December 12, Vladimir Putin held his annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly. Anders Åslund comments the speech and the developments in the country in Moscow Times.

Read the article Putin’s Conservative State Capitalism

On 6 June, Olof Ehrenkrona, Ambassador at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and a member of the CES Academic Council, presented “From Reform to Growth: Managing the Economic Crisis in Europe”, a collaborative book produced by the Centre for European Studies (CES), and its member foundations.

The book was launched in Helsinki on the occasion of the Economic Ideas Forum 2013, an annual economic conference of the CES, which this year is co-organised in partnership with the Finnish Toivo think tank. This book assesses decisions taken by European governments between 2007 and 2012 in response to the crisis, and contributes to the formulation of the European centre-right economic policy narrative.

The publication, which covers 19 countries, reveals three main lessons pertaining to the economic crisis: the first is that countries that undertook reforms before the crisis, endured it better than those where reforms were insufficient; the second stresses the importance of responding quickly to a crisis and obtaining social and political consensus for government actions; and the third states that there is no alternative to reducing public debt through fiscal consolidation, in combination with economic reforms, which include the creation of flexible labour markets, increasing the retirement age and shaping efficient public institutions.

The book concludes that such reforms would bring about lasting economic growth, contribute to job creation and set Europe on the path to prosperity. The book’s biggest value lies in the fact that country, EU and region chapters were written by national experts who know the reality much better than people from the outside. The challenge now is to learn from the positive examples of economic and financial policies that the European experience of the past five years has to offer.

Read more on Centre for European Studies webpage

In 2011 European Stability Initiative published the report Generation Facebook in Baku. Please visit the homepage of ESA for further reading about Azerbaijan and analysis about the developments in the country.

Freedom House recently released the annual report Freedom in the World – a global survey of political and civil rights. In 2011, the Arab Spring triggered progress in some countries in the Middle East. On the other hand, the uprisings provoked leaders in surrounding countries to suppress real or potential threats to their rule.

In total 12 countries showed overall improvement, while 26 countries registered net decline.

Read a summary of the Top 10 Trends in Global Freedom

Read the report

The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Freedom House have presented a groundbreaking report: “Democratic Change in Belarus – A Framework for Action”. The document is based on the findings and researches of the Belarus Working Group by gathering the leading scholars, analysts, practitioners, and issue experts identifying sustainable and impactful Western strategies for supporting Belarusian civil society and dealing with “Europe’s last dictatorship.”

 The ongoing political repressions and violations against human rights in Belarus has intensified the attention of the U. S. and the European Union to “Europe’s last dictatorship.” (more…)