This forum aimed to strategically appraise EU interests, goals and policies towards Russia and the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, and how to advance the EaP as an effective framework for the EU’s relationships with its wider Eastern neighbourhood.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its military intervention in Eastern Ukraine, together with its insistence on the right to take action on behalf of Russian speaking populations outside its own borders, have dramatically changed the political and security environment in Europe. Moscow’s heavy handed commercial and energy diplomacy in the region, in particular its strenuous opposition to new far-reaching association agreements between the EU and countries in Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus, underlines the need to re-examine EU efforts at engagement with Russia and the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries.
Russia has not proved to be a dependable ‘strategic partner’ for the EU but redefining the EU-Russia relationship is particularly testing in the context of present tensions. The EU faces the challenge of delivering unambiguous messages to Moscow, through sanctions and by other means, concerning the unacceptable nature of its efforts to change the territorial status quo in Europe through the use of force, while at the same time reflecting on its long term relations with Russia and other countries in the region.
The success of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy depends largely on effective policies in the EU’s own neighbourhood, as this is the part of the world where it can expect to have most influence. The urgent need to address heightened tensions in the region, the appointment of a new High Representative/Commission Vice-President for External Relations, and the establishment of a Commissioner with specific responsibilities for EU neighbourhood policy make this a timely moment to review the EU’s options in designing an effective future policy towards Russia and the EaP countries.
This forum drew on the discussions had at the The Eastern Partnership: moving ahead event that we held in October 2013, providing a strategic reappraisal of EU interests, goals and policies towards Russia and the EaP countries, as well as how best to take forward the EaP as an effective framework for the EU’s relationships with its wider Eastern neighbourhood.
Conference: The Eastern Partnership: moving ahead
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