01/12/2021 keta

EaP Cooperation for Stronger Democracy: Georgia, Moldova and Armenia

Project Duration: 06.2021 || 07.2022

Status: Completed

Donor: The Netherlands Fund for Regional Partnerships MATRA for regional cooperation in the Eastern Partnership (EaP)

Partners: Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE, Moldova), Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation (ACGRC, Armenia)

Budget: 67,170 EUR

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) has based its objectives on „fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms“. It underlined the value-based approach that guided the EU’s policies in its neighborhood, seeking to support sustainable prosperity and enhance stability in the region. In the last years the normative pillar of engagement with the EaP countries has been visibly weaker than other tools, inducing a debate on European soft power and the role of values in the current geopolitical context.

The project addressed some of the most prevalent obstacles for democratization in Georgia, Armenia and Moldova, promoting knowledge and experience exchange among the EaP countries. As the societies in all three countries have shifted their understanding of Europeanization reforms as necessary for internal development, the project aimed to bring civil society representatives for a deeper debate on how to strengthen our democracies, address corruption, improve elections and strengthen trust in institutions.

 

Project activities:

Throughout the project, partners conducted research, published policy briefs, op-eds and blogs, and organized regular discussions on democratization challenges.

The first workshop organized in July 2021 by the Armenian partner ACGRC, “Election season’ in the Eastern Partnership region: a window for change and reforms?”, focused on challenges with free and fair elections, as all three partners had much to share. Snap elections had just taken place in Armenia (June 20, 2021) and Moldova (July 11, 2021), and local elections were upcoming in Georgia, which was still reeling from the parliamentary elections and the political crisis that followed.

🔗 Watch the video of the event here

 

  • The second discussion organized by the GIP on December 7, 2021, Assessing Polarization in the EaP Countries: Mixed Record/or In Search of Success Stories”, explored the negative effects of polarization on the political environments in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, which undermined much of the efforts of consensus-based politics, coalition building, and strengthening of the democratic institutions. While the latest constitutional changes created conditions for multi-party parliament, Georgia has found itself in the grips of extended political crisis, which has damaging effects for the country’s reforms and European integration. In Moldova, geopolitics has been a dividing factor often abused by populistic political groups, which prevented seeking tangible progress in the country’s development. In mid-2021, ethnic cleavages started dominating the populist agenda to gain popularity. After the Velvet Revolution in 2018 Armenian society hoped for changes and reforms. But as the Parliamentary elections in December 2018 were carried out with an old electoral code, Armenia elected a Parliament with only three factions where the ruling party has a Constitutional majority. Such distribution of power created challenges for pluralistic and accountable governance, which only worsened after the war over Nagorno Karabakh.

🔗 Watch the video of the event here

 

  • Building trust: considering the recent crises in all three countries, trust in political institutions remains the key challenge to continue with democratization and good governance reforms. Project partners compares experiences and provide overview of what worked and what remains a challenge in Georgia, Moldova and Armenia through a series of publications.
  • Responding to the challenges posed by Russia’s war in Ukraine: in February 2022, the war in Ukraine broke out, forcing policy makers rethink their priorities, assess security challenges and pay much higher attention to the regional developments. The third discussion took place on March 29, as a #StopWar Regional Workshop “Putin’s War in Ukraine: Effects on Moldova, Georgia and Armenia, and the EU Response”.

🔗 Watch the video of the event here

 

Series of analytical articles analyzing the challenges to democratization published in Georgia, Armenia and Moldova:

GIP published two policy memo, a policy brief and a perspective, testing out a new format where invited authors share their insights on the topic of their expertise:

IPRE produced three op-eds that were published by IPN press agency. The articles were translated and published in three languages, Romanian, Russian and English:

ACGRC produced policy briefs and an op-ed:

 

Blog series by young researchers from Moldova, Georgia and Armenia.

While GIP, IPRE and ACGRC exchanged publications by established analysts, to ensure higher impact, the project also provided the opportunity to involve young researchers, asking for their take on democratization challenges.

GIP:

IPRE:

ACGRC (published in Armenian language):

  • “What effect will the Russian-Ukrainian war have on Armenia?”
  • “The process of judicial reforms in post-revolutionary and post-election Armenia”
  • “What to expect for Pashinyan’s party following defeat in municipal elections”

 

Georgia-Moldova-Armenia Forum: How will the war in Ukraine reshape democracy and governance in EaP region? organized online, reflected on the regional dynamics and issues at the center of public discussion of the time.

The Forum agenda was divided into two panels. The first panel discussed the EU integration and its effects on good governance and democratic processes in EaP, reflecting on the findings within the research and analysis conducted during the project in Georgia, Moldova and Armenia. It also considered the changing relations with the EU and some of the EaP countries – while Georgia and Moldova had applied for the EU candidacy status, the dynamics of European integration was expected to be shifting to a higher gear. What has been the impact of Europeanization and how will the new dynamics affect the democratization process in these two countries? Does it pose any challenges to Armenia and what opportunities might open up if the candidacy status is granted to Georgia and Moldova?

The second panel looked onwards, towards the future of Eastern Partnership in the aftermath of war in Ukraine. The Eastern Partnership was created to deepen relations between the EU and the six EaP countries. It also supports increasing the stability, prosperity, and resilience of the region. What measures can ensure that these goals are preserved in the aftermath of the Russia’s war in Ukraine?

🔗 Watch the video of the event here