18.07.2021 (Caucasian Journal). The today’s guest of Caucasian Journal is Mr. Gert ANTSU, Director of the Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership and Special Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Eastern Partnership.
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint policy initiative which aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union and its six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. EaP was inaugurated in 2009.
▶ ქართულად: Read the Georgian version here.
Alexander KAFFKA, editor-in-chief of CJ: Welcome to Caucasian Journal, thank you for attention to our readers. We often talk about successful European reform experiences and best practices, and whether they can be used in our region. But our today’s theme is a special case: We discuss the Eastern Partnership, which is in fact all about applying the EU approaches in our neighborhood. Let me start with a conceptual question: Who is the main driving force in this process — in theory it must be the Eastern side, not EU? Or, is it different for each EaP country, which are so dissimilar?
Gert ANTSU: It is a conceptually interesting question. If we talk about partnership, then by definition it needs a strong interest from both sides to work. At the same time we can see that there is more urgency on the side of the EaP countries, especially those who have declared their European ambitions — people want better livelihoods, better governance in their countries and they understand that closer relations with the EU are a key to reach those ends. Then again, these countries do not stress as much the multilateral Eastern Partnership as their own bilateral relationship and integration with the EU. However, viewed from the EU’s side, everything one does with EaP countries, bilaterally or all together, is Eastern Partnership, so there is no contradiction here.