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Russia and eastern neighbours

Although the EU’s eastern neighbourhood is of strategic importance, the Union’s relations with the states of the region vary significantly.That said, there are high levels of interdependence between the EU and (virtually all of) its eastern neighbours in a number of different spheres - from trade and energy flows, to the joint management of security challenges and migration. The EU develops its policies in the region along two major strands - a strategic relationship with Russia, and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and Eastern Partnership (EaP) Policy in its relations with Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Russia is the EU’s biggest neighbour – and one of its most important, but also challenging partners. Over the past 15 years, the EU and Russia have developed a deep and complex network of political ties and diplomatic contacts. Yet, Moscow’s actions in Ukraine have greatly strained EU-Russia relations in recent years: tensions around Ukraine now dominate a relationship which once was mostly built on fostering trade and energy cooperation, a security dialogue, and a process that aims at liberalising visas.Elsewhere in the eastern neighbourhood, the cornerstones of the EU policy are the Association Agreements, which contain provisions on the establishment of deep and comprehensive free trade areas. Such Agreements have been signed and are implemented by Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Relations with the other neighbours – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus – are also advancing, but on a more modest scale than the frontrunners.

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    15July 2013

    This alert examines the battle for supplying gas to Kiev, explaining how the once powerful monopolistic strategies of Gazprom - take-or-pay clauses, market partitioning and destination clauses - have either been neutralised or even turned against the company through the logic of the market and the regulatory power of the EU.

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    08July 2013

    This brief offers an evaluation of the ongoing political transition in Georgia explaining that, although the risk of major social unrest remains low, and that there is no geopolitical drift away from the West, there are a number of issues of concern for the international community: the transparency of the judicial process, the lack of political vision currently demonstrated by the government, and the rising influence of traditionalist forces in Georgian society.

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    01July 2013

    Following negotiations that lasted over a decade, on Friday 28 June, the Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP) was chosen over Nabucco West to transport Azeri gas to the European markets. In light of the on-going debate on energy security, this alert explores the motivations behind the decision and its implications for the EU.

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    06May 2013

    On 30 April 2013, the ECHR ruled that Yulia Tymoshenko had been subjected to arbitrary and unlawful detention before her trial in 2011. Yet, even if Tymoshenko’s case epitomises much of what is currently wrong with Ukraine’s politics, the problems facing the country are complex and cannot be reduced to the (mis)treatment of one politician.

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    26March 2013

    After a period of relative stability and significant progress in its reform efforts, Moldovan politics has (re)entered a phase of instability, creating uncertainty about its future direction and its relationship with the EU. This notwithstanding, Moldova potentially remains the best example of a successful transformation under the Union’s Eastern Partnership.

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    04March 2013

    Sanctions seem to have become one of the EU’s weapons of choice to effect change beyond its borders and the case of Belarus testifies in particular to the Union’s ambition to conduct coercive diplomacy. Yet, despite the various steps taken by the EU over the past years, little lasting success has been achieved so far in enforcing meaningful change in Europe’s ‘last dictatorship’.

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    25July 2012

    Europe's financial crisis has allowed Russia to expand its already substantial influence in the Mediterranean. Russian involvement in regional bailouts, energy deals and shifting alliances means that EU now faces a difficult balancing act in an area of strategic importance.

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    12July 2012

    As many European governments introduce their biggest defence budget cuts in years, the impact on their collective military capabilities may be lessened by exploiting two directives designed to integrate the EU defence market.

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    02March 2012

    Coinciding with the Russian presidential elections, the EUISS has published a report in which a group of Russian authors explore the challenge faced by Russia’s political elite from a rapidly evolving society. The report examines the recent protests and the need for political reform and assesses how the gap between state and society has undermined the legitimacy of the ruling class.

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    26May 2011

    What scenarios lie ahead for Russia after the March 2012 presidential elections? The authors of this paper define potential ‘game changers’ and provide conclusions as to which post-election scenarios might be more favourable to Russia, and to the European Union.

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    01January 2009
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    EULEX Kosovo is finally up and running after a long planning phase. It began operations on 9 December 2008 and has been breaking new ground for the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) as the EU's largest civilian mission.

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    06November 2008

    So far the European Union has not been very successful in its attempts to apply a strict positive conditionality approach towards Belarus. Since the parliamentary elections in 2000 − the first national elections after the controversial constitutional referendum of 1996 − Belarusian elections have been treated by the EU as a litmus test for the improvement of relations.

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    04November 2008

    This issue of the EUISS newsletter looks at the need to avoid confrontational bipolarity in the wake Georgia conflict, assesses prospects for a regional solution to the Afghanistan conflict, and examines ESDP ten years after the St Malo Anglo-French summit. It also gives a round up of the Institute’s recent seminar series on the European Security Strategy, as well as the latest publications and press clippings.

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    15August 2008

    Despite their recent conflict and its impact on relations with the European Union, the futures of both Georgia and Russia are inextricably linked with Europe. The Director of the EUISS discusses the different European paths of the two countries, and presents a vision for the EU’s interaction with them to build a more secure future for the wider Eurasian continent.

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    12August 2008

    The hostilities between Russia and Georgia reflect a lack of long-term strategic thinking on the part of Russia, which is jeopardising relations with the West in order to assert itself as a global power, as well a political climate of increasing nationalism in Georgia. Neither of these factors is constructive in resolving the conflicts over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

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    14February 2008

    Where is Ukraine going? As this Chaillot Paper endeavours to show, Ukraine itself has great potential to either stabilise or destabilise the region. Therefore, the question of Ukraine’s future orientation is of crucial importance for European security in general.

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    01December 2007

    The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) framework obliges the EU to coordinate closely with Georgia on its policies for conflict resolution in the breakaway entities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Brussels and Tbilisi do not share the same time perspective, however.

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    01October 2007

    Over the last ten years, the EU Special Representatives (EUSRs) have pioneered EU foreign policy in countries and regions of direct interest to the Union. EUSRs are a face of the Union, enhancing its visibility, and they give it a voice, seeking to deliver a single message to local and international partners, playing an important role in EU foreign policy.

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    01September 2007

    By introducing the Wider Europe concept and the European Neighborhood Policy, the European Union has actually entered a region which Russia has long considered the sphere of its national interests. The Occasional Paper explores the resultant ‘zero-sum game’.

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    01May 2007

    Lorsque les mondes figés de la Guerre froide et de la Détente se sont effondrés pour donner naissance à une nouvelle Europe, s’est posée la question de savoir quelle relation allaient bien pouvoir entretenir les deux puissances contraintes désormais de se partager pacifiquement un continent : l’Union européenne et la Russie.

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