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Analysis

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

Belarus and Ukraine are both similar and different

Exploring the similarities and differences between the post-Soviet paths of Belarus and Ukraine.

September 4, 2020 - Taras Kuzio

As Serbia strengthens ties with West, Russia seeks to destabilise

According to recent research, 65 per cent of Serbian citizens support the strengthening of co-operation between Serbia and the United States in the fields of security, defence and economy.

September 3, 2020 - Jelena Milić

Ukraine as a key to Europe’s energy security. Towards a US-Polish-Ukrainian LNG trading platform

On August 31st 2019 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Warsaw to strengthen gas security in the region through LNG supplies from the US via Polish and Ukrainian infrastructure. This formal document may lay the foundations for developing a new natural gas trading market in Europe.

Free of political barriers, access to a diverse range of energy sources is necessary for effective industrial development. European economies have become increasing concerned with energy security. This is largely the result of growing desires to end a dependence on supplies of gas and oil from the Russian Federation. The diversification of energy sources guarantees supply and promotes market liquidity. What actions should be taken in order to ensure this diversification? Will the Ukraine-Poland Interconnector and Baltic Pipe be able to guarantee a continuous supply of gas to the Polish and Ukrainian markets? What are the challenges faced by companies which manage infrastructural projects in the natural gas sector?

July 7, 2020 - Mykola Voytiv

The meaning behind Azerbaijan’s forged elections

In February 2020 Azerbaijan held early parliamentary elections for its National Assembly. Independent observers noted serious electoral fraud, including ballot stuffing, multiple voting and turnout manipulation. Yet the fraudulent activities around the election process were not the sole component of the Azerbaijani government’s strategy.

The early parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan took place on February 9th 2020. Through these elections, the citizens of Azerbaijan elected deputies to the one-chamber National Assembly (Milli Məclis). The official election results announced by the Central Electoral Commission showed a significant victory for the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (Yeni Azərbaycan Partiyası, YAP), whose representatives are said to have won 72 out of 125 single-member constituencies (58 per cent of all districts). Interestingly and uniquely for non-democratic post-Soviet states, YAP candidates, even though running in single-member districts, often placed second or third, and at times even last. Their poor placing was often the result of an agreement with candidates from parties who were loyal to President Ilham Aliyev, or with some formally independent candidates.

July 7, 2020 - Mateusz Bajek

Great power competition returns to Central Asia

The Russian-Chinese duopoly retains strong clout in Central Asia. Western overtures to Central Asian nations, however, are still worrisome to Beijing and Moscow, which treat the region as their own backyard. Even though the United States is unlikely to replace Russian or Chinese influence in Central Asia, Washington can offer a geopolitical counterweight and expand its ties with the region, where a western presence is limited.

In early February this year US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, paid a rare visit to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The visit was yet another signal that Washington, under Donald Trump’s presidency, wants to strengthen ties with Central Asian nations and challenge Sino-Russian domination in the region. Pompeo's visit was part of Donald Trump's administration broad effort to reinvigorate ties with Central Asian nations which has come ahead of the unveiling of the United States Strategy for Central Asia 2019-2025 in February this year.

July 7, 2020 - Natalia Konarzewska

Kaliningrad’s first million

Although Russia as a whole suffers from a continuous population decrease, Kaliningrad Oblast keeps attracting newcomers. For the first time in its 75 year-long history, the semi-exclave has exceeded one million inhabitants and continues to grow. Yet only the city and its immediate surroundings benefit from this trend.

The Kaliningrad Oblast, which is located on the Baltic Sea between Poland to the south and Lithuania to the north and east, was built on the ruins of the German province of East Prussia together with its capital city, Königsberg. The majority of its population, mostly ethnic Germans, fled in late 1944 and early 1945 as the Soviet Red Army advanced beyond the borders into pre-war Germany and started to encircle the region. The remaining thousands were resettled by the new authorities at the beginning of the 1950s. The repopulation of the region, now under Soviet control, was gradual and slow. By the beginning of the 1980s, the number of inhabitants in Kaliningrad had reached its pre-war levels.

April 7, 2020 - Miłosz Zieliński

The price of power

For the last 25 years the Belarusian society has been living under an authoritarian regime led by Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Even though the Belarusian leader is no longer perceived as the “last dictator in Europe”, he is the post-Soviet leader who has held onto power the longest.

Many of the post-Soviet countries, especially in Eastern Europe, experienced revolutionary moments after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some saw them more than once: Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Almost all of these states have tried to implement the difficult, and at times dramatic, process of establishing democracy and getting closer to the European Union and other western structures. In Belarus a fossilised conservative system, which impedes its political and economic development, has been preserved, maintaining the republic in Russia’s sphere and under its influence.

April 6, 2020 - Pavel Usov

Moldova (re)balancing its foreign policy

For the time being, Machiavellian principles dominate Moldova’s foreign policy. With pressure from the European Union targeting the rule of law and the need to find material benefits, the current Moldovan ruling elite is heading to the widest doors.

Since the first days of independence in 1991, the political class in Moldova has chosen to tie the country’s foreign policy to a bifurcated East-West orientation. This is reflected in the state’s governance as leaders constantly search for quick fixes from the outside. Thus, this geopolitical oscillation has become a modern Moldovan political tradition with the foreign policy dichotomy as a sort of "trademark" used to quickly interpret, not always accurately, public perceptions or the conduct of the political parties by observers both at home and abroad.

April 6, 2020 - Denis Cenusa

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