by David Stepanyan
Brussels' refusal to conduct Ukraine - Russia - EU negotiations was one of its few adequate decisions of the last 3 months, said Anna Shelest, senior research fellow at Odessa-based branch of the National Institute of Strategic Studies, at the discussions "Post- Vilnius Process of the Eastern Partnership" organized by the Research Center "Region."
"It is probably for the first time when European officials so clearly mention that the problem concerns Ukraine and Europe, with Moscow's 'concerns' to be taken into account. "Clearly realizing the inevitability of a dialogue of Russia and the EU on the post-Soviet area, I must say that these countries are free to decide their fate independently," Shelest said.
Shelest is sure that the EaP must be perceived as an attempt to split the countries of the Mediterranean from their Eastern neighbors as part of the EU Neighborhood Policy. This policy sparked outrage in Ukraine and Moldova because of an attempt to unite the countries that strive for European integration and the countries of Northern Africa that will never become EU members.
She thinks that it is those who pinned extra hopes with the Eastern Partnership now speak of its failure. In this light, she said, EaP is a strategy rather than a specific action plan with deadline for implementation.
In addition, she said, Europe was not ready to such sharp reaction from Russia. "After the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008, in Brussels they let their guard down. They thought Moscow would seriously oppose only a military-political expansion and would soberly assess cooperation in the social-economic and axiological field. However, their illusions were dispelled very soon," Shelest said.