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Analysis

Should Ukraine conduct local elections along the Donbas contact line?

Current military-civil administration in eastern Ukrainian frontline districts need to be kept in place and partially reformed. Should the Donets Basin return to Ukrainian control, they could provide institutional templates for a temporary special regime within the currently occupied territories.

September 9, 2020 - Andreas Umland

A terrible nightmare or useful conjuncture: what the Belarusian August means for the Kremlin

In addition to obsolete catchwords such as ‘the last dictatorship in Europe’ or ‘the reserve of the USSR,’ Belarus is often referred to as a mirror image of Russia. Against the backdrop of Lukashenka’s potential ousting, how does the Russian political elite make sense out of the August events?

September 8, 2020 - Filip Rudnik

Coronavirus pandemic seriously challenges Russian economy

A combination of socio-economic factors observed in Russia not only indicates that the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the country's economy will be profound, but that the recovery might take longer than it appears today. Much will depend on the authorities’ readiness to support household incomes and business activity through accumulated reserves and borrowings.

Russia has approached the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic with the economy not in great condition. Back in 2010-2012 the Russian economy was growing faster than the world economy. Yet since then, its global share has fallen by about one-fifth. In 2014, following the events in Ukraine, the Russian economy suffered a double blow as a result of lower oil prices and the impact of sanctions imposed on it by the United States, the European Union and a number of other countries.

September 7, 2020 - Oleg Buklemishev

In Church we trust. The case of the Moldovan Orthodox Church

The relationship between religion and society differs in most post-Soviet states. While the Orthodox Church in Moldova clearly enjoys widespread popularity in the country, it has chosen to focus on promoting a “traditional agenda”, often associated with discrimination towards women and minorities.

The Ukrainian Church’s official independence last year raised issues regarding how religion impacts geopolitics in post-Soviet countries. Despite this, the country’s former president, Petro Poroshenko, was neither the first nor the last political leader to use religious sentiments as part of an electoral campaign. The current Moldovan President, Igor Dodon, did so during the country’s previous elections. While there are numerous studies analysing the role of the church in politics and social movements, this discussion investigates the church’s role regarding conflict mitigation or instigation. By examining situations prone to conflict, we can try to determine whether the Orthodox Church in Moldova (OCM) serves the purpose of uniting the people or fostering polarisation. Such an issue remain of great importance for a country where more than 90 per cent of the population declare themselves Orthodox.

September 7, 2020 - Anastasia Pociumban

Dirigisme 2.0. The way to go for the region?

Most countries of Central and Eastern Europe that are now members of the EU developed impressively since the collapse of the centrally planned economy. Yet, Poland and other countries in the region still lack their own capital to compete on a global scale. The merger of Poland’s two state-owned refineries, Orlen and LOTOS, could illustrate a solution – selective state-ownership in crucial sectors.

Economic power is not shared equally across the European Union. Only one out of all EU companies in the Global Fortune 500 ranking is based in one of the new member states that joined the union after 2004. The remaining 112 companies are based in the “old” EU. Yet, as the case of a merger of two state-owned Polish oil companies shows, this unparalleled level of inequality is not being addressed by Brussels.

September 4, 2020 - Jakub Bartoszewski Michael Richter

The Eastern Partnership: Between fundamentals and integration

By signing Association Agreements with some countries of the Eastern Partnership, the EU has embarked on a foreign policy experiment. In essence, it is an offer of integration without accession to promote transformative reforms in neighbouring countries. This necessitates a change in the nature of the support that the EU typically offered in the past.

The European Union has offered the six Eastern neighbourhood countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – a privileged relationship with the eventual aim of economic integration into the EU’s single market. To some, this offer has proven attractive as evidenced by the conclusion of the Association Agreements and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, however, have opted for a looser relationship within the framework of the multilateral Eastern Partnership.

September 4, 2020 - Katarina Mathernova Kataryna Wolczuk

Zelenskyy’s Ukraine and the Eastern Partnership

In recent years Ukraine has become an informal leader of the Eastern Partnership. Along with Georgia and Moldova, Ukraine seeks more active co-operation with the European Union and advocates expanding its activities. Nevertheless, the further success of the Eastern Partnership will depend on whether the EU succeeds in developing an effective approach that meets the needs, expectations and interests of all partner countries.

This year the Eastern Partnership celebrated its 11th anniversary. For Ukraine, this time is clearly divided into two periods: 1) the pre-EuroMaidan period and 2) the post-EuroMaidan period with the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union. The political part of the agreement was signed on March 21st 2014 (entering into force on November 1st 2014); while the economic part was signed on June 27th 2014. The aim of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) is to integrate Ukraine and other participating countries with the EU. The EU’s co-operation with its eastern partners is focused on stimulating political and socio-economic reforms. And it contributes to the deepening of political and economic relations, ensuring compliance of domestic legislation with EU norms and standards, as well as maintaining mutual respect for common values.

September 4, 2020 - Hanna Bazhenova Tomasz Stępniewski

Georgia and the EU need to stay focused on integration

The Eastern Partnership can boast a list of accomplishments for Georgia and Georgian society. Yet, it seems clear that the Eastern Partnership was never really considered as a path of membership to the European Union. Georgia’s government and civil society now need to focus on what the next steps in European integration should be.

“Georgia has one of the highest EU support in the world,” said EU Ambassador Carl Hartzell in interview for Georgian TV Formula’s “Droeba” programme. The ambassador added that: “About 250 million euros have been allocated for Georgia in the form of grants. These are new grants and new funding. If we talk about rough numbers, the European Union will allocate about 1.5 billion Georgian lari [nearly 415,000 euros] for Georgia”. It has been eleven years since the Eastern Partnership Programme, suggested by Poland and Sweden, was launched. Georgia, as one of the beneficiaries and one of the leaders of the Eastern Partnership programme, showcases more ambition and put great effort towards its European integration. Today, the Eastern Partnership faces new challenges: What will its future be and what will be the new steps in the process of EU integration for these countries? Any decision regarding future challenges remain very important for Georgia.

September 4, 2020 - Nugzar Kokhreidze

A reality check for Moldova-EU relations

In understanding the impact of the Eastern Partnership in Moldova, it is worth examining what it has failed to deliver for the Moldovan state and society. In this regard, it is a cliché that the strategy “started as a transformative mechanism and ended as a stabilisation and differentiation package of norms and measures”. Moldova has not become more stable or predictable, more prosperous or functional – and definitely not a place where the majority of its citizens would prefer to get old.

By mid-2020, and one year after the fortuitous change of political power in Chișinău (after the politician/oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc fled the country in June 2019), the state of Moldovan-EU relations has continued to be plagued by the same structural institutional pathologies for at least the previous three to four years: systemic corruption, state capture, shady transactions, divisive political identity, beleaguered institutions, legal nihilism, endemic poverty, and the list goes on.

September 4, 2020 - Oktawian Milewski

Failed Expectations? Belarus and the Eastern Partnership

When compared with other members of the Eastern Partnership, Belarus appears to be at the back of the line in terms of projects and endeavours. Belarus has not signed any partnership or co-operation agreements and the last attempt to restart bilateral relations disappeared in October 2019 when Frederica Mogherini’s visit was postponed indefinitely. Perhaps the current political situation in Belarus will provide the EU with an opportunity to reassess its policy towards Belarus and Belarus’s place in the Eastern Partnership.

When the first Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit took place in Prague in 2009, Belarus seemed to be demonstrating more hope than despair in terms of its internal and external political development. Another wave of western sanctions had just been mitigated and bilateral relations with one of the two major proponents and initiators of the Eastern Partnership – Poland – were reaching a new level of mutual trust and co-operation. Despite the fact that Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka did not come to Prague himself, unlike his colleagues from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine (Moldova was also not represented by the head of state), Belarusian media portrayed the Eastern Partnership Initiative as a success of Belarusian diplomacy.

September 4, 2020 - Veranika Laputska

EU-Armenia co-operation at a crossroads

The launch of the Eastern Partnership in 2009 became strategically important for Armenia as it gave a chance for alternatives and a diversification of its partners in the West. The programme not only provided financial assistance to Armenia, but it also enriched the narrative on EU-Armenia relations.

Armenia’s relations with the European Union, within the Eastern Partnership (EaP) programme, have seen many positive developments accompanied by certain setbacks. Thanks to the EaP, the EU has become an important strategic partner for Armenia, introducing a democratic agenda and guidelines for democratic development. Since the EaP began 11 years ago, it has included the signing of significant documents with the EU. Yet due to deviations from the democratic path, Armenian authorities, at times, also backed off on co-operation. The 2018 Velvet Revolution in Armenia showed there is a desire in the country for democracy. Yet despite these changes, Armenia’s foreign policy has not changed, making it difficult to observe tangible results in the advancement of the EU-Armenian relations.

September 4, 2020 - Hasmik Grigoryan

Eastern Partnership and Azerbaijan. Balancing values and interests

Relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union have focused more on economic, reformative and technical issues than political ones. Both sides agree upon an incremental process, which has its own advantages and seems to have prospects for the future.

Azerbaijan is a country with positive attitudes towards Europe and European culture. Since the 19th century Azerbaijani intellectuals, aristocracy and merchants developed intellectual and economic ties with the West; with first and second oil booms at the end of 19th and 20th centuries respectively, Baku became a hotspot for European political, social and economic enterprises. A 2020 survey by EU Neighbours east project identified the EU as the most trusted international institution, enjoying a 41 per cent level of trust (up 13 per cent since 2018). Forty-four per cent of Azerbaijani citizens have a positive image of the EU – an increase of 17 per cent since 2016.

September 4, 2020 - Rashad Shirinov

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