Ukraine requires unity

GIS – Comment by Prince Michael of Liechtenstein*

Ukraine requires unity. The EU must show unity with Poland and Hungary as Russia’s war rages.

Ukraine requires Unity GIS comment by Prince Michael of Liechstenstein
Poland and Hungary have generously welcomed more than half of Ukrainian refugees. Now is the time for the European Union to support these two members, not punish them for matters that can be taken up later. © GIS.

When on February 24, 2022, the Russian military started to invade Ukraine, a movement of solidarity could be observed all over Europe. Sanctions were swift and coordinated. Weapons were promised and also promptly delivered. Germany, however, was hesitant at first to deliver weapons, then changed course. Unfortunately, much of the materiel came from arsenals of the old East German army and was no longer functioning.

Germany and Austria are highly dependent on Russian gas and coal. They, therefore, opposed proposals on the European Union level to extend the sanctions to these sectors.

Ukrainians are defending themselves with amazing bravery. Men by the thousands have volunteered to join the army. However, more than 3 million refugees have also ed to neighboring EU countries. These are mostly women and children. Most arrived in Poland (some 1.8 million) and Hungary. These countries have started to welcome, house, nourish and start schooling children of the refugees with extreme generosity.

Yet the two most welcoming countries, Poland and Hungary, have been on the Brussels “bash list” for a long time. They are blamed for curtailing the independence of their judiciaries, among other accusations that are more than debatable about whether these should be EU matters.

Independent justice is important. But violations are issues not only in these two Central European countries. Even in Germany, there are political appointments and a strange “informal” coordination among the judges of the supreme court, the Bundesgerichtshof, and the Federal Government.

At a time when European cohesion is of the utmost importance given the attack on a neighboring country, the EU Parliament had nothing better to do than pass a resolution to force the European Commission to cut EU funds to Poland and Hungary.

In such an institution as the 27-member EU, there will always be differences. They have to be addressed. But everything in time. Today, however, is the wrong moment to punish severely the two members who are generously accepting the bulk of the eeing Ukrainians, who are true refugees and not economic migrants.

These acts are certainly damaging to the cohesion of the Union, which is so important now. Now is the time to show unity and determination to the world, not internal quarrels.

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*GIS is a global intelligence service providing independent, analytical, fact-based reports from a team of experts around the world. We also provide bespoke geopolitical consultancy services to businesses to support their international investment decisions. Our clients have access to expert insights in the fields of geopolitics, economics, defense, security and energy. Our experts provide scenarios on significant geopolitical events and trends. They use their knowledge to analyze the big picture and provide valuable recommendations of what is likely to happen next, in a way which informs long-term decision-making. Our experts play active roles in top universities, think-tanks, intelligence services, business and as government advisors. They have a unique blend of backgrounds and experience to deliver the narrative and understanding of global developments. They will help you develop a complete understanding of international affairs because they identify the key players, their motivations and what really matters in a changing world. Our experts examine the challenges and opportunities in economies old and new, identify emerging politicians and analyze and appraise new threats in a fast-changing world. They offer new ideas, fresh perspectives and rigorous study.

Ukraine and European priorities

Message by Prince Michael of Liechtenstein*

Ukraine and European priorities | The Russian invasion of Ukraine abruptly transformed attitudes and policies in Europe. Several shocks have occurred that have forced countries to reconsider their priorities.

The first shock for many – especially younger people in Europe – was that war is possible. Attitudes toward defense have changed completely. Most see a possible energy crisis as a critical challenge to European prosperity. Such a crisis would not only mean a rise in energy prices, but also a threat to energy security.

Ukraine and European priorities
Ukraine and European priorities – Russlands former President Dmitriy Medvedev at the opening of ‘Nord Stream 1’, April 2010. Source: wikipedia.de

If the supply of energy to Europe were cut off, it would be a severe blow, and could show just how vulnerable highly developed economies can become. Even short blackouts can have long-term effects, hindering the delivery of essential goods. Civil protection throughout the continent should be strengthened.

The looming danger of an energy crisis also shows how important collaboration and integration are in Europe. However, that integration must be limited to areas where it is strictly necessary. Countries cannot afford to engage in unnecessary harmonization.

Europe indulged in the luxury of trying to enforce a value standard. That standard did not always include – and sometimes even neglected – the core values of individual freedom, self-responsibility, the right to life and property rights.

And while checks and balances on power are necessary, European structures (as well as leaders and the media) issued moral judgments against members like Poland and Hungary, while ignoring deficiencies in other countries. Poland was highly criticized for its policies on refugees. Now, however, it is showing a type of generosity not seen in 50 years.

We can only hope that while supporting Ukraine, Europe will realize that it is necessary to concentrate on core priorities and forget about exaggerating problems about which it is a luxury to worry. Only on this basis can Europe defend its freedom, which could also give a greater sense of security to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and the Baltic states.

Kyiv and Moscow are continuing talks and keeping open the possibility for further dialogue. This is already a good sign, and for the first time, yesterday, President Zelenskiy mentioned that these talks have become more substantive.

Both sides must still strengthen their positions. Ukraine is bravely continuing its resistance, while Russia persists in its attacks.

The battlefield positions are not changing much. The destruction, misery and casualties are terrible. Ukraine’s strength is in the determination of its armed forces and its people. Russia’s is in its potential for escalation. In fact, Russia has already escalated the conflict significantly and has recently brought in mercenaries to help its efforts.

A further escalation was Russia’s limitation of its food exports. The resulting food price inflation is a problem for the West. However, the bigger problems will be in Africa and the Middle East, severely hit by the rising costs and shortages. This could also create migratory pressure toward Europe.

Ukraine and European priorities … If we take an optimistic view, we can see the strengthening of both countries’ positions as setting the stage for more negotiations in the short term. Those talks could then open up further opportunities for a resolution.


*Prince Michael of Liechtenstein has completed his trainings at the Economic University of Vienna (Austria) with a Magister der Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften (M.A. in Business Administration). During his studies he took various practical training periods / work with banks and manufacturing companies in Canada, the US and Belgium.

From 1978 to 1987 he worked for Nestlé SA in the fields of controlling, management and marketing on various markets in Europe and Africa.

In 1987 he returned to Liechtenstein where he took over the position of a Managing Director with Industrie- und Finanzkontor Ets. Vaduz, which today is a leading trust company with tradition and expertise in the long-term and multi-generational preservation of wealth, family values and businesses. Today, Prince Michael of Liechtenstein is Executive Chairman of Industrie- und Finanzkontor Ets. as well as Founder and Chairman of Geopolitical Intelligence Services AG Vaduz.

Prince Michael of Liechtenstein is member of various professional organisations such as STEP. Furthermore, he is board member of the Liechtenstein Institute of Professional Trustees and Fiduciaries as well as Chairman of the European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation ( ECAEF), Vaduz. He is also co-founder of the International Institute of Longevity and Longevity Center.

Header image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2022_Russian_invasion_of_Ukraine#/media/File:Russian_military_weapons_destroyed_and_seized_by_the_Armed_Forces_of_Ukraine.jpg

Antonio Martino – in memorian (*1942 – †2022)

Antonio MartinoObituary for Antonio Martino, by Kurt R. Leube

“Essere liberale oggi significa saper essere conservatore, quando si tratta di difendere libertà già acquisite, e radicale, quando si tratta di conquistare spazi di libertà ancora negati. Reazionario per recuperare libertà che sono andate smarrite, rivoluzionario quando la conquista della libertà non lascia spazio ad al altrettante alternative. E progressista sempre, perché senza libertà non c’è progresso.”  Antonio Martino

Prof. Antonio Martino, one of Italy’s most profound scholars of classical liberal thought and daring politicians has died in Rome on March 5, 2022. He was 79.

The melody of Antonio Martino’s spoken language as well as his most pleasant and charming personality gave him away as a native of Sicily. Martino was born in Messina (Sicily) on December 22, 1942 into a prominent and political family. Antonio was a son of Gaetano Martino, Italy’s Foreign Minister (1954-1957), who engineered the Conference of Messina and also signed the Treaty of Rome, that brought about the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC). His father was also President of the European Parliament (1962-1964) and an outspoken promoter of the so-called ‘Italian Economic Miracle’.

After graduating with the degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Messina’s Law School he went on to study Economics at the University of Chicago. His years in Chicago’s intellectually stimulating environment, with Milton Friedman (Nobel Prize 1976, George Stigler (Nobel Prize 1982) or Gary Becker (Nobel Prize 1992) in the economics department had a lasting impact on Martino’s thinking and teaching.

Soon after having defended his thesis and due to his unusual talents as a teacher he was offered the position of a Visiting Professor and started his successful academic career at the Rome Center of Loyola University, Chicago. However, in 1976 he relocated back to Italy and was appointed Professor of Economics at his Alma Mater, the University of Messina. From there Martino moved to the Universities of Bari, of Naples, to Rome’s La Sapienza and in 1982 at last he joined Italy’s leading private university LUISS (Libera Universita Internazionale degli Studi Sociali) in Rome. Countless graduate students are still respectfully and fondly remembering his stimulating lectures and seminars.

Always straight forward and much to the point in his analyses, as an academic teacher Martino was endowed with the almost inexhaustible knowledge and the wit of a politically savvy scholar. As one of Italy’s leading and candid protagonists of the free markets, he decisively helped shape the socio-economic policies from the mid 1990s to about 2005. Firmly grounded in the principles of free markets, yet always carefully weighing the pros and cons, he honestly confronted the utopian ideas of mainstream economics with a social and economic theory based on property rights, contracts, self-responsibility and free trade. Accordingly, for Martino the main purpose of politics was the finding and ultimately also enforcing of rules that enable men with different value convictions to live freely together and thus to limit government actions. Moreover, he maintained that the most profound error of the Welfare State’s ideology is the precarious misunderstanding of the equal treatment principle that must ultimately lead to the destruction of morals and ethics in any free society. Equality under and before the law and material equality have not only totally different socio-economic implications. They are in utter conflict with one another. Thus, an open society can only attempt to achieve one, but never both at the same time.

As an unusually prolific scholar he was the author of 17 books and well over 150 academic papers and articles in the fields of economic theory, monetary history and economic policy. In addition Martino was also an editorial writer for a multitude of Italian daily newspapers and contributed frequently to international periodicals, television and radio programs. Among his most influential books is his Stato Padrone (1997), a treatise on excessive taxation, its causes and possible remedies. Martino worked as an Adjunct Scholar at The Heritage Foundation (Washington, DC) since 1978, and a member of the Editorial Board of the Cato Journal since the early 1990s. From 1988 to 1990 he served as president of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international academic association of liberal (European sense) thinkers that was founded in 1947 by Friedrich A. von Hayek (Nobel Prize, 1974).

However, besides his scholarly work and achievements, Antonio Martino also had an equally successful political career, that began with his first election to the Italian Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies in 1994. He was proud of having been subsequently reelected four times, in 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2008. Together with Silvio Berlusconi and others he founded “Forza Italia” in 1992, a party that, in the beginning, stood for political reforms, limited government, free markets and less regulations. In Berlusconi’s first government, Martino was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1994-1995. After Berlusconi returned to power for the second time, Martino served as Minister of Defense from 2001 to 2006. During his tenure he was first among the main architects and then the most outspoken promoter of the suspension of compulsory military service. Accordingly, since January 1, 2005 the obligatory military service in Italy was suspended indefinitely and the act became known as the ‘Martino Law’. The US Department of Defense awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 2005.

Antonio Martino belonged to that irreplaceable generation of European academics and politicians whose work arose and developed from a comprehensive approach to various disciplines that condition and influence one another. His extensive academic Oeuvre developed from a comprehensive view of various interdependent fields of the social sciences. It comprises seminal contributions to applied monetary- and fiscal policy, monetary history and -theory, essays promoting the idea of a ‘Flat Tax’ as well as free markets. His honest political approach, his elegant reserve and his fine sense of humor are well known to those who ever had the pleasure to meet him privately, at international conferences or in the Italian Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies. As a scholar, as a colleague and a friend, he came as close to the vanishing ideal of a gentleman as perhaps humanity will ever permit. Under the title Promises, Performance and Prospects, a collection of his essays has been edited by Dwight R. Lee in 2005. His inspiring and much enjoyable biography An Italian Life, by Robert Maltais, was published in 2021.



*Kurt R. Leube is the Academic Director of ECAEF (European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation), a leading think tank headquartered in Vaduz, Principality of Liechtenstein.

Beyond the Ukraine War

GIS – Comment by Prince Michael of Liechtenstein*

Beyond the Ukraine War | Whatever the outcome of the war in Ukraine, eventually the West, and especially Europe, will have to learn to live with Russia, finding a path forward based on mutual respect.

comment ukraine war prince michael liechtenstein
Ukraine has become a strategic piece on the “grand chessboard” of geopolitics. © GIS

An unfortunate fate has befallen Ukraine. On one hand, it has become a bargaining chip in a larger security confrontation between Russia and NATO. On the other, the Kremlin considers the country an essential part of Russian identity.

Now, Russian troops have invaded Ukraine. The outcome of this conflict remains uncertain. The Ukrainians’ bravery in their resistance deserves our admiration and support, and we must acknowledge that Russia’s aggression has had a unifying effect on Western and Central Europe. Still, it is necessary to analyze the situation with a cool head and look beyond the war.

The dominant view in the West is that the blame lies with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s megalomania and hunger for power. There is even widespread speculation that he has gone mad. But this may not be the case, since it appears that the broader Russian public still shares President Putin’s views

In Russia, the official narrative is that NATO – in reality, a defensive alliance – is acting aggressively. The regime offers the bombing of Belgrade in the 1990s as an example that the North Atlantic alliance frequently behaves this way. Russia worries about the security of its long borders, which stretch thousands of miles, as well as about foreign intervention in its internal affairs. In Russia, Western culture and some of its values are widely considered decadent. Russia wants to avoid being forced to apply the West’s systems.

This is important to understand. There is an attitude in the West that the best way to live with Russia is to change it, to have it implement Western standards of governance and values. This is a dangerous preconception: it is arrogant and strengthens Russian assertiveness. Another view is that a change in Russian leadership would be advantageous and allow for a better relationship. This may also be a shortsighted misconception.


Living with Russia – Beyond the Ukraine War

Taking a neutral view, we can see revisionist behavior on the Russian side, justified by the pretext of national security. On the Western side, we can see a missionary-like drive to enforce certain “values” that might not be accepted by the Russian people.

What can be done in the short and long term? Certainly, the bloodshed in Ukraine has to be stopped without Ukrainian capitulation. Terms need to be carved out. Most European countries have acted decisively, although some, such as Germany, were very late in doing so. They are supporting Kyiv’s defense and President Zelenskiy, and putting pressure on Russia. Finally, the long-ignored need to improve European defense has become obvious.

We hope that Europe’s new assertiveness will prevail, allowing it to negotiate with Russia as an equal. This could also help Ukraine …

Continue reading -> 
Beyond the Ukraine War


*GIS is a global intelligence service providing independent, analytical, fact-based reports from a team of experts around the world. We also provide bespoke geopolitical consultancy services to businesses to support their international investment decisions. Our clients have access to expert insights in the fields of geopolitics, economics, defense, security and energy. Our experts provide scenarios on significant geopolitical events and trends. They use their knowledge to analyze the big picture and provide valuable recommendations of what is likely to happen next, in a way which informs long-term decision-making. Our experts play active roles in top universities, think-tanks, intelligence services, business and as government advisors. They have a unique blend of backgrounds and experience to deliver the narrative and understanding of global developments. They will help you develop a complete understanding of international affairs because they identify the key players, their motivations and what really matters in a changing world. Our experts examine the challenges and opportunities in economies old and new, identify emerging politicians and analyze and appraise new threats in a fast-changing world. They offer new ideas, fresh perspectives and rigorous study.

The Ukrainian tragedy

GIS – Comment by Prince Michael of Liechtenstein*

The Ukrainian tragedy | Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, European states would be well-advised to rethink their defense strategies to prevent other devastating wars.

The Ukrainian Tragedy
The Ukrainian tragedy – The people of Ukraine have shown great bravery and determination in the face of invading Russian forces. © GIS

Early in the morning on February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine from different directions. After initial rapid progress, the patriotic resistance of the Ukrainian forces, with extensive support from volunteers and the civilian population, managed to slow the Russian troops.

Ukraine is resisting. Russia’s blitzkrieg attempt might not work out as planned. Ukrainian volunteers – even Russian speakers – have lined up to be trained for resistance. Households in Kyiv are preparing Molotov cocktails to destroy Russian tanks in street fights. Others are donating blood to the medical services. During interrogations, Russian prisoners of war appear taken aback not to have been welcomed as liberators, but met with resistance. Ukraine deserves profound respect for its bravery and determination.

But, Ukraine’s courage notwithstanding, Russia’s military is stronger. The Ukrainian side has received diplomatic and materiel support, but no direct military assistance from NATO. Moscow insists on demilitarizing the country.

Moscow has proposed holding “peace” talks in Minsk, while Kyiv has suggested Warsaw. Preconditions are to be set by Russia – meaning they will likely be unacceptable. President Zelensky may allegedly agree to demilitarization. One hope is that Turkey will be able to negotiate a summit without preconditions.

Two weeks ago, GIS published the following statement: “Unfortunately for Ukraine, the country is a chip in a bigger geopolitical poker game between the West and Russia. Instability in areas of Ukraine will prevent it from joining NATO, fulfilling Moscow’s strategic goals as long as it cannot obtain a commitment that the country will not accede to the alliance. The Minsk protocol, meant to end the violence in eastern Ukraine, had many inconsistencies. It might have worked in an atmosphere of consent and good faith, but not under the climate of contention that prevailed. By openly moving its troops into the breakaway Ukrainian regions, Russia has now officially contravened the Minsk agreements, which call for all foreign forces to leave the area.

The West tends to view the conflict through the prism of the Helsinki Accords, while Moscow has not forgotten the philosophy of the Yalta agreement. Both sides interpret agreements reached at the time of German unification and NATO enlargement differently.”

This is still valid. Unfortunately, the consequences of these conflicting positions, and of the West’s indecisiveness, is a wide-ranging military conflict. Ukraine needs all the help it can get.

I was wrong to doubt the United States assertions that there would be a full-scale invasion. Russia has invaded. Whatever happens this week, the situation will result in a new European security architecture emerging …

Continue reading -> 
The Ukrainian Tragedy


*GIS is a global intelligence service providing independent, analytical, fact-based reports from a team of experts around the world. We also provide bespoke geopolitical consultancy services to businesses to support their international investment decisions. Our clients have access to expert insights in the fields of geopolitics, economics, defense, security and energy. Our experts provide scenarios on significant geopolitical events and trends. They use their knowledge to analyze the big picture and provide valuable recommendations of what is likely to happen next, in a way which informs long-term decision-making. Our experts play active roles in top universities, think-tanks, intelligence services, business and as government advisors. They have a unique blend of backgrounds and experience to deliver the narrative and understanding of global developments. They will help you develop a complete understanding of international affairs because they identify the key players, their motivations and what really matters in a changing world. Our experts examine the challenges and opportunities in economies old and new, identify emerging politicians and analyze and appraise new threats in a fast-changing world. They offer new ideas, fresh perspectives and rigorous study.