* Successful reforming is the key to security of Central and Eastern Europe
Region suffering from security deficit
Despite the different foreign policy goals and orientations, the six post-Soviet countries united within the EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) policy are interconnected in geopolitical and security perspectives and experience significant pressure from Russia that seeks to retain them in its sphere of influence.
Moldova’s region of Transnistria, Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as Ukraine’s Crimea and certain areas of Donbas are all occupied by Russian troops. Armenia and Azerbaijan continue a bloody dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, both receiving military support from Moscow. Thus far, out of the six EaP countries only Belarus has avoided a territorial conflict; yet Minsk pays a high price by having to prove its loyalty to Moscow which includes providing land and resources for the provocative anti-western military drills such as “Zapad-2017”.
Hence, it is no wonder that 98 per cent of experts interviewed by the East European Security Research Initiative Foundation (EESRI) in December 2017 considered Russia’s aggressive policy as the largest external threat to the security of EaP countries.
Among other important external threats named were the following: regional conflicts (61%); tensions with neighbouring countries including those driven by growing populist sentiments (47%); location of the EaP states at the centre of the NATO–CSTO/Russia competing interests (39%) and of the EU–EEU/Russia competing interests (21%).
What are the major external threats to security of the Eastern Partnership countries? (No more than three options)
None less important was to identify the factors that most negatively influenced the capabilities of the EaP countries to address external threats.
It is noteworthy that besides the obvious lack of reliable international mechanisms and security guarantees (53%), the experts chose a set of domestic issues, such as internal institutional weakness and high levels of corruption (44%);
oligarchic models of the EaP states (32%);
weak economies and low living standards (26%);
and weakness of democratic institutions (24%).
Reforms on the top of agenda
Answering the question as to “What kind of external assistance is most needed to strengthen security of the EaP countries?”, a relative majority of the experts chose the option not directly related to security: “Assistance in creating anti-corruption bodies and in reforming legal systems” (52%).
The next three most popular options were also related to reforms: 48% of the experts pointed to the need for external assistance in reforming armed forces and military training; 37% indicated the need for advisory support in the reforms, including in security and the defence sector; and 35% pointed to the need for assistance in reforming democratic institutions.
At the same time, the options “Arms assistance including with lethal weapons” (26%), and “Financial aid/loans/investments” (24%) were less of priorities. Surely, it is not about the underestimation of the importance of weapons and money, but about the first priority of the reforms agenda.
What kind of external assistance is most needed to strengthen security of the EaP countries? (No more than three options
Symptomatically while answering the question “What measures could NATO take to strengthen security in the Eastern Partnership region?” the experts more often chose the option “Assistance in reforming security and defence sector” (69%) than “Granting aspirant status to countries seeking membership” (45%).
A similar situation was in the answers to the question about the measures which the European Union could take: the experts more often pointed to “Assistance in economic and social reforms” (55%) than to “Granting membership prospects to the EaP countries seeking membership” (44%).
* The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: neweasterneurope.eu
* * *
Почему русские покидают Европу? 20.02.2018
УНИРЯ. Подкожная политика румын 20.02.2018
Дэн Сяопин и Си Цзиньпин 20.02.2018
Dreams for Visegrad, nightmares for Berlin 20.02.2018