1. Dimitrios Triantaphyllou 3 years ago

    1. The continued tumult in the Middle East seems to have grown in resonance with a plethora of immediate state and non-state actors such as Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, ISIL, Hezbollah, and the Kurds. How it can be contained and drawing up a blueprint for a post- violence and post-instability order are in the order of the day.
    2. The possibility of a nuclear deal with Iran that could change the strategic balance with the emergence of either a new twin pillar policy (Saudi Arabia and Iran) in the wider Middle East or a greater surge in sectarian violence.
    3. The power play between the global big three (or those we perceive to be the big three): the United States, China, and Russia – in terms of models of political and economic governance (such as the future of democracy and the future of capitalism), resources (in particular oil and natural gas), power and influence (hard, soft, and smart power). In other words, defining the international order for years to come.

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  2. Dmitri Mitin 3 years ago

    The key 2014 flashpoints will carry over into the next year. The tensions between Russia and the West will linger on, periodically morphing into new forms of confrontation. Keeping the effects of Russia’s isolation at bay will be a challenge for all involved sides. In a related theme, a sustainable resolution to the Ukrainian conflict is likely to prove elusive. Instability in the Middle East remains a major concern. Finally, reaching a nuclear deal with Iran is a top priority; however, the odds are against reaching a meaningful compromise.

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  3. Dorothea Schäfer 3 years ago

    I expect trouble within the Eurozone because of Greece. Supposedly the governing parties and the prime minister will change in 2015. That will cause uncertainties about the future path of Greece and may shake the Eurozone again.

    The Ukrainian government will face serious economic difficulties and problems to finance the expenses of the state. The rebuilding of the Ukrainian economy will need effort, money and fairness (= absence of corruption). It may be particularly difficult to achieve the latter. But fairness will be the fundament for everything else.
    Russia will get into a deep recession and Russia’s populations will need to adapt to harsh economic conditions.

    The Eurozone will face further uncertainties because of slow growth and rising debt levels in France and Italy. It will be a serious challenge to find a strategy to bring these countries back on track.

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  4. Alexei Voskressenski 3 years ago

    1. Islamic State, Syria and Iraq.
    2. Developments in Transatlantic space in relationship with Ukrainian destiny.
    3. Developments in Russia and China.

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  5. Hildegard Müller 3 years ago

    2015 will be a year of multilateral challenges. The Russian intervention in Ukraine and the ongoing saber-rattling in Moscow puts the West´s diplomacy to an acid test. The crisis will continue to occupy Europe also in terms of energy and trade. In Paris, the international community will hold its most important conference on climate change since Kyoto. The outcome of the conference will determine whether limiting global warming to two degrees can succeed. In the Middle East, it is important to prevent further humanitarian disasters. Parallel to fighting IS, we must turn our attention to the increasing number of refugees in the region – and provide more support. The upcoming elections in Israel will have an additional impact on the peace process in the Middle East.

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  6. Theodoros Tsakiris 3 years ago

    (1) We need to de-escalate the Russian-Ukrainian conflict by intensifying our pressure on both sides to honor the military and political terms of the Minsk Agreement followed by the rapid re-normalization of Russian-EU trade relations. A Russian bankruptcy and the concomitant political destabilization of a nuclear super-power or a new “Cold War” – no matter how unlikely they might be – are the two nightmare scenarios for European Security in 2015
    (2) Europe needs to safeguard the inviolability and cohesion of the European Monetary Union by coming to a long-term honorable political compromise over the Greek sovereign debt regardless of the new coalition government which will come to power this coming February if-as it is the most likely scenario- early general elections are called in early January. This is of course conditioned on the commitment of any new Greek government to achieve a negotiated solution, avoid all unilateral actions and remain on the path of structural reform.
    (3) Europe finally needs to re-rationalize its political expectations from the Arab Spring and fully engage the new government of Egypt while at the same time avoid any unilateral decisions of its own regarding a deadline over a potential Israeli-Palestinian settlement which would automatically lead to the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State.

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  7. Klaus Segbers 3 years ago

    First, IR people have to be prepared better for things to come that are kind of out of our routines of reasoning. The number one issue I’d like to mention is the advancement of AI – artificial intelligence. This is a huge issue right now in Silicon Valley, and beyond. But not at all in IR, so far. How will the global landscape look like when computers (software and algorithms) may take over, in five, ten years from now?
    Second, the trend away from nation states’ regulation towards flow-based developments will continue. Unregulated capital flows, both globally and in the Eurozone, will remain crucial. The same goes for energy prices for carbon-based resources. And for migrant flows from the South to the north, as well as from the East toward the West.
    Thirdly, the void of meaningful and integrating narratives will be felt deeper. Modernity? Democracy? Markets? Politicized Islam? All these concepts are becoming more problematic. Where is a replacement that is both ‘attractive’ for the developed world, and ‘acceptable’ and promising for the spaces catching up?

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  8. Shen Dingli 3 years ago

    1. Russia. Can Russia reconcile its relations with Ukraine and the West? Given Kiev’s relinquishing of its non-alliance position, its pace toward NATO is hastened, which is likely to prompt more tense relations in the region.

    2. ISIS. Could the force of ISIS be contained effectively? This is crucial for the stability of the Middle East at a post-GI-withdrawal time, with global ramifications on power rebalancing in Europe and Asia.

    3. Energy and environment. How will the oil price evolve? How the COP21 Paris Summit develop? These would have both short- and long-term impacts on international politics and the world economy.

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  9. Frauke Austermann 3 years ago

    I’ll limit myself to two top troubling challenges:

    Challenge no. 1 is to deal with the fact that we have the worldwide highest number of refugees ever since World War II. The largest group of the global refugees is now from Syria (previously Afghanistan), which has notably suffered from the advancement of the Islamic State. These developments will further fuel right-wing populism on a broad scale in the West, even in countries where this is rather unusual (among them Germany). Liberal values will need to be defended without abusing any group of people as a scapegoat.

    Challenge no. 2 is to prevent the tensions between the EU / Europe and the Russian Federation from escalating into a Cold War 2.0. The fact that the economic sanctions against Russia have had an effect (together with a record low oil price) may result in Putin making compromises – however always without losing face…

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  10. Caroline King 3 years ago

    From where I sit and from what I hear I would have to put crisis management into at least first and second place for 2015. We all need to do a better job at anticipating and managing crises of all kinds. How can we get policy making out of a strictly reactive mode? How can we keep all of our well intentioned politicians, diplomats and civil servants out of the burn-out clinic? We need some inspiration. Maybe a global ‘Gutschein’ for a diplomatic fitness regime. Every day two parts crisis, one part fresh air and exercise.

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8 Comments

  1. AW 3 years ago

    As the contributions of the experts have already shown, it is almost impossible to limit the number of the major challenges of the year 2015 to only two. As all the main points have already been listed, I can only elaborate a bit on a couple of them.
    1) Russia/Russia-Ukraine conflict. There will be a very serious and painful economic crisis in Russia, caused not only by the sanctions, but also by the fallen oil price, high corruption and economic mismanagement. One possible scenario is that Russia would put effort into stabilizing the situation in Ukraine in order to get rid of the EU-sanctions and soften the economic crisis. Two issues appear problematic: how to sell the withdrawal from Donbass to the Russian population? (the propaganda last year was extreme with constant flow of horror-stories about mass killings of Russian-speaking population). And what to do with Crimea? I hardly can imagine, that Russia would give Crimea back.
    2) Europe will have to deal with economic challenges once again: Greece, France, Italy as well as financial help for Ukraine will cost a lot. The question arises how far the economic reforms will go this time.
    3) ISIS and global violent Islam as such. Dealing with islamist radicals means not only fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but also becoming harsh or radicals in the Western countries. Keeping the balance between the interests of the public security and sticking to democratic procedures will be a hard challenge for the Western security services.

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  2. Vitaliya Tsarik 3 years ago

    Challenge 1: Russia, as many previous comments point out. And not only as political challenge related to Ukraine, but now also as economic challenge, because both for the EU and China Russian market is important and this market will contract dramatically next year. During the New Year period Russians are spending all the money (even those who had their money in Euro or USD) trying to buy goods until they get more expensive. Next year some of those people will lose their jobs and these goods will appear in second-hand online shops with huge discounts. Who will provide sales for European and Chinese manufacturers then?
    Challenge 2: low oil price stimulates energy intensive industries, especially in regions where energy costs were high before and posed a problem for economic growth. One challenge is to use this low price period to reload industrial production, to earn money and to reinvest it into increasing efficiency of these industries.
    Another challenge (Challenge 3) is to provide enough energy for these industries in future, because low oil price forces some expensive energy projects to shut down (shale, offshore and green energy projects). Growing industry and reduced supply soon create deficit which can’t be covered immediately (you can’t relaunch a suspended oil production project or offshore wind farm construction overnight). So prices skyrocket again (also because underinvested energy industry has higher production costs then it would have had with constant investments).

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  3. Dima Tarhini 3 years ago

    1- The birth and spread of non-state actors in the Middle East and the fall of traditional governments.
    2-Failure of Peace Process and the two State solution between Palestinians and Israel and its severe consequences on the whole region.
    3- Radicalism and fragmentation in Europe : The rise of anti-EU and anti-immigration and the challenge to boost the European Economy

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  4. Wisam 3 years ago

    Everything has already been stated! Very well-written and succinct responses indeed!

    Just want to echo two points already mentioned: Hildegard mentioned refugee (human trafficking) from East Africa and MENA. I can’t stress how much of a humanitarian disaster this is, with DIRECT economic and security implications for Europe.

    Secondly, Vitaliya accurately mentioned low oil prices. This is a very very very significant challenge for developing countries whose economy is heavily dependent on petro-exports, as they will be struggling to find other means to make up for the loss in revenue.

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  5. Vasilis 3 years ago

    1. The “European Question” which contains both Russia and the Eurozone crisis.
    2. The Philipines led arbitration process & South China maritime disputes. Nationalism is a wild card with unpredictable consequences.
    3. And indeed Klaus is right to mention AI and it’s impact on military and strategic design of great powers. More inclusively it is the NBRICs and the massive disruption that exponential innovation and the cognetariat class is producing to society, state and the individual. Society after all “accumulates knowledge faster than wisdom”.

    “For the gods perceive future things,
    ordinary people things in the present, but
    the wise perceive things about to happen.”

    Philostratos, Life of Apollonios of Tyana, viii, 7.

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  7. Mathias J. Jongkor 3 years ago

    1. First of all, of course we did not hear that the superpowers (the United States, Russia and China) have collied in the field of millatry combat. Why because they want their war to escalate to nuclear atomic warheads. In contrast, international community look at US and EU as a super powers that can liberate weaken countries to freedom from a dominance an outsiders or within their countries. On the other hand, China is busy in improving its economic around the world and Russia is watching its neighbouring countries that breaking way in favour of EU that is taking advantage of eastern Europe. Russia is looking for win-win situation as a policy of China, and it does not want any countries to involve at its territory.

    2.When it comes to international trade the superpowers, US Russia and China would have effective competition over international trade. China has an open up policy at international investment, and it has dominated the Africa by encouraging the oil industries of China to invest in Africa.China does not want to involve into African internal policy, when it come to human rights. For intense in case of the Sudan, China has used the right of veto to block the United Nation not to act on the Sudan. furthermore, China has joint (LDC) the least developed countries under the name G77+ China. Africa countries look China as a country that can bring up African countries. In order to US and EU, they should have to come up with effective trade policy to invest without conditions in developing countries because investment will improve a quality of live rather than enforcing a democracy that need a long way to go in processing.
    3. The Superpowers who are controlling the Nuclear weapons challenging countries who building up the nuclear weapons such as North Korean and Iran. International community is annoying by activities of North Korea and Iran and they look international law should be respected and implemented. I thing international community will be facing the development of international trade, activities nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea, continuation of terrorism that are some example of challenges that are waiting the international community in 2015.

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    1. Mathias J. Jongkor 3 years ago

      Correction to above article
      Mathias J. Jongkor 29 mins ago
      1. First of all, of course we did not hear that the superpowers (the United States, Russia and China) have not collied in the field of millatry combat. Why because they do not want their wars to escalate to nuclear atomic warheads. In contrast, international community look at US and EU as a superpowers that can liberate weaken countries to freedom from a dominance of outsiders or within their countries. On the other hand, China is busy in improving its economy around the world and Russia is watching its neighbouring countries that are breaking away in favour of EU that is taking advantage of Eastern Europe. Russia is looking for win-win situation as a policy of China, and it does not want any country to involve at its territory.
      2.When it comes to international trade the superpowers, US Russia and China would have a competition over international trade. China has an open up policy at international investment, and it has dominated the Africans investment by encouraging its oil industries to invest in Africa. China does not want to involve into Africa´s internal policy. When it come to human rights. For instance in case of the Sudan, China has used the right of veto in Security Council to block the United Nation not to act on the Sudan because of its interests. Furthermore, China has joined (LDC) the least developed countries under the name G77+ China. Africa countries look China as a country that can bring up. However, US and EU, should have to come up with effective trade policy to invest without conditions in developing countries. So that the investment will improve quality of live in Africa rather than enforcing a democracy which need a long term to processing.
      3. The Superpowers who are controlling the Nuclear weapons are challenging countries that are building up the nuclear weapons such as North Korean and Iran. International community is annoying by activities of North Korea and Iran and they look the United Nations to enforce international law.It has to be respected and implemented.

      I think international community will be facing some challenges: International trade, activities nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea, continuation of terrorism that are some example of challenges that are waiting the international community in 2015.

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