Thursday, May 22, 2008

Europe's Marshall Plan

Via Postimees comes news of a project devised by Poland and Sweden to create a loose affiliation between the EU and five nearby states: Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Eastern Partnership would involve visa-free travel, free trade, and the very voluminous umbrella term of "strategic partnerships".

Brilliant. This is the first truly plausible and useful act of EU foreign policy that I've seen. Edward Lucas ought to be extatic: weary of Russian and Iranian sabre-rattling and back-room negotiations over contested membership plans, the EU begins to play sphere-of-influence games unashamedly. The EP has already received support from Britain, Germany and the Netherlands; France is expected to play along in return for approval for its own similar project in the Mediterranean and North Africa. That will also bring support from Spain and Italy.

The beauty of the EP and MU projects is that they return to the core values and competence of the European Union: economical rather than political; practical. They offer the affiliate countries the benefits of the rich, powerful, clever, established force that is Europe, without the restrictions of membership - and often those simply cannot be implemented in adjoining states even with the best of goodwill - and without the finality of taking sides, either against Russia or against the extreme bits of the Middle East. Poland, the dreadnought of New Europe, is expected to take the lead in incorporating the leftover bits of the socialist bloc in Eastern Europe and the North Caucasus, while France has taken it upon itself to spearhead the EU's expansion of influence into near Arab territories, where it has a presence and a history. (While its colonial past might bother some in North Africa, France has been the neutral party in Middle Eastern affairs since the middle of the 20th century.)

The EP/MU initiative allows Europe to pursue its interests on the south-eastern bearing without getting bogged down in the quagmire of politics and offense; it will be playing against the other major entities in the region on its strengths. There is a lot for Eurocrats to get wrong here, but if they succeed, it will assert the EU not only as a common force, but undeniably as a new world superpower.


Luarvik said...

Oh wow, hold your horses, the proposal is more than anything just renamed European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) that has been there for years, just as the Union of the Mediterranean has been - under the name of Barcelona Process, offering the exact same that is promised by their newer versions. Eastern Partnership gets its financing from the ENP budget line and is there to balance out the new Union of the Mediterranean, so to speak... It's no revolution :)

antyx said...

If it was a revolution, I'd be shitting myself. As it is, it's a step in the right direction, which in European politics is a big deal. ;)

Jens-Olaf said...

Right, it's abig deal.
Something is going on about Georgia. There was a resolution where Europe was divided again.

Eurasia Daily from May 16, by Vladimir Socor

In the debate before the vote, Georgia’s UN envoy Irakli Alasania reminded the Assembly of the forced exodus of hundreds of thousands of people of Georgian and other ethnicities from Abkhazia, their growing despair, and the unlawful seizure of the homes and property they had to leave behind. Alluding to Russia’s role, he said that the conflict was an “example of how externally generated conflicts have been maintained in a frozen situation to subdue the people of Georgia.” He reaffirmed Georgia’s proposals for autonomy and direct talks with the de facto Abkhaz authorities.

The European Union failed to adopt a common position. Nine member countries, including eight new ones and Sweden, joined the United States to vote for the Georgian-proposed resolution. That European group coincides approximately with the New Group of Friends of Georgia, which has come into its own since 2007. Up to 17 EU member countries (all the “old” ones except Sweden) abstained from voting. Speaking for those countries, Germany, France, and Italy claimed that the UN Security Council traditionally dealt with this conflict, thus implying that a General Assembly debate was redundant.

Beyond procedural arguments, however, Germany objected to the resolution’s content. It claimed that the document “ignored many other aspects of the situation,” i.e., that it did not reflect Russian views. Germany spoke in its capacity as chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Group of Friends of Georgia (Russia, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany). This group operates (when it does at all) based on consensus with Russia, thereby making it dysfunctional, while in this case providing Germany with an excuse to take the position it does.

UN resolution on Abkhazia

Anonymous said...

Draw a bloody line from the Sea of Azov to Astrakhan. Everything south of it give it to the EP.

Anonymous said...

Moldova is a basket case, reunite it with Romania and the sooner the better. Ukraine is Ukraine.


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