European Union Geopolitical Watch – From November 12 to November 18, 2022

European Union Geopolitical Watch Team: Audrey Moisan, Florent Guichard, Yanis Kourrad, Antoine Bézier, Etienne Mathieu

11/13/2022: In the second round of presidential elections Slovenia elected its first woman as president. -Florent Guichard-

This Sunday, November 13 was the second round of the presidential election in Slovenia. The latter saw Natasa Pirc Musar who was running on an independent label with the support of the European Greens and the Youth Party being elected with 53.88% of the votes cast. She had won 26.88% of the vote in the first rounds.

Opposite her, Anze Logar, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and candidate of the Slovenian Democratic Party. The representative of the presidential party in place was beaten despite his large advantage in the first round (33.95% of the votes cast) with 46.14% of the votes in the second round.

This result should have serious consequences for the Conservative Party, which had already suffered a heavy defeat in the legislative elections in April.

The other major fact of this historic election is that it brings for the first time a woman to the presidency of the Republic of Slovenia. This result is all the stronger as Natasa Pirc Musar ran without the support of any established party. Questioned by AFP and Euronews, the former candidate also indicated during the campaign that she wanted to strengthen the role of the president by indicating that “the president cannot be neutral, he must have an opinion”, and be “a moral authority”, whereas until now the latter had a symbolic role.

11/14/2022: The Council of the European Union continues its restrictive measures against Iran. -Audrey Moisan-

On November 14, 2022, during the G20 meeting in Bali, the European Union decided to add 29 Iranian individuals and 3 entities to a restrictive list in connection with the Iranian regime’s failure to respect human rights.  This list is in addition to the one published on 17 October by the Union, which named 11 persons and 4 entities for restrictive measures on European territory. Among those sanctioned is the Iranian Interior Ministry (Euractiv, Euronews).

These measures against Iran are in reaction to three different elements. The first concerns the events surrounding Mahsa Amini and the issue of women’s rights in the country. The second one, related to the same events, takes a position on human rights in general. Finally, the third adopts a different approach as it concerns the sending of Iranian drones to support the Russian army in the conflict with Ukraine. (Council of the European Union, Euractiv).

In addition, the G20 was also an opportunity for the Council of the European Union to reiterate its position on the use of chemical weapons in conflicts, and to reaffirm its sanctions against countries that have clearly used them (Council of the European Union).

These restrictive measures include a visa ban for some of the defendants, as well as an asset freeze.

11/15/2022: Missile explosion in Poland raises questions about the perpetrator. -Yanis Kourrad-

On 15 November last, two people died as a result of a missile that landed in Poland, in the village of Przewodów, less than ten kilometres from the Ukrainian border. The Polish Foreign Ministry had initially claimed that it was a Russian-made missile, but then retracted its statement, asking the Poles to remain calm and announcing a few hours later that it might have been a missile from an S-300 defence system launched by Ukraine at an incoming Russian missile. This is what was reported by the Associated Press and some American officials who said that it was “highly likely” that Ukraine was the source of the missile.

Nevertheless, this case of force majeure led NATO ambassadors to meet the next day in Brussels, at the request of Poland and under Article 4 of the treaty which gives members of the politico-military organisation the opportunity to “raise any matter of concern, in particular with regard to the security of a member country”, according to an article published on this subject by the European media Euractiv

The Polish government, wishing to avoid any direct confrontation, preferred to recall in a press statement that “there was no indication that this was a personal attack against Poland” and that it was probably an “isolated incident”. If the missile was found to be of Russian origin, it would mean that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which invokes the principle of common and collective defence that “recognises that an armed attack against one or more member countries will be considered as an attack against all countries of the alliance”, would be activated. 

At the European level, the Visegrad countries – Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland itself – have not failed to show support for Warsaw. In this respect, the Slovak Prime Minister, Eduard Heger, expressed on Twitter his country’s “deep solidarity and full support”, as did the Czech Prime Minister, Petr Giala, who said she was ready to support “the EU and NATO”, according to a tweet from her. 

Similarly, this incident did not fail to make the international community react, leading the American president, Joe Biden, to gather world leaders to assess the situation. As the Group of 20, more commonly known as the G20, was meeting on 15 and 16 November, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, invited the European leaders present at the summit to hold a coordination meeting. 

In the end, this event was once again an opportunity to rekindle tensions between Kiev and Moscow, both blaming each other for the incident. Only the conclusions of the investigations, which are still underway, will allow a final decision to be taken.

11/17/2022: The EU launches IRIS², a satellite constellation project to secure the Internet and communications. -Antoine Bézier-

On 17th November, the European Union kicked off the IRIS² programme (Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnection & Security by Satellites), which consists of a constellation of satellites designed to secure the internet and communications, and which should be fully operational by 2027 (Euractiv). In a tweet, EU Industry and Space Commissioner Thierry Breton welcomed the news by considering IRIS² as “a big step for our resilience — and a giant leap for our tech sovereignty.” In an article published on LinkedIn and presenting the project in detail, he said that IRIS² will complement the existing Galileo (satellite positioning system) and Copernicus (Earth observation system) constellations and will be at the service of citizens, the resilience of economies and armies. The programme is also a response to the growing influence of the Starlink constellation developed by Elon Musk and his company SpaceX, and MEP Christophe Grudler, member of the Renew Europe group, highlighted the ethical and sustainable nature of IRIS² compared to other projects: “The new European IRIS² satellites are coming! Compared to other constellations, these satellites will be exemplary in terms of space and environmental sustainability.” (Twitter) Thierry Breton spoke of an “increasingly contested geostrategic environment […] in which the European Union must guarantee its essential interests” (LinkedIn), referring to American and Chinese ambitions in space. An agreement has been reached between the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, and the cost of the project has been estimated at €6 billion: €2.4 billion is to come from the EU budget, €750 million from the European Space Agency, and the rest is to be covered by the private sector (Euractiv).

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