Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Perception of the Eastern Partnership amongst the Partner Countries’ Political Elites

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) sets a framework within which closer integration of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine with the European Union (EU) can be developed. The primary objective of the EaP is to expand and intensify the relations which at first developed through the overarching European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). For that reason, the Partnership is widely viewed by the partner countries as an improvement over the ENP. By offering the eastern neighbours a step change in relations with the EU, the Partnership in effect supersedes the ENP. 

Yet, the EaP remains relatively unknown amongst the political elites (top governmental officials and members of parliaments) in the partner countries. Unsurprisingly perhaps, few members of the national elites are aware of the Partnership’s specific content and instruments. Yet, despite its importance, even broad brush discussions about, and implementation of, the EaP in the partner countries take place in relatively narrow governmental circles, often without parliamentary scrutiny or public discussion. At the same time, each country’s national elite seem to speak with ‘one voice’, i.e. tend to be quite consistent and unified in its assessment of the Partnership. How can this paradox be explained? That is because, as it is argued in this paper, these perceptions are based on a wide array of factors, including, first, a geopolitical context of the partner countries, second, the pre-existing relations and initiatives (such as the ENP), and, only finally, the design and implementation of the EaP itself. This paper aims to elucidate on these seeming inconsistencies by exploring in more detail the role the three factors outlined above play in shaping perception of the EaP.

Author:  Kataryna Wolczuk, PhD

Centre for Russian and East European Studies, The University of Birmingham

Read Paper - Perceptions of, and Attitudes towards, the Eastern Partnership amongst the Partner Countries’ Political Elites

Eastern Partnership Review №5 (December 2011)

Source of information - Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership 

Project funded by the European UnionEU