Leaders of the European Union and six former Soviet republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) met in Riga for the first Eastern Partnership Summit since the Ukrainian crisis erupted. Unlike the Riga Summit of 2013, which triggered a series of events that eventually led to the downfall of Viktor Yanukovych and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, this year’s meeting had a less earth-shaking outcome. It ended in a joint declaration that lacks any firm commitments. Even where it was supposed to pack the most punches – its condemnation of Russian aggression in Ukraine – the language had to be watered down significantly
The implementation of European Energy Security should become an imperative priority of the EU member states in order to reduce their dependence on Russian gas and secure alternative energy sources. In parallel, European Energy Security should be related to an effective Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), as the protection of critical energy infrastructures is vital for the undisrupted flow of gas and oil.
The Fourth Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit to be held in Riga in May 2015 will mark an “opportunity to evaluate progress achieved in political association and economic integration” between the EU and the post-Soviet states of Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Georgia. According to this semester’s Latvian EU Presidency, the summit will send a “strong signal of long-term strategic support” to the EaP countries. There will be discussions about trade, mobility and energy. A declaration of Heads of State will be negotiated and published, probably reaffirming the EU’s commitment to a more adaptable and tailored-made EaP based on its current four priorities: democracy and good governance, economic integration, energy security and people-to-people contacts. That said, EU relations with Eastern Partnership countries are far from simple.
Three documents issued by the European Commission on 25 February 2015 aim to advance work on the Energy Union, a project figuring prominently on the Juncker Commission’s agenda. It is hoped that the proposed actions will help diversify Europe’s energy sources and turn the EU from the world’s largest energy importer to the world’s leader in renewable energy production.
By Jasmina Dimitrieva
Are elections and democracy one and the same thing? Not only voters, but also elected officials sometimes confuse democracy with elections. Such mental attitude sees the internationally guaranteed right to public participation in decision-making reduced to elections. The inherent risk is that public participation in the formulation and implementation of public polices for common good, as enunciated in the constitutions of Europe, remains a philosophical concept, with the elections as a sole manifestation of democracy on the physical plan. While looking at the other side of the coin, it seems beyond imagination nowadays to have in place a democratic system of governance without first holding elections, and without a meaningful parliamentary opposition.