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.
The Eastern Parnership, in my opinion, has been transformed from a six member state group into two different levels of states. Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine are obviously on the top tier, having signed the Association Agreement. Armenia has been relegated to the bottom half, together with Belarus and Azerbaijan in terms of losing or not having an AA.
Going into the Riga Summit, what this means is that expectations are a little bit more realistic and significantly lowered in terms of sustaining momentum of European engagement in the near abroad or the former Soviet Union. Another key difference, compared to the Vilnius Summit, is the Russian reaction, unfortunately. We have the impulse or imperative to actually counter Russian aggression, yet, at the same time, defend and better define EU engagement with each of these Eastern partnership states.
When it comes to Armenia, the Armenian government is still committed to salvaging the relationship with the EU, despite the U-turn towards the Eurasian Union, and will open negotiations over a new draft legal framework with the EU at the Riga Summit.
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 expectations of the population from the Riga Summit are high, but probably unrealistic, especially when it comes to visa liberalisation. However, people are really looking forward to even closer ties with the EU. When it comes to the Georgia leadership, in the beginning of the year the Prime Minister was very optimistic. He was promising that we will probably see a visa-free regime after the Summit. However, in the beginning of May, the tonality of his discourse changed drastically. His statements are now more in the sense that “Riga is not the end of the story” and “We will continue to move forward”. These types of statements attempt to lower people’s expectations and are actually more realistic when it comes to the progress that we could make during the Riga Summit.
Iryna Solonenko (Ukraine)
DAAD/OSF scholar at the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder.
Ukraine expected that in Riga it would be announced that Ukraine fulfilled all the conditions for visa liberalisation but this will not be case. We now expect that during the Summit it will be stated that Ukraine has made progress but still needs to work in order to fulfil the conditions. Only then we can discuss open and visa-free travel.