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Georgians, Moldovans and Ukrainians share a desire to become part of the European Union. Moscow’s pressure only strengthens this desire and forces the EU to act, says Bernd Johan.
Democracy, prosperity, peace – that is what the European Union symbolizes, even though it is shaken by the financial crisis and political contradictions. Probably nowhere else is the European Union as attractive as in Ukraine. There, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a neo-imperialist manner, seeks to divide the spheres of influence. He does not stop even before the use of military force and thereby himself pushes his neighbors towards the EU.
For a long time, a united Europe was indecisive in its attitude to countries such as Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. First of all, Brussels still has not been able to outline for these countries the prospect of joining the EU. But impressed by the annexation of Crimea and Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, the EU is signing complex agreements with three former Soviet republics on association and the creation of a free trade zone. The behavior of Russia contributes to the consolidation of positions within the EU, which can change Europe.
EU offers support
While Moscow is intimidating and threatening, the EU is acting responsibly. In response to Russian provocations, Brussels has already responded with sanctions and reserves the opportunity to take new penalties. Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have received assurances from the EU that they can count on political and economic support. These countries want to implement European standards and are ready to carry out appropriate reforms. It will not be easy. The need for reforms is enormous, while these states are far from political and economic stability.
For this reason alone, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are complex partners. Brussels will have to provide significant assistance to them, both politically and financially. However, these countries have to solve structural problems on their own. The European Union can only help them in this. The rule of law, the fight against corruption and economic modernization – these are the keys to reaching the European level. Only after this will economic success appear, from which all parties will benefit.
Democratic values instead of authoritarian rule
But relations between these countries and Russia will remain tense. President Putin is doing everything to block Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine from entering Europe. As a political counterweight to the EU, Putin is creating the Eurasian Economic Union. With its help, the Russian leader wants to tie the authoritarian states of Belarus and Kazakhstan to Russia in order to isolate his system of authoritarianism from freedom and democracy from Europe.
But this model is not attractive either politically or economically. Nevertheless, Moscow succeeds in creating political and ideological contradictions in this way, which are capable, more than 20 years after the end of the conflict between East and West, to divide Europe into two camps.
Both Georgia and Moldova, and Ukraine resist pressure from Moscow. Ukrainians want democracy, prosperity and the end of the era when Moscow took care of them. The fact that they are ready to take risks for this is evidence of courage. They pay a high price for rapprochement with Europe: the Moscow-led conflict in eastern Ukraine threatens the country’s unity.
Tbilisi has long been aware of these problems with its rebellious republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Chisinau with Transnistria and Gagauzia. The Kremlin supports separatist movements here and erects barriers to the future of Moldova and Georgia. Europe’s new partners signing an association agreement with her are having difficulty dodging Russian embrace. But the EU will help them. Europe defends its democracy, prosperity and peace.