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European Union localizing Eastern Partnership2010-02-25 17:45
European Union continues working on Eastern Partnership, remaining a distant target for the selected six former USSR republics. At first, Brussels offered the participating countries certain hope for the integration into EU by way of associated membership, while now it reckons upon the rapprochement between Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. According to regional special representative of the organization Piter Semnebi, the signing of a new agreement is going to become the means of setting up free trade and movement in Tbilisi, Yerevan and Baku.
As is known, in December 2008, the European Partnership organization plan was adopted at the European Commission meeting. The plan comprises 27 states of the European Union plus six former Soviet Republics: Azerbaijan, Byelorussia, Georgia, Moldavia and Ukraine.
Initially, the "partnership" was meant to help the mentioned six countries integrate into the European economy. It was expected to undertake such measures as the visa regimes cancellation and creating free trade zones. A rather interesting issue, such as creating the south energy corridor bypassing Russia, emerged in the documents later. One should think that this very component became the basic one for the European Union in the course of the project development. Naturally, Brussels presented the issue with the "energy supply security" dressing, promising to allocate 600 million euros in aggregate to the six countries until 2013.
Moscow treats the "partnership" rather suspiciously. Eastern Partnership threatens Russia, which is the major energy resources exporter, with the loss of influence in this field. Besides, the involving of Russia's closest neighbours by European Union into its influence zone does not promise Moscow any good.
Meanwhile, Eastern Partnership had some difficulties before its official establishment. Firstly, there was no agreement of opinion between the countries participating in the program. For instance, Azerbaijan refused to follow EU's request as to the development of cooperation with the other former USSR republics admitted to the program. Secondly, the European diplomats underlined that the document is not going to be as large-scale as the eastern participants of the partnership would like it to be. The point is that the republics seem to be too much inspired with the idea of visa-free traveling to Europe and insisted upon the realization of this item in the nearest future. Naturally, European Union is not satisfied with a situation like that. Many EU countries also spoke against naming the six participating countries as the "European countries" in the final document, for such wording, in a sense, gives them hope for becoming a member of the European Union in future.