What does 2014 hold for the EBRD region, a huge expanse of territory stretching from Morocco in the West to the Pacific in the East and covering 34 countries?
- Governments in the EBRD region will be under more and more pressure to deliver real reforms. History will look kindly on leaders who focus on institutions, governance and the long-term.
- Those countries which fail to reform will be less and less competitive. They face a choice. They can redouble their efforts to reform – and count on our full support in doing so. Or they can duck the issue and watch their economies continue to flatline and increasingly fail to attract investment.
- Recovery in the Eurozone will gradually take root. The recovery will gradually strengthen and slowly lead wider Europe out of the economic slump of recent years, while the banking sector continues to work off the legacy of the past.
Oksana Antonenko, Senior Political Counsellor
- People power is on the rise. Growing public mistrust in governments combined with social media guarantee that mass protests will continue in 2014. However, leaderless protests which are organised not around established parties but individuals have limited chances of bringing about change through the ballot box.
- Nationalism and xenophobia. Nationalism and xenophobia have gripped many EBRD transition countries in the wake of an economic slowdown. Russia, for example, will need to find a way to reconcile its push for Eurasian integration with rising anti-immigrant sentiments amongst certain groups at home.
- Politics are going local. In 2014 Turkey and Russia will hold key local elections which are likely to influence the course of national politics for years to come. With greater state control over political NGOs in several post-Soviet states, civil society will focus on grassroots local activism.
Tarek Osman, Principal Political Counsellor, SEMED
- As several Arab countries finalise their constitutions and undertake parliamentary and presidential elections that are to shape their governing structures in the medium term, we will witness a continuation of the acute political confrontations between secularists and Islamists, whose frames of reference and views on the shape of their societies are vastly different. Understanding the social drivers and dynamics as well as the historical contexts is crucial to making sense of the political developments.
- The momentum that youth groupings and civil society organisations had given to the 2011 uprisings is likely to return in several Arab countries, where these social segments have been marginalised from political decision-making. The interaction between these forces and some of the entrenched powers in different countries will determine the smoothness and inclusiveness of the transitions these countries are undergoing.
- The increasing presence of jihadist groups in the eastern Mediterranean, the rise in the regional confrontation between actors in the Gulf, and sectarian tensions are likely to take the violence in Iraq and the Syrian civil war beyond their borders.