In Georgia, any passerby knows that Vilnius has hosted a summit of Eastern Partnership Countries, but no one can explain plainly what kind of event it is, and why it is ‘historically momentous’ for Georgia, as is claimed in unison by the Georgian establishment – both the power and opposition. The crazy publicity move made by Georgian television to promote this event, has produced the false impression on the population that Georgia in Vilnius is allegedly being already admitted in the EU and NATO, whereupon its unprecedented renaissance will begin. This is, of course, Irish bull. And it is worth thinking about reality.
The Eastern Partnership program is one of the projects of the European Union intended to the development of its integration ties with six former Soviet republics - Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Belarus. That is, it is the EU policy towards its eastern neighbors, i.e. the above-mentioned six countries, that does not imply their further EU membership. It is in order to dispel such illusions, that Article 49 providing for the possibility of joining the European Union for “any European state which respects the fundamental European values” was removed from the final draft of the Vilnius summit declaration. The wording used in the draft were changed too - 6 members of the Eastern Partnership are not called ‘states’ but ‘countries’, which indirectly indicates the absence of their prospects for entry into the European Union. Today the main backbone of the EU has half a mind to free itself from many of its 28 members - economic outsiders, subsidized countries.
The main objective of the Eastern Partnership is to “create the necessary conditions to accelerate political and economic integration between the European Union and interested partner countries by promoting political and socio-economic reforms in the Eastern Partnership member countries.” The main priorities of reforms in the partner countries and their cooperation with the EU are the following 4 areas:
a) democracy, governance improvement and ensuring stability;
b) economic integration and convergence with EU sectoral economic policies, including the establishment of free trade areas;
c) energy security;
d) development of contacts between people, visa requirements liberalization and strengthening the fight against illegal migration.
It is worth dwelling on this issue because the low political culture and the eternal Georgians’ belief in their exclusivity prevent us from asking ourselves this question: if it is so great, why four of the six countries participating in the project have already discontinued their membership at different times? Belarus and Armenia have preferred the Eurasian Union to the European one and Azerbaijan and Ukraine have suspended work on the association agreement. And even the moral humiliation isn’t the point, yet it is too: as second-best citizens must be put to tests for compliance with European standards, to be admitted to not even in the European house, but only in its backyard?
Leave emotions and go over the above points, so: “Democracy, governance improvement and ensuring stability.” Excuse me, why should we take the Europeans examination of democracy and stability? Was not it after the Soviet collapse when the West came to the Caucasus (due to Caspian oil and gas depository), that the entire region blazed up with international conflicts - Karabakh, Chechnya, Abkhazia, South Ossetia? Was not it the United States that elevated Saakashvili to President of Georgia and also proclaimed him a ‘beacon of democracy’? And then it turned out that in Georgia there are 300,000 convicts, tens of thousands of whom were severely tortured in prisons? It turns out that now we have to swear that we will not do it any more, i.e. will not be any longer like the main Georgian ‘European’ – the U.S.’ pet Saakashvili?
b-item: “Economic integration and convergence with EU sectoral economic policies, including the establishment of free trade areas.” Ukraine has counted that its the economy restructure along the European lines and simultaneously - alienation from Russia, which will turn for it just in one of foreign countries, will cost up before 2017 at least $160 billion, which it does not have. The standing on the oil Azerbaijan has made its calculations too following which, like Ukraine, suspended the preparatory process for the integration with the Euro economy.
But Georgia has neither Azerbaijani oil nor Ukrainian wheat! It hopes to conquer the European market with Georgian wine, Borjomi and tangerines, since the rest of products Made in Georgia fall short of the European standard. Having lost the only accessible to it Russian market because of its ‘convergence with EU sectoral economic policies’, Georgia’s exports will remain unclaimed.
c-item: “Energy Security”. It is very nearly the most ‘funny’ item! So, Georgia being authentically energy-dependent on Azerbaijan (as well as Europe, Ukraine and Belarus are dependent on Russian energy) should, unlike Azerbaijan and contrary to elementary logic, go to Europe, to provide its energy security?
d-item: “Development of contacts between people, visa requirements liberalization and strengthening the fight against illegal migration.” Visa regime liberalization is only of interest to rich Georgia’s elite - its past and present power politicians, and to close to them businessmen and heads of NGOs, invariably living on the great western grants. Georgia’s poor population has no time for walks in Europe, its task is to live tomorrow, feed hungry children and put by a little for its own funeral...
As for the illegal immigration - yes, Georgia’s unemployment rate is 80%, but there is no unemployment benefit unlike in the West, so half of its able-bodied population has illegally migrated abroad for work, the majority to in Russia, the rest to Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, Greece, Germany, Spain, Italy, England, France, America and Australia, making some money anywhere and with anything. Although I do not remember any Europeans illegally immigrated to Georgia, that is why this compliance test as the three previous ones, is one-sided and discriminatory: Georgia by associating with the EU will acquire only duties without rights!
And the last. The Eastern Partnership provides for the conclusion at summits of bilateral Association agreements but only subject to meeting certain program Euro requirements by the latter. Initialing of the Euro-Georgian Association Agreement at the Vilnius summit is not the conclusion of a contract, but only a confirmation of consent of the parties to the 1000-page text of the Agreement, the signing of which will take place a year later (presumably in September 2014). Provided that Georgia will have reached the required euro standards by that time. And then the agreement must be ratified by the parliaments of all 28 EU member states, which may take an indefinite time. For example, Croatia waited for 12 years, and Turkey agreed on association with the EU as far back as 1962 but has been waiting for 51 years, i.e. to this day.
However, it is reasonable to suppose that in the second half of 2014 the political crisis and economic problems in Georgia will be so sharp and painful that they will be able to sober up even the most ‘European heads’, but this is a topic in its own right.