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The EU and its Eastern Neighbourhood
Eastern Europe is the EU’s back yard. Geographically it shares the continent; historically it is connected through centuries of interaction, religious affinity and more. EU foreign policy cannot succeed unless it is successful first in the Eastern neighbourhood. Whilst that is possible, it is by no means a certainty. Between the EU and Russia – Europe’s giant neighbour to the East – are the Eastern Partnership countries. Three of them – Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – are EU Associated states with aspirations for EU membership; the three others have closer relations with Russia, with Belarus sharing a Union State; Armenia being a member of the CSTO and EEAU; and Azerbaijan, whilst a non-aligned country, also claiming a strategic relationship with Russia.
The EU has since 2009 sought to manage its relationship with these diverse group of countries through the Eastern Partnership with mixed results.
This one day conference, coming as it does on the eve of a crucial EU-Eastern Partnership summit in December, will take stock of how this important and costly EU instrument has performed, and how it can work in the future, looking at three themes:
(1) The EU and the process of reform, democratisation, and inclusion in the Eastern Partnership countries.
(2) The EU and the challenges to the rule of law in the Eastern Partnership countries.
(3) The EU and the resolution of conflicts in the Eastern Neighbourhood.
Fluwelen Burgwal 58, Den Haag
Event reportThe opinions and views expressed by participants during the conversation summarized: "The trio countries (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) are Europe, they are not just neighbours; and they contribute to European security and European energy security." "The issue of degradation of norms needs to be recognised; there is still no clear agreement as to what instruments are best used to hold countries to account against their commitments." "It needs to be recognised that reforms absorb a lot of political and societal energy. They can only be sustained and succeed if they have widespread popular support." "The importance of young people in driving the reform agenda was strongly highlighted." "It was recognised that the Eastern Partnership persisted despite Russia’s attempts to undermine it." "The fast intervention of the EU in support of Moldova during the recent standoff with Gazprom was highlighted as a good example of effective practice." "It is important to remember the very tangible benefits for the people in the Eastern neighbourhood from the agreements signed with the EU." "EU member states should be more active in EaP meetings and not leave it only to representatives of the institutions."
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