The challenges – internally and externally – for the new European legislature are numerous. Despite being only a small part of the puzzle, Central Asia should also be on the agenda. Authoritarianism remains on the rise and human rights and democracy are in decline throughout the region.
The Ukraine crisis has exposed Turkey’s efforts to avoid direct involvement in Russia-EU tensions. Ankara essentially hovers between gaining economic advantages from cooperation with Moscow and counterbalancing Russian assertiveness in the region. But Turkey's relatively neutral position will not be sustainable if it’s vital energy and security interests in the Caucasus are threatened. An alignment of EU-Turkey tactical cooperation and strategic thinking towards the Black Sea region has been distinctly lacking, but Turkish societal links with East European and South Caucasus countries could become an asset for Turkish-EU cooperation.
The EUCAM ‘European national policies series’ focuses not only on the policies of EU member states towards Central Asia, but also on those of other European actors outside the Union. Here, Russia is the main actor. What is Moscow’s approach in the fields of politics and values, trade and energy, security, development assistance, and cultural exchanges?
The tragedy of MH17 has put Ukraine and its Russian-supported separatist revolt in Donbas in the limelight. The current Ukrainian government holds that transferring more power from the centre to the periphery will be an essential ingredient to addressing anti-Kyiv sentiments in Donbas and dampen future calls for regional autonomy and secession. This FRIDE policy brief argues that decentralisation will not halt the separatist insurgency in Donbas, but if implemented it should help to strengthen democracy in Ukraine.
The MH17 air-crash disaster of July 17 is likely to have a severe impact on the development of the Donbas conflict in Ukraine as well as on EU-Russia relations. Written before the tragedy, this FRIDE working paper argues that the ‘Euromaidan’ protests, that occurred between December 2013 and February 2014, have provoked two fundamental changes that give grounds for cautious optimism about Ukraine’s incipient transition to democracy. First, after more than two decades of civic apathy and low impact, Ukrainian civil society seems to be on the rise. Second, state-society relations are being reconfigured, with citizens demanding greater oversight of and accountability from state institutions, and civic activists pushing for a greater role in policy-making. These new societal and political trends should be further supported by the European Union.
On 27 June Moldova and Georgia will sign Association Agreements with the European Union (EU) in Brussels, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) accords. That same day Ukraine will also sign a DCFTA, thus finalising its Association Agreement with the EU. While both Ukraine and Georgia have firmly chosen a closer relationship with the EU, in Moldova the situation is fragile. Russia could easily deploy economic, political and security instruments that would bring turmoil to Moldova, similarly to Ukraine, thereby hampering Moldova’s association with the EU.