President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker admitted that the Eastern Partnership Riga Summit was unsuccessful, and that the European Union is not planning on expanding in the near future. These words mean not only the admission that the Riga Summit failed, but that the whole Eastern Partnership program failed, as it was aimed at preparing the participating countries for accession to the EU.
Since the Eastern Partnership appeared, the three sides that were affected by this program – EU, Russia and the participating six post-Soviet republics – have a completely different outlook on the program. Russia was always completely negative about the program, not without cause, as it noticed an anti-Russia subtext in it.
The eurobureaucracy valued the Eastern Partnership for its apologetics of the idea of European integration, without even the slightest obligations from their side. The participation of Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Eastern Partnership gave the impression that the European Union project is still popular and attracts neighboring countries and people (this fact could always be shoved in the euroskeptics’ faces). However real work and responsibility on integrating into the EU and cooperating with the post-Soviet republics was not in the program. Because European integration is not its final goal.
For the Eastern Partners, the program was inseparably tied with the dream of being an EU member. They assumed that the Eastern Partnership was an intermediate stage between full-fledged European integration, a preparation course for those, who dream of passing the entry exam and joining the European Union. And the program concept, as well as its founding acts, said nothing of the sort, but many post-Soviet politicians were happy to be fooled (or at least to fool their voters). And they were consciously fooled by EU representatives, interested in promoting the Eastern Partnership. Not just some Brussels bureaucrats, but even whole countries. Poland, Lithuania, Latvia…
Now they are indirectly admitted to be liars by the European Commission’s President, who called them to stop lying to nations, about their immediate accession to the EU.
“I can say that yes, there will be new members, but let’s not lie to nations and make it appear like we practice an open-door policy without any stipulations. The criteria must be met”, said Jean-Claude Juncker on the EU expansion, noting “In the nearest five years there won’t be any new accessions not because I don’t want them, but because there is no candidate state, who would be able to fulfill the accession criteria”.
The select post-Soviet republics are still offered interaction with the EU in the Turkish way: the European Union fed Turkey promises during the last half of the 20th century, and in the 21st century the moderate islamist Recep Erdoğan, who managed to triple Turkey’s GDP and make it the world’s 15th economy in the last 10 years. However, the question of Turkey’s European integration is now off the agenda, but it is not like Turkey needs it anymore.
Ukraine, just like Turkey before it, has been fed promises of EU accession in from the start of the century, they will join in five years, in ten years, in five more years – the deadline keeps moving away. If we continue the analogy, then Ukraine is in for decades of megacorruption and hyperinflation, and then new powers will come into office and set things straight with completely non-European methods.
One way or the other, the European Union has absolved itself of any responsibility of the Eastern Partners, leaving them to take care of themselves. Now they have to fight for political modernization on their own, sifting through the economic collapse consequences: EU will create a free trade area with them, not demanding anything in return, in other words, the national production in the post-Soviet republics will be destroyed and they will turn into consumption markets for European products.
And they could have at least cancelled visas for Ukrainians! But nope, Brussels is content to watch from the sidelines as they agonize over “fulfilling the criteria” for integration, while consuming all of their mass produce. The new policy towards the former USSR countries has a new trait when compared to the last one – honesty.
It is no accident that EU leadership statement on the unsuccessful nature of the Riga Summit mentioned “lying to nations”: a clear nod at those European politicians and EU countries that promised Eastern Partnership countries swift European integration without switching to the European standards in all aspects of life.
“Recently Riga hosted the Eastern Partnership summit, which was not entirely successful. This process (the execution of the Eastern Partnership – RuBaltic.ru) needs to be reevaluated, because some of our Eastern Partners don’t want to properly interact with the EU” said Jean-Claude Juncker. What does he mean by “proper interaction with the EU”? Maybe the transition to those European rails: combating corruption, judicial reform, transparent and effective state management – everything that the Europeans tried to make in Ukraine during the EU Association talks (and are still trying to make it so, but with a lot less boasting)? It was said from the start that without this Ukraine, Georgia and others will not be allowed accession to the EU.
There were only a few East European countries, led by the then-president of EU Lithuania, who were saying: no, of course they will accept you, you just declare for all to hear that you are against Putin and are going to Europe, in order to cut ties with Russia forever – then they will definitely accept you. They said it for all to hear – the Association Agreement and Free Trade Area were signed, but no one was going to accept them into the EU. This was said by the German Chancellor, the President of the Council of the European Union and more than once by the European Commission President. And Jean-Claude Juncker’s last statement is particularly vivid: he tied together the failure of the Riga Summit, the Eastern Partnership collapse, the end of EU expansion and “lies to nations”.
Among others, this is also a message to Poland, Romania and Lithuania – all those countries who led the Eastern Partnership in recent years: stop lying to your Eastern neighbors that in order to get into the European Union all you have to do is conduct a radical anti-Russian policy.
Europe got nothing but trouble from these lies. And Europe doesn’t like troublemakers: it values its comfy and cozy existence, and the fact that a Ukrainian crisis popped on its Eastern borders because of shenanigans and Russophobe hysteria heralds the inevitable death of the Eastern Partnership program, which was all but stated at the Riga Summit.
Translated by: Pavel Shamshiev