EaP Think Bridge: EU is still capable of keeping EaP initiative afloat

Before the Eastern Partnership Summit took place in Brussels November 24, every side had its own views, expectations and intentions. However, the Summit results demonstrated that the European Union was still capable of bringing quite a wide range of aspirations to the common denominator and keeping the initiative afloat even if it did not completely satisfy the needs of some participants, wrote EaP Think Bridge.

The publication, to which IPN makes reference, said that the fifth Eastern Partnership Summit was supposed to answer to the main question: how will this EU initiative develop further on? However, more radical wording appeared just before the summit, asking if this initiative was to exist at all, and if it had any added value for the participants?

Brussels decided to keep the initiative, and that is why places at the heart of the current Summit a search for the ways to strengthen cooperation and achieve stronger economy, governance, connectivity and society.

At the current point the Eastern Partnership is a “different speed” initiative, where three countries (Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova) are leading as they are associated states with a free trade zone and visa-free regime, Armenia has a Partnership Agreement, while Azerbaijan has some negotiations, and Belarus is being careful and limits itself to the bilateral and multilateral formats of the EU cooperation.

According to EaP Think Bridge, the aspirations regarding further cooperation are also on the different levels: from the EU membership to a simple mutually rewarding economic cooperation without a political component. This situation is without a doubt understood in Brussels, and therefore a different level of ambitions for the partner countries is declared, however, some attempts are made to avoid the Eastern Partnership fragmentation.

Armenia is one of those few that achieved the desired result at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels. The EU–Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement was signed, which takes the relations to the next level of the enhanced political dialogue and economic cooperation. This will allow Yerevan to receive more of the European assistance while not deteriorating its relations with Moscow. Many experts suggested that Yerevan and Moscow view this agreement as a bridge between the EAEU and the EU.

Following such a successful example Belarus started to talk about a new format of the relations with the EU. “Signing an agreement on partnership and cooperation is a matter of a short-term perspective,” said the Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makey.

Azerbaijan had one big goal to achieve at the Summit: that is to raise the question of violating the territorial integrity of the country and the illegal deployment of the Armenian troops on the territory of Azerbaijan. Even though Baku’s position was not entirely reflected in the EaP Summit’s Declaration, however, the Azerbaijani side was satisfied with the results of the summit as its final document supported the territorial integrity of the member states.

Georgia was not overly ambitious over the Eastern Partnership Summit and therefore had a positive reaction to its results. The Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili underlined that the Georgia’s progress and its successes were unanimously acknowledged, referring to the Association Agreement, FTA and visa liberalization. He also underlined that the European reforms continue to be held in Georgia, and stressed the importance of the time when the EU will be ready to include Georgia into its member states.

Moldova, just as Georgia, did not have any ambitious goals regarding the Summit. Its main task was to achieve continuous financing for its domestic reforms – in October the EU withheld €28m over the justice reform hold-up in Chisinau. Having received the EU’s credit of trust, Chisinau had a positive reaction following the Summit results.

As for Ukraine, it is obvious that it had the biggest demands to the Summit, even though the expectations were quite predictable. In short, the Ukrainian rdemands were as following: a potential EU membership; an investment plan for Ukraine; acknowledging Russia as an aggressor state; new formats for the countries having signed the Association Agreement. Instead of an investment plan there was some sustainable development agenda. Ukraine did not get the results it wanted, and therefore will focus on developing the bilateral relations with the EU. Following the Summit Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin tweeted that the “European future is the relations between Ukraine and the EU“, said EaP Think Bridge.

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