October 30, 2018
At the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Ministerial Meeting, held in Luxemburg on October 15, 2018, ministers of the EU member states and six partner states evaluated the progress made under the 20 Deliverables for 2020, provided by the working document “Eastern Partnership: Focusing on Key Priorities and Deliverables”. According to the document, cooperation between the European Union and its six Eastern partner countries focus on twenty goals, including security, which has been defined one of the essential components of this initiative since it was launched in 2009.
To initial security issues of the EaP – border management and effort to combat illegal migration and organized crime, in June 2017, the European Union added cybersecurity, fighting cyber threats, illicit firearms trafficking, radiation, chemical and biological threats and emergency situations. The list of these security priorities is obviously important to Ukraine and other EaP countries, but they don’t meet all security challenges and threats in the EaP region. At least for Ukraine, which has been combatting Russian hybrid aggression for five years, these goals are not ambitious. However, they remain actual. Ukraine has already partially achieved some goals, defined by the EU, and is likely to be able to fulfil all of them until 2020.
In general, ministers gave positive assessments to the EaP initiative and its progress. For example, Commissioner Johannes Hahn said: “We should be proud of our achievements in the framework of the Eastern Partnership’s 20 Deliverables for 2020”. As for the security dimension, the EU assessed the progress as “ON TRACK” and proposed to focus on “strengthening security cooperation, notably to tackle organised crime, support conflict resolution, and protect against new threats and cybersecurity.”
New or hybrid threats became especially actual for the European states after Russia violated the international order by waging the war against Ukraine. The responsibility of Russia for the war was stressed by President of the European Council Donald Tusk at the 20th EU-Ukraine Summit held on 9 July 2018 in Brussels. That is why it is extremely important to identify clearly the source of these threats and to undertake effective measures to counter it. Even the EU Global Strategy of 2016 defines Russia as a violator of the international law and the destabilization of Ukraine that has “challenged the European security order”.
The violation of the European security order, international law and fundamental human rights by Russia became the reasons of restrictions to cooperation with it and even its participation in international organisations. After the exclusion of Russia from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, some European politicians decided to return the Russian delegation back, despite Russia continued to violate human rights and fundamental principles of this organisation. For example, more than 100 Ukrainians are still held as hostages on the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. 68 Ukrainian citizens have been identified as being prosecuted for political reasons in Crimea and Russia. The health of several of them raises serious concern or verges on the catastrophic, especially in the cases of Oleg Sentsov, Stanislav Klykh, Bekir Degermanjee, Pavlo Gryb and Asan Chapukh.
The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum decided to react and assist protection of human rights in the EaP region against Russian violations. On October 04, 2018, the members of the Committee adopted the Statement to the Council of Europe and the PACE on Ukrainian political prisoners on territories occupied by the Russian Federation and in Russian Prisons. The Statement was taken into consideration by the CoE Secretary General and the PACE President. Those affords contributed to the positive decision of the Parliamentary Assembly, adopted on October 09, to refer the draft resolution, which would allow Russia to return to PACE, back to its Rules Committee. At the same time, the PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights again urged Russia to release all Ukrainian citizens detained on its territory or in Crimea on “politically motivated or fabricated charges”.
Within the security dimension of the Eastern Partnership, the EU is targeting an absolutely pragmatic goal of securing stability and security on its eastern borders. This target corresponds to interests of all sides – either the EU member states or the EaP partner countries, that makes their cooperation mutually beneficial. Meanwhile, the EU wishes to define security tasks that would correspond to its interests and the interests of each, without exceptions, partner states, taking into consideration their national foreign and security priorities. This approach limits Eastern Partnership security deliverables to 2020. That is why it makes sense to concentrate on facing those challenges and threats that are of common and have trans-border hybrid nature. At the same time, the security achievements, reached by three partner states Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, and current threats, which they face, force the EU to reconsider the EaP goals for them with the aim to implement the well known EaP principle of “more for more”.
The EaP Ministerial Meeting provided the opportunity to reconsider approaches, including security ones, to different partner states in the light of preparing for the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership next year. At least, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini stated that “we will have many ways to not only celebrate but also relaunch the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership” and look forward, and this look should be concentrated on security issues, where the EU can make a tangible contribution for the security in Eastern Europe.
Author: Vitalii Martyniuk, Head of the International Programs, Centre for Global Studies “Strategy XXI” (Kyiv, Ukraine)Ukrainian Liaison Office in Brussels