Moldova, Another Headache for EU

By Nina Bachkatov

Since 1992, Moldova has remained largely overlooked by Westerners, confined to a realm of obscurity within Central Europe. Its borders, which have shifted throughout centuries, only gained attention after the collapse of the Soviet Union. With a population speaking Moldovan/Romanian and Russian, the latter also serving as the lingua franca for minorities, Moldova is widely regarded as the poorest country in Europe, with an estimated population of 2.2 to 2.5 million. Despite its peculiarities, it was in this very country that 47 European leaders, including the 27 EU members and 20 guests as diverse as the U.K., Turkey, and Andorra, convened on June 1 for the second meeting of the European Political Community (EPC). This gathering was marked by its symbolic significance on multiple fronts.

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E.U. attempt to unlock the Karabakh Issue

The president of the EU Council Charles Michel wanted a discreet meeting; he got it, but not for the reasons he wanted. He had invited Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliev and Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinian for a trilateral meeting in Brussels on 13-14 May. But, the same week-end, all attention were on the elections in Turkey and the impromptu visits of Ukrainian president Zelensky through European national capitals – not to the stability in Caucasus. Anyway, the meeting has participated to the ‘normalisation process’. On 1 June, Pashinian and Aliev shall meet France’s Macron and Germany’s Scholz in Chisinau, on the sidelines of the summit of the European Political Community. Moscow has just reminded that the trilateral agreements it signed with Baku and Yerevan after the ‘second Karabakh war’ of 2020 remain the only basis for the settlement” of relations between the two South Caucasus countries.

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The Importance of Perceptions: President Zelensky in Europe

By Nina Bachkatov

Back from his European tour, on 9 February, Ukrainian president Zelensky had addressed the nation as he does almost daily. He told his compatriots that he got “important agreements and good signals… This goes from long range missiles and tanks, to a new level of cooperation including fighter jets. But work has still to be done on that issue”. Evidently, Zelensky has only met supportive interlocutors and enjoyed standing ovations, keeping successfully world attention on his country. But, if he indeed got a lot of promises, a lot of hugs, and another European flag to enrich his collection, he came back home without clear conditions, and dates, for the jet fighters deliveries; nor an agenda for EU adhesion. Anyway, the training of pilots and engineers is “already starting” and the general consensus has been since that taboos about the deliveries of Western jets to Ukraine were falling, the way those concerning battle tanks did earlier.

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Another year EU-Russia energy war

 By Nina Bachkatov

According to European leaders’, the sanctions against Russian energy producers and exporters have reached their goals – depleting Russian’s national budget, which depends for almost half from energy’s trade, and finances the war in Ukraine. They rejoice that those sanctions provided EU with an incitant to drastically reform its energy sector. But that leaves open the question concerning the intermediary period, which will start in early 2023, especially if the West is not backed by other countries. Despite pressures, a majority of states still refuse to join sanctions that might threat their national interests, and are not ready to threat Vladimir Putin as the pariah president of a failed state. They also see the present crisis as an opportunity to increase their shares of the global market and their geopolitical profiles, to diversify their investments and their industrial basis.

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An orgy of summits around Ukraine and global competition

By Nina Bachkatov

In recent weeks, world’s leaders have been running from a summit to another one. Among Western allies, the key words were unity and solidarity; among the others, it was about multipolarity and convergence. But the background of all those diplomatic activities have been, and will be for a while, the war in Ukraine and its global consequences. There is also the growing awareness that the cost of the military operation and sanctions are indeed bleeding Russia, but much more Ukraine.

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EU confronted with too many candidacies

By Nina Bachkatov

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Europeans have never left any doubts about their support for the victim of an aggression by a country already identified as the main threat to the continent’s security and to the Western values. Now, in a couple of weeks, this support has, and will be, tested. In an acceleration initiated from Brussels, EU found itself facing a decisive step in his development. It has to decide by the end of June to grant, or not, the status of candidates to EU membership to Ukraine, lately extended to Georgia and Moldova. This normally very slow process changed gear on 8 April. During her visit in Kiev, the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen handed to “dear Volodymyr” the questionnaire his country had to complete it if wants to receive EU candidate status. It consists in 2 parts: one contains political and economic criteria and the second one includes an evaluation of the compliance of Ukrainian legislation with the legal acts of the European Union.

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Kiev, EU and Washington confronting Moscow

By Nina Bachkatov

President Macron’s initiative has not been without Franco-French electoral calculation, and a gallic sense of grandeur. Nobody expected much more than keeping the dialogue ongoing and agreeing on further steps towards a settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. But his visit to the Kremlin has managed to put key questions back to the top of the agenda: Does the West want to solve the Russo-Ukrainian crisis for the sake of Ukrainians? Does it want to do so for reasserting the Transatlantic link after the Kabul unilateral abandon? Does it want to restate the central role of American presence to guarantee the European continent security? And finally, the vital question about the best way to manage that security – with, without, or against Russia?

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