Richard Giragosian (Armenia)
Founding Director of the Regional Studies Center (RSC), Yerevan, Armenia, Visiting Professor and a Senior Expert at the Yerevan State University’s Centre for European Studies (CES), a contributing analyst for Oxford Analytica.
Politically it has been an opportunity for strategic aspirations or expanding the strategic choice. For Armenia, this is especially important in terms of the ability to overcome the limits of the security relationship with Russia. A westward orientation is necessary to overcome what is now an overdependence on Russia. This is the political aspect in terms of a new opportunity of an embrace of European values and ideals.
Economically, unfortunately, since we had to sacrifice the Association agreement, we lost an important economic opportunity. We lost the DCFTA and we lost the significant chance for market access.
Mariam Naskidashvili (Georgia)
Junior researcher at the Tbilisi State University and the Yerevan State University. Her ongoing project examines the influence of national identity on foreign policy formation.
The Eastern Partnership was really a stepping stone in Georgia-EU relations. And although ENP itself did not offer a membership, it did contribute to the process of democratization, market liberalization and in generally to bringing Georgia and Europe closer together. ENP also brought a significant amount of money which, for a small country like Georgia, meant a lot. Of course, this money came with strings attached and it has benefited directly the civil society, the judiciary system, the elections, etc. Even though progress has been slow, I have to say that today more people, even in everyday language, use words like transparency, civil society, accountability, etc. I worked for a small development organization and I noticed initiative even in very small villages and communities. I believe this is partially due to the European Union and the European Neighbourhood Policy’s Eastern Partnership. Nevertheless, here I have to say that we need more and the people are ready for more. The Association Agreement we signed a year ago proves that. People got really excited and celebrated it even without knowing all the implications.
When it comes to the contribution towards the economy, the first thing that comes to mind is agriculture. Projects in the area of agriculture helped a lot of people. Due to the Deep and Comprehensive Trade Area, that is part of the Association Agreement, Georgia companies will have access to the European market, something that is also very significant for us. There are many more examples.
Iryna Solonenko (Ukraine)
DAAD/OSF scholar at the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder.
I would say that it is not the Eastern Partnership but the bilateral relations between the EU and Ukraine that made the difference. When the Eastern Partnership was launched six years ago, Ukraine was already negotiating an Association Agreement. In the past year the Association Agreement was negotiated and ratified although its implementation was delayed until 2016 because of Russia. The agreement incorporates the acquis communautaire into national legislation. Ukraine also received a financial package after the Maidan. This was not in the framework of the Eastern Partnership but an EU initiative because of the crisis in Ukraine.
Ideally, the Eastern Partnership should enhance the competition among its members. They can also benefit from exchange of information, know-how, reform experience, financial instruments and meetings at different levels – summits, ministerial meetings, expert meetings, civil society forums. It is useful to have these types of platforms for interaction and exchange of experience and ideas. Being a part of the Eastern Partnership also makes countries talk to each other. In this sense, it is useful to keep the countries together in a policy such as the Eastern Partnership.