Archive for April, 2009

United on strategy, divided on tactics

It is almost trivial to see the EU divided: on Kosovo, the Perejil island crisis, or the Iraq war. But EU disunity has been most systematic and paralysing when it came to EU policies on Russia and the Eastern neighbourhood, as this power audit showed. Every time a crisis erupted in the eastern neighbourhood the EU was often incapacitated because of two factors.

First, many EU member states hesitated to act assertively in the Eastern neighbourhood for fear of irritating Russia. For many EU states good relations with Russia are more important than developments in Ukraine, Georgia or Moldova. This often forced the EU to act at the lowest common denominator. Whenever it could, the EU shunned meaningful action.

Second, EU member states diverged hugely in the interpretation of events and, consequently, in possible responses. As one EU official once told me about a president from the eastern neighbourhood “you can’t save Y from his once stupidity”. This entirely misses the point: the EU had to get engage in the Balkans not because it liked Hashim Thachi or Slobodan Milosevic, but because Balkan realities were threatening European interests and values. The same goes for the eastern neighbourhood. The EU might not like Aliev, Lukashenko, Sargsyan, Youshchenko, Saakashvili and Voronin, but that is precisely the reason why it has to get more engaged. And that is precisely the reason why the Eastern partnership is being launched. If Moldova was like Estonia and Ukraine was like Poland, there would be no need for an Eastern partnership. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Eastern Partnership

Here is an interview on the Eastern Partnership for Arminfo, a news agency from Armenia, 28.03.2009.

Arminfo: The EU has recently approved the Eastern Partnership program. What is the value of this initiative for the countries included in it?

NP: The Eastern Partnership could help these countries reform, and through such reforms they could strengthen their independence and statehood. The Eastern neighbourhood is very crisis-prone as recent wars, territorial conflicts, political tensions and gas-supply disruptions have proved. The Eastern partnership will try to help EU’s neighbours overcome some of these crises. Read the rest of this entry »

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