October 18, 2013
The Vilnius Summit or the Eastern Partnership Summit, scheduled this year for November, is considered a turning point in the EU Eastern Neighbourhood Policy, a historic moment when decisions are to define the region from a geostrategic and geo-economic point of view.
Since the establishment of the Eastern Partnership there has been introduced a regional geostrategic competition, unfortunately one which the European Union has not fully assumed, the EU registering at least two specific failures in the case of Belarus and Armenia, a roadblock regarding Azerbaijan, and an uncertain situation about Georgia.
Belarus is a two-track gateway: of the West to Russia and of the Russian Federation to the West. Thus an important strategic point has been lost.
Moreover, Azerbaijan is a key country, with a lot of resources, with enormous energy potential, not at all sensitive towards European populist speeches. It is a strategic area in the South Caucasus and the only country that can be Europe’s ally in this region, sharing an important border with Turkey.
The Vilnius Summit – challenges and possible effects
The November Vilnius Summit is a key challenge to the stability and security of the region. The assignation of Ukraine to the East or West, and the clarification of a position regarding Georgia depend upon the decisions that will be taken in about a month in Lithuania. And of course we will see if the Republic of Moldova will receive the encouragement gesture for its pro-European approach, that of signing the Association Agreement.
These Association Agreements are a guarantee that the states will work their way to Europe, they will embrace the European values, the rule of law, the democratic practices, they will achieve reforms for modernisation, and, most importantly, they will enter into a free trade zone. Furthermore, this is an acknowledgement that these countries fall under the European umbrella and not under the Eurasian one, supported and promoted by the Russian Federation.
The Vilnius stage and signing the Association Agreements signify for these states the start of an irreversible process, and also a geostrategic decision for the European Union and its ability to set itself up as a regional power and an active global player in international politics.
During this period the European Union’s foreign affairs and security policy agenda should have as a priority a very successful Eastern Neighbourhood Policy at the meeting in Vilnius. The Eastern Partnership needs to be successful because, without Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, this initiative would run out the purpose for which it was created.
The stakes are high, both in terms of geopolitical and geostrategic balance in the region and in terms of economic cooperation. The Association Agreements create a framework for cooperation, and at the same time, a free trade area with opportunities, with greater competition, with new markets for the European SMEs. For those states that are to accede to the European free trade area there will be a major impact, they are to change their perception and a new approach of the economic policies is to be adopted.
Given the position of the Russian Federation, Ukraine is the summit priority and the Republic of Moldova is one strategy’s complementary element in the region, without it the project would not be considered a success.
Being a consequence of the stated and assumed positions of the Member States of the European Union, and of the Russian Federation, the chances are greater for the Republic of Moldova than for Ukraine. Blocking Ukraine is due to geopolitical game reasons, because of the minerals export and import route of the EU informal leader that is Germany.
Germany keeps a very strong position regarding the former Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yulia Timoshenko, amnesty. It may be justified or not to some extent, but it is not enough to be a good excuse for blocking Ukraine western course.
Clearly, after the ratification, the European values export towards Ukraine can be achieved easier. Its inclination towards the Russian Federation would make Ukraine unable to achieve the European values.
The emergency for concluding such agreements obviously stems from the fear that these countries will not be able to resist the pressures coming from the East and that they could be attracted by the Eurasian Customs Union’s force. There may arise issues or difficulties along the way, even after the ratification of the Association Agreement.
However, is important for the EU to start thinking and acting in correct geopolitical and geostrategic terms. This can translate into a coordinated, unified and visionary EU foreign policy. A foreign policy of the ENTIRE European Union should prevail over the foreign policy of the individual Member States.
In this way the EU will naturally become a strong voice in the international arena.
A possible EU foreign policy failure during the summit in Vilnius will throw Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and the other Eastern Partnership countries in the yard of the Eurasian Union, meaning a de facto geopolitical and geostrategic restoration of the Russian Empire. An empire where Ukraine will obviously be “icing on the cake”.
Besides the fact that all these countries’ internal efforts towards the West will be ruined, in case of a possible failure, that we do not want, we will see a profound change in the “Eurasian continent” paradigm of power.
This would be a paradigm shift that will create enormous difficulties, and both the EU and almost all of the Central and Eastern Europe states, including Romania, are not prepared to face it, nor do they want it.
Adrian Marius Dobre