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.
Much has been written about European policies and views regarding Central Asia. But how do Central Asians see the EU? This paper offers insights into how politicians, business leaders, scholars and civil society experts from Central Asia view the EU and its approach to the region.
On 25 May, Ukrainians went to the polls to elect their fifth president. Petro Poroshenko is the first president in the history of Ukraine to have won in all regions, even though the vote was severely disrupted in parts of Eastern Ukraine and did not take place in Crimea. Many Ukrainians hope that the 2014 presidential elections will prove a turning point and that Ukraine will finally implement the necessary reforms and move towards Europe. President Poroshenko will have to fulfil his voters’ very high expectations, as well as reassure those in the east that he will represent their interests too. A tall agenda by any standards.
Much current analysis of Russian influence in its neighbourhood focuses on its use of 'hard power' tools. However, analysing Russia’s soft power efforts is no less important for understanding the full nature of Moscow's power strategy in its neighbourhood. The Putin regime perceives Russia as an alternative geopolitical pole with an anti-liberal social outlook, a type of ‘Conservative International’ in opposition to the West. Russia’s deep economic and social ties with neighbours (including significant minorities) and powerful media outlets, are elements that might help the Kremlin achieve its short-term foreign policy objectives. However, Russia’s willingness to use hard power to impose its objectives, and lack of positive vision to attract non-Russian populations in neighbouring countries, mean that its soft power is unlikely to endure in the long-term.
Following the June 2010 violence in Kyrgyzstan, ethnic nationalist voices of all stripes have become particularly loud, expressing their views to receptive audiences through mass media outlets and political platforms. Yet, there is a small group of civic-minded nationalists and moderate Kyrgyz nationalists who are fighting to tame extremists by formulating reconciliation policies.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
FRIDE ceased its think tank activities on 31st December 2015 for economic reasons. The Board of Trustees had to take this difficult decision since, despite many efforts to diversify its funding sources, FRIDE cannot sustain its think tank operations with a view to 2016 and beyond.
Established in 1999, FRIDE has made a major contribution to shape debate on Europe’s external activities in an increasingly challenging international environment. It has covered issues ranging from democracy and human rights to sustainable development, new approaches to multilateral cooperation and security affairs. FRIDE’s long-standing focus on the extended neighbourhood of the European Union proves today all the more relevant given widespread turbulence in the region. FRIDE’s emphasis on the importance of the values framing Europe’s external activities is central to current political debates in Europe and beyond. This shows the need for continued engagement in the pursuit of a common European foreign policy that is both effective and informed by the core values of European integration.
The Board wishes to thank Diego Hidalgo, FRIDE’s founder, for his tireless commitment and very generous support for many years. The Board also wishes to thank FRIDE’s dedicated staff, the members of the Board and the Advisory Committee for their contribution in making FRIDE one of the top foreign policy think tanks in Europe. We are very grateful to all those who have supported FRIDE’s work and projects over the years and we thank the many partners from all parts of the world who have worked with FRIDE on joint initiatives. We hope that FRIDE’s extensive input to the debate on Europe in the world will continue to inform thinking and action at a very critical time for Europe’s future.
The President of the Board
FRIDE cesó sus actividades como think tank el 31 de diciembre de 2015 por razones económicas. El Patronato tuvo que adoptar esta difícil decisión dado que, a pesar de los intensos esfuerzos realizados para diversificar sus fuentes de financiación, FRIDE no puede sostener sus operaciones como think tank a partir de 2016.
Establecido en 1999, FRIDE ha realizado una gran contribución al debate sobre las actividades exteriores de Europa en un ambiente internacional cada vez más complejo. Ha trabajado en temas que van desde la democracia y los derechos humanos al desarrollo sostenible, los nuevos enfoques en la cooperación multilateral y las cuestiones de seguridad. La atención prestada por FRIDE a la vecindad extendida de la Unión Europea durante mucho tiempo prueba ser hoy aún más relevante debido a la turbulencia que azota a la región. El énfasis de FRIDE en la importancia de los valores que enmarcan las actividades exteriores europeas es central en los debates en Europa y más allá. Esto muestra la necesidad de un compromiso continuo con la búsqueda de una política exterior europea común que sea eficaz y esté basada en los principios fundamentales de la integración europea.
El Patronato desea agradecer a Diego Hidalgo, fundador de FRIDE, por su incansable compromiso y muy generoso apoyo a lo largo de tantos años. También quiere expresar su gratitud a la dedicada plantilla, a los propios miembros del Patronato y del Comité Asesor por sus contribuciones para hacer de FRIDE uno de los principales think tanks de Europa en cuestiones de política exterior. Estamos muy agradecidos con todos aquellos que han apoyado el trabajo y los proyectos de FRIDE a través de los años y también damos las gracias a los numerosos socios de todas partes del mundo que han colaborado con FRIDE en iniciativas conjuntas. Esperamos que las extensas aportaciones de FRIDE al debate sobre Europa en el mundo continuará informando el pensamiento y la acción en un momento muy crítico para el futuro de Europa.
El Presidente del Patronato