Lowered expectations for Eastern Partnership summit
The EU's Eastern Partnership summit begins in Riga today, Thursday. The Ukraine conflict is dominating the meeting and concrete results for the six partnership countries are not expected. The EU is leaving these countries in the lurch, some commentators criticise. Others show understanding for the EU's hesitant stance, pointing out that it doesn't want to cause the countries any more problems with Russia.
Eastern partners are on their own
The EU has acted reservedly ahead of the summit in Riga because it doesn't want to provoke a new conflict with Russia, the daily România Liberă writes, criticising that this will disadvantage Ukraine and the other countries that the partnership is supposed to bring closer to the EU: "The optimism of these countries has waned. They have understood that they need to use their own powers, their own instincts and their own experience to survive this new phase in which they are part of a puzzle: between the prosperous but selfish West and the generous but dominant East. This war of attrition with which Russia has turned Eastern Ukraine into an autonomous region like Transnystria to provide a protective shield for Crimea is proof enough for the Moldovans and Georgians that the West will never defend them against Russia. As in the past they are on their own."
EU must not nurture dangerous illusions
The EU is "overstretched" with the accession aspirations of the six Eastern Partnership countries, Eric Bonse writes in his blog LostinEU: "'Overstretched': This is what Europe already is. The latest members Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia did not integrate well, Croatia is mired in crisis. Even in the Balkans, which is poised for membership, it does not go ahead. The EU-colony Kosovo is faced with mass emigration, in Macedonia there is political chaos. ... The only thing [the Eastern Partnership countries] have in common is actually that they are former Soviet Republics - and that they strive to west. But that is not enough for a true partnership. Only for new trouble with Moscow. The EU has expanded too quick, too far. It should not nurture any new, dangerous illusions in Riga. But exactly that's the great danger. After all, it is about new markets - and geopolitics."
Prague leaves Kiev out in the cold
Ukraine will leave Riga empty-handed because the Czech parliament failed to ratify the EU association Agreement with Kiev in time, the liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny complains: "The fact that the final attempt to deal with the agreement in parliament was blocked by the communist KSČM shows that this party plays exactly the same role in the Czech Republic that Russia plays on the international stage. … The cabinet and Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek have had since last December to ratify the agreement. On Tuesday Zaorálek was still reassuring his Ukrainian colleagues that the government was interested in approving the agreement. … Verbally, Minister Zaorálek may be one of harshest critics of Moscow in the Czech government. But his failure regarding the association agreement raises doubts about how much power he really wields."