For the first time in 20 years, the opposition is represented in the Belarusian parliament. While this is a purely symbolic institution, the EU should consider cooperating with Belarus’ new parliamentarians.
Leaders of the European Union and six former Soviet republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) met in Riga for the first Eastern Partnership Summit since the Ukrainian crisis erupted. Unlike the Riga Summit of 2013, which triggered a series of events that eventually led to the downfall of Viktor Yanukovych and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, this year’s meeting had a less earth-shaking outcome. It ended in a joint declaration that lacks any firm commitments. Even where it was supposed to pack the most punches – its condemnation of Russian aggression in Ukraine – the language had to be watered down significantly
The Fourth Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit to be held in Riga in May 2015 will mark an “opportunity to evaluate progress achieved in political association and economic integration” between the EU and the post-Soviet states of Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Georgia. According to this semester’s Latvian EU Presidency, the summit will send a “strong signal of long-term strategic support” to the EaP countries. There will be discussions about trade, mobility and energy. A declaration of Heads of State will be negotiated and published, probably reaffirming the EU’s commitment to a more adaptable and tailored-made EaP based on its current four priorities: democracy and good governance, economic integration, energy security and people-to-people contacts. That said, EU relations with Eastern Partnership countries are far from simple.