In February 2018, the European Commission published its communiqué ‘A Credible Enlargement Perspective for and Enhanced EU Engagement with the Western Balkans’. The document offered an incentive to the countries of the region, especially to those that are already in the negotiation process such as Montenegro and Serbia.
When the Syrians took to the streets in 2011 after the Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan uprisings, surprisingly for the outsider, the Kurds did not immediately join in. There were some protests here and there, but nothing was politically coordinated. There was also no outreach to the rest of the Syrians protesting in Daraa, Homs or Idlib.
May 2019 featured three major European events. One didn’t even take place in Europe. The first happened on May 9, Europe Day, when European leaders gathered for their summit in Sibiu, Romania. The second: the set of European Parliament elections across the 28 European Union member states. And the third major European event of May 2019 was the Eurovision song contest, which took place not in a quaint Transylvanian mountain town or across the villages and downtowns of the Continent or British Isles, but in a convention center on the edge of Tel Aviv, Israel. In the city’s beachside park, some 500,000 people packed the largest Eurovision village in the history of the competition.
In the pre-election rhetoric used by all the front-runners in Ukraine’s presidential campaign, issues of national security and foreign policy ranked high. The conflict – referred to by many as ‘war’ – with Russia, the question of annexed Crimea, aspirations for NATO and EU membership, became topics of specific concern and points for emotional political discussions. The overwhelming majority of presidential candidates – there were 39 on the list in total – highlighted the restoration of the country’s territorial integrity and moving closer to EU and NATO membership as their foreign and national security policy priorities.
The European Commission published its Country Report for Serbia in May 2019 assessing the country’s progress in the past year: it portrays a confusing picture of a country that is perceived as a frontrunner in the EU accession process, has been involved in accession negotiations since 2014, and which yet obviously lacks any drive to reform, ambition, capacities, and most importantly the results that could prove its advanced status.
It has already been 10 years since the Polish-Swedish Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative was launched in Prague in May 2009. Since then, the EU has strengthened its relations with all six EaP countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Three of them – Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine – have signed Association Agreements (AA) with the EU, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA), and have been granted visa-free regimes. Armenia, which initially withdrew from signing the AA, has concluded a new, less ambitious bilateral treaty: a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. Azerbaijan has started negotiations on a new framework agreement with the EU. Finally, bilateral talks on EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities have been launched. The EU is now the biggest trade partner for five out of the six EaP countries, and is the second biggest trade partner for Belarus only after the Russian Federation.
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