For the six countries of the Eastern Partnership, or EaP, the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union meant that independence was as much an urgent crisis as it was an overnight opportunity. Burdened by the seven decades of Soviet rule, the challenges of independence proved daunting as each of these states was unprepared for statehood and under-equipped for democratic governance. Although the starting point of independent statehood was roughly equivalent, their shared Soviet legacy was quickly replaced by a diverging trajectory with a pronounced variance in their political, economic and security reforms. Of these six states, four were constrained by a conflict from the very start, as Armenia and Azerbaijan were consumed by Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia was collapsing under the weight of a civil war and separatism, while Moldova was confronting the Transnistrian conflict. For the other two states, despite the absence of outright conflict in the early period of statehood, both Belarus and Ukraine were constrained by corrupt and authoritarian regimes.
July 4, 2017 - Richard Giragosian