March 19, 2019

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit

Chine Nouvelle / SIPA / Scanpix

British prime minister Theresa May has said that Brexit means Brexit.

As this month’s issue of Diplomaatia is published, it is still unclear whether the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 29 March (as the Lisbon Treaty prescribes) or postpone its exit. Neither is it certain whether the UK will leave with or without a withdrawal agreement. The first option seemed the more likely in early March. In any case, the lion’s share of Diplomaatia’s March issue is dedicated to Brexit.

Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator on Brexit, writes about the Commission’s view of the difficult relationship between the UK and the EU.

Diplomaatia’s Editor-in-chief, Erkki Bahovski, looks at the historical and political context due to which the UK decided to leave the EU. “We must recall the premise on the basis of which the United Kingdom decided to join the EC. It was purely economic. The UK was the leading force in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but when London saw how the loosely associated EFTA’s economy was growing slower than that of the more closely integrated European Economic Community (EEC), it decided to accede to the latter,” he says.

Ramon Loik, research fellow at the International Centre for Defence and Security, writes about security issues related to the UK.

Other articles in this issue mainly explore Eastern and Southern Europe. Ethnologist Aimar Ventsel writes about social undercurrents in Kazakhstan. “One thing the Kazakhs are increasingly critical about is Nazarbayev’s inability to build Kazakhstan as a nation of the Kazakhs,” he writes. “First and foremost, the government hasn’t managed to teach Kazakhstan’s Russian population (35–40% of residents) Kazakh, despite resounding campaign slogans and reports about the policy of successfully implementing the Kazakh language.”

Historian Vladimir Sazonov explores the difficult relationship between Russia and Belarus. “Many have recently been talking about the Kremlin’s attempts to ‘swallow’ Belarus[i],” he writes. “Russia’s chief ideologist, Vladislav Surkov, has been trying to outline the country’s ‘new’ ideological direction, recently claiming that ‘the state of Russia will continue to exist and will be a new type of country the likes of which we have never seen before’.”

Matti Maasikas, Undersecretary for European Affairs at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, writes about Macedonia’s new name. Anna Tiido, non-resident fellow of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, reviews recent publications.

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