2017-th year is not going to be easy. It all starts January 20, when Washington will formally take office as the new US President Donald trump. Then parliamentary elections will be held in the Netherlands, presidential and parliamentary France, parliamentary in Germany, a referendum on amendments to the Constitution in Turkey will start negotiations on the withdrawal of Britain from the EU due to Breccia. Throughout the year, Russia will take drastic efforts to lift the sanctions and in this regard the key event of the first half may be the summit “the Big seven” in Italy in late may. Obviously, Russia’s position can be strengthened in the case of a positive for Moscow the results of the presidential elections in India, Iran and Serbia, as well as the 19th National Congress of the Communist party of China, which will change the Politburo. Against her can play their own inadequate political weight and economic potential ambitions, the launch of the UN reform process (as trump says, and what it wants of the Russian Federation), the global market for shale oil and gas resources. Geopolitical forecasts in terms of total uncertainty — a thankless task. And yet we try to predict in General terms what will happen to the world and Ukraine in the new year.
USA. What to expect from trump?
Team trump, contrary to expectations, began to operate almost without delay. This is evidenced by, among other steps, the recent decision to withdraw until January 20 ambassadors, appointed by Barack Obama. Even if we leave aside the purely human aspect of this problem (the academic year for children) and the complexity of an urgent departure within three weeks, it’s a very radical solution to almost paralyze the work of the State Department, because the appointment procedure of ambassadors to the United States — is long, they have to go through congressional hearings, and it requires sometimes months of waiting in the queue. In addition, trump has managed to quarrel with the intelligence community, which has to convince him that Russia interfered in the elections in the U.S., and this occurred on the direct instructions of Vladimir Putin. But all the episodes in comparison to expectations of the first steps of the new administration in the domestic arena and in foreign policy, which are projected in a positive aspect, and in purely black colours. For example, in the domestic policy will focus on the revision of the programme of provision of medical services “Obamacare,” which Republicans have criticized from the beginning. However, the new program prepared by the Republicans, according to preliminary estimates, will cost about $ 1 trillion, and the budget for 2017 have already been drawn up.
It is also clear that trump is a supporter of economic isolationism to a much greater extent than his predecessors, will seek to develop the national economy by scaling down trends of globalization that have become the hallmark of the past decade.
Team trump has almost formed and it is good that he has not departed from American traditions in advance to introduce the public to candidates for all major state posts. Admittedly, newcomers from among the business community in the part of the administration are a minority. In the new administration a lot of colorful personalities. The most controversial figure is the candidate for the position of Secretary Rex Tillerson, former head of the energy giant “Exxon-Mobil” with close ties and immense experience in fifty countries, including in Russia. Numerous discussions around the candidates are reduced to two main assessments: either trump really intend to find ways of cooperation with Putin and it chose clear for the Russian representative of the key energy sector, or he is counting on their search, based on pragmatic business interests of the implementation mechanisms of U.S. foreign policy around the world. In favor of the pragmatism of the new President shows the famous “Twitter diplomacy” trump, when he in several publications expressed direct threats against “GM” and “Toyota”, which was going to invest in automobile production in Mexico, and to put the cars in the United States. The newly elected President has threatened them with high taxes on the import of products in the United States, if the production car will be located outside of the country. In fact, Congress sets taxes, not the President, but both companies said that they will review their plans. It is expected that the majority of nominations for work in administration of the tramp, will receive the consent of Congress. As for controversial figures Tillerson, we can with high probability predict that she will get support, unless it is withdrawn before consideration in the Senate due to the rather harsh criticism from influential Democrats and some Republican senators. Another potential conflict issue in the new year may be the report of the intelligence services of the United States of Russian interference in American elections.
The distrust that team trump expressed in relation to this report led to the resignation of one of the members of the winning team — former head of the CIA, Joseph Wills, who is on the stage of the elections fulfilled the functions of chief adviser to trump. The situation around the Russian hackers will be a particular challenge for new head of intelligence, former Senator from Indiana Daniel Coates. He will not only to reform the intelligence agencies of the United States, what trump said in his election program, but also to take responsibility to confirm or refute the conclusions of their predecessors about the role of Russia in the implementation of American democracy. Trump has already announced the formation of a special team of cyber security, which for three months of the new year will have to answer this call.
Thus, it is expected that in 2017, the administration trump will seek to demonstrate a range of new approaches both in domestic and in foreign policy, including the attempt to reach some agreement with Putin. First and foremost, it concerns the fight against ISIS (banned in Russia organization — approx. ed.) in Syria, as well as certain steps for the cooling of the confrontation between Russia and NATO. It is unclear how trump will appreciate the recent attempt of Russia to strengthen military ties with the Philippines — the United States is always painfully perceived threats to its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the degree of confrontation that the US is ready to go in relations with China. Looks extremely uncertain and the problem of sanctions in connection with the annexation of Crimea and aggression in the Donbas. This issue likely will be considered at the G-7 summit in may, where will be present the newly elected President of France and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, for which the elections are yet to come.
It is expected that over the coming months, Putin will do everything so that the new leadership of the United States and France chose a “pragmatic” approach and sanctions if and would not be removed completely, it is significantly weakened. With regard to economic policy trump, it is possible to predict strengthening of the dollar and the inflow of investment in us securities — the markets seem to trust the business experience of the new President of the United States.
The Choice Of France
The first round of presidential elections in France will be held on 23 April, the second on 7 may. Public opinion polls show that today the leaders of the race are two politicians Francois Fillon, in which Sarkozy worked the Prime Minister, and marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right nationalist front in France.
With Le Pen, in principle, everything is clear — her party for two years, received direct financial assistance from Russia, and now in the midst of the company, French banks refused to give loans. This is a radical politician of the far right wing, who plays for France’s withdrawal from the EU, the recognition of Russian Crimea, the harsh measures towards migrants.
Fillon is also center-right forces, and also is against the “isolation of Russia”, but unlike Le Pen he — system policies, having significant experience of public administration. He called for an “independent foreign policy”, “dialogue with Russia” and the preservation of the EU. According to public opinion polls, Fillon is leading with 26%, Le Pen’s 24%. In the case of the exit in the second round Fillon wins with 67% against 33% for Le Pen.
It is expected that the winner yet Fillon, as the figure of Le Pen is too radical even for supporters of right-wing views, which in France a lot. Most likely, in support of the Fillon act and other political forces (there is an independent candidate, former Minister of economy and Finance, Emmanuel macron, with the potential 10-15%, the extreme left candidates and the representatives of the socialists) only, not to be allowed to power of the far right. In case of victory of the Fillon remains unclear what his position on the Ukrainian question. On the one hand, he advocated independent views of US foreign policy, on the other, most likely, his position is close to the vision of trump, with regard to dialogue with Putin. Much will depend on whether he can establish a partnership with Merkel, who was and remained the real leader of the EU.
The importance of the new victory Merkel
Parliamentary elections in the German legislation must pass between 27 August and 22 October (exact date still unknown). According to experts, if the election were held today, Merkel would remain as Chancellor for the fourth time.
Leading German media is already talking about the election of 2021 — so obvious it seems the advantage of the current Chancellor. However, it is not so simple. The center-right party “Christian democratic Union” led by Merkel feels comfortable in the local elections. Her rival — the “Alternative for Germany” — the party of right-wing, anti-immigrant and anti-Islamist, has the support of eurosceptics in favor of the abolition of sanctions against Russia, surprisingly successfully took part in municipal elections. Her support is growing because of growing dissatisfaction with the migration policy of Merkel. There is clearly manifested the factor in the Syrian crisis and the presence of the factor of Turkey, which still contains on its territory of 3 million Syrian refugees and is in a very intense dialogue with the EU. Direct competitor Merkel and social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel failed to persuade German voters, and he lags behind Merkel by 10% (according to some polls he’s 24% vs. 34% Merkel).
According to analysts, the loss of Merkel is a disaster for the EU, which will start the parade of sovereignties. She’ll have a tough time dialogue with the US, especially after a series of corporate scandals — with Volkswagen in the US and Apple, Google in Europe. Moreover, the situation in the Bundestag will develop, most likely, in such a way that the Christian Democrats will have to form a coalition to appoint the Chancellor, and this always weakens the policy, forced to fight on multiple fronts at the same time. The victory of Merkel is a serious chance for Ukraine to fight for the extension of sanctions and to maintain a United EU position against Russia.
What determines the stability of the Netherlands
Last year’s story with the referendum in the Netherlands has become a serious test for Europe. The current parliamentary elections have to show how the citizens of the country are amenable to the rhetoric of populism used by the leader of the race — right-wing “freedom Party” headed by Geert Wilders. This party was the initiator of the referendum on the question of signing the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine. Wilders is an open enemy of Islam and promises to bring the Netherlands out of the EU. He proposed to ban the Koran and the building of mosques, to introduce a tax on headscarves. Alas, its popularity is growing and the party of the incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte is in second place, and their coalition partners — the third. In case of a victory of the “Party of freedom” the other political forces will have to unite in a coalition to curtail the right and this will lead to constant instability in one of the most important countries of Europe.
Except for the fate of the Association Agreement and visa-free regime, which essentially depend on the position of the Netherlands, it is expected a final decision on the downed Malaysian “Boeing”, which should have far-reaching legal and political consequences for Putin and his clique.
China’s economy is in a difficult position. According to financial analysts, the country is on the verge of an economic crisis, and the total debt of China has exceeded 255% of GDP. For some indicators, the situation in China resembles pre-crisis 2008 Lehman Brothers, although its specific nature (high level of private savings, underdeveloped capital markets, considerable government involvement in most major banks) do not make a crisis inevitable.
The position of Chairman of the PRC XI Jinping are very stable, therefore, the election of the political Bureau of the CPC National Congress this fall should be smooth and XI Jinping will once again lead the country.
A painful question remains the situation in Hong Kong, where on March 26 also will be the election of Chairman. The harmony of “one country, two systems” seem to have been exhausted and protests among voters of Hong Kong to create a tendency toward greater independence from Beijing. We can predict that the situation in Hong Kong, as well as the ability to establish a dialogue with trump (and the relationship between China and the United States recently, to put it mildly, strained) will greatly depend on the authority of XI Jinping in the party.
We should expect that the China-USA will pass the main challenge for the administration to trump, and for XI Jinping it’s very important not to aggravate the situation before the conflict.
Test for Turkey’s economy
At the end of April — early may in Turkey with a high degree of probability will be held a constitutional referendum, that must result in transformation of political system from parliamentary-presidential to presidential. It is expected that the coalition of ruling party of justice and development, which is the informal leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and nationalist movement Party headed by Devlet Bahceli, which has initiated a package of 18 amendments, will be able to obtain the support of the people.
This will undoubtedly strengthen the position of the current President Erdogan, who is expected to become the main candidate on a post of the President of Turkey in the elections of 2019. Next year the Turkish economy are facing hard times in connection with the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks and unfavorable external conjuncture. We can not exclude the continuation of stagnation in the travel sector and further devaluation of the Lira, which, however, may boost exports.
The most difficult question is how to develop in the new year, the situation around Russia. In 2018 in Russia will take place presidential elections, and Putin, without any doubt, intends to participate in them and win.
The geopolitical isolation in which he found himself at the present stage in connection with the war against Ukraine, and the sanctions regime that imposes restrictions on political and economic opportunities of Moscow, jeopardizing plans to “rise from knees” and reformatting of the world on vellum, drawn in the Lubyanka. The attempt to radically change the situation through intervention in the Syrian conflict allowed us to achieve several tactical results, in particular, to achieve a significant rapprochement with Turkey and Iran. However, the war on two fronts — Ukraine and Syria — proved too expensive, and Russia has decided to reduce its military presence in Syria to 2017. The future of this country Russia is not interested in, but in order to achieve mutual understanding with trump in sensitive for the United States war against ISIS, and the key for Turkey fighting against the Kurds, all good. In addition, will not disappear and contradictions on Syria with Iran, where presidential elections will be held. It is expected that if the “package” with the United States will be able to form, Russia will cease to inflate the Syrian conflict, and it’s also possible that the acute phase of the war in the Donbass will come to naught.
There is no doubt that Moscow will try to use and even influence the outcome of elections in key countries of Europe, if not destroy, then severely weaken the EU from within, and to achieve the full lifting of sanctions that may occur in case of victory in France, Germany and the Netherlands right-wing forces.
Threat to Ukraine
The main geopolitical risk of the year for Ukraine is whether a healthy political forces in Europe to stay in power, and the new American administration to find a balanced relationship with the EU and allies in NATO and in the dialogue with Russia.
Of course, our main partners in Europe will remain Germany and France. However, it is imperative for us in the new year to maintain and develop cooperation with Poland, the Baltic States and Scandinavia, which are the natural allies of Ukraine in countering Russian aggression. In conditions when the skeptics look forward to beginning negotiations on the withdrawal of Britain from the EU and the Franco-German Alliance is included in the electoral cycle and the threat of elections looms over economic trouble in Italy is our next-door neighbors, first and foremost, Poland will assume the role of the main advocates of extending sanctions against Russia and strengthening of the Eastern flank of NATO. In addition, the countries of Central Europe should be the main strength of opposition to Moscow’s plans for the construction of bypass pipelines around Ukraine. 2017 year promises to be the beginning of a new global transformations in world politics, when right-wing forces and populists of all stripes will seek to blur the approaches based on the values and slogans of pragmatism and isolationism. Neither Ukraine can not afford. And therefore, the maximum task is to prevent any “packages” and secret agreements without our participation.