Sebastian Schäffer on Asharq News about EUCO and Ukraine

IDM Director Sebastian Schäffer spoke on the Arabic-language television channel Aharq News about the results of the European Summit held in Brussels on 21 March regarding the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. The Saudi Arabian TV station also invited a speaker from Moscow, who started by expressing his frustration about his frozen pension fund with Citi Bank. Schäffer stated that it is interesting to hear that suddenly rule of law is demanded, while the Russian Federation has violated international law in Ukraine for more than a decade now.  

The legal possibilities of using Russian frozen assets in the EU to finance weapons for Ukraine among other things is currently debated among the Heads of State or Government in the Belgian capital. There seems to be a broader consensus, at least among the German political parties, to use the interest resulting from those assets, which adds up to around three billion euros per year.  

While it is only natural that decisions among 27 sovereign countries take longer, time is not on the side of Ukraine. However, the Russian Federation is not as united as the result of the presidential “elections” might suggest. Schäffer said that there are signs of the biggest manipulations in Russia for nearly 25 years. Vladimir Putin would of course still have won, but by a much lesser margin.  

The guest from Moscow argued that the economy of the Russian Federation is strong despite the sanctions and has been transformed to outproduce the West; he also declared that the attacks on his country from Ukraine will only further unite the Russian population behind Putin. The IDM Director responded that this might be the case, but even with the uncertainty of the support coming from the United States and the possibility of Trump returning to the White House next year, the EU member states have at least started to recognise the need to do more. As the Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas suggested, if every country provides at least 0.25 percent of its gross domestic product for military aid, the Ukrainians could outstrip Russia.  

Schäffer further mentioned that with all the lamenting coming from Moscow, we should not forget that the Kremlin heinously attacks the civilian population in Ukraine each and every day, causing death and destruction. They are solely responsible and have to face the consequences. 

How likely is Armenia to join the EU?

Experts comment for ED News on a possible membership application from Yerevan, among them IDM Director Sebastian Schäffer.

You can read the whole article here.

The article is also available in Azerbaijani.

Daniel Martínek on the recent worrying developments in Slovakia

Daniel Martínek (IDM) analyses Slovakia’s recent democratic decline under the new government coalition led by SMER party. Robert Fico’s return marks systemic changes, including dismantling the Special Prosecutor’s Office and ideological battles eroding democratic institutions. With international isolation looming and media crackdowns, President Čaputová emerges as a democratic bulwark. The upcoming presidential election becomes pivotal, determining Slovakia’s democratic trajectory amidst Fico’s power grab. 

Read the article in German on DerStandard: Slowakei: Robert Ficos Comeback und der Niedergang der Demokratie 

Read the article in English on Eastblog: In the Shadows of Illiberalism: Slovakia’s Democratic Struggle under Fico’s Resurgence 

IDM Director Sebastian Schäffer at DW News on the situation in Transnistria

On 28 February 2024, a congress in the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria asked Moscow for support. A day later, the Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, fuelling speculations over a response or even recognition from the Kremlin. Before the speech, IDM Director Sebastian Schäffer spoke with DW News and stated that he is not very concerned about a possible development on the ground, as this would currently be impossible from a logistical point of view. As the Moldovan President Maia Sandu stated during an interview at a summit held in Albania yesterday, “Moldova is safe today, thanks to the bravery of the Ukrainian soldiers”. If the overall situation changes, this could also have implications for Chișinău. Nevertheless, despite the historic sentiment in Transnistria towards the Soviet Union as well as the Russian language, economic factors should also be taken into account, Schäffer stated. Over the past decade, more goods are exported to the EU than to the Russian Federation. In the medium term, dependency on gas and electricity supply – which is still vital for Moldova coming mainly through the Transnistrian region – will also be alleviated due to countermeasures imposed after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Vigilance is required, but fear of an escalation is still premature according to the IDM Director.

Péter Techet on the Mafia state and Clan Loyalty in Orbán’s Hungary for “taz”

In the German newspaper “TAZ,” Peter Techet, research associate at IDM, wrote an op-ed regarding the current scandal in Hungary (following the resignation of the President of the State), i.e. the revelations from a Fidesz insider about the regime as a “family business.” Techet argues that Hungary is a post-communist Mafia state: the Orbán regime is not held together by an ideology, but by pure clan loyalty.

The article can be read here.

Sebastian Schäffer for Fair Observer: Make Sense of the New Central Europe and the EU

Sebastian Schäffer discussed about what is going on in Central Europe with Fair Observer since the region has seen a rise in populist, nationalist political parties that seemingly stand against the values of the EU. Member states like Hungary are even backsliding on democracy. Hungary has blocked some financial aid from entering Ukraine as it enters its third year of war with Russia.

You can watch the whole interview here.

 

Péter Techet about the consequences of resignation of the Hungarian president for ARTE

In the evening news of the Franco-German cultural channel ARTE, Péter Techet, research associate at the IDM, discussed whether the resignation of the Hungarian president and the criticism from a former Fidesz insider could endanger Viktor Orbán’s power.

You can watch the statement here in German (after 8:00) or in French (after 7:47).

Péter Techet on the mafia state in Hungary

In the Italian daily newspaper “Domani,” Péter Techet, research associate at the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM), was also interviewed about the current scandal in Hungary, which occurred following the resignation of President Katalin Novák. An insider from the Fidesz party revealed in an interview: The regime operates like a mafia state, where fear reigns and everything is controlled. Techet commented to “Domani” that the Fidesz-insider, who was married to the former Justice Minister of Hungary, described a regime “where the Stockholm Syndrome prevails: everyone, even those at the top of the power, are controlled and abused, the state functions like a family mafia.”

The article (behind a paywall) can be read in Italian here.

Péter Techet on the Hungarian “Bill on the Protection of Sovereignty”

In the current issue of the Swiss magazine “Religion und Gesellschaft in Ost und West,” Péter Techet analyzes the reasons and dangers of the “Bill on the Protection of Sovereignty,” which was passed in December in the Budapest Parliament. Techet explains how and why the government parties uses legal tools in order to restrict the opposition parties. The entire article can be read here.

Milliarden für die Ukraine: EU-Gipfel in Brüssel

Die Historikerin Daniela Apaydin vom Institut für den Donauraum und Mitteleuropa (IDM) beurteilt die Erwartungen an den EU-Sondergipfel an diesem Donnerstag in Brüssel. Dabei geht es um die Frage: „Wie geht es weiter mit der EU-Unterstützung für die Ukraine?“

Sehen Sie sich das Interview hier an.