Interview of Day.Az with Amanda Pol
, expert of the Center for European Policy in Brussels.
-What should we expect from the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit it Vilnius after the last developments in Russian neighborhood?
The optimal outcome is for the EU to sign an Association Agreement/DCFTA with Ukraine and to initial agreements with Moldova and Georgia at the summit. However, since the decision of Armenia to join the Russian-led Customs Union instead of proceeding with a trade agreement with the EU the road to Vilnius has become more complicated. Russia views this region strategically while the EU does not. Meanwhile the EU has rather seen its whole engagement as more of a technical process. Still after almost ten years of the European Neighbourhood Policy and five years of the Eastern Partnership, the EU needs a success story. Therefore it needs to win, what has been labeled, the geopolitical battle. However, Vilnius is not the end of the story because Russia will keep up the heat in 2014, not least on Moldova and Georgia which are only scheduled to sign their agreements in October 2014.
-Isn’t there a need to change the EU’s approaches to its Eastern neighborhood? What should be done to establish a new European strategy in this region?
The EU needs to work out what its objectives and end goal are for this neighbourhood as this is still not clear. The EU has lots of policies and initiatives but has never had a real strategy. If the EU is serious about meeting the goals of its neighbourhood policy: stability, security, prosperity, it will need to carve out a more robust approach.
-What should be done to make the Karabakh problem more known in the world and engage more actively the EU in the settlement process?
Karabakh is presently simmering but risks boiling over if we are not careful. Unfortunately, the EU has little interest in further engaging in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and is happy to sit on the sidelines supporting the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and financing peace-building and confidence building measures. This suits the EU’s approach of maintaining a balanced position.
The issue here should not be about making the Karabakh problem more known in every household around the world but rather having greater engagement with those people that have influence and leverage in terms of promoting a solution. The conflicts needs to be given greater priority which has frequently not been the case and this seems unlikely to change. Unfortunately, Nagorno-Karabakh is little more than a “footnote” on the foreign policy agenda of the West.