Reform as Resilience: An Agenda for the Eastern Partnership

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Publication Date May 2015
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After a year of diplomacy dominated by the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Riga on 21-22 May 2015 will focus on the wider challenges of the surrounding region. Yet most EU member states appear reluctant to bring forward new agreements or promises to EaP states.

Many aspects of the EU’s response to Russian geopolitical assertiveness have been strong and admirably balanced. Yet there is a danger that EU policy is shaped primarily around the Russia factor rather than around the underlying challenges that come from the EaP countries themselves. This approach risks turning the six EaP partners—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine — into passive objects of a perceived Russia-EU geopolitical rivalry instead of treating them like sovereign states with their own specific identities and needs.

To rectify this danger, the EU needs to remold its support for fundamental political reform in EaP partner states—and use this as a firmer base from which to assuage tensions with Russia. The Riga summit should aim to make a tangible contribution to this process.

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ESO: Background information: Eastern Partnership Summit, 21-22 May 2015

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