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Moscow has concerns over Eastern Partnership Programme

By Messenger Staff
Friday, December 11
Russian political analyst Andrey Areshev thinks that the Eastern Partnership Programme addresses a very important and sensitive topic for the EU and its energy. He thinks that the projects intended to be implemented through the Eastern Partnership Programme are more political than economic.

On December 8 Brussels hosted the Foreign Ministers of the Eastern Partnership participating countries, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. This is the first such meeting since the programme was established at the spring 2009 Prague summit of EU countries. The EU envisages allotting those six countries Euro 600 million to strengthen state institutions, control their borders and assist small companies.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorsky said that the liberalisation of visa regimes between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries should be a priority project. This would give the EU's Eastern neighbours confidence that they also enjoy privileges from the EU, he said.

The Brussels meeting also highlighted interesting ideas in the sphere of energy. Transporting Caspian oil to EU countries through the Odessa-Brody pipeline was considered. This project envisages pumping Caspian oil from Azerbaijan through the Baku-Supsa (Georgia) pipeline and then by tanker to Odessa, through another pipeline to Brody and then through a new pipeline which should be built between Brody and the Polish town of Plock and on to Gdansk, the Polish port from where it can be transported elsewhere.

Russia of course sees a threat to its economic and therefore political interest in the Eastern Partnership Programme. Therefore it is trying to influence participant country Belarus. Recently Moscow established a customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, thus seeking to undermine the EU and substitute the Eastern Partnership Programme with its own project. So there is a battle for Belarus going on as part of Eastern Partnership Programme.