A new bridge between East and West? – European integration
Last month, the Foreign Ministries of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine met for the first time in Brussels as an “Associated Trio”.
This new tripartite format of cooperation on issues related to European integration was founded on the basis of “The strategy of the trio 2030 on the future of the Eastern Partnership” as a large-scale initiative set up to strengthen consultation mechanisms in the fields of European integration, regional security, digitization, cybersecurity, transport infrastructure, green economy and health care. This type of regional initiative, designed to strengthen cooperation between countries in a region and accelerate their common integration, is a concept that the EU, itself a regional alliance, sympathizes. Moreover, such initiatives are very successful and pragmatic.
The rapid development of events in the Eastern Partnership countries has highlighted the clear need to change the current format. For the EU, it is not only the expectations of the partner countries that are important, but also that they show initiative and engage in the integration process, which is unfortunately not reciprocal by the EU. ‘Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus.
These countries are currently facing internal political difficulties and conflicts, with the aftermath of the Nagorno-Karabakh war, the Russian military presence in Armenia and Moscow’s support for the authoritarian Lukashenko regime. However, after Minsk announced that it would suspend its participation in the Eastern Partnership in reaction to the punishments, it became clear that the dialogue between Belarus and the EU was not going to be possible under the current circumstances.
A chance to prove yourself to the EU
Given the complexity of the situation, Russia’s continued influence and its use of both hard and soft power, the EU has counted on the will of Georgia, Moldova and Russia. ‘Ukraine to follow the path of European development and, under the given circumstances, decided to make more sense to strengthen cooperation with the’ Trio ‘. It is not only a logical decision but also a pragmatic one.
Brussels focuses above all on the results of its efforts, the time it has invested, the financial and technical support it has given to the countries of the Eastern Partnership.
Brussels focuses above all on the results of its efforts, the time it has invested, the financial and technical support it has given to the countries of the Eastern Partnership. In addition, this step places the three states firmly on the path of European development and reduces the risk of Russian interference.
Within the expert community in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, there is often a lack of optimism about the prospects for EU membership – the “Associate Trio” is seen as nothing more than a formal rapprochement of the three states. It is likely that Brussels will continue the ‘more for more’ approach within the framework of the already existing Eastern Partnership.
As a result, the new format currently emerging will prove to be non-functional and is nothing more than a diplomatic initiative. However, if this “Trio” demonstrates that it has the potential to deepen cooperation with the EU, then it could become more attractive, at least from an economic point of view.
A Russian response
The rapprochement between Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine has not gone unnoticed by Russia which, since the establishment of the Eastern Partnership, has perceived this format as anti-Russian.
According to a statement by Russian MP and member of the parliamentary committee on international affairs, Elena Panina, the “Associate Trio” is an attempt to build a ‘cordon sanitaire’ against Russia in the southern part of the post-Soviet space. “The activities of the alliance probably have nothing to do with European integration, the chances of Georgia and Ukraine in this regard are almost nil, and for Moldova are only relevant if the country is swallowed up. by Romania. This is just another example of the implementation of the famous “anaconda strategy”, the strategy of engulfing the Russian circle of hostile alliances, “said Panina.
In summary, the creation of the “Associated Trio” is both a timely and logical step with the potential to accelerate the European integration of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Russia’s reaction is of course not at all unexpected. The Kremlin will continue to defend its interests in the region in the future, exacerbating tensions and militaristic sentiment. The conflicts give Russia additional advantages of control and influence over developments in the region. This recognition motivated Kiev and Tbilisi to step up their efforts towards Euro-Atlantic integration, which is after all the best way to ensure security and defense.
Does Russia have a reason to worry?
The victory of the Action and Solidarity Party in the early parliamentary elections in Moldova and the signing of the memorandum on the creation of the “Associated Trio” are seen by pro-Russian political forces as an attempt to strengthen pro-European policies. Notably, in one of his statements, former President Igor Dodon spoke out against collective action in the field of security, referring to the republic’s neutrality status enshrined in the constitution: “It is a very dangerous document. It is clear that a defense belt is being built against Russia ”.
In summary, the creation of the “Associated Trio” is both a timely and logical step with the potential to accelerate the European integration of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. In their statements, the European partners have repeatedly stressed that they share the commitment of these three countries to strengthen political association and economic integration.
However, this can only happen if countries manage to overcome their internal political conflicts and economic difficulties, as well as fully implement the terms of the Association Agreement. The latter essentially consists of creating the foundations necessary for full integration into the European Union.