The Week at Chatham House: Zimbabwe’s New Leadership, Climate Talks Post-Trump and Is Poland Turning its Back on Eastern Europe?

The latest international news and analysis this week.

Zimbabwe Ushers in New Leadership

Following a two-week political crisis in Zimbabwe that saw a military takeover and the subsequent ousting of the nation’s 37-year leader Robert Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa has been sworn in as president, becoming the country’s second leader since gaining independence from white minority rule in 1980.

The southern African country is experiencing an almost unprecedented convergence as traditional political, economic and social fault lines are beginning to be bridged and Zimbabweans unite for change, writes Knox Chitiyo. Alex Vines also takes a look at the extent of China’s influence in Zimbabwean affairs, which can be traced back to the end of the Liberation War in 1979.

Climate Negotiations Adjust to Life Beyond Trump

The annual climate change negotiations — the highlight of the year on the climate diplomacy calendar — concluded last week, but how did this year’s talks adjust to life beyond Donald Trump following the US president’s announcement in June to withdraw the country from the Paris Agreement? In a two-part interview, Rob Bailey speaks with Gitika Bhardwaj about the key highlights from the conference, with a close look at how the domestic politics in Germany, Syria, China and France also influenced the negotiations, before looking ahead to the importance of agreeing a ‘rulebook’ ahead of next year’s deadline.

Is Poland Turning Its Back on Eastern Europe?

Since the launch of the Eastern Partnership in 2009, Poland has been one of the most important EU member states in driving engagement with the EU’s eastern neighbours Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. But as the fourth bi-annual summit of the group of countries begins, Poland has seemingly abandoned its leadership role in the region, risking the political and economic development of its eastern European neighbours, and in particular, the stability and integrity of Ukraine. By turning its back, the ruling Polish party is jeopardizing the country’s security as well as its standing in the EU, writes Kataryna Wolczuk.

What Next for Cambodia Following Crackdown?

On 16 November, the Supreme Court in Cambodia struck a blow to democratic rights in the country when it ordered the dissolution of the main political opposition — the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). The country is now essentially a one-party state, as the CNRP is expected to lose all of its seats in the National Assembly, ensuring there is no organized political opposition to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodia People’s Party. This strike to democracy will likely affect both Cambodia’s citizens and the country’s foreign relations: in the short term, Cambodia looks unlikely to escape its new one-party rule but internal and external pressures on the leadership will mount, writes Champa Patel.

Europe and its Neighbourhood

And finally, as national elections across Europe come to their conclusion, and with Brexit negotiations now in progress, this week Chatham House’s Europe and its Neighbourhood Conference brought together experts from across Europe to discuss the pressing challenges affecting the European continent and beyond. The conference discussed a range of issues from Europe’s capacity to meet common foreign and security challenges including migration, the changing power dynamics in the Middle East and the ongoing relationship between the West and Russia. Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis spoke about the EU’s failings with projecting soft power in its neighbourhood, forming a joint European army, handling the refugee crisis and Brexit.

By Gitika Bhardwaj

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