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Analysis

Eastern Partnership. Partial progress

In May 2009, the European Union launched its Eastern Partnership. It was a product of Swedish-Polish partnership, spearheaded by the two foreign ministers Carl Bildt and Radosław Sikorski. After one decade, the verdict is mixed. The EU offered a framework for co-operation, free trade agreements, visa-free travel and reform programmes, but the financial support has been quite limited, giving the reform programmes too little clout and no clear perspective of EU membership has been offered.

May 2, 2019 - Anders Åslund

Eastern Europe intrigue

The Eastern Partnership started as a rather innocuous Swedish-Polish initiative. Launched in 2009, it was seen mostly as just another scheme for Brussels to channel funds and coordinate the European Union’s activities in Europe’s east. Ten years on, everything has changed about Europe’s East and the EU itself. Now everything is political. If previously the EU could claim that the EaP was just a technical process, it is difficult to sell this argument now.

May 2, 2019 - Joanna Hosa

Eastern Partnership at 10 Rhetoric, resources and Russia

The Eastern Partnership was designed to tie the eastern neighbours to the European Union, keep Russia out and EU membership off the table. These objectives have largely been achieved – but the region has become neither more stable nor secure.

May 2, 2019 - Balazs Jarabik

The Eastern Partnership project in Ukraine and Belarus

For the past decade, both Ukraine and Belarus have been members of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership Project (EaP). Has it been a useful tool for the EU in drawing these countries closer? Have its initial and long-term aims been fulfilled? Is it a project that is worth continuing?

May 2, 2019 - David Marples

Lessons learnt from the Eastern Partnership

Ten years after the launch of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) two basic dilemmas inherent in the policy design remain unchanged: first, the six countries within the EaP framework (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) differ significantly in their domestic political trajectories and, by extension, in their ideas about their relationship with the European Union.

May 2, 2019 - Gwendolyn Sasse

Towards a new European Ostpolitik

Instead of encouraging co-operation through the opening of potential windows for partnership, which was the guideline of the previous Ostpolitik, a new European Ostpolitik should take the concerns, direct neighbourhood and historic experiences of the more recently added EU member states seriously by developing and implementing a new strategy of partnership. The goal should not be about developing new dividing lines but establishing new platforms of communication.

Germany’s international relations are already prioritising the development of a new European Ostpolitik well in advance of July 2020, when the country is slated to assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months. European Ostpolitik will likely be translated into more concrete policies during the 18-month-long rotating trio presidency of the Council of the EU that includes successive terms led by Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia, respectively.

May 2, 2019 - Iris Kempe

Contemporary Russia’s power vertical: Clans controlled by the Kremlin

Despite the fall of communism nearly three decades ago, Russian leaders have continued to pursue illiberalism and authoritarianism – especially Vladimir Putin, whose popularity remains high even as he plunders the country’s financial assets. Putin’s ability to strengthen and manipulate the power vertical and its accompanying clan system are crucial to his control of Russia as a whole.

Contemporary Russian politics, starting in 1990 when the country declared its sovereignty and de-facto independence from the Soviet Union, has experienced all types of regime shifts. The newly post-Soviet Russia began as a fragile democracy, albeit one that leaned more towards illiberalism than freedom and continued to endure hard authoritarian governance. Over the years it travelled down the path of greater totalitarianism.

May 2, 2019 - Vakhtang Maisaia

Gagauzia: Geopolitics and identity

Gagauzia is an autonomous territorial unit located in the southeast of Moldova. Yet, the complex geopolitical situation in which the tiny region finds itself accentuates the challenges that still exist in the post-Soviet space.

Gagauzia (or Gagauz Yeri in the local language) is a small autonomous region in southern Moldova. Established in its current form in 1995, and officially known as the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia, the entity covers 1,832 square kilometres and is divided into three dolays (districts) situated in four enclaves. Out of the population of 155,600 (which makes up 4.6 per cent of Moldova’s population), the Gagauz people represent the majority of the region’s inhabitants (82.1 per cent), followed by Bulgarians (5.1 per cent), Moldovans (4.8 per cent), Russians (3.8 per cent) and Ukrainians (3.2 per cent).

May 2, 2019 - Rusif Huseynov

A battleground of identity

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the post-Soviet space has become a battleground for world and regional powers competing over economic, political and security dominance. This rivalry has been accompanied by a competition between different identity narratives, which are instrumentally used to attract, or intimidate, the societies in the post-Soviet states. The most illustrative region in this regard is Central Asia.

The collapse of the Soviet Union brought new opportunities to its former republics, now states, to integrate or ally with organisations and powers from outside the region. It also allowed them to build new co-operative projects with other post-Soviet states. Such co-operation, though, was not limited to economic, political and security relations. The most fundamental questions the newly independent states had to address, at that time, were those regarding their own cultural and national identity. Therefore, the public debate focused heavily on issues like religion, language, alphabet, historical heritage and state tradition. These topics generated serious emotions, including among ordinary people.

March 5, 2019 - Adam Balcer

Belarus in the multipolar world

Strong political and economic ties with Russia prevent Belarus from becoming a fully neutral and independent state. And any change of geopolitical orientation or integration with the West is out of the question. The only option Minsk has, if it wants to maintain sovereignty, is to find its place in the multipolar world, one that is now coming into view.

Recent talks about the possible incorporation of Belarus into the Russian Federation have brought wide attention to the country and its place in the changing world. It sparked a series of discussions on Belarus’s neutrality and multipolarity, which have been the foundation of the republic’s foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union. First stipulated in Article 18 of the 1994 Constitution, it was repeated and further developed in official state documents. Yet for almost two decades, these two important principles were reduced to words on paper while the behaviour of the Belarusian authorities, especially President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, displayed a completely different approach. Indeed, almost since the beginning of his rule, Lukashenka was tightening co-operation with Russia. The milestone agreement in this regard, concluded in 1999, established the Union State of Russia and Belarus.

March 5, 2019 - Krzysztof Mrozek

Transdniestria’s new opening?

The multipolarity of today’s world is changing Transdniestria. The unrecognised para-state that until recently was almost exclusively dependent on Russia, now trades with the European Union. While this new reality may not have reduced Russia’s influence in the region, it has certainly offered Transdniestrian oligarchs a new business opportunity.

A quick look at the breakaway territory of Transdniestria’s trade balance confirms that its authorities’ narrative, which assumes near-sacred political and historical ties with Russia, does not match the economic reality. In 2018 as much as 36 per cent of Transdniestrian exports were sent to European Union states, while only ten per cent made it to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU, a customs union made up of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan – editor’s note). Ukraine and Moldova are also important recipients of Transdniestrian products.

March 5, 2019 - Piotr Oleksy

Can the Three Seas bring a new balance to European politics?

The Three Seas Initiative has evolved into a geopolitical and geo-economic grouping of primarily post-communist EU member states. Despite their diversity and differences in policies towards Russia, the members are showing certain common interests.

The Three Seas Initiative was originally developed as a geopolitical alliance of NATO/EU member states of “New Europe”: from Estonia to Croatia, connecting the Baltic and Adriatic Seas. The initiative was officially launched in 2015 as the Adriatic-Baltic Sea Initiative by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and has been referred to as the ABC (Adriatic, Baltic, and Black Sea) Initiative, first designated by Polish President Andrzej Duda. It has also been referred to as “the vertical”, considering the north-to-south direction of the bloc of countries which make up the initiative.

March 5, 2019 - Petar Kurecic

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