Chaos or Cosmos? it is a simple choice
Geopolitics – Europe of Sarajevo 100 years later by Anis Bajrektarević
The book “Geopolitics – Europe of Sarajevo 100 years” gives to its readers an insightful analytical view for geopolitics in Europe and answers critical questions which influenced the European history and defines the current geopolitical developments. Dr. Anis Baijeracterviec, a philosopher, university professor and former carrier diplomat, wrote a book which could be characterized as his “handiwork of brain and heart”.
Bajrektarević’s intrusive analytical view examines the geopolitics in the international and European “strategic chessboard” during the last 100 years. The authors argues that the political landscape of today’s Europe had been actually conceived in the late 14th century, gradually evolving to its present shape. The relations of great powers, the role of energy- generating products in the modelling of global relations and the creations of present crisis points, the destiny of Near East states help the readers to fully understand the European history and to realized how the geopolitics shape the future of states and people.
For his previous book Geopolitics of Technology – Is There Life after Facebook, published by the New York’s Addleton, former Austrian Foreign Minister Peter Jankowitsch has said: “Insightful, compelling and original, this book is an exciting journey through the rocky field of geopolitics. It is also a big-thinking exploration of the least researched aspects of the discipline, which will leave no one indifferent. This book, written by an experienced lawyer and a former career diplomat, cleverly questions how we see the world, and acts as an eye opener.”
And, the World Security Network’s Senior Vice President, rt. Brig general of the German Army, close aid to the former NATO Gen-Secretary Manfred Wörner and author of 5 books on security, Dieter Farwick has noted: “The presence and future of our globalised, interwoven world has become so difficult to comprehend that many people refrain from even trying to understand it. It is the merit of Professor Anis Bajrektarevic to fill this gap with excellent analyses brought together in his brilliant book. It is a must read for those who want to get a better understanding of the complex world and who want to contribute to a better and safer world.”
“Anyone involved in the advancement of Geopolitics will treasure this book because it provides useful views on nowadays critical questions related to the geopolitical transition. Professor Anis treats technology, climate change, sovereignty, energy and multiculturalism in a new and impressive way” concludes on his previous book, Dr. Tiberio Graziani, President of the Rome-based IsAG Institute on Advanced Studies in Geopolitics.
Endorsing his newest book, ‘Geopolitics – Europe of Sarajevo 100 years later (Dobra Knjiga, bilingual English-Bosnia edition), Yale university doctor, philosophy of history professor Emanuel Paparella notes: “A year or so ago I began reading and pondering the political writings of Prof. Anis Bajrektarevic. Plenty of food for thought, I am still reading them. What attracted me to them was their invariable lucidity and coherence of thought buttressed by well reasoned and well balanced logical arguments culminating in insightful conclusions. This is quite rare nowadays and when encountered it comes across like a breath of fresh air. What prevails nowadays are political tracts that often espouse and promote an ideology, often fanatically defended tooth and nail and in- variably leading not to dialogue or symposiums but to diatribes generating much heat and little light… To be convinced of all this, all that the reader has to do is pick up Bajrektarevic book and begin reading. One will not be disappointed.”
Member of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, professor of political science of the Moscow’s Lomonosov University, Andrei V. Manoilo endorses the following about the book: How does the current geopolitical stage in Europe and worldwide look like? How can we define current international order and power constellation? Is it a multilateral world or is it Pax Americana? Or do we experience “end of history” after the collapse of bilateral world? All these issues are thoroughly examined in the book of Prof. Anis Bajrektarevic “Europe of Sarajevo 100 years later – From WWI to www” which is a complex study on geopolitical affairs in Europe in its historical dimension. It’s a concise description of paradigmatic shifts in the international agenda during the last 100 years. The book gives us a key for understanding the origins of pan-European ideas which stipulated the formation of the EU and well beyond.”
Finally, the editor of this book, one of the leading European experts on the medieval Balkans, member of the Academy of Science prof. Lovrenovic concludes in his endorsement:
‘Not many people have enlightened the dissolution not only of Yugoslavia and East but also of a system of values like professor Bajrektarević. Since the following texts bring the necessary geopolitical context, where the author is more than undisputed, essential for the understanding of behavioural political practices of liberal democracies, from the 1990s until the present day, they can help us on our path of recovering the self- confidence and self-esteem – those categories without which there is no meaningful human existence. If we forgot them, this book will serve as our reminder…The author decodes the relations of great powers, the role of energy- generating products in the modelling of global relations and the creations of present crisis points, the destiny of Near East states which pay the high price of their geopolitical position. He is interested in the ancient and deep historical processes which gain their full meaning in the present light, the European and global peace treaties, constants and variables of history: the domino-effects of modern history. His views on contemporary history of Europe and the World are situated within evolutional currents of humanity, providing us with a specific image of the human development and the planet which the humans inhabit. We spend, arrogantly and irresponsibly, creating carbon in the name of profit, the history of future. “How did we” – asks the author – “develop this necrophilic obsession? How did we manage to focus our human and economic development on carbons, and steadily develop the so-called ‘technologies’ that apparently take us right into a collision course with the universe and with everything that surrounds our biosphere?”… Our history, claims professor Bajrektarević, is a history of “geopolitical imperative”. “In other words” – the author stresses – “our crisis cannot only be ecological, as it never was financial – our crisis must be moral”… We needed a history of South Eastern Europe like this, within the history of the World, to expand our narrowed horizons and to, at least for a moment, reduce the anxiety of transition which – does anyone know this – leads: where?
We live in a Europe of genocide and unification: from WWI to www. as the author states, the carrier pigeon was exchanged by the Internet but, how did we change within ourselves and how have we prepared for the technological advance without which our life overnight became unthinkable? Comparing the psychological consequences of Gulag and Google the author concludes: “This is a cyber–iron cage habitat: a shiny but directional and instrumented, egotistic and autistic, cold and brutal place; incapable of vision, empathy, initiative or action. It only accelerates our disconnection with a selfhood and the rest. If and while so, is there any difference between Gulag and Goo(g)lag – as both being prisons of free mind?”…
All of these, and other numerous issues, find their sensible answer on the following pages. The historical questions of yesteryear in the interpretation of the author become the questions of the present, tomorrow – existential, planetary: questions of the threatening ecologic holocaust. Therein lies the attraction of this book – in the balanced combination of micro and macro perspectives, in an interdisciplinary approach to a complex historical course. From its first to its last page, the reader feels the erudition of a Wissenschaftler who is interested in a scientific view of the World, but a view which does not remain on the level of description but rather offers us concrete solutions – can anybody hear them? The author’s knowledge captivates and mesmerises: historiography, the history of ideas, religions, civilizations, art, literature, poetry, modern technologies – deep insights into historical mechanisms represented in a simple way that is accessible to the average reader, and all of this with the “implacability towards hypocrisy and the falsehoods of sacred things”, in the spirit of Erasmus of Rotterdam. “Why do we stubbornly insist on an inadequate civilizational navigation?!”, is the question which permeates the very essence of our advance, but ethically fallen civilization. The man has, it seems, created history which he cannot control any more but, on the contrary, it controls him (imprisoned by geopolitical imperative) – this is one of the conclusions which comes after reading professor Bajrektarević’s book.
“Chaos or Cosmos” – says the author – “it is a simple choice”.’
Anis H. Bajrektarević, Anis H. Bajrektarević, professor and chairperson for international law and global political studies, Uni- versity IMC-Krems, Austria. This native Sarajevan, besides this very title, authors the book FB – Geo- politics of Technology (Addleton, New York 2013), and the forthcoming No Asian century. He is both teaching and research professor on subjects such as the Geopolitics; International and EU Law; Sustainable Development (institutions and instruments). On the subject Geopolitical Affairs alone, professor has over 1,000 teaching hours at his university as well as in many countries on all meridians. His writings are frequently published in over 50 countries in all five continents, and translated in some 20 languages worldwide. He lives in Vienna, Austria.
EU’s Energy and Politic Approach to Indonesia: Between Hate and Love
Authors: Akhmad Hanan and Mayora Bunga Swastika
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Europe has been forced to seek alternative energy sources other than Russian gas. Previously, Russia supplied around 40% of Europe’s gas needs through pipelines owned by Russia’s Gazprom. However, Russia decided to cut their gas supply to Europe as a counter action of US and its ally economic sanction. As a result, Europe has left no choice but to buy expensive LNG, optimize renewable energy sources, and tap other coal-producing countries.
Winter came, and it tormented Europeans even more. The energy scarcity due to the absence of Russian gas put many European countries into crisis. They had to pay higher for alternative energy sources as a domino effect of the Russia-Ukraine war. They also decided to utilize coal, contradicting their robust commitment towards energy transition goals and the Paris Agreement. Europe’s decision to turn back on coal has also altered the global energy transition’s geopolitical landscape. Europe is seen as a region supporting accelerated energy transitions and encouraging countries outside the region to follow suit. However, currently, Europe is taking steps contrary to efforts to accelerate the energy transition.
At the same time, Indonesia got their windfall profit through the European situation due to the rising coal price in the market. Europe has been one of Indonesia coal exporters, and following the disruption in Europe’s energy supply, Indonesia attempted to capitalize on the situation by increasing export quotas to Europe. This strategy was taken since Indonesia is one of the world’s largest coal producing countries.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade reports coal exports to Europe reached 6.6 million tons in December 2022. Previously, Indonesia only exported less than 1 million tons per year to the same region at the same time. The main reason was some European countries such as Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands, and Germany increased their demand for Indonesian coal significantly.
Additionally, Indonesia became the top global coal exporter in 2022, with a total of 469 million tons, 9% higher than the previous year. Indonesia used to export coal to developing countries, mainly in Asia. As a result, Indonesia’s state revenue exceeded the targets by almost three times higher than expected. The Indonesia’s ministry of finance calculated the realization of state revenue reached 7.8 million USD, 2.8 million USD higher, and it was highly contributed from the coal trading.
Relations between Indonesia and Europe regarding energy commodities are indeed often tug-of-war. Hitherto, the European Union’s relationship with Indonesia was strained due to Indonesia’s decision on palm oil and nickel commodities. Indonesia’s decision to utilize palm as a biofuel source was feared to increase land use change in tropical forests and reduce its capacity to be a natural based solution in climate change mitigation.
Indonesia’s decision to ban nickel export was also being challenged by the European Union at the WTO in November 2019. The EU claimed this decision was unfairly harming its stainless steel industry. However, Indonesia insisted this decision was made for national development. From Indonesia’s point of view, Indonesia’s decision is one of the efforts to protect its national interests to fulfill domestic supply. Indonesia’s downstream plans will be threatened if Indonesia lifts the nickel export ban as desired by the EU. The Indonesian government has a target to build a nickel smelter in Indonesia. However, Indonesia lost the EU lawsuit regarding the nickel export ban.
Indonesia-Europe relations and Indonesia’s defeat in the nickel export ban lawsuit show that the issue of international relations is still closely interdependent. A country cannot only pay attention to its domestic interests but also pay attention to common interests. In this case, Indonesia and EU benefit from each other when conducting economic cooperation, especially export-import. This can be seen from the benefits when coal exports to the EU increase. Of course, the benefits of this cooperation will not be obtained if the two countries do not cooperate.
Apart from Indonesia’s interest in securing domestic supply, Indonesia should be able to take opportunities to cooperate with other countries, including the EU, in the energy sector. Cooperation between countries that cannot be avoided in the era of globalization should be the foundation for Indonesia in making and carrying out foreign policy. Indonesia must find a win-win solution in its relations with other countries because doing protection in this era is not a solution.
Europe’s relations with Africa and Asia are on the brink of collapse, and Russia is benefiting
More than one year since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the world remains caught in the middle. Against a backdrop of high energy and food prices, ravaging inflation, social unrest and fears of another global recession, Western and Russian blocs are once again vying for support from nations of the developing world.
Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz, Sergei Lavrov, Qin Gang, and Anthony Blinken are just some of the names that have made high-profile visits to Africa in the last 12 months. All have largely focused on cooperation and trade, yet each has done so with a discourse reflecting a kind of Cold War reboot, with Ukraine as one of its most prominent symptoms.
Each in their own way, armed with their respective propaganda, these superpowers wish for nations of Africa and Asia to pick a side. Yet, unlike the previous century, those nations cannot so easily be made to choose, nor should they have to. Russia understands this. The West does not.
It’s no secret that Africa has been reluctant to overtly condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine, or to participate in Western efforts to sanction and isolate the warring country. Instead, African and Asian nations have continued to welcome these longstanding partners with open arms – widely condemning the war, but not Russia.
In Malawi, for instance, Russia’s deliveries of tens of thousands of tonnes of fertiliser amidst global shortages are seen as a gift from heaven by struggling farmers. Malawi’s minister of agriculture shook hands with the Russian ambassador, describing Russia gratefully as “a true friend”. Russia’s announced plans to send 260,000 tonnes of fertiliser to countries across Africa, is certain to spread similar sentiments.
In my country Congo-Brazzaville, the government signed five major cooperation agreements with Russia in the midst of its war with Ukraine, including for the construction of a new oil pipeline and to enhance military cooperation.
This charm offensive, prominently led by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who has visited South Africa, Eswatini, Angola, Eritrea, Mali, Sudan and Mauritania just since January, is already nourishing pro-Russian sentiment throughout the continent, and stands in sharp contrast to the damp squib that was President Emmanuel Macron’s recent African adventure.
In his press conference with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President, Felix Tshisekedi, in what was perhaps the most deaf-tone faux pas of his entire trip, President Macron was repeatedly asked to condemn Rwanda’s support for M23 rebels causing havoc in eastern DRC – a situation that closely resembles Russia’s covert support for Donbass separatists in recent years. For all intents and purposes, he failed to do so.
Instead, when a French journalist quizzed him on former Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s disparaging mention of an “African-style compromise” in relation to President Tshisekedi election in 2019, Macron proceeded to lecture the Congolese President on freedom of the press – much to the disbelief of those witnessing the scene.
Despite President Macron’s effusive rhetoric about ‘new relationships’ and ‘new starts’, his outburst was yet another bitter reminder of Europe’s longstanding paternalistic and dissonant attitude towards the continent. This is the same attitude whereby decades of European political and military influence on the continent have failed to generate meaningful progress when they did not actively undermine those efforts. Africans are wise to this and refuse to take it anymore, as evidenced by the growth in anti-French sentiment in West Africa. Russia, China and others, though far from being without reproach, are merely seizing the presented opportunities.
Just as the share of EU aid going to Africa has declined significantly, similar problems are afoot with Europe’s relations in Asia. Its share of Southeast Asian merchandise trade, excluding China, fell by over a third over the last two decades. Western Europe was the destination for less than a tenth of Malaysian, Singaporean, South Korean and Taiwanese exports in 2021. Russia is again moving fast to fill the gap, adopting China as its main trading partner, and consistently exporting oil and gas to eager Asian buyers, rather than to the West. When Russia suspended its double taxation treaties with “unfriendly” countries around the world in mid-March, most Southeast Asian countries were exempted from this measure.
Moreover, Russia has over the last decade become the largest arms supplier to the region, recently running joint naval exercises with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia have all rejected imposing sanctions on Moscow, whilst Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia to improve agricultural trade earlier this year.
One cannot fault these nations for engaging in partnerships and cooperation with international partners, in the interest of addressing their most urgent societal priorities. Nor can one fault African and Asian countries for taking with a pinch of salt a discourse on international values and change, when this supposed change stems not from recognition of current flaws, but from the impositions of emergent global trends.
What lessons can be given about territorial integrity and justice, when the events of 2011 in Libya, as well as their enduring consequences, remain traumatically fresh in African minds, or when the posture of African countries relative to the war in Ukraine is almost identical to that of Europe relative to the conflict in the eastern provinces of the DRC?
What lessons should be drawn from European courts proceeding to the seizure of Malaysian assets and properties worth $15 billion – including lucrative oil and gas assets – based on a questionable arbitration authorised by a Spanish arbitrator facing criminal prosecution from the Spanish authorities? And who will really benefit, given that this claim on sovereign territories, derived from a mid-nineteenth agreement between a long-vanished Sultanate and a colonial-era British company, is funded by unknown third-party investors?
The willingness of European courts to confiscate the resources and assets of a sovereign Asian nation on such flimsy grounds is not lost on observers in Africa and across the developing world.
Whatever the answer to these questions may be, it is evident that relations between the old and new worlds will continue to strain as long as underlying assumptions and beliefs do not evolve. Specifically, change is needed in those attitudes that continue to consider developing nations as oblivious to the many contradictions of rhetoric and practice that characterise the world as we know it – whether in terms of: a system of aid and trade that nourishes the imbalances and ills it purports to address; a discourse on international law and values that crumbles in the face of past transgressions and current drives for reforms; or even negotiations on climate finance in which urgency stops when economic interests begin.
The Western world can only reverse this trajectory by seeking out a genuinely new footing in its relations with the countries of Africa and Asia – challenging its own assumptions and understandings about what a respectful partnership between equally legitimate nations truly means. This is not about paying lip-service to ideals struggling to remain convincing, nor is it about entirely conceding these ideals on the altar of economic pragmatism.
Rather this means accepting a due share of responsibility for the current state of affairs, understanding expectations for the future, being willing to make real concessions, and aligning discourse with dollars and deeds. In doing so, the Western world will reassure those of us that continue to believe in the promises of the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that these were not merely pretences to maintain hegemony in the face of existential threats, but rather an enduring vision for a better world that remains worth fighting for today.
A Muscular U.S. Foreign Policy and Changing Alliances
Imagine a country rich in fossil fuels and another nearby that is Europe’s premier industrial power in dire need of those resources — is that a match made in heaven?
Not according to Joe Biden who quashed it as if it was a match made in hell. Biden was so much against any such rapprochement that to end all prospects of a deal, he ordered the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines. Two out of four lines were severely damaged, about 50 meters of them and Russia chose not to conduct repairs. Instead,it is pumping its gas up through Turkey.
So far, Russia has not responded to this act of war but a leader can not afford to lose face domestically or internationally, and one may not be surprised if an American facility or ship suffers an adverse event in the future.
In the meantime, Russia has become fast friends with China — the latter having its own bone to pick with Biden. China, a growing industrial giant, has almost insatiable energy needs and Russia stands ready to supply them. An informal deal has been agreed upon with a formal signing ceremony on March 20, 2023.
So who won this fracas? Russia gets to export its gas anyway and China, already generating the world’s highest GDP on a purchasing-power-parity basis, has guaranteed itself an energy source.
Of course there is Ukraine where Biden (like the US in Vietnam) is ready to fight to the last Ukrainian. Despite a valiant resistance, they are not winning, for Russia continues to solidify its hold on Ukraine’s east, most recently by taking Soledar and capturing parts of the transport hub Bakhmut itself.
And then there is Saudi Arabia: hitherto a staunch U.S. ally, it is now extending a hand of friendship to Iran, which its previous king used to call the snake in the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia is keenly aware of the vassal-like manner in which the U.S. has treated Germany, its ally with the largest economy in Europe, over its desire to buy cheap gas from Russia. The deal was nixed and observers estimate it cost Germany a couple of points of GDP growth. Such a loss in the U.S. would translate to almost zero growth.
India used to be a neutral country between the great powers. In fact, its first leader after independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a leading figure in the non-aligned movement. It is now being tugged towards the US.
The latest tug is ICET or the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies. Its purpose is to find ways to engage through “innovation bridges” over the key areas of focus. This coordination between the two countries is to cover industry, academia and government.
On the other hand, India’s arch rival Pakistan used to be in the US orbit for decades. Now it is virtually a Chinese client state even though for a time, particularly during the Afghan war, it was a source of much help for the US.
Such are the vagaries of alignments in a multi-polar world, particularly when under pressure from major powers.
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