The German-Russian deal struck last autumn to build a pipeline under the Baltic Sea to pump natural gas from Russia continues to raise concerns in the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine. These countries’ leaders have said they felt uneasy about what they thought was a deal made behind their back on an issue as vital as energy.
EU-Belarussian relations: Mutual distain
The elections both in Belarus and Ukraine this past spring were disappointing for the European Union. In Ukraine a pro-Russian party, sidelined during the Orange revolution of 2004, romped back into domestic politics. In Belarus, the democratic opposition failed to unseat the autocratic regime of Alexander Lukashenko. His massive security machine - employing an estimated one in 10 of the population - heavily rigged the elections in his favour. But even if he hadn’t manipulated the elections, most observers think he would have won anyway - albeit with a smaller margin...This begs the question: did the EU really use all its weight to influence the outcome of those elections? Or do the results in both Ukraine and Belarus demonstrate how limited the influence of the European Union is on its eastern neighbours?
The Ukraine: a future in the EU?
Since its orange revolution two years ago, Ukraine has declared that it wants to join the European Union. “The EU must be open to those who have clearly chosen their future and are prepared to share the continent of Europe”, Ukrainian president Viktor Yuschenko said recently…
Is the EU doing enough?
In the studio: Krzysztof Bobinski, a specialist in EU affairs, from the Poland-Union magazine, who is with me in Radio Polonia’s studio in Warsaw, and Dmitriy Babich, a journalist and political analyst of the Russia Profile monthly, in Moscow. The EU wants to have a safe neighbourhood, but is it doing enough to encourage democratic processes?
Where is the EU’s Eastern frontier?
The EU’s new member states may be enthusiastic about further eastward expansion. But their enthusiasm is not shared by older EU members. Germany, which will assume the rotating EU Presidency next January, is one of them. Another is France.
The perils of the waiting room
Pro-enlargement politicians believe that successive EU hopefuls should not be left in the waiting room for too long. Otherwise they might leave the road of democratic development and even embrace some form of an authoritarian regime. Slovakia, whose EU train almost got derailed under former pro-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, knows the risks involved.