Head of Research Group: Anton Bendarzsevszkij Members: Enikő Bagoly, Dávid Nagy, Tamás Orbán, Péter Szitás

Understanding geopolitical processes in the XXI. century is more important than ever. This is especially true for our region: the size of a given country, its resources, the population that lives there, and perhaps even more, the geographical position of the state determines its foreign policy and its room for manoeuvres. With the help of geopolitics, we can fundamentally understand international relations and the motivations and behaviour of global actors. More importantly, we can anticipate foreign policy processes and thus prepare for them, become active participants and contributors. Whether it is question of energy supplies, defense policy, EU enlargement, the functioning of international institutions or water policy, it is important that we remain more than just passive observers of global events. The Danube Institute’s Geopolitics Research Group analyses and interprets these geopolitical processes for domestic and international readers and decision-makers - from the distinctive perspective of the Visegrad Group.


In the end of this summer the world shockingly witnessed reports from Kabul on desperate crowds of Afghani people trying to escape on the last flights from the war battered country and the rapidly recurrent Taliban rule before the last US troops left Afghanistan. In the last two decades Afghanistan and Iraq have become the main stages of the United States’ presence in the broader Middle East but its boots continue to be on the ground in several other countries in the region as well. The calamitous withdrawal from Afghanistan by the US does not only mean the long-awaited end of a “forever war” but also the end of Pax Americana, where the US is not going to be a that dominant player in the Middle East than it was before. This retreat will certainly realign the regional balance of power and leave a vacuum which is expected to be filled in soon by other great powers who have long been the challengers of the American hegemony. But why is the US ending these “forever wars” now? How could the dynamics of the region be changed by that? What could be the US’ new posture in the region?


This paper analyses the role of the newly established security alliance of the Anglosphere, AUKUS, especially in relation to the Indo-Pacific region. The paper aims to examine the subject from three distinct perspectives: from a geopolitical one (what the current situation is in the Indo-Pacific region, the reasons why there is a need for a new alliance and the aims participants want to achieve with it); from a technical and geostrategic one (why it is important for Australia to maintain a nuclear submarine fleet, what could the direct objectives be and whether the new pact constitutes enough potential to realise the long-term strategic aims;) and from a regional, multilateral perspective (how AUKUS fits into the already existing network of military and intelligence alliances and how other countries of the region feel about its existence as well as the opportunities and risks associated with it). By taking into account all of these perspectives, I aim to give the reader a thorough understanding of the subject, and by providing ample geopolitical context I can also present certain assumptions regarding the future of AUKUS and the Indo-Pacific.


The United States has been significantly changing its foreign policy focus from the Transatlantic region and from the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific region as a result of its increasing competition with China. This new international scenario can offer some opportunities for European allies, especially for France, but it can also pose several challenges that will need to be met. As a response to these opportunities and challenges, France led by President Emmanuel Macron has volunteered to lead Europe, in particular the European Union in an effort to fill in the gap left by Washington. The initiatives proposed are based on the creation of a European Strategic Autonomy, establishing a foreign policy and defence strategy with a European focus. France wants Europe’s defence to be built on several pillars: the EU, the NATO, and the multilateral cooperations. Despite Paris’s European ambition we also have to note, that France is trying to turn the changing American focus to its own national benefit.


The presidency of Donald J. Trump has strongly changed the U.S. policy on the People’s Republic of China. Tensions and contradictions between the two nations, that had previously been swept under the rug, broke to the surface with a force long not seen before. A war on customs and technologies erupted a few years ago in which not only states but dominant global companies such as Huawei were also severely wounded. This burdened relationship was aggravated by the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus epidemic, which the former U.S. president consistently named “China Virus” and demanded reparations from the P.R.C. worth around USD 10 trillion for the extermination it has caused. Although America now has a new leader, tensions between the two countries remain. Taiwan does not ease the bilateral relations either, which could become an important arena of conflicts in the near future.


Where will be the place of the European Union in the emerging world order? There are two ways ahead of the EU: accept the emerging geopolitical status quo as a policy-taker, or actively participate in its evolution as a policy-shaper. In what way can the Washington-Moscow-Beijing triangle race have an impact on Europe, and what are the lines Europe should build its policy on in the three-pole world order? The present study seeks to address the above issues while presenting European interests from a narrative of three pillars: economy, security policy, and climate policy.


The long-standing conflict between China and Taiwan takes place with varying degrees of intensity. Taiwan since 1971 is no longer recognised as an independent sovereign state by the UN, and the country is significantly dependent on the United States. Moreover, the latter has strategic interests in Taiwan, in addition to the important economic ties it has with the People’s Republic of China. Taking into consideration that both of the great powers have different interests and goals to be achieved in connection to the island, it can serve as an explosive flashpoint in the US – China relations.


The EU is an essential trading partner for Eurasian countries, besides, within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, the EU offers dialogue and support for those post-Soviet states, that are open to collaboration with the West. The idea of building an organised framework for economic cooperation between the EU and the EAEU currently seems to have reached a dead-end for political reasons. In reality, full Europeanisation of the post-Soviet countries is more than uncertain in the medium to long term, but the aim of economic cooperation is not the regime change anyway. Instead, prosperous economic, trade, and investment relations between the EU and the EAEU (starting first with bilateral country-to-country level, then, in the long run on an organisational level) would contribute to the stabilisation of the post-Soviet space, creating a balance of power between the East and the West.


Abstract: The outcome of the German elections in 2021 could significantly transform not only the country’s domestic political relations, but also the political and economic status quo of the EU and Central and Eastern Europe. The present study aims to present the main factors in the dynamics of German-Polish relations, highlighting the most important points of agreement and difference, which will significantly impact the foreign policy of the two countries.


The sixteen years of the chancellorship of Angela Merkel, which remarkably impacted not just Germany, but all of Europe, was also a decisive era of the bilateral relations between Hungary and Germany. In the ‘Merkel era’, the economic and trade relations of the two countries have developed dynamically, as Hungary became a main target country of German investors, while Germany secured the primary place among Hungary’s export and import partners. But becoming a part of the supply chain of the German (primarily automotive) industry would not have been possible without Merkel’s ‘realpolitik’ approach, which allowed detente between the countries in times of political disagreement and pragmatic focus on economic relations.