Amid Dying Hopes For Progress of EaP Project, EBRD Boss Calls For More Investments In Member Nations

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 26 November 2019
Amid Dying Hopes For Progress of EaP Project, EBRD Boss Calls For More Investments In Member Nations

The Eastern Partnership project of the European Union, designed for former Soviet satellites, is marking the 10th anniversary to the full extent, holding wide-ranging events to show how attractive this project is for the six nations to closely embrace it.

On the other hand, the EU’s pet project saw millions of tax payers’ money spent for projects obvious in advance that they would not work. The reasons for were political objectives, that is, to drive a wedge between EaP nations and Russia - vociferous opponent of the project, viewing it as a springboard for the West to corner the Kremlin interests in former satellite countries.

Another reason for the EU to organize a series of events is to show to critics that the project is alive and the game is worth the candle and tax payers’ money was not spent in vain. Also the EU is aimed at stopping or at least delaying the collapse of the Eastern Partnership project.

A conference in Riga though officially was titled differently, nevertheless, the main goal was to tie the partner countries to themselves as tightly as possible and thus set them against Russia, some experts believe.

Other seminars, conferences, and forums on the activities of the Eastern Partnership, organized by Brussels, were also held in other European capitals. However, apparently realizing that with the help of these meetings it will not be possible to achieve their goal, EU officials began to change tactics, now it consists in an attempt to “banally buy the partner countries”

"The countries of the Eastern Partnership in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus are becoming more attractive to foreign investors after the reforms have enabled them to increase their economic potentials," Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said at the first Eastern Partnership Investment Summit in London.

At a meeting of political leaders from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti described the Eastern Partnership countries as “rich in potential for investors. The EBRD President said: “I want to encourage all the investors and entrepreneurs gathered here to follow our example and use the region’s large-scale potential to the maximum.”

Partnership countries were represented by Armenian President Armen Sargsyan; Azerbaijani Prime Minister Ali Asadov; Belarus Prime Minister Sergey Rumas; Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Kiku; Ukrainian Prime Minister Aleksey Goncharuk; Georgian Deputy Prime Minister Maya Tskitishvili.

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn represented the European Union (EU) at the summit. In his speech, he pointed out: “The current Investment Summit made it possible to bring together all key partners at the same table in the interests of expanding investments and promoting the business development opportunities that exist in the Eastern Partnership region. Over the previous 10 years, the EU has invested a lot in the economy, energy projects, and most importantly, people in all six countries of the Partnership. Looking into the future of the Eastern Partnership, we have to develop this success together and use the opportunities that open our proximity to Europe, green technologies and digitalization,” he said.

The EU used its full potential so that its offspring Eastern Partnership continued to live and serve the interests of the West. But when did the EBRD make such statements? At least on the 10th anniversary of the founding of this project, the European Bank has never called for investing in the Eastern Partnership. This is an unprecedented event in the history of this bank! This event can be interpreted as the intervention of the EBRD in the policy of the Eastern Partnership countries. The call to increase international investment is clearly aimed at helping the European Union achieve political ambitions through money.

Whether the Euro-Atlanticists will be able to implement this plan will show the near future. It is not necessarily right that financial support from Brussels will help. The problem is that as a result of the Ukrainian events, the reputation of the Eastern Partnership turned out to be so undermined that international investments will not be able to compensate for the political risks faced by the EaP after intervening in the Ukrainian crisis. Not all partner countries will want to sacrifice even part of their independence for the sake of millions of euros.

For the EU and the Eastern Partnership, the biggest problem is that there is almost no trust from six countries. Now even those who once blindly followed all the recommendations and orders of Brussels do not believe in the “bright future” of partner countries.

For example, Ukraine and Georgia, but rather the peoples of these countries have drunk from the bitter cup of expanding relations with the EU. A visa-free regime, granted with grief in half, did not last long.

Many EU countries are taking the initiative to deport those who arrived from the Eastern Partnership countries. Is it worth for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, which bought on Brussels' promises, to humiliate their citizens?

If earlier the prospects of the Eastern Partnership were foggy, then after the developments in Ukraine and the open diktat of Brussels in relation to other countries, this project completely lost attraction and hopes for its progress and development is low.

The geopolitical context of the European Neighborhood and Eastern Partnership initiatives and the open anti-Russian spirit of these projects were initially the "grave diggers" of these EU undertakings. It seems to us that forums, conferences, meetings, and even an increase in investment, will not be able to fully revive the geopolitical project Eastern Partnership.

Recently, the attitude towards the EaP in Europe, and even in the countries covered by the initiative, has been very skeptical. The states that entered into the partnership did not receive from such cooperation far from everything that was initially declared and what they hoped for.

The EU also expected other results and greater efficiency in working with the six EaP counties. On both sides, even voices were heard with a proposal to close the program as not justified. Therefore, the listed issues were of particular interest to European officials.

Seeing no fault in the EU, they noted that the Eastern Partnership has always had problems with a misunderstanding of its strategic goal. Some EU countries wanted this to be an intermediate stage for membership in the organization.

Others, in particular Germany, noted that membership in the EU and the EaP would not be worth linking at all. However, on the whole, everyone agreed that the Eastern Partnership program should continue so far.