Every Monday Visegrad Insight releases a weekly update on key developments in Central Europe from the point of view of democratic security. Our team monitors for important political, civil society, economy and foreign policy updates and where possible hints at risks and developing scenarios. Currently, we monitor the situation in the following 10 countries:
- Belarus: Alexander Dobrovolsky, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s advisor, has created six scenarios for the months ahead, which prepares for multiple eventualities including political options instead of the typical opposition methods.
- Bulgaria: Tensions are rising between Sofia and Moscow over a proposal to locate 2,500 US troops in Bulgaria. Over the weekend, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused PM Boyko Borissov of seeking out offensive weapons, including nuclear armaments; these rumours were quickly dispelled by the government as completely false. Expect more disinformation on the topic in the coming days and weeks.
- Czechia: Czech ski resorts are likely to open for the holiday season despite COVID-19 numbers one of the highest in Europe
- Estonia: The successful deployment of personnel from the US Department of Defence in Estonia ensured the US elections were more secure from Russian hacking and disinformation efforts. Estonian authorities said they will be adapting their own existing procedures in the near future to include strategies they learned in the joint effort. Similar, proactive missions will be utilised in the future.
- Hungary: Ahead of the EU summit this week, the prisoner dilemma game reasoning might lead Budapest to compromise faster than Warsaw. Also, the Hungarian government is to prevent municipalities from looking for additional sources of income as of next year, by prohibiting them from introducing any new tax or eliminating or reducing existing tax breaks. Hungarian town halls are struggling to get by as coronavirus triggered restrictive measures have had a sizable impact on their budget
- Latvia: Latvian MPs have suggested that people ignoring COVID-19 restrictions could face criminal charges in the coming week/s.
- Lithuania: A half-hearted attempt to improve relations between Moscow and Vilnius with calls to open dialogue between the nations, while Lithuanian authorities have limited gatherings to two people and extend lockdown measures for the coming weeks.
- Poland: After a probe balloon by deputy-prime minister Gowin who hinted at possible compromise last week the government looks more likely to consider closing the deal at the summit this week but internally the government is divided and more unpredictable than Orban.
- Romania: Exit polls from Romania parliamentary elections last Sunday are too close to call but with votes from the diaspora to be counted except a possible tilt towards the government. However, even if declared a winner the ruling National Liberal Party (PNL) is deemed to require a coalition to form the next government
- Slovakia: Extensive reforms to the judiciary are expected after the parliament elected Maroš Žilinka as the parliament’s General Prosecutor. Claims of corruption have haunted the institution and the changes are welcomed by NGOs and watchdog organisations.
On COVID-19: when it comes to Belarus, the regime is finally making some indications it notices the reality of the pandemic. Lukashenko visited a hospital recently. Still, Lukashenko insists that he was right about the virus and that it is not so bad. The official count of infected people is under strong suspicion, however, and the independent social media channels suggest figures that are five to six times as large. There is a lot of mistrust between the government and the society in this respect – which of course is happening against the background of the mass terror the regime is using to suppress the civil protests.