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Eastern partnership: the vector needs to change
Material posted: -Publication date: 01-11-2010

The summer of 2010 will remain in Russian history as one of the most dramatic periods of the XXI century. Befell Russia tragedy connected with the months-long drought and the resulting fire took dozens of lives, thousands were left homeless. According to preliminary data, only direct damage from natural anomalies amounted to more than $ 15 billion, representing about 1% of GDP. Taking into account indirect and delayed damage, the damage can be from 2 to 3% of GDP or more. Such large-scale losses of the Russian economy had not experienced for a long time.

The summer of 2010 as a starting point of a new reality

However, a giant anticyclone that led to heat waves in Russia, provoked a series of disasters in neighbouring regions. So at the same time, most countries in Central and Eastern Europe was dominated by the Atlantic rains that caused severe flooding and landslides.

Estimated to be available in the media, in Poland by the floods killed 15 people, many were missing. Preliminary damage assessment – more than 2 billion euros. In the Czech Republic, flooding affected thousands of people have died. The damage is estimated at more than EUR 200 million. Seriously affected by flooding and the Baltic States.

According to some experts, the reason for such abnormal weather in the summer of 2010 could be the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that occurred after the accident and sinking of the drilling platform Deepwater Horizon in April 2010, Experts point out that oil slick that covered large areas in the oceans, could affect the energy balance of the Earth's atmosphere and lead to climate change.

The extent of this terrible natural and manmade disasters again and again by the sad experience has shown that to deal with the consequences alone is extremely difficult for even the economically strong States.

We are sincerely grateful to everyone who came to help in difficult minute.

In the elimination of consequences of natural disasters and firefighting the Russian officers helped colleagues from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Germany, Italy, Poland, and other countries. A number of States have provided financial and technical support. Special thanks go, of course, rescuers and firefighters from Poland who came to the aid of Russia, despite the tragic events in their own country.

The joint struggle with the elements revealed a number of serious shortcomings related to the coordination of multinational forces: from the banal bureaucracy at the border, to the problems of the interaction of technical means and communication systems.

Unfortunately, the tragedy that befell Russia and Eastern Europe did not last, and you should be ready that this could happen again and again with new force and with even greater consequences.

Oddly enough, but the issues of international coordination in emergency situations (despite the fact that in recent years such situations are repeated often enough), are proving to be one of the least elaborated.

Today globally we have a well developed system of political, military-political, financial-economic blocs and regional organizations, whose task is to coordinate the policies of the countries-participants in the political, military or financial sectors. Suffice it to recall that the problems caused by the consequences of the financial and economic crisis, has led to the emergence of a fundamentally new format of international cooperation – "the big twenty". As for effective interaction in emergency situations, the type of occurred this summer, all the well-known organization engaged in them only in so far as it is limited to interaction at the level of relevant ministries and agencies. But this, as experience has shown, is not enough. What should be done?

"The Eastern partnership at crossroads: to be or not to be?

In recent years we have repeatedly appealed to the topic of the potential impact on geopolitical development in the neighboring Russian regions such as the project "Eastern partnership".

The initiative "Eastern partnership" (EAP) was put forward by Poland with the support of Sweden, the Czech Republic and the Baltic States in may 2008 In a number of reviews have repeatedly noted a clear anti-Russian orientation of the project, his desire to further "take" of former Soviet republics from Russia, to refocus them on the EU and the United States.

However, as the years have passed since the announcement of the launch of the initiative, selected by the organizers the direction of development not only allows to develop the project, but in many aspects just brought it to a standstill.

Despite a two-year job, there are still fundamental differences in approach to EAP among EU countries and six former Soviet republics participating in the initiative. "Old Europe", especially Germany, France and Italy, continue to insist on the inviolability of the original goals of the program is the establishment of a multilateral format of cooperation between the EU and its Eastern partners, providing conditions for political cooperation and economic integration. However, they continuously stress that the EAP is an integral part of the European neighbourhood policy, and participation in it in any case does not involve the prospects of joining the EU and is not a "preparatory courses" to integrate into the organization, as it was proclaimed at the opening of the initiative.

Moreover, the analysis of comments and expert evaluations shows that in Berlin, Paris and Rome are considering the EP as a blatant product of distrust of Russia by the Eastern Europe and prefer to the extent possible, to distance themselves from the Polish-Swedish initiative. There tend to assume that the implementation is questionable from the point of view of the ultimate impact of projects under the EAP will only strengthen the suspicion of Moscow regarding the activity of the EU in the post-Soviet space and add to the agenda of the dialogue between Russia and the EU is very inconvenient for those of Brussels. In fact, the EP becomes a kind of instrument for strengthening the influence of Eastern European and Baltic countries in the post-Soviet republics at the expense of the interests of their EU partners.

The severe economic consequences of the crisis for the European economy do not add optimism - "old Europeans" still quite restrained assess the prospects and feasibility of implementing EAP programs in the current circumstances. In the background facing the EU's problems, especially in the sphere of implementation of the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, as well as reduce the risk of default in Greece and some other member countries, the EAP places an additional burden on the EU budget. Not accidentally that at the moment of the event in the framework of the development plan initiatives funded less than half – allocated a total of € 250 million, whereas it is necessary not less than 600 million euros.

The face of the uncertain prospects for European output and global economy from the crisis, leading EU member States currently give priority to the deepening of relations with the BRIC countries and to ensure their own interests, often outside the space of the CIS. Germany, France, Italy clearly demonstrate disinterest without serious reasons "to tease Moscow". Given the fact that the "Russian factor" objectively present in all discussions under the EAP, implementation of the program in full is unlikely. Any tangible results in the framework of the EAP to achieve in the near future is unlikely.

Our analysis shows that the most difficult situation from the point of view of the implementation of the EAP is emerging today in the South Caucasus region. This is partly due to the fact that, despite the serious political, economic and cultural differences, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are often falsely perceived in the EU as a homogenous or even a single. In addition, strategically important for the EU in terms of energy security and military-political stability of the region continued to feel the strength of the commitment of the Europeans to the ideals of human rights, including in international Affairs. Given the continuing controversy between the republics of the success of the initiative today will largely depend on the ability of the EU to involve the States in the region in a collective form of cooperation.

As for Armenia, there is a special subject. Without a doubt, Armenia is Russia's strategic partner, which is interested in developing her close military-political and economic relations. Today Russia is largely seeks to restore its presence and influence in the region. A number of bilateral meetings, as well as the exchange of delegations and carried out in recent months, joint activities have shown that this is so. Russia, despite all the problems in the organization and conduct of its foreign policy in the region, remains a key player here. And this is the importance of Russia is even more important than the value EU, the USA or China, although the situation may change in not better for the Russian side.

Cooperation with Russia is beneficial for Yerevan and largely insures Armenia from the adverse impacts of its transport isolation and unfavorable world economic trends.

It is obvious that the ability of the EU to implement major investment projects in the South Caucasus in the context of the global financial crisis were limited. This also applies to the lack of desire of the EU to influence the negotiation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The EU distorts the assessment and uses double standards in dealing with the military-political situation in Transcaucasia. Europeans always "over" when talking about the energy, and constantly shy away from practical involvement in the resolution of the Karabakh problem.

In this context, the program coordinators believe it appropriate to focus on the implementation of projects aimed primarily at promoting democracy, development and the strengthening of civil society, the approach of the principles of functioning of state authorities and local self-government to the European standards.

However, in our view, itself an initiative involving a number of CIS countries and focused on rapprochement with the EU, can have a much brighter future.


Eastern partnership – a new vector

The relations of the countries located on the territory of the former Soviet Union, was characterized by the emergence of a number of unifying programs and initiatives that were accompanied by rapid launch and subsequent sinking of the processes.

This is largely understandable and explainable – world centers of power, one way or another, tried to form a currently favorable market conditions, to form a camp of their own allies in the region. Actually change the world balance of power centers and influence the growth or loss of popularity of a project.

The situation with the "Eastern partnership" is absolutely identical. The project was conceived in the Wake of the flourishing of the European economy, but its implementation coincided with the hard times, and this was reflected in his life.

In this situation it is important that the world (particularly the EU, USA, China) in the geopolitical game in Eurasia take into account only its own selfish interests, forgetting that in the countries of the region people live, and that it's their land, their country and their history. It is impossible at once to declare a partnership and tomorrow "begin to make friends" against its historical ally and neighbor.

Yes, today this has become possible, but such alliances are short-lived and do not bring real results. Often projects fall apart, but an unpleasant aftertaste remains from former partners, and it takes years to restore good neighborly relations. Today's promises of financial gain, to break the historically friendly relations between the countries of the region. However, priorities change tomorrow, again throw these countries into the arms of "old friends".

Only when every participant feel their role and place in it, feel its importance and value to other participants, only then can these processes have a future.

In our view, the situation of global natural disasters of the summer of 2010 demonstrated that it is necessary to focus not so much on the processes of "democratization" as the partnership and mutual support in a difficult situation.

In many cases the consequences of natural and technogenic accidents are so great that to cope with them alone beyond the power of any country, and especially the country, and affected more by the financial crisis. Only by working together, drawing on the principles of mutual respect and reciprocity can build a new, post-crisis world order.

In this context, quite logical would be the launch of the new initiative to establish clear rules for cooperation and mutual assistance in emergencies.

We believe that the change of vector of development of "Eastern partnership" would be in the interests of all its participants and today's opponents.

Moreover, the unifying potential of mutual aid is one of the most significant in the history of mankind. In human nature is the principle of compassion – usually caught in a difficult situation, people help even though their former nefarious acts. Grief unites.

Maybe today it makes sense to rethink everything that happened in these hot/rainy months and make the decision to change the basic guidelines of the initiative "Eastern partnership".

Perhaps, one should not "friendship against Russia", and should create a really working and effective partnership, which would have accumulated resources of the participants and can quickly come to the aid of those in trouble. Oddly enough, but in modern world politics in modern world Affairs is almost no organization that would be built on the principles of reciprocity and mutual help, and not to protect, someone else, personal and vested interests.

It is for such a project could indeed be a serious potential Association is not only the former Soviet republics, Eastern European countries, but also EU and Russia, and all who are interested in receiving expeditious and effective care.


Article prepared for the magazine "XXI century"

Tags: Russia , Europe , threat

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