EU Eastern Partnership as a platform of cooperation between the EU and the EaP countries

27.11.2011

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After the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia retained strong ties with Russia, while at the same time attempting to find areas of political, economic and social cooperation with the European Union. The relations between the EU and Armenia are governed through the framework of the EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in 1996 and implemented in 1999.

The EU assistance programmes for partner countries are based on the proven instruments which were applied in East-Central European states during the enlargement process. The EU has also created several new tools fro the implementation of the program. In June 2008, at the request of Poland and Sweden, the Council of the European Union instructed the European Commission to expand the European Neighbourhood Policy in the form of the Eastern Partnership. The EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) was introduced in Prague on 7 May 2009. It represents a concerted effort by the EU and six non-EU former Soviet republics – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – to upgrade and expand their relationship. The project is de-signed to assist the political and economic integration of the EaP countries with the EU, with the help of various bilateral and multilateral cooperation programmes. At the same time, the EaP should not be seen as an alternative to the action plans signed by the EU and partner countries within the ENP frame-work. Instead, it aims to give new impetus to existing cooperation initiatives. At the same time, it must be mentioned that two things make the EaP different from past and ongoing cooperation formats. On the one hand, the scope of cooperation between the EU and each partner country is determined by the scale and progress of the reforms implemented by that country. On the other hand, the EU is well aware that civil society can play a special role in the political decision-making process. It was for this reason that the Civil Society Forum was founded in Brussels on 17 November 2009. The best, most innovative recommendations given by participants in the Civil Society Forum were presented to the foreign ministers of the EaP member states on 8 December 2009. According to European Commission officials, the recommendations would be useful during discussions on the EaP thematic platforms.

The EU offers each partner country long-term assistance in the implementation of democratic and market reforms which aim to bring economic and political stability. In addition, the multilateral component of the EaP can be used as a tool to assist in the implementation of reforms and the creation of a common forum and four thematic platforms for experience-sharing between the partner countries.

The Eastern Partnership is the key policy EU has in its Eastern Neighbourhood. Through the Partnership the EU tries to accelerate the Eastern European countries´ political association and economic integration. The first of year of the Eastern Partnership program could be determined as a year of introduction of the policy within the EU and Eastern Partnership countries. Some of the third countries are following the program with great interest but some has concerns. I would explain the second year as a year of understanding the offer and exploring the opportunities and the implementation steps. The recent third year is a year of development of the concrete mechanism and tools for negotiations of the European Commission and Eastern Partnership countries. The Warsaw Eastern Partnership Summit sent a clear message to Eastern partnership countries that the respect for shared values and principles is a key condition to strengthen relations with the EU in all areas of cooperation. As we can see the Eastern Partnership is a valuable policy and a platform for cooperation.

But on the other hand the implementation of the Eastern Partnership is a hard work: lot of efforts, reforms, political will and resources are needed.

Nikolay ISRAYELYAN

Holds MA on International relations and diplomacy,
Yerevan State University