EU Neighborhood Policy towards Eastern Neighbors

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EU Neighborhood Policy towards Eastern Neighbors

EU Neighborhood Policy
Considering the history of the EU’s Neighborhood Policy, it can be seen that it emerged
with the steps taken in the 1990s. The most important of these is the signing of Partnership
and Cooperation Treaties with Belarus, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine, along with other
Central and Eastern European countries (other than the Belarus agreement, which was
suspended by the EU due to authoritarian political conditions under Lukashenko, had entered
into force). In addition to these countries, the financial mechanism of cooperation with those
in the East was carried out through the TACIS program. TACIS also covered three South
Caucasus countries under the European Neighborhood Policy, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and
In terms of chronology, the importance of strengthening relations with neighbors in the
East and the South of the Mediterranean to maintain stability and partnership with Europe was
mentioned in the December 2002 Copenhagen European Summit and we see the results of the
studies carried out in 2003 and 2004 in the European Security Strategy Document. In this
document, it was stated that the problems of the EU increased with the enlargement policy
and that steps should be taken for arrangements and cooperation in the Mediterranean and the
East in the name of a solution. In addition, commissions were organized and countries in the
east and south were determined. Besides, in the second commission report, the relationship
between Russia and the EU, apart from the European Neighborhood Policy, will be in a
bilateral framework and it was announced that they will carry out in line with the agreement
reached the St. Petersburg Summit.
Depending on the developments experienced, it was put forward by the EU commission in
2004 to establish friendly relations with the countries bordering the EU. In this context,
agreements were made with Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya,
Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria) in 2008 and Eastern countries (Moldova,
Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia) in 2009. Since the aim is not to join the EU,
the EU membership perspective has not been presented. However, with those who argue that
this may be unmotivated, the economic advantages of increasing commercial and economic
relations, facilitation in the visa procedure (especially for business, scientific research,
education, tourism, and official visits), assistance in resolving regional conflicts, and disputes,
within the framework of EU programs contributions to the citizens of the countries, such as

providing more education and research opportunities in Europe were taken into agenda.
Moreover, Johannes Hohn was chosen as the person responsible for these matters.
Looking at, what can be shown to cause the EU to take such steps? Is it just to have good
relationships and peace? Of course not. When viewed mainly, the reasons can be examined
internally and externally. Looking at the reasons internally, it can be seen as helpful in solving
the problems of illegal immigration, drug and women trafficking and energy deficit, which the
EU is exposed to; Externally, it can be said to expand the EU’s sphere of influence and to
have a voice in global balances and to ensure stability in neighboring countries. Namely, The
European Neighborhood Policy has emerged to find solutions in four important issues we
touched on (immigration to the EU (illegal or legal), the use of women and children as sex
workers, drug trafficking, and energy shortages). While the first three problems we mentioned
are related to geopolitical location, the last issue is due to the insufficiency of available energy
resources together with the increasing population as a result of immigration. Three important
countries on the Caspian Sea and North African countries have gained importance in terms of
energy resources. With the North African countries, Euro-Med has emerged and 20% of
Europe’s energy needs have started to be met here1

. Also, oil or natural gas reserves in North
Africa, Russia, and the Caspian Region will become a priority for the EU, as the Persian Gulf
and the Middle East prioritize China and its surrounding region in sending energy. In
addition, Ukraine is a country that should be distinguished due to the fact that it has the
second-largest natural gas storage capacity in Europe after Russia and it has the strategic port
of Odess for distributing Caspian natural gas to Europe via the Black Sea. Considering the
steps and regulations taken on this issue, it has been one of the strategic promises in the
European Neighborhood Policy that, while organizing their relations with the countries on a
one-to-one level and according to their performances, the regional cooperation efforts among
these countries will be supported. In other words, every country which was thought could
contribute to these internal reasons and structuring was made for solutions. When we look at

what the EU has done to increase its global influence, first of all, regional crises (Palestine-
Israel conflict, the tension in Western Sahara) and internal problems-crises of countries (such

as Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Karabakh problems between Armenia and
Azerbaijan) will be able to expand the maneuver space in foreign policy by approaching more
and more effectively. Also, this policy was used as a strategic tool to make the EU influence

1 Yrd.Doç.Dr.Hakan SAMUR, “AVRUPA KOMŞULUK POLİTİKASI VE AMAÇLARI,” Elektronik Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi
8, no. 27 (2009): 18–35.

felt in a wide area by cooperating not only with neighboring countries but also among
neighboring countries.
East Partnership of the European Union
In June 2008, by using the EU Neighborhood Policy of the European Council, with the
states in the East for strategic purposes (both to find solutions to the internal problems of the
EU and to ensure the peace and stability of the surrounding countries), the Eastern Partnership
Treaty signed with Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia in May
2008 and its founding summit was held in Prague in May 2009.
While targeting the points mentioned above with this partnership, what is also planned is to
ensure the development of bilateral relations, advanced and gradual economic integration with
the EU, increasing mutual interaction through visa facilities, strong cooperation on energy
security, and supporting economic and social development. Regarding the steps taken in line
with these plans, Eastern countries were asked to join the World Trade Organization. After
this participation was achieved, the Free Trade Agreement was signed and the liberalization
process lived and the money transfer was made easier by making arrangements on tax issues.
On the other hand, while providing convenience in the name of tourism with the “Travel and
Security” agreement, regulations were made to open the workforce supply. Even if we come
to the plans regarding energy, it has been considered to make agreements to secure the EU for
supply and transit transportation. Finally, it is aimed to increase regional financial support and
cooperation in order to support economic and social development.
If we look at Russia’s attitude on planning the Eastern Partnership and taking action on this
issue, it has caused difficulties in its relations with the EU. When we look at it, Belarus and
Armenia, which are the countries with which an agreement is to be made, have always had
good relations with Russia and preferred Russia to the EU on the Customs Union. In addition,
Russia has caused trouble in almost every state to create difficulties for the EU. Moldova can
be given as an example of this subject at first. The Gagauz Turks in Moldova caused a
referendum on the regulations in the labor market and being from Russia in the Customs
Union, and the result was what they wanted. In addition, although Ukraine is a country that
has good relations with both NATO and the EU and Russia, it has become closer to Russia
upon the change of Russia’s Crimean policy while having closer relations with the EU. Apart
from these, Georgia has established and maintained good relations with the EU with the
economic assistance of the EU after the 2008 Russian conflict. In other words, there are

certain problems in all of them except Georgia and the most important factor in this is the
success of Russia’s relationship with these states.
In 2013, almost every state had a problem, Belarus signed the Customs Union agreement
with Russia and Kazakhstan; Armenia had said no to the Association Agreement with the EU
long ago; After the conflicts in Ukraine, Ukraine announced that it suspended relations. And
this situation continued until the summit in May 2015. During the time of this summit,
conflicts were continuing in Ukraine, and relations with Russia were strained; It can be said
that this situation has been exploited. Moreover, the EU administration of Ukraine, Moldova,
and Georgia was expected to revise the Riga Declaration and recognize the European
perspective for the Eastern Partnership countries. It is thought that bilateral steps were taken
especially in visa and economic cooperation issues (visa liberalization was introduced for
Moldova but not others) and regulation was requested in this regard. Four summits are made
every year, and today although all of these states have regulations about that partnership, this
can not be seen enough.

This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

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