Unrest In the EU Neighbourhood

Democratic Security Outlook 2023: 13 March - 19 March

13 March 2023

Mass protests in Georgia force the government to back down on the “Foreign Agents” bill while political upheavals are reported from Moldova and Bosnia, and the election campaign in Poland is gaining traction.

  • This week on Visegrad Insight:
  • Matej Kandrik offers a re-evaluation of Russian hybrid warfare.
  • Adrian Mihaltianu analyses the state of Romanian infrastructure and where the country looks for future strategic partnerships.
  • Dorka Takacsy looks into why Orbán’s anti-Ukrainian rhetoric is so effective with his base in Hungary.
  • Agnieszka Homańska examines some traps in fighting disinformation.
  • Can this be Georgia’s Self-Defining Moment? Join our TwitterSpace this Wednesday, 15 March, at 2:00 PM (CET) to discuss the ongoing developments in Tbilisi and read our recent coverage here.


  • Georgia’s far-right ruling party, Georgian Dream, will drop its “foreign agents” bill after fierce opposition culminated in two nights of violent protests. Separately, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibaschili accused the EU representatives of using jailed ex-president Mikhail Saakashvili as their agent following the calls for Saakashvili’s release on medical grounds.
  • Permanent Joint Mechanism meeting. NATO Secretary General hosted a meeting of senior officials from Turkiye, Finland and Sweden. This has been the third meeting of the Permanent Joint Mechanism since its establishment by the Trilateral Memorandum in May 2022, coordinating the fight against terrorism and furthering the NATO accession process of Finland and Sweden.
  • EU wants member states to impose budgetary limitations. Fiscal thresholds, which were suspended for the pandemic, will be reinstated in January 2024. Members states on the EU commission are working to define a new framework that will allow for increased spending on the environment and defence.
  • Banking Crisis Averted? Fears that the Silicon Valley Bank insolvency last week could have a knock-on effect have been at least temporarily assuaged due to HSBC buying the UK branch and the US government guaranteeing deposits; European markets are expected to perform better as a result.
  • EU and US climate competition. Biden administration said it is directing six billion US dollars to speed up decarbonisation as the EU and US search for a compatible climate future. Separately, Volkswagen paused its plans for gigafactory in Central Europe while it evaluates financial incentives in the US.
  • Eurogroup meeting on 13 March will be followed by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting on 14 March. The council is expected to greenlight Finland’s national recovery pland and discuss the economic and financial impact of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, focusing on energy-related financial market aspects.
  • EU’s Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting on 13-14 March. Ministers will focus on the labour market situation of Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression and discuss the ratification of the ILO convention against violence and harassment at work.
  • Environmental Council will be held on 16 March. Ministers will discuss a proposal on packaging and packaging waste and a proposal on urban wastewater treatment.
  • Delayed vote. The vote on the combustion engines phase-out was postponed on 6 March by the Council.

Russia intensifies attacks as EU braces to greenlight joint ammunition supplies


  • Russian attacks reported from Mykolaiv Oblast on 13 March. A young couple was killed, and their 7-year-old child was injured in the attacks.
  • Sixteenth mass missile strike reported across Ukraine in the early morning of 9 March.
  • EU leaders to greenlight the joint purchases of ammunition for Ukraine at the summit in Brussels on 23 March.
  • The battle of Bakhmut continues. An aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stated that Ukraine will continue to fight in Bakhmut because the battle continues to degrade the Russian army’s best units, putting them in a good position to carry out a planned Ukrainian spring counter-offensive. UAF claimed 2000 Russian soldiers have died since Friday.
  • The State Anti-Corruption Programme has been approved by the Ukrainian government.
  • Grain Deal. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said he was confident that the Istanbul Agreement will be continued between Ukraine and Russia. The deal is set to expire on 18 March.

Election campaign in Poland takes off with culture wars; Orbán met with Austrian FPÖ leader Kickel



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