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Persisting towards a Europe without dividing lines

Has the Eastern Partnership been a success story for the European Union? The question, a decade after its official launch, is certainly worth asking.

Let us start where we were more than a decade ago and which led the two of us in our then capacities as foreign ministers of our respective countries to make the first proposal for an Eastern Partnership in May 2008. At that time, the European Union had developed various neighbourhood policies in different directions. There was the overall European Neighbourhood Policy since 2004 – which led France to drive plans for an ambitious Union of the Mediterranean – and there was an ambitious approach for co-operation with Russia taking place.

May 2, 2019 - Carl Bildt Radosław Sikorski

Resetting the Eastern Partnership

Ten years after the launch of the Eastern Partnership we need to ask which parts require a major upgrade and which new tools should be used for this policy to become more effective. First and foremost, we need a deep and honest analysis of the programme’s goals and methods.

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a policy of the European Union aimed at the six post-Soviet states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It was launched in 2009 upon the initiative of both Poland and Sweden, and supported by other EU members. Yet, the EaP has undeservedly – in my view – become a legend. Today, after a decade of its establishment, it is worth going back to the very start of this project and examine the assumptions that went with the initial stages of the EaP’s development.

May 2, 2019 - Marius Maszkiewicz

The Eastern Partnership. Much accomplished, more to be done

After ten years of Eastern Partnership, the balance of success seems largely positive and heartening. The benefits of the initiative have been tangible and sizable. Yet there is still a long way to go to achieve stronger governance, especially concerning the strengthening of the rule of law, implementing key judicial reforms and reinforcing public administration.

“Launched in 2009 as a joint policy initiative, the Eastern Partnership (EaP) aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union (EU), its Member States and its six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.” This is the official definition of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), a political and technical platform for dialogue that has been shaping the relationship between the EU and its Eastern bordering countries, including the Southern Caucasus. In fact, it is even more than that.

May 2, 2019 - Gabriele Bonafede

Multiplying civil society’s voice in the Eastern Partnership, a challenging task

The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum was established to facilitate civil society’s engagement in Eastern Partnership policy and promote dialogue among civil society organisations and the authorities. One might think that one decade is enough time to develop co-operation where officials learn to value civil society’s expertise and willingness to help. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

When asked to look into the past ten years of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP SCF) I did not envision how difficult it would be. I found myself divided between my professional passion for the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region and the frustration that accumulated over the years of working on it. I have enormous admiration for civil society in the region whose actors, despite personal risk, tirelessly defend human rights, seek to instil democracy and the rule of law and create a safe and engaging environment. But I also cannot ignore the limitations.

May 2, 2019 - Dovilė Šukytė

The Eastern Partnership at 10 What is there to celebrate?

In essence, the Eastern Partnership has diverted from its original path. Instead of transformation, it speaks of stabilisation and differentiation. One can argue that some of the states have made progress in the last ten years; but not because of the Eastern Partnership.
There should be no doubt about the good intentions and the vaulting, inspiring ambition of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership programme (EaP). At its heart, the Swedes and the Poles found a simple premise in their extension of the European Neighbourhood Policy: to encourage, through incentives, a trajectory towards European values for the states involved (this was in the days when European values were not quite as tarnished as they are now).

May 2, 2019 - James Nixey

Crimea’s native tongues

Russian-annexed Crimea has three official state languages. In practice, languages other than Russian are being squeezed out through a policy of persuasion, coercion and repression.

April 12, 2019 - Lily Hyde

A new authoritarian succession model being tested in Kazakhstan

The news of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s resignation as president of Kazakhstan announced on March 19th 2019 sent shockwaves across Eurasia. No post-Soviet leader has attempted a similar transition since 1991.

March 21, 2019 - Mariya Y. Omelicheva

The limits of geopolitical thinking

A conversation with Andrew Wilson, professor of Ukrainian Studies at University College London and senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

ADAM REICHARDT: On many occasions you have brought attention to the “multi-unipolar world” doctrine formulated by the late Russian thinker, Vadim Tsymbursky, which – as you argue – is a key to Russian geopolitics and which stands in opposition to the more classic US-led unipolar world that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In Tsymbursky’s view, the multi-unipolarity assumes the existence of regional hegemons who control their neighbourhoods. Tsymbursky died precisely a decade ago and much has happened since. Many events may even indicate that, from the Russian perspective, this doctrine or ideal-type geopolitical system is still alive and well. Do you agree with this statement?

ANDREW WILSON: It is always interesting to talk about Tsymbursky. In his time he was a more fashionable Russian intellectual than Aleksandr Dugin (though we often hear more about Dugin). Using the framework of a geopolitical system implies that the active agent here is geopolitics. Certainly Russia thinks in that way. Russia loves the word geopolitics. The European Union, on the other hand, does not think in a geopolitical way. Nor have we jumped from a unipolar order to a new world order – over whatever chasm lies in between.

March 5, 2019 - Adam Reichardt Andrew Wilson

The failure of Pax Americana

The collapse of the international order we are now witnessing is also seen in the failure of Pax Americana in the post-Soviet space. Since the end of the Cold War, the West has targeted this region with hyper-fast change and the peaceful transition from totalitarianism to democracy. Today, we know that it has had a limited impact.

In 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, the world was faced with a colossal challenge. It was clear that the obsolete Soviet system had to be replaced with a new model, preferably one that based on the free market and liberal democracy. The transition started in Central Europe in 1989 but did not spread to the whole post-Soviet space. On the ruins of the former Soviet empire, many states did not succumb to the democratisation processes which, in time, created an opportunity for the ancient empires (Russia, China and Turkey) to develop an alternative plan and fill the void that was caused by the limited effectiveness of the West’s engagement. For the leaders of these powers (Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in particular) the post-Soviet states offered new lucrative opportunities.

March 5, 2019 - Paweł Kowal

Georgia between Russia and a rising China

China’s economic and military rise is arguably one of the central themes of 21st century geopolitics. As Chinese investment and interest in Georgia increases, Tbilisi must consider the geopolitical potential that a closer relationship with China might bring to a country long marginalised and weakened by Russia.

Like many other rising powers throughout history, China bears strategic imperatives that clash with those of the United States. Beijing needs to secure its procurement of oil and gas resources and to diversify transportation routes, as it currently relies on the piracy-ridden Malacca Strait. In an age of American naval dominance, the Chinese imperative is to redirect its sectors of economic dependence – as well as its supply routes – elsewhere.

March 5, 2019 - Emil Avdaliani

How to buy a republic

The strategic dynamics of elite capture often take place when three main interests fall in line. First, it is the clear geopolitical interest of a foreign power. Second, it is the political interest of a significant portion of the domestic political establishment which has reason to turn its politics and policies in that direction. And third, a major domestic economic actor, in line with the new policy, drives and lobbies for it. The Czech Republic is a good case study of how the processes of elite capture works.

Security policy discussions across Europe in recent years have focused on hostile Russian disinformation, cyber attacks, military aggression in Ukraine, support for extremist groups and classical Russian or Chinese espionage. One major tool of foreign influence, however, has been underrated. It is relatively cheap and often not seen as particularly aggressive, but it takes quite a long time to achieve (intelligence professionals nickname it “boiling up a frog”). This method is called “elite capture” and, in some countries, it is a relatively easy way of arranging the desired strategic dependence of a targeted country, if there is not much resistance.

March 5, 2019 - Jakub Janda

Germany in the post-Merkel era

An interview with Stephen Szabo, a senior fellow at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies in Washington, DC. Interviewer: Kate Langdon

KATE LANGDON: Transatlantic relations have been a cornerstone of German foreign policy for decades. As US President Donald Trump questions the political legitimacy of the European Union (EU) through acts such as downgrading the EU’s economic and diplomatic priorities, will Germany seek to strengthen transatlantic ties? Has President Trump inflicted any irreparable damage already?

STEPHEN SZABO: Yes, Germany certainly will seek to strengthen transatlantic ties. Germany has too many interests at stake to allow these ties to be dissolved simply due to the actions of one administration, or more precisely the actions of the White House. The US market is the largest single-export market for Germany and the American security relationship remains indispensable to German security. Chancellor Angela Merkel learnt from the split over the Iraq war that Germany could not afford another break of the type that occurred with former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder’s split with the Bush Administration.

March 5, 2019 - Kate Langdon Stephen Szabo

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