUNDRED YEAR QUESTIONS FOR EUROPE

Over the weekend, two very different centennial celebrations took place in Europe, each highlighting a huge challenge facing the European Union.

In France, dozens of world leaders gathered in and around Paris to commemorate the armistice that ended World War I. There, French President Emmanuel Macron embraced German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a moving gesture of once-improbable historical reconciliation and warned about the dangers of resurgent nationalism. Macron's words were an implicit rebuke to the America First policy of US President Donald Trump who, for his part, did not attend some parts of the weekend's events and sat impassively as Macron spoke.


Meanwhile, across Europe in Poland, some 250,000 people took part in a march through the capital, Warsaw, to mark 100 years of the country's modern independence. The event, tied to far-right organizations, was controversial from the start. After previous Independence Day marches attracted sizable contingents of right-wing extremists and racist groups, Warsaw's liberal city government sought unsuccessfully to ban the event this year. The right-wing Law and Justice party, which governs Poland and has recently clashed with the EU over democratic norms and rules, sponsored its own march along the same route.

In the end, both marches went ahead, with government officials heading an official procession of people chanting patriotic slogans and waving Polish flags, followed by a smaller number of nationalists and far-right extremists setting off flares, chanting extremist slogans, and waving the flags of banned interwar fascist groups (see the photo above, sent to us from the front by filmmakers Mike Tucker and Petra Epperlein).

Taken together, Paris and Warsaw highlight the daunting challenges facing the European Union in the twenty-first century.

In Paris, the tensions with Mr. Trump, and his aloofness from the festivities, nicely encapsulate the EU's main external challenge: like it or not, the continent can no longer depend on the United States as fully and firmly as it once did. President Trump has raised hard questions about the wisdom and benefits of the US continuing to guarantee European security and underpin the conditions for the continent's prosperity.

Meanwhile, in Warsaw, the primary internal challenge for the EU was on full display: a resurgent nationalism that chafes against the rules and shared values of the 28-member bloc. It's no accident that nationalists marching in Warsaw were joined by like-minded groups from Italy and Hungary.

Can pro-EU leaders like Mr. Macron and (during her limited time left in office) Ms. Merkel meet these twin challenges? Or will the EU eventually collapse under their combined weight? As the history commemorated in Paris reminds us: there is nothing inevitable about a Europe that is increasingly integrated, peaceful, and free.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region, stretching for more than 2,000 miles, is home to the world's highest mountains. The mountain range is also home to the world's third-largest concentration of snow and ice, earning it the moniker the third pole; only the North and South Poles contain more. The glaciers of the Hindu Kush Himalayas are the main source of fresh water for around two billion people living in the region. However, by the end of this century, two-thirds of that snow and ice could be lost because of climate change. A network of data scientists and environmentalists around the world, and on the ground in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, are working to understand the extent of glacial melting in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, its effects and what can be done to minimize its impact. To read more visit Microsoft on the Issues.

When Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday — plunging the country into chaos as it faces once-in-a-generation public health and economic crises — he became the fourteenth Italian to vacate the prime ministership in three decades. (For contrast, Germany has only had three chancellors since 1982, and France has had five presidents.)

But Conte, who had no previous political experience until he was tapped for the top job in 2018, is not so much throwing in the towel as he is taking a massive gamble that President Sergio Mattarella will again appoint him to head Conte's third coalition government in less than three years.

The recent dysfunction is unique even within the context of instability-prone Italian politics. How did Italy get here, and what might come next?

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

What did you think of Xi Jinping's speech at the virtual World Economic Forum?

Well, his last speech at the real World Economic Forum in Davos, I remember being there four years ago, and given that Trump had just been elected, Xi Jinping gives this big, "We want to stand up and be leaders while the Americans are doing America first." And generally speaking, was probably the most important speech of the week. People liked it. This is a pretty different environment, not so much because Trump has gone, but rather because support and belief in Xi Jinping is pretty low. I will say one thing that was generally well responded to was the call not to enter into a new Cold War. Anybody in the business community generally supports that. There's so much integration and interdependence between the US and the Chinese economies that when Xi Jinping says, "We need to find ways to continue to work together," I mean, this is the pro-globalization audience he's speaking to. They generally agree. But otherwise, the message fell pretty flat. So, the idea that China is going to be globally useful on issues of leadership, especially when it comes to anything that might threaten Beijing's sovereignty, they check global norms at the door. And a few examples of that, when Xi called for support for the rules-based international order, that's in obvious contrast with China's violation of the one country, two systems framework in Hong Kong. And they said, "Well, that's a domestic issue." Well, actually that's not what your agreement was with the British handover. And just because you're more powerful doesn't mean that norm doesn't matter anymore.

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Over the weekend, some 40,000 people in Moscow and thousands more across Russia braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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Angry farmers take Indian fort: In a major and violent escalation of ongoing protests over new agriculture laws, thousands of Indian farmers broke through police barricades and stormed the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on Tuesday. At least one protester died in the chaos, while the government shut down internet service in parts of the capital. Farmers and the government are still deadlocked over the new laws, which liberalize agriculture markets in ways that farmers fear will undercut their livelihoods. The government has offered to suspend implementation for 18 months, but the farmers unions are pushing for a complete repeal. Given that some 60 percent of India's population works in agriculture, the standoff has become a major political test for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP party.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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