CHAPTER 4: THE SHARED NEIGHBOURHOOD |
101. In this chapter we turn to the growing competition
between the EU and Russia in the shared neighbourhoodthat
is to say, the countries which were once part of the former Soviet
Union and which now participate in the EU's eastern neighbourhood
policy instruments: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia
and Armenia. We also reference Kazakhstan as a member of the Eurasian
The EU's role in the shared neighbourhood
102. The EU, through its various eastern neighbourhood
policy instruments, plays an active role in the shared neighbourhood.
These instruments are outlined in Box 2.Box
2: EU policy instruments in the shared neighbourhood
|Launched in 2004, the objective of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is to "achieve the closest possible political association and the greatest possible degree of economic integration." The ENP is proposed to 16 of the EU's closest neighboursAlgeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine. Partner countries agree with the EU an Action Plan aimed at fostering domestic reforms in the political, economic and administrative realms and receive in exchange:
· Financial support: grants worth 12 billion were given to ENP-related projects from 2007 to 2013;
· Economic integration and access to EU markets: in 2011 trade between the EU and its ENP partners totalled 230 billion;
· Visa facilitation: in 2012, 3.2 million Schengen visas were issued to citizens, and in particular to students from ENP countries; and
· Technical and policy support.
The Eastern Partnership (EaP), launched in 2009, is the eastern dimension of the ENP. It is directed at the six post-soviet countries of Eastern Europe and the CaucasusArmenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The Commission states that the Partnership promotes democracy and good governance; strengthens energy security; promotes sector reform and environment protection; encourages people-to-people contacts; supports economic and social development and provides additional funding for projects to reduce social inequality and increase stability.
Association Agreements (AAs) govern the political association between the EU and EaP countries. AAs set out the core reforms and areas for enhanced co-operation between the EU and the partner country. AAs include a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) which goes further than a classic free trade agreement, opening up markets but also addressing competitiveness issues and the steps needed to meet EU standards and trade on EU markets.
Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova signed AAs, including DCFTAs, with the EU on 27 June 2014. The respective parliaments of Georgia and Moldova and the European Parliament ratified these agreements in the course of the summer 2014. They provisionally entered into force on 1 September. The AA with Ukraine was simultaneously ratified by the Verkohvna Rada and the European Parliament on 16 September 2014. However, the implementation of the DCFTA has been delayed until 1 January 2016.
Source: The European Commission websites: http://eeas.europa.eu/eastern/index_en.htm
and http://eeas.europa.eu/enp/index_en.htm [accessed on 2 February
Russia's role in the shared neighbourhood
103. Russia also lays claim to a role in the
shared neighbourhood, drawing on its historical links with former
Tsarist and Soviet Union countries, close cultural and economic
ties, and security interests.
104. Russian concerns in the shared neighbourhood
centre on four themes:
preoccupations of regime consolidation;
of the Russian language and ethnic Russians; and
105. In Moscow's assessment, NATO remains the
pre-eminent security threat to Russia. The Kosovo war in 1999,
where NATO acted against Russia's wishes, was one of a "sequence
of things" which had upset Russia.
A particular dispute over NATO's eastern expansion has further
distorted relations between the West and Russia.
106. In the months that followed the fall of
the Berlin Wall (1990), the United States of America, Soviet Union
and West Germany engaged in talks on the withdrawal of Soviet
troops and the reunification of Germany. What was discussed then
about NATO has become the subject of dispute among analysts and
diplomats (even among those present at the time).
107. On one side, it is asserted that the western
powers pledged that NATO would extend no further east. This promise
was broken by three rounds of further enlargement, adding 12 eastern
European countries to the Alliance. Sir Rodric Braithwaite GCMG,
former British Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Russia, informed
us that assurances were given in 1990 by the US (James Baker,
US Secretary of State) and Germany (Helmut Kohl, German Chancellor),
and in 1991 on behalf of the UK (by the then Prime Minister, John
Major, and the British Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd) and France
(by French President Francois Mitterrand). Sir Rodric Braithwaite
said that this "factual record has not been successfully
challenged in the West."
Former US Defence Secretary Robert McNamara has also averred that
the US "pledged never to expand NATO eastward if Moscow would
agree to the unification of Germany."
108. On the other hand, these assertions have
been challenged on three main grounds. Some US policy makers,
also present at the time, such as George H.W. Bush, Brent Scowcroft
and James Baker, firmly deny that the topic of NATO membership
extending to the Warsaw Pact countries even arose, much less that
the US made any such assurance in negotiations on German reunification.
The Minister for Europe quoted an interview with former Soviet
President Mikhail Gorbachev where he said that the "topic
of 'NATO expansion' was not discussed at all, and it wasn't brought
up in those years."
A second reason put forward is that events overtook an already
ambiguous assurance. The unprecedented speed of German reunification
and the wider political context (the break-up of the Soviet Union
and fall of communist governments all over eastern Europe) rendered
any earlier assurance redundant.
Finally, it is argued that western promises were made orally,
nothing was codified and it would have been impossible for western
governments to bind future sovereign states. Sir Andrew Wood GCMG,
former British Ambassador to Russia and Associate Fellow of the
Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House, said that such a
promise "was never asked for and never put down in writing.
In any case, even if it had beenwhich it was notit
would be invalid; you cannot bind the future."
The Minister for Europe said that "NATO has carried out enlargement
in a transparent way communicating with Russia through such fora
as the Permanent Joint Council" and furthermore, "sovereign
states have the right to decide their own security policy and
that no one country should have a veto over those choices."
109. While the facts of that expansion may be
disputed, what is clear is that the 'broken promise' of enlargement
has long featured as a key element of Russian policy-makers' deepening
cynicism over NATO and western good faith. Sir Rodric Braithwaite
found it "unsurprising that the Russians took seriously repeated
high-level oral assurances they were given by Western officials
who, they naturally assumed, were speaking responsibly",
and noted that the Russians therefore "felt that they had
been badly misled" by NATO enlargement.
The Russian President returned to this topic in his 18 March Speech
to the Federation Council:
"they (Western leaders) have lied to us
many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed before us
an accomplished fact. This happened with NATO's expansion to the
East, as well as the deployment of military infrastructure at
110. Mr Alexander Kliment, Director, Emerging
Markets Strategy, Eurasia Group, said that Russia's "tremendous
objection" to NATO expansion had been underestimated by the
West. Dr Alexander
Libman, Associate of Eastern Europe and Eurasia Division, Stiftung
Wissenschaft und Politik, explained that it was important to "take
into account the irrational fear of NATO many Russians have. Even
liberal-minded people in Russia often honestly state that for
them expansion of the NATO towards the east is a point of concern."
Mr Denis Volkov, Head of Development Department, Levada Center,
confirmed that for the Russian public, "NATO was always considered
a threat" and that an "underlying distrust of the United
States and NATO" remained.
111. Mr Mikhail Kasyanov, former Prime Minister
of Russia and co-leader of the Republican Party of People's Freedom
(PARNAS party), and Mr Vladimir Kara-Murza, Co-ordinator, Open
Russia, presented an alternative Russian view. Mr Kasyanov pointed
out that NATO was only dangerous when "those values that
were supposed to unite us disappear". For his part, he perceived
no threat. He said that NATO was "absolutely a friendly organisation,
contrary to what Mr Putin is doing now."
Mr Kara-Murza also did "not see the expansion of NATO as
any kind of threat to Russia." On the contrary, NATO had
been a security provider for Russia and "the most stable,
secure and peaceful borders" that Russia had were the borders
112. The Minister for Europe, while agreeing
that a feeling of insecurity existed in Russia, questioned the
extent to which that feeling was "justified objectively",
and what could legitimately be done to address it.
For Sir Andrew Wood, while NATO expansion was the "central
grievance that the Russians themselves proclaim", the fact
was that "Russia has not been threatened directly by NATO
at all." Countries had joined because they "wished for
stability and because they wished to reinsure themselves to some
degree against possible Russian pressure."
113. Turning to the specific case of Ukraine,
Mr Fyodor Lukyanov, Chairman, Council on Foreign and Defense Policy,
and Editor in Chief of Russia in Global Affairs, said that the
"security concerns connected to possible rapprochement between
Ukraine and NATO" were the key element driving President
Putin's actions there.
Dr Marat Terterov, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Brussels
Energy Club, explained the Russian perception that if there were
a pro-West and pro-American government in Ukraine, there would
be a "genuine risk that Sevastopol could host NATO vessels."
Ms Sabine Lösing MEP said that "we are witnessing an
intense power political struggle in which it was the West that
initiated the contest with its expansionist policies and where
Russia now also increasingly reverts to hard power politics."
114. In Ms Lösing's view, a lasting solution
for Ukraine would only be achieved "if the West categorically
supports a future neutrality of the countrythat implies
no NATO membership, but also no association agreement with the
During a recent interview, Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary
of State, said that the best outcome would be for Ukraine to become
"a bridge between east and west" rather than a western
EU conflated with NATO
115. While Russian policy makers and the Russian
people distinguish to some extent between the 'West' and the EU,
the EU's eastern enlargement has increasingly become conflated
in the minds of the Russian government with NATO expansion. Mr
Kliment said that Russia viewed the closer alignment of Ukraine
with European economic and political structures "ultimately
as a stalking horse for Ukraine's eventual NATO membership."
The Russian perception, Mr Lukyanov told us, was that EU membership
would "almost inevitably lead, in the short-term or long-term
perspective, to NATO membership, which is perceived in Russia
as an absolutely unacceptable threat to national security."
Speaking in September 2014, Mr Neil Crompton, Deputy Political
Director, FCO, said that the events of the past few months had
shown that Russia regarded the extension of EU influence "as
a very serious threat to its own sphere of influence."
However, Mr Ian Bond CVO, Director of Foreign Policy, Centre for
European Reform, reminded us that it was not a necessary connection,
and that "Finland, Sweden, Austria and Ireland" had
all managed to exist within the EU without joining NATO.
116. While we are clear that NATO is a defensive
alliance, for the Russians NATO is seen as a hostile military
threat, and successive rounds of NATO's eastern enlargement have,
as the Russians see it, brought it threateningly close to the
Russian border. EU enlargement, as it has become conflated with
NATO enlargement, has also taken on the aspect of a security threat.
These views are sincerely and widely held in Russia, and need
to be factored into Member States' strategic analyses of Russian
actions and policies.
INTERNAL PREOCCUPATIONS OF REGIME
117. The Russian government's preoccupation with
ensuring its own stability is key to understanding its actions
in the neighbourhood. Professor Sergei Guriev, Professor of Economics,
Sciences Po, Paris, explained:
"This social compact is gone. The Russian
economy is at best stagnating. To offer a new source of legitimacy,
the regime needs non-economic solutions. Bringing new countries
into the sphere of interest, showing that Russia is an important
country, showing there are greater things than GDP per capita
or economic growth or mortgages (are) tools for the regime to
gain legitimacy and popularity and survive."
118. Mr Kasyanov said that President Putin's
main motivation was to "keep his power internally in the
while Dr Lilia Shevtsova, Senior Associate, Moscow Center, Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, emphasised that "foreign
policy is the servant, instrument and means of a domestic agenda."
That agenda was to "survive through to 2018
and keep stability and status in Russia."
The consequence, according to Mr Kasyanov, was that Russia needed
"to find an external enemy and to impose a mobilisation spirit
on the society." In particular he thought that President
Putin needed "short wars and victories."
119. The EU's model of good governance and promotion
of democracy was seen as a riposte to the political model adopted
by the current Russian government. Two aspects of the events in
Ukraine were thus keenly threatening: the manner of the fall of
President Yanukovych, and the longer-term threat of Ukraine choosing
the EU. The precedent of an elected leader overthrown by what
His Excellency Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Ambassador of the Russian
Federation to the UK, described as a "coup", was, according
to Mr Kara-Murza, "too close to home"an "authoritarian
corrupt leader fleeing his country in a helicopter, amid mass
popular protests in the capital".
President Putin accordingly "decided that he had to do everything
to prevent a Maidan in Moscow."
120. Dr Shevtsova and Mr Kasyanov highlighted
the Russian fear of a domino-like effect, whereby neighbouring
countries might be drawn towards the EU. Dr Shevtsova explained
that Russia did not want neighbouring countries to become "a
kind of icon and point of attraction, the embodiment of economic
success and of a rule-of-law state."
Mr Kasyanov emphasised that it would be "absolutely unacceptable
to have democratic success for a country like Ukraine." Such
a transformation for Ukraine "would work to the destruction
of Mr Putin's vision, and a different Slavic, or Russian, world".
Heightened risk of conflict
121. Professor Guriev found it hard to judge
whether President Putin had been opportunistic or imperialistic
in his actions in Ukraine, whether he was using foreign policy
to ensure the legitimacy and survival of the regime, or was driven
to restore a Greater Russia. However, both theories delivered
"the same empirical predictions."
Mr Kliment warned us that the popularity and support for the Russian
regime depended on a "combative and pugnacious foreign policy",
creating a "significantly heightened risk of conflict between
the EU and Russianot open conflict but indirect conflict
of the kind that we are seeing in Ukraine."
122. His Excellency Dr Revaz Gachechiladze, Georgian
Ambassador to the UK, believed that President Putin was trying
to restore the former Soviet Union. He told us that it was axiomatic
"that Russia was always expanding territorially."
His Excellency Andrii Kuzmenko, Ukrainian Acting Ambassador to
the UK, also viewed Russia's aim as to "reincarnate the Russian
empire at least as (far as) the border of the former Soviet Union."
123. Other witnesses felt that the likelihood
of further military action was limited. Georgia and Moldova did
not hold the same economic or strategic importance as Ukraine,
while the Baltic states were protected by the Article 5 guarantee
of their NATO membership.
Mr Kara-Murza echoed the view of other witnesses, that he did
not foresee a direct military intervention in the Baltic states,
"as they are NATO members". However, while stopping
short of an Article 5 threat, "non-direct" steps had
been taken to destabilise the Baltic states.
The Minister for Europe pointed to more concrete actions: an "Estonian
official kidnapped from Estonian territory by Russian forces and
still held in Moscow without any evidence brought against him;
a Lithuanian fishing boat seized on the high seas, towed to Murmansk,
and still held".
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
124. The responsibility for European defence
remains with Member States and NATO. Hostile actions of any kind
by the Russian government towards the Baltic states must be met
by Member States and NATO with a strong response.
RIGHTS OF ETHNIC RUSSIANS AND RUSSIAN-SPEAKERS
125. The treatment of Russian-speakers was a
key theme in Russia's discourse regarding its actions in Crimea
and eastern Ukraine. His Excellency Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent
Representative of the Russian Federation to the EU, said that
the local population in Crimea were very concerned by the anti-Russian
sentiment evident in declarations to ban the Russian language
(subsequently not implemented, but discussed further in Chapter
5). In the circumstances, the Ambassador said, President Putin
was compelled to act, because if he had turned a blind eye he
would never have been forgiven by the ethnic Russians in Crimea.
126. Other witnesses viewed the concern for ethnic
Russians as merely a pretext. Mr Lukyanov said that President
Putin might have thought that to explain his actions in Crimea
"he needed a bigger narrative, and then this 'Russian world'
Mr Kara-Murza dismissed the "so-called threats" to Russian-speaking
people in Crimea as "nonsense". He said that the "so-called
concern about 'compatriots'" was merely a tool which the
Putin regime used against governments it deemed unfriendly, including
the Baltic states.
The Minister for Europe also viewed the doctrine as "calculated
to sow fear in the three Baltic republics in particular."
127. The status of ethnic Russians in the Baltic
states has been a recurring motif in President Putin's statements
in recent years. In 2012 he wrote:
"We cannot tolerate the shameful status
of 'non-citizen.' How can we accept that, due to their status
as non-citizens, one in six Latvian residents and one in 13 Estonian
residents are denied their fundamental political, electoral and
socioeconomic rights and the ability to freely use Russian?"
128. In Estonia and Latvia, Russian does not
have the status of an official language, and in both these countries
citizenship rights, in particular the right to vote in national
elections, are dependent on a language test in the official language.
Therefore, ethnic Russians who were not born in these countries,
primarily an older generation who settled in the Baltic regions
after World War II, with limited language ability in the official
language, are denied citizenship and are unable to participate
in the political process.
In contrast, Lithuania granted citizenship to all its residents
at the time of independence. Mr Kara-Murza explained the nuances
within the countries and their respective electoral rules: "non-citizens
in Estonia can vote in local elections. In Latvia, they cannot
In Lithuania, everyone was granted automatic citizenship;
it is not an issue there."
129. All three Baltic countries are state parties
to the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection
of National Minorities (adopted in 1994). The Framework sets out
a number of principles according to which signatory States are
to protect the rights of minorities. Article 4.2 makes it clear
that a state's obligations may also require affirmative action
on the part of the government. The parties undertake:
"to adopt, where necessary, adequate measures
in order to promote, in all areas of economic, social, political
and cultural life, full and effective equality between persons
belonging to a national minority and those belonging to the majority.
In this respect, they shall take due account of the specific conditions
of the persons belonging to national minorities."
130. Sir Tony Brenton KCMG, former British Ambassador
to Russia and Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, believed that
Russians were "angry" about this issue.
During his time in Moscow, Russians had regularly complained to
him "about EU double standards, particularly with regard
to the Russian minorities in Latvia and Estonia", where they
were "disadvantaged largely by language tests being the route
to civic rights."
His instinct was that, while in strict legal terms Estonia and
Latvia were acting within the parameters of EU standards, perhaps
the EU and the UK "should be encouraging the Latvians and
the Estonians to do more" about this.
Mr Bond said that while ethnic Russians could achieve citizenship
(by taking the language test), Estonia and Latvia "could
probably have found certain small ways of making the process easier".
131. While the issue of integration of ethnic
Russians and linguistic rights has been less challenging for Lithuania,
since it hosts a relatively small percentage of ethnic Russians,
all three Baltic states have taken steps to facilitate integration.
For example, education reforms have instituted bilingual teaching
states have ensured that there has been "a fully functioning
Russian language maintenance system in publications, media, the
arts and public discourse".
Furthermore, many ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia have taken
and passed the linguistic test.
Some ethnic Russians in Estonia have chosen not to take the test
as it would deprive them of the right to visit Russia without
132. The authors of the article 'Language Politics
and Practices in the Baltic States' (2007) draw attention to the
contradiction between the criticism of Baltic language policies
by Russian leaders and the fact that internal relations in the
Baltic states have been "far more marked by accommodation
and agreement on the part of language minorities and populations
generally than by overt hostility."
However, the authors also point out that this has been a persistent
foreign relations issue between the Baltic states and Russia since
the time of the independence of the Baltic states from the Soviet
Union in 1991. Moscow's demands have been "unequivocal and
remain essentially the same to the present day: that is, that
citizenship should be granted to all permanent residents, and
that Russian be recognised as a second official language."
133. The historical grievance of the rights
of ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia offers the Russian government
a convenient pretext which could be used to justify further destabilising
actions in those states. On the basis of the evidence we have
taken, there does, prima facie, seem to be a question to
be investigated, in particular whether more steps could be taken
to facilitate access to citizenship for ethnic Russians who have
long-established residency in these states, but limited ability
in the official language.
134. The Eurasian Union, also known as the Eurasian
Economic Union, is a political and economic union, which could
have significant implications for relations in the shared neighbourhood.Box
3: Eurasian Union
|The term 'Eurasian Union' refers to several entities. It designates a Customs Union, initiated in 2006 and launched in 2010, that includes Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and which developed in 2012 into a Common Economic Space of the three countries. The term is often used to refer to the Eurasian Economic Commission (formerly the Customs Union Commission) which is the executive of the Customs Union. It also refers to the Eurasian Economic Union, a new institution which was launched on 1 January 2015. The treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union was signed in Astana (Kazakhstan) in May 2014.
The organisation of the Eurasian Union is as follows:
· At the lowest level is the 'College of the Eurasian Economic Commission' which consists of nine members who preside over 23 departments. Each Eurasian Economic Union country has three delegates but once new candidates join it is likely that there will be a reshuffling;
· The Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission oversees the College. This consists of three serving deputy prime ministers in each of the member state governments who formally take most of the decisions;
· There are two decision making bodies, both called the High Eurasian Economic Council, one made up of the relevant prime ministers, and the other in the format of the presidents only;
· Decisions are taken by unanimity.
Candidate countries expected to join the Eurasian Economic Union are Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Armenia has already signed the treaty to join the Eurasian Union. Kyrgyzstan has signed a roadmap and the timetable is to join the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015.
Mr Dmitry Polyanskiy, Deputy Director, First Department of CIS Countries, Russian Foreign Ministry, described the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union as the third stage of economic integration following the establishment of the Customs Union and the creation of the Single Economic Space. A community court will arbitrate disputes between the parties.
Source: Nicu Popescu, 'Eurasian Union: the real,
the imaginary and the likely', European Union Institute for Security
Studies Chaillot Paper no. 132 (September 2014): http://www.iss.europa.eu/publications/detail/article/eurasian-union-the-real-the-imaginary-and-the-likely
[accessed 2 February 2015]
135. Mr Kliment said that the Eurasian Union
was the "primary project" for President Putin.
The Eurasian Union had both an economic and geopolitical logic.
It was aimed at "cementing the economic domination of that
region (former Soviet Union) with a formal institutional structure."
The geopolitical logic was to put Russia "on a more equal
footing" with the EU.
Dr Hans-Dieter Lucas, Political Director, Federal Foreign
Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, agreed that the Eurasian
Union was designed to restore Russia as a global power.
136. Mr Lukyanov explained that the initial aim
of the Eurasian Union had been to "create a framework in
which Ukraine could be
Without Ukraine, Mr Kliment confirmed, the Eurasian Union added
little "heft" to the Russian economy.
However, Mr Polyanskiy contested this view: Russia was "not
establishing this union for the sake of Ukraine." While it
would have been "beneficial for Ukraine to join", he
recognised that this was not a "political incentive",
and it "was, and it is still, for Ukrainians to decide."
Economic incompatibility between the Eurasian
Union and the EU
137. There is an inbuilt economic incompatibility
between EU free trade agreements and the customs element of the
Eurasian Union. Mr Polyanskiy explained that Customs Union members
would pursue their policies as a bloc: Members "have a common,
unified customs tariff, and they conduct free-trade agreement
Member countries transferred their trade competences to the Eurasian
Economic Commission, who would negotiate on their behalf.
Mr Jean-Luc Demarty, Director-General, Directorate General for
Trade, explained that countries would not be able to conclude
individual free trade agreements as they would have to respect
the common customs tariff.
The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between the EU and
Ukraine was, therefore, incompatible with Ukraine becoming a member
of the Eurasian Customs Union.
138. Of the current members of the Eurasian Customs
Union, only Russia was a member of the WTO, and this too made
economic co-operation difficult. Dr Shevtsova said that it
was not possible for the EU, which followed WTO rules, to have
deep trade agreements with non-WTO members (and therefore with
the Eurasian Union). She felt that "all rhetoric about their
compatibility is mystification and a bogus argument."
Mr Demarty explained that without WTO membership and its dispute
settlement process there would be "no recourse" if non-WTO
countries of the Eurasian Customs Union applied non-WTO compliant
139. In contrast, the key point for Mr Lukyanov
was that Eurasian integration was based on WTO norms, and that
co-operation between the two required the "political will
Mr Polyanskiy agreed: "Our customs union is totally compatible
with the WTO, so if EU free-trade agreements are WTO-compatible,
they should be compatible with the customs union."
Relations between the Eurasian Union and the EU
140. The EU does not yet have formal relations
with the Eurasian Union. President Putin, in October 2014, said:
"We would also have welcomed the start of
a concrete dialogue between the Eurasian and European Union. Incidentally,
they have almost completely refused us this as well, and it is
also unclear whywhat is so scary about it?"
141. Mr Lukyanov said that the EU had until recently
"flatly rejected" establishing ties with the Eurasian
Union, fearing that to do so would "legitimise" the
to Mr Polyanskiy, the Eurasian Union had been keen to initiate
a dialogue, but the EU "was always very unwilling to engage
in such relations." He told us that there had been no official
meetings between the European Commission and the Eurasian Economic
Commission. This had been problematic for EU-Russia trade relations,
as the transfer of trade competences to the Eurasian Economic
Commission had meant that Russia was "no longer in a position"
to discuss these issues on its own. According to Mr Polyanskiy,
Russia had tried "in vain" to explain this point to
the European Commission.
142. More generally, some witnesses viewed the
two blocs as diametrically opposed in their values. Dr Shevtsova
did not see "any grounds for compatibility" between
the Eurasian Union and the EU, as the two models proposed two
competing models of development. In her view, the Eurasian Union
offered "an alternativean antithesisto the
European Union", and created a framework for the "preservation
and reproduction of authoritarian regimes and economies under
state control in member countries."
Professor Elena Korosteleva, Professor of International Politics,
University of Kent, pointed out that both projects targeted "an
overlapping zone of interestthe eastern neighbourhood."
Both the EU and the Eurasian Union professed and were associated
with "differing sets of values." 
143. Nevertheless, Mr Lukyanov detected "slight
changes in approach" on the EU side and thought that with
a new Commission, "which has a bit more room for manoeuvre,
this process (dialogue between the two sides) might be launched."
Dr Tom Casier, Jean Monnet Chair, Senior Lecturer in International
Relations, University of Kent, said that the EU should ensure
that the Association Agreements with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova
were compatible with both the Eurasian Customs Union and the final
terms of the Eurasian Economic Union.
There were signs that others in Europe were beginning to acknowledge
the need to engage with the Eurasian Union too. In November 2014,
Chancellor Merkel said that Germany was prepared for the EU to
engage in trade talks with the Eurasian Union, if progress could
be made in eastern Ukraine.
144. From the European Commission, Mr Demarty
did not rule out the possibility of co-operation between the EU
and the Eurasian Union. The pre-conditions for such co-operation
were primarily that all the members of the Eurasian Customs Union
would have to be WTO members and respect their WTO commitments.
Russia was the only Customs Union member in the WTO and, as for
complying with WTO obligations, Mr Demarty noted that this was
"certainly not the case with Russia".
Also, the Eurasian Customs Union would have to "demonstrate
a clear willingness and capacity to commit to the stabilisation
of their trade relations." He noted that "we are far
145. The Minister for Europe said that it was
"a bit early" to consider exploratory discussions between
the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union, for two reasons. First,
the future of the entity was uncertain and, second, any discussions
would have to be predicated on de-escalation of the crisis in
Ukraine. If that were so, "perhaps a development of this
EU-Eurasian Union relationship at political level would be possible."
However, the UK was "cautious for the time being".
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION
146. The Eurasian Union is a project to build
Russian regional influence in competition with the EU's own arrangements
with partner countries. The current incompatibility that is structured
into the economic arrangements between the two blocs is in danger
of creating new dividing lines on the continent.
147. The European Commission has been hesitant
to engage officially with the Eurasian Union. We judge that the
EU should reconsider this approach. We recommend that the Commission
should track the development of the Eurasian Union and put forward
a proposal to the European Council outlining the basis on which
formal contacts could be initiated.
148. However, we recognise that enabling the
two trading blocs to work together is further complicated because
Russia is not assiduous in obeying its WTO obligations.
Reviewing the EU's instruments
in the shared neighbourhood
149. Mr Hugo Shorter, Head of EU Directorate
(External), FCO, said that the "experience of the past year
or so shows that we need to review how the eastern partnership
policy works and our overall approach."
Dr Shevtsova said that the ENP was "shattered" and that
while there remained elements of the ENP in place it was "hardly
a vision or package of coherent policy instruments." She
did not see any signs that the EU had a strategy that would "make
the European neighbourhood effective."
150. The new High Representative and Commission
will undertake a review of the ENP. Below, we set out our witnesses'
views on some of the core questions which have remained ambiguous
for too long, and which we believe the review should examine further.
THE EU'S STRATEGIC INTERESTS IN
THE SHARED NEIGHBOURHOOD
151. Two strategic interests remain unreconciled
in the EU's policies in the neighbourhood: on the one hand, a
ring of well-governed states on the EU's periphery is in the EU's
strategic interests, while on the other, European security cannot
be built in the face of sustained Russian opposition.
152. Mr Kliment saw the choice facing the EU
in stark terms: the EU had to decide whether it was more important
to expand its political and economic influence in the former eastern
bloc countries or have "a functional, stable and growing
relationship with Russia." In his view, those two things
were "no longer compatible."
According to Mr Bond, Russia had decided that it was in its interests
to keep the countries in the common neighbourhood "weak,
unstable and dependent on Russia. That is not in our interest
and we should do what we can to prevent it."
Sir Tony Brenton disagreed. It was "perfectly possible for
the EU to have good, close, economic and political relations"
with countries in the neighbourhood, provided that the EU was
not seen to be trying to "pull them" in the EU's direction.
Building resilience in the neighbourhood
153. Some witnesses were clear that extending
the EU's model to the neighbourhood should be an EU policy goal:
history had shown that accommodating authoritarian states at the
expense of the rights of sovereign nations was not a recipe for
long term stability. Mr Bond told us that EU Member States had
"an interest in the countries to our east becoming democratic,
prosperous and more stable, and we should pursue that." EU
Member States should resist Russian efforts to "shut us out
of an area that is just as much our backyard" as theirs.
Mr John Lough, Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme,
Chatham House, said it was important to remember that countries
on Russia's periphery "should be able to make choices",
and that if those countries chose the EU's model of development
rather than Russia's then that was the "Russians' problem
and not ours."
The Minister for Europe was clear that Eastern Partnership (EaP)
countries had "a sovereign right to choose the direction
in which they travel."
154. Associate Professor Tomila Lankina, London
School of Economics and Political Science, advised the EU to be
"firm and consistent in articulating concern that an authoritarian
form of government in Russia poses legitimate security concerns
to the EU." The EaP had become hostage to "Russia's
claims of its exceptional security vulnerabilities posed by EU
enlargement", and the EU should counter that its support
for democracy was "motivated by its own legitimate vulnerabilities
stemming from the 20th century record of dictatorships
wreaking havoc on the continent."
155. Dr Casier urged caution, saying that while
Ukraine (and other countries) were entitled to seek membership,
it would "make the geopolitical situation worse." He
advised us to "think about a different model for a wider
Europe", where the two projects were no longer clashing with
each other but became compatible.
He suggested that the EU could consider varied integration with
a "system of double concentric circles" which reflected
the EU's and Russia's interests in the neighbourhood. Under this
model, the closer the countries were to the EU, the more integrated
they would be with the EU and, likewise, the nearer to Russia,
the more they could be integrated with Russia.
Engage Russiavoice not veto
156. A specific question, posed by Mr Shorter,
was "how do we engage with Russia on what are doing with
the Eastern Partnership?"
Dr Terterov said that the EU did not have a strategy towards Russia,
but rather strategies for the neighbourhood countries which "de
facto" became the Russia strategy.
Professor Richard Whitman, University of Kent, said that the EU
made a "strategic error in decoupling Russia from its ENP/EaP
rather than finding a formulation that would have recognised its
significance for the region and for the realisation of the EU's
Casier viewed this as the "age-old problem" of the "place
of Russia in the wider Europe." In his view, if the EU did
not find a structural solution to that question then it would
"move from crisis to crisis."
157. Sir Andrew Wood said that the EU should
not "subscribe to the myth" that Russia was "supposed
to control everything", but that it should recognise that
the EU owed Russia respect and had to "deal with the powers
that exist there."
The Minister for Europe said that the starting point had to be
"Russia being prepared to recognise the integrity and the
sovereignty of its neighbours."
The red line for the Minister was to avoid a "great-power
pattern" of politics, whereby the EU and Russia decided the
fates of other countries. In his view, partner countries had to
be "equal participants at any table."
158. Ambassador Gachechiladze offered us the
example of how Georgia had taken steps to improve relations between
Russia and Georgia. Political issues, in particular those pertaining
to the territorial integrity of Georgia, remained off the table,
but nevertheless the Georgian government had "offered Russia
a dialogue on some humanitarian, economic and cultural issues".
Successive rounds of dialogue had proven quite successful and
had resulted in a resumption of trade between the two sides.
The Ambassador believed that there was "space for negotiations
and dialogue" with the Russians, and that the Georgians were
"very supportive of these sorts of actions."
RESTRUCTURING THE EAP
159. Since its launch in 2009, the Eastern Partnership
(EaP) has been the subject of sustained Russian opposition. Soon
after its launch, Alexander Grushko, a deputy foreign minister
of Russia, said that the EaP must not make the partner countries
choose between either Russia or the EU.
Ambassador Yakovenko told us that EaP countries "were faced
with artificial 'civilizational choice': either with the EU or
with Russia", and that the policy had been "implemented
without consideration of Russia's legitimate interests."
Professor Whitman noted that Russia had become "progressively
more hostile" to the EU's EaP and ENP. During 2013, Russia's
policy had moved from "discontent to active opposition",
demonstrated by its interventions to draw the EU's eastern partners
away from the EaP. Professor Whitman said that the EU had "gambled
that Russia would gradually reconcile itself" to the EaP,
and that there had been an "absence of a clear sighted diplomacy
with Russia that recognised its clear and publicly articulated
opposition" to the EaP.
160. Other witnesses commented on the binary
choice between the EU and Russia offered to partner countries.
Professor Korosteleva said that the rhetoric around the Association
Agreement (AA) offered to Ukraine was framed around a choice between
either the EU or Russia. She argued that both the EU and Russian
approaches failed to "understand the region itself and its
historical urge for complementary rather than dichotomous relations"
with wider Europe".
Mr Polyanskiy agreed that for countries like Ukraine and Moldova
it was "impossible to make such a choice"; they should
be allowed to "develop the best possible relations with both
Russia and the European Union".
Ambiguity of the offer
161. We were told that the ambiguity inherent
in the EaP's offer of EU membership had undermined the capacity
of the EaP to build resilience into the neighbourhood, created
unrealistic expectations among partner countries, and destabilised
relations between the EU and Russia.
162. With regard to Ukraine, Dr Shevtsova said
that the weakness of the EaP was its failure to offer membership.
In her view, it was "a very difficult process of transformation",
which gave no hope that at some point Ukraine would be "with
Europe or in some kindergarten of Europe."
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff MEP, Chairman of the Executive Committee
of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED), speaking in a personal
capacity, was not convinced that the country could "become
a member of the European Union as we understand it today."
For Dr Casier, the point was not that Ukraine was not entitled
to choose EU membership, but that such steps would make the "geopolitical
163. From the Russian perspective, Mr Polyanskiy
told us that Ukraine did "not have a concrete prospect of
membership" of the EU.
Mr Lukyanov added that the EaP was an "unfair system"
for the partner countries, as it did "not promise anything:
not membership, not anything else." Furthermore, it "undermined
very much the Russian-European relationship."
164. The Ambassadors for Ukraine and Georgia
told us that both countries harboured ambitions for full EU membership.
The Acting Ambassador of Ukraine informed us that President Poroshenko
had stated that Ukraine "should be ready economically, politically
and democratically to submit the application for membership for
the year 2020".
He added that it was clear that Ukraine was covered by the border
of Europe: "We are a European nation; we have a European
destiny and a European future."
Ambassador Gachechiladze stated that "Georgia's choice of
the West is by necessity and choice. We consider ourselves a European
165. Dr Lucas, on the other hand, was clear that
the EaP was not an accession process: the EaP brought countries
closer to the EU economically, but was not itself about membership.
The Minister for Europe acknowledged that there was a "need
for greater clarity and transparency" about what the EaP
involved and how it differed from EU accession. He added that:
"It is not the same as membership. It is not incompatible
with membership either."
Eastern frontier of the EU
166. We asked our witnesses if it would be helpful
to define the Eastern frontier of the EU. Mr Bond told us that
there was a difficult line to be drawn, "as to whether Europe
comes to a cliff-edge or a beach that slopes gently down to the
sea." He added that AAs attempted to soften the cliff-edge
into sloping beach by asking partner countries to adopt much of
the acquis communautaire. Member States had thereby avoided
drawing the line clearly. At the moment "we have a bit of
each and that is not very helpful because it leads to a lack of
clarity." The danger inherent in this approach was that the
EU would reproduce "the Turkey problem", which involved
"promising something that you subsequently decide you would
really rather not deliver."
167. Most recently, the decision by the Juncker
Commission to postpone enlargement for five years was, as Dr Casier
pointed out, only a reflection of the fact that none of the candidate
countries would be ready before that time.
The Minister for Europe stated that EU membership was open under
the treaty to any European country that wanted to join and could
meet the accession criteria. Having said that, he judged that
none of the EaP countries would be able to reach the standards
for a "long time into the future"; the next in line,
the Balkan countries, would be ready only in the "2020s,
in some cases the late 2020s."
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
168. In the review of the neighbourhood policy,
the EU and Member States face a strategic question of whether
Europe can be secure and prosperous if Russia continues to be
governed as it is today. Whatever the present Russian government's
real intentions may be, Russia's internal governance and its resulting
threat perceptions create geopolitical competition in the neighbourhood.
The EU's capacity to influence the internal politics of Russia
is limited, and Member States have not demonstrated an appetite
to make the attempt. Therefore, if influencing Russia's future
governance is not on the agenda, Member States instead need to
devise a robust and proactive policy to manage competition with
Russia in the shared neighbourhood.
169. The first step is for the EU to distinguish
between the legitimate and the illegitimate security interests
of Russia. Moscow has a right not to be excluded from the eastern
neighbourhood. However, it does not have the right to deny or
threaten the sovereign rights of its neighbours.
170. A strategy to promote reform in the neighbourhood
must be matched with a new effort to rebuild relations with Russia.
We recommend that the upcoming review of the European Neighbourhood
Policy, to be undertaken by the High Representative and the Commission,
should consider forums whereby Russia, the EU and the neighbouring
countries can work together on regional issues.
171. Member States must be closely engaged
in the process. As part of the review, Member States should take
advantage of the pause in enlargement to engage in a fundamental
reassessment of their strategic interests in the eastern neighbourhood.
There is an unresolved tension between the offer of membership
on the table to Eastern Partnership countries and the political
will of Member States to follow through, which is not uniform.
This creates unrealistic expectations, and complicates Russia's
relationship both with these countries and with the EU. Member
States must clarify whether EU membership is on offer. This issue
should not be left ambiguous in the upcoming review.
172. We recommend that, once the review is
complete, the Commission and the European External Action Service
should put forward a strategy to communicate the EU's future policies
to Russia and the partner countries. This strategy should explain
how the Eastern Partnership and, if so decided, future EU enlargement,
work to the mutual benefit of the whole region, including Russia.
173. Member States' embassies should also
play a greater role in EU policies in the eastern neighbourhood.
We recommend that the FCO ensures that its embassies in the region
monitor and review Commission programmes in the eastern neighbourhood.
129 Q48 (Sir Tony Brenton) Back
Mary Elise Sarotte, 'A Broken Promise? What the West Really Told
Moscow About NATO Expansion', Foreign Affairs, (September/October2014):
and Steven Pifer, 'Did NATO Promise Not to Enlarge? Gorbachev
says "No"', The Brookings Institution, (6 November
[accessed 2 February 2015] Back
Written evidence (RUS0021) Back
Quoted in Mark Kramer, 'The Myth of a No-NATO-Enlargement Pledge
to Russia", Center for Strategic and International Studies,
(1 April 2009): http://csis.org/publication/twq-myth-no-nato-enlargement-pledge-russia-spring-2009
[accessed 2 February 2015] Back
Written evidence (RUS0020) Back
Written evidence (RUS0021) and Q203 Back
Written evidence (RUS0020) Back
Written evidence (RUS0021) Back
Vladimir Putin, speech to State Duma deputies and Federation Council
members (18 March 2014): http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/6889 [accessed
2 February 2015] Back
Written evidence (RUS0015) Back
Written evidence (RUS0004) Back
Bronwen Maddox, 'New world disorder: An interview with Henry Kissinger',
Prospect, (18 September 2014): http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/new-world-disorder-an-interview-with-henry-kissinger
[accessed 2 February 2015] Back
Written evidence (RUS0019), Q104 Back
Q27 (Alexander Kliment), Q36 (John Lough), Q219
(Vaclav Klaus), QQ36, 38 (Sir Tony Brenton) Back
Appendix 4: Evidence taken during visit to Brussels Back
'Russia and the changing world', Ria Novosti (27 February
39300.html [accessed 2
February 2015] Back
Gabrielle Hogan-Brun, Uldis Ozolins, Meilute Ramoniene and Mart
Rannut, 'Language Politics and Practices in the Baltic States',
Current Issues in Language Planning, vol. 8, no. 4, (2007):
2 February 2015] Back
Human Rights without Frontiers, 'Citizenship and Language Rights
of Russian-speaking Minorities' (29 September 2014): http://www.osce.org/odihr/124483?download=true
[accessed 2 February 2015] Back
Council of Europe, Framework Convention for the Protection of
National Minorities (1994): https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=09000016800c10cf
[accessed 2 February 2015] Back
QQ33, 35 Back
'Language Politics and Practices in the Baltic States', page 539 Back
Ibid., page 596 Back
Ibid., page 543 and Tony Barber, 'Baltic state fear Kremlin
focus on ethnic Russians', Financial Times
(2 September 2014): http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/71d9145c-3268-11e4-a5a2-00144feabdc0.html
[accessed 2 February 2015] Back
'Baltic state fear Kremlin focus on ethnic Russians' Back
'Language Politics and Practices in the Baltic States', page
Ibid., page 525 Back
Article 8, Treaty on the establishment of the Eurasian Economic
Community (adopted on 10 October 2000): http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/other_treaties/details.jsp?group_id=24&treaty_id=443
[accessed 2 February 2015] Back
Appendix 5: Evidence taken during visit to Berlin Back
Q240 (Dmitry Polyanskiy) Back
Q141 (Jean-Luc Demarty), Q23 (Alexander Kliment) Back
Q241. The DCFTA between the EU and Ukraine is compatible
with the free trade area between Russia and Ukraine but is not
compatible with Ukraine becoming a member of the Eurasian Customs
Union. ( Q141 Jean-Luc Demarty). We discuss Russia's separate
concerns about Ukraine's DCFTA impacting the Russian-Ukraine free
trade arrangements in Chapter 5. Back
Vladimir Putin, Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion
Club (24 October 2014): http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/23137 [accessed
2 February 2015] Back
Written evidence (RUS0003) Back
'Merkel offers Russia trade talks olive branch', Financial
Times (26 November 2014): http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/93e5e066-757a-11e4-b1bf-00144feabdc0.html
[accessed 2 February 2015] Back
We discuss Russia's WTO obligations in more detail in Chapter
Written evidence (RUS0001) Back
Written evidence (RUS008) Back
'Europe's bear problem: The trouble with the European Union's
attempts to woo Russia', The Economist (25 February 2010):
http://www.economist.com/node/15578042 [accessed 2 February 2015] Back
Written evidence (RUS0019) Back
Written evidence (RUS0008) Back
Written evidence (RUS0003) Back
Appendix 5: Evidence taken during visit to Berlin Back
Q260. For a further discussion on EU enlargement, see the
Committee's previous report on the subject: European Union Committee,
The future of EU enlargement (10th Report, Session 2012-13, HL
Paper 129). Back