Дата публикации

Eastern partnership

The European Union's multilateral program aimed at developing regional cooperation with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, the Eastern Partnership (EP), was initiated by Swedish Foreign Minister K. Bilt and Poland's Foreign Minister R.Sikorski in May 2008.

The main objectives of the Eastern Partnership are to bring closer and deepen cooperation between the states of Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus with the EU, create conditions for political association and further economic integration both between the EU and the EP states, and between the EP states themselves.

There have been a number of unresolved problems since the programme began to develop:

  1. Lack of a clear general understanding of the ultimate goal of the project among its participants. After relations between the West and Russia cooled down, the Eastern Partnership, which initially had a rather amorphous framework of objectives, actually turned into a "process for process";
  2. the desire of the European side to impose its vision on the way the states develop and the relations between them. The great attention paid by the EU to the transformation of public values in the EP countries has turned the cooperation with the Single Europe into a "one-way" road.
  3. Blurring of the nature of integration processes within the framework of EP. The project does not appear to be either geopolitical or infrastructural. Interaction with the participating countries in practice boiled down to bilateral relations. Against this background, the EaP countries have been divided into 3 groups: the most advanced countries in terms of integration – Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine (Association Agreements have been concluded and free trade zones have been established); Azerbaijan (the terms of the framework agreement are being discussed) and Armenia (the Comprehensive and Extended Partnership Agreement with the EU has been in force since 1 June 2018); the country without a basic agreement – Republic of Belarus (negotiations on "EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities" are under way).

In relations between the Belarusian state and the EU within the framework of the Eastern Partnership programme, the conclusions of the forecast presented on September 9, 2017 based on the results of the expert seminar of Minsk Dialogue Initiative (organized according to the methodology of situational analysis) are justified:

  1. Shifting the focus of the European Neighbourhood Policy from promoting values to "stabilising and diversifying" relations;
  2. Continued normalisation of ties with Belarus despite the lack of progress on human rights and democratisation issues desired by Brussels;
  3. Increased EU rhetoric on security issues in foreign policy;
  4. Continued EU sanctions against Russia and strengthened EU countermeasures in the area of information and propaganda confrontation with Russia.

However, this forecast does not sufficiently take into account the Chinese factor when assessing factors affecting the development of Russia-West relations. Both the EU countries and the Russian Federation tend to develop relations with the PRC. Limiting or even removing conflicts along the Russia-West axis is possible through the implementation of the "Asia-Pacific Approach": the development of mutually beneficial multilateral trade and economic relations while relegating conflicts in the political sphere to the background.

The implementation of this approach is possible in EU – Russian Federation – Republic of Belarus – Chinese relations. At the same time, it seems possible that the US will oppose its implementation.