The conference “Highway or Stairway: The Path Ahead for the Eastern Partnership” was held on December 3 in Tallinn jointly organized by the Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership (ECEAP), the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute (EVI), and the European Commission Representation in Tallinn (ECR), and the International Centre for Defence & Security (ICDS).
The conference began on December 2 with a Chatham House dinner with the speakers moderated by ICDS researcher Anna Bulakh. Bulakh in her remarks noted that the neighborhood has never been closer and more volatile, but the question remains whether the new ENP is configured to deal with these new challenges. On December 3 the conference was opened by the keynote address will delivered by Taavi Rõivas, Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia, who ensured Estonia’s continuous support to the EaP region.
Entitled New Directions for the Eastern Partnership, the conference focused on the results of implementation of the European Neighborhood and Eastern Partnership Policy, whether the ENP review process could help to build strong partnerships with the EU and its neighbors. The first panel entitled “Reshaping Europe’s Neighborhood Policy amid different aspirations, values and interests” moderated by Lauri Mälksoo, Executive Director, EVI, together with distinguished panelists Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighborhood East, DG NEAR, EU Commission, Richard Giragosian, Founding Director, Regional Studies Center, Armenia, Nona Mikhelidze, Senior Fellow, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Italy, Mihai Popșoi, Associate Expert, Foreign Policy Association of Moldova tried to answer the question whether the renewed policy be better positioned to tackle the increasing challenges in the region, or meet the different aspirations, interests, and values of the partners.
The second panel moderated by ICDS researcher Emmet Tuohy entitled “Energy Security: A Key to Pragmatic Cooperation between the EU and the EaP Countries?”. Distinguished experts on energy as Reinis Āboltiņš, Adviser, Parliament of Latvia, Václav Bartuška, Ambassador-at-Large for Energy Security, Czech Republic, Mukhtar Hajizada, Head of the department of political science and international relations of Khazar University in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Alan Riley, Professor, City University of London, UK discussed whether the framework of the Energy Community Treaty have a formal role to play within the EaP region. Since the challenges—and opportunities—in the field of energy security do not stop at the external borders of the European Union, the incentives to cooperation between the EU and the countries of the Eastern Partnership are significant.
The third panel tackled the issue of security cooperation in the EaP framework. The panel entitled “Can the EaP Framework Help to Ensure Effective Security Cooperation?” was moderated by Kristi Raik, Senior Research Fellow, Finnish Institute for International Affairs. The panelists including Maksym Bugriy, Research Fellow, ICDS, Oleksandr Khara, Expert, Foreign Affairs Maidan, Ukraine, Kai-Olaf Lang, Senior Fellow, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Germany, Arsen Sivitski, Director, Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies, Belarus discussed how The Eastern Partnership framework has arguably been weakened due to the lack of an explicit security focus—a weakness that was highlighted by the emergence of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict and the panelists
From the outset, the Eastern Partnership framework can address security assistance and cooperation with accession countries after European states have recognized the nature of the military and non-military threats to the region.