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EaP Differentiated Approach Is Still Being Rooted

On May 21-22 the so much expected the EaP Riga Summit took place. The importance of the Summit can on the one hand be explained by the high expectations of the partner countries, on the other hand by the determination of the Eastern Partners to make changes in the Eastern Partnership project.

Since the last Vilnius Summit the necessity to reform Eastern Partnership policy has become obvious turning into the topic of wide discussion. The differentiated approach based on the peculiarities, on different aspirations of the partner countries as well as on different degrees of their recorded progress, was considered the most important and main novelty.  One of the main advocates and front fighters for this novelty was Armenia, who was guided by "and-and" policy trying to combine Eurasian and European  integration processes as much as it was possible.

The basis for the differentiated approach in the EaP framework should have probably become of  "3-1-2" or "3-1-1-1" formula. Such kind of differentiation is based on the fact that Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova (3) the countries, who signed the Association Agreement, are on another level of relations with the EU. Armenia, which concluded the negotiations with the EU and according to the European side was ready to sign the Association Agreement, should be viewed separately. EaP other countries, Belarus and Azerbaijan (some experts view them together, some do not) are on another level. On the one hand the slow and not so efficient process of democratic reforms and on the other hand the fact that they were never proposed by the EU to sign the Association Agreement makes it illogical to make the same demands and set the same standards for Azerbaijan and Belarus. Taking into consideration the above mentioned the official Brussels came to acknowledge the necessity of a new approach and the Riga Summit should have become the main millstone for laying the basis of such differentiated approach.

The main indicator of success for this initiative is the final document adopted at the end of the Summit. The document defines both the recorded progress of the partner countries and further steps still to be done. To be objective it should be stated that the joint-declaration of the Riga Summit as compared to the similar one adopted two years ago in the Vilnius Summit contains the differentiated approach to certain extent. At the same time it is worthy to state that the principle of differentiation has not yet been completely rooted in the approach. In the final declaration of the Riga Summit we still observe deviations from the formula of "3-1-2" (this probably can be ascribed to force of inertia). In some parts of the documents the states are divided according to the fact whether they signed or did not sign the Association Agreement. In some cases the attempts are witnessed to put Armenia and Azerbaijan on the same level. This is unacceptable because Armenia and Azerbaijan differ to the great extent by the level of their democracies and by the progress made in the process of the European integration, consequently it is not objective to take common approach for them.

In spite of these flaws the fact that the differentiated approach has been defined is already of high importance and gives ground to assume that in case of impartial conditions in the near future the European aspirations of the partner countries will be clearly outlined, which in its turn will serve basis for the EU in providing diverse assistance and in deepening the relation with the EaP countries. 

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