by David Stepanyan
Despite all the problems with implementation of the Eastern Partnership project (EaP) and Russia's extremely critical assessment of the project, it is so far early to give up on a project. The remarks came from Sergey Markedonov, Associate Professor at the Russian State Humanitarian University, well-known political analyst, at the discussions organized by the Research Center "Region."
"First, the EU countries are interested in further cooperation of the post-Soviet countries. After the Vilnius Summit, 13 EU member-countries have prepared a European Package adjusted to the post-Vilnius realities. No one is sure whether it will be a success. One thing is for sure: EU is interested in 'stable neighborhood' and is trying to build its policy as they see their way clear to," Markedonov said.
He outlined the different attitude of the EaP countries to the EU. According to him, Azerbaijan's approach differs from that of Moldavia and Armenia's approach differs from that of Georgia. Ukraine and Belarus also have different attitude to the project. In addition, he said, the EaP countries have different level of relations with Russia, different level of integration with the EU and different interests in their integration. What consolidates them is the interest in cooperation with the EU, which is also perceived differently by them.
In this light, the analyst is sure that EU's EaP cannot be a triumphant progress of European values. "Not all the ordinary citizens and the elite of the EaP countries see a triumph of democracy and equal opportunities for everyone in the EU membership. Some people expect high social losses, security problems and threats to ethnic or regional identity," Markedonov said. Consequently, he said, the role of Moscow, which is often demonized, and the factors of the U.S. and the West must not be overestimated.
"There is high demand for cooperation and integration into the EU. However, there are serious contradictions when it comes to identity, and regional differences and unresolved conflicts. These contradictions will not disappear unless Russia and the EU launch a dialogue on the fate of the post-Soviet area. This dialogue is not just desirable. It is inevitable. The question is when the sides will realize the need for dialogue and which format they will choose to this end," the Russian analyst said.