November 25, 2010

EU's and Eastern Partners' Autumn 2010: Tipping Point in Terms of Rapprochement?

The Autumn 2010 is a season which promises to be eventful for the multilateral relations between the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaidshan.

However, there are different voices coming from the EU and the partner countries.
  • The European Union's offer is dominated by the motto: So do not be annoyed by some more requirements for democracy, better implement the existing provisions of the Eastern Partnership initiatvie.
  • The partner countries have the motto: So do not be annoyed by some more mistakes in our democracy, better adopt measures to facilitate greater accessibility of our citizens and goods.
The result could be integrated into the countries' and European Union's ongoing development and show where the two parts can do better.

The autumn of European and national decisions
  • It is not so long ago before, on 31 October 2010, in Ukraine were held local elections. The elections were won by two stakeholders: by the "Party of Regions" led  by Viktor Yanukovych and the extreme right-wing party "Svoboda" (Freedom). Yanukovych consolidated its power and "Svoboda" became more popular than others.
  • On 28 November 2010, early new parliamental elections will be held in Moldova. These elections are the outcome of a referendum held on 5 September 2010. The referendum was on whether or not the country should amend the Constitution of Moldova to return to direct popular election of the president instead of 3/5 of total number of seats parliament vote as it is now and resulted in failure due to an insufficient turnout. Nevertheless, it is quiet a visible sign of increased political rationality.
  • On 19 December 2010 presidential elections will be held in Belarus. It is quiet clear that Alexander Lukashenko will of course win again the election. The outcome of the election will be the same as last time, but this time, German and Polish Foreign Ministers, Guido Westerwelle and Radoslaw Sikorski, visited Minsk preceding the election, on 2 November 2010. This visit should be seen as an important initial phase in strenthgening Belarussian civil society for the upcoming election. The two ministers agreed on €3 billion in international aid over the next three years if Belarus is ready to improve democratic reforms.
Herman van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso, Viktor Yanukovych.
  • On 22 November 2010, in Brussels a summit between the EU and Ukraine was held. The most important thing for the European Union was to bring Ukraine back on the European track. The European officials have had to recognize Ukraine's choice, whatever this choice may be, but concentrating on further support for its economy modernization, strengthening the Ukrainian civil society and freedoms, and consistently improving aspects of the democratisation process.
Georgian President M. Saakashvili, 23 November 2010.
Foto: © European Parliament - Audiovisual Unit
  • On 23 November 2010, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili visited Strasbourg and adressed the European Parliament Members. Two main issues dominated the speech. First, he appealed for his country to be granted the possibility for a future in Europe: "Georgian citizens have stopped thinking of their country as a post-Soviet state. They see it, judge it, and often criticise it as a European democracy." Second, he also said that Georgia would not use force to settle the dispute with Russia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia: "Georgia will never use force to restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty and that it will only resort to peaceful means in its quest for de-occupation and reunification. (...) We all want - and what I personally want is Russia as a partner and not as an enemy." However, Russia regards such visions with great scepticism, and proposes in this context a bilateral dialogues Tbilisi-Zchinwali and Tbilisi-Suchumi. A day before, the European Union and Georgia have signed an agreement on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation.
  • The most important summit this autumn was held in Lisbon, on 19-20 November 2010: the NATO-EU-Russia Summit. In addition to the Strategic Concept for the Defence and Security of The Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation adopted by Heads of State and Government in Lisbon, the outcome of the summit provided a clear point in two aspects: First, the Member States of NATO and especially the USA, achieved enhanced cooperation with Russia. Second, the enhanced cooperation opens a possibility for the Eastern Partner countries of the EU to participate in the new security order (South Caucasus' implications). However, some analysts are pretty much sceptic: "Whatever is said, the missile shield, if it worked, would serve to facilitate eventual aggression against Russia. The encirclement of Russia continues in the Black Sea, the Baltic and the Arctic circle", Diana Johnstone writes in an article "Encircling Russia, Targeting China, NATO'S True Role in US Grand Strategy".
There are some initial steps towards deeper rapprochement, but 2011 could be a year where the EU and the partner countries should show their will for.

Do the partner countries need some friends in the EU?

"What is needed is an "EU listening tour" of the region, in which leaders from EU states start taking into account the political and security concerns of the region and incorporate them in the emerging discussion between the U.S., Russia, and the EU on the new European security architecture." (Andrew Wilson/ Nicu Popescu for the Wall Street Journal Europe, The Summer of Eastern Europe's Discontent)

The former Lithuanian President, Valdas Adamkus, delivered in a speech a clarified position for Ukraine, but this could be adopted by all the Eastern partner countries: "You should find countries that will support Ukrainian membership in the EU, and will push this issue, not letting it to be put away and forgotten."

Group of Friends. Author: Hr. Hrisoskulov
The Joint statement of the foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic) at the meeting in Budapest, 2 March 2010, can be regarded as an initial step towards European regional approach for "political and socio-economic reforms, facilitating approximation and convergence towards the European Union within the Partnership framework". The Ministers agreed on the launching of a "informal "Group of Friends" of the Eastern Partnership, consisting of non-EU countries willing to support or participate in the implementation of the Partnership".

Additional support from Eastern and Northern EU Member States

From 2011 to 2019, eight Eastern EU Member States are going to take over the EU Council Presidency: 2011 - Hungary and Poland, 2013 - Lithuania, 2015 - Latvia, 2016 - Slovakia, 2018 - Estonia and Bulgaria, 2019 - Romania. Each of those Member States will use the operational level of the Presidency of the Council for setting its own impulses and political inputs on the future direction and development of the Eastern Partnership initiative.

Poland and Sweden, as the initiators of the Eastern Partnership, would have to prove for the future they were able to take an active part in this policy area. Poland hopes that its approach of gradual and measured cooperation towards the countries included by the Eastern Partnership will eventually gain support and meet with a constructive attitude from other Member States of the EU.

Lithuanian,  Estonian and Finnish attitudes are dedicated to ensuring that a European Union neighbourhood policy, and especially Eastern Partnership is needed, which would, with greater commitment, focus upon co-operation between the EU and neighbouring countries, and their internal development. However, what is needed is a real support for these countries. The New and Northern Member States of the EU should become a spokesperson for an entire region, speaking out on political and social issues through their commitments.


Axel hat gesagt…

Hello Hristofor,

you wrote: "The New and Northern Member States of the EU should become a spokesperson for an entire region, speaking out on political and social issues through their commitments."

I Think the northern and a part of the new estern members could use the structures of the "Baltic Council" (part of the baltic strategy of the EU) as a plattform for their interests. What do you think about?

BR Axel

EU21Global hat gesagt…

Hi Axel,

this could be an appropriate platform for more engagement of Russia and some partner countries like Ukraine. This platform could be more linked to same structures in the Black Sea region for exploiting the synergies, that both strategies (Baltic Strategy and the Black Sea synergy)offer. Policy areas such energy or environment could be mentioned here.

Axel hat gesagt…

Hi Hristofor,

I agree with you. I think the "new tool" of the EU to create the "Macro-Regions" like Baltic Sea, Danube Region, Black Sea, Mediterranean or North Sea is able to connect the actors in this regions and is even able to organize new links between the different regions.
In this new mode we will create another "Europe by Regions" perhaps in a manner the european politicians twenty years ago didn´t think of.

So long

Axel hat gesagt…

Hi @ all,

I have a further information about "EAST-INVEST: A new regional tool for the
economic development of the Eastern
Neighbourhood region". If you like to read more klick to the following link:

Best regards

EU21Global hat gesagt…

Hi Axel,

thank you for giving me interesting inputs...I agree with you on the idea of "Europe by Regions". This could be the best possible way integrating poorer countries into the EU. Best example are Bulgaria and Romania and their only one connection over the Danube river.

So long

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