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Dr. Fernando Casal Bértoa
A specter is haunting Europe, the
specter of polarization. In the last decade vote for
anti-political-establishment parties, being them populist, radical and/or
extreme has exponentially increased. And with it the distance between political
parties and the irreconcilable differences (either ideological, personalistic
or both) among voters.
The ‘hybrid war’ waged by Russia against Ukraine since 2014, which was preceded by the short-lived Russia-Georgia War in 2008, has exposed the wider conflict between the respective goals and ambitions of the EU and Russia in their shared neighbourhood. The Kremlin’s belligerence towards Ukraine brought to the fore limitations of the EU’s traditional foreign policy approach – characterized by an emphasis on shared values, international law and norms, and a technocratic approach to reform, and forced EU governments to address the unintended geostrategic implications of the Eastern Partnership program covering Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.(more…)...
Open Government Partnership (OGP) through the citizens’ lens – Why do we need OGP more than we think?
According to the 2018 Freedom House report, Georgia remains classified as a hybrid regime with an aggregated score of 64 out of 100. Despite improvements in recent years, the country has faced setbacks in democratic development in terms of informal governance; the impact of oligarchic actors in the policy-making process; government interference with judicial independence, etc. Political corruption also remains a problem: the lack of measures to address high-level corruption resulted in a slight decline of public confidence in anticorruption institutions in 2017. (more…)...
For the past several years, Georgia has been a ‘model student’ of EU integration. The country’s firm pro-European stance contributed to the signing of the Association Agreement (AA) with the EU in 2014. However, Georgia’s European aspirations are not always adequately reflected within the EU. This has created a gap between EU member states’ perceptions about Georgia’s EU integration and the domestic discourse in Georgia. In an effort to bridge this gap, this policy memo identifies the preferences and perceptions in Austria that determine its position towards Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. It raises the question whether Austria should be seen as an advocate or a sceptic of Georgia’s EU membership aspirations. (more…)...
Georgia’s European perspectives within the context of current debates on the EU’s future: A Franco-German view
Dr. Barbara Kunz
As of 2018, the EU’s internal debate has largely emerged from the gloomy state that had overshadowed it recent years: Brussels is again looking forward rather than focusing on crisis management. After the depression caused by the Eurozone crisis, the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States, much of the current debate focuses on taking European integration further in a number of fields: migration and border protection, as well as Eurozone reform and defense. The same applies to Franco-German relations. Paris and Berlin, the traditional (though not always functioning) “motor” of European integration, have formulated ambitious cooperation objectives, both in terms of bilateral relations and within the broader European context. (more…)...
Dr. Tracey German
As a small state in an unstable neighbourhood, Georgia faces significant external challenges to its ongoing democratisation and Europeanisation projects. The environment in its immediate neighbourhood has become increasingly unfavourable with a rise in illiberalism across the wider Caucasus, reflecting broader global trends. In recent months both the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, have won their fourth terms of office, whilst in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to consolidate his already strong grip on power. Armenia has provided a small ray of democratic hope after Serzh Sargsyan was forced to resign as the newly installed prime minister in Armenia (after two consecutive terms as president), following the #RejectSerzh movement and widespread popular protests.
The recent Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Brussels highlighted once again the gap between the expectations of the Eastern partners and the European Union. The advanced Eastern partner countries aspire for nothing less than full EU membership – something which the European Council is not ready to offer. Yet, the exclusive focus on the rather distant membership perspective has overshadowed more acute problems: for many, the EaP format itself is considered inherently ineffective undermining of the EU’s soft power in Eastern partner countries. (more…)...
Over the years, Italy’s foreign policy towards post-Soviet countries has developed in the framework of bilateral relations and in the context of the Eastern Partnership (EaP). Italy welcomed the launch of the EaP in 2009, and since then has supported almost all EU initiatives under the project, including visa liberalization for Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Moreover, official Rome favored launching the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia following the Georgian-Russian war of 2008.
Italy’s economic and diplomatic presence in the European Union’s Eastern neighborhood has increased since the 2000s. The expansion of trade and diplomatic contacts with Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries has complemented Italy’s long-standing relationship with Moscow, which continues to be important despite the current political crisis and economic sanctions imposed between Russia and the EU. (more…)...