The European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), Aspen Institute Romania and the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs jointly organized a workshop on ‘Unfinished Business in Europe II: Eastern Europe' on 04-05 October 2010 in Bucharest.
This workshop was part of a series of events that the EUISS is holding in preparation of its annual Washington Forum. Two of these events focused on unfinished business in Europe: A seminar in Warsaw in July 2010 was devoted to the Balkans. The seminar in Bucharest focused on the post-Soviet space and the question of how political dynamics in this area influence transatlantic relations, and vice versa. The panel of experts form the region, US, and EU held two days of meetings and discussions to respond to key questions relevant for EU-US cooperation.
The EU has been steadily stepping up its engagement in its Eastern neighbourhood for some time now, and particularly after the Russian-Georgian war in 2008. On the other hand, the global financial crisis has forced the EU to focus much of its attention on economic crisis management. The emergence of new instruments under the Lisbon Treaty promises to make EU foreign policy more coherent. At the same time, however, the EU has to first go through a complicated implementation phase, which will occupy its attention and energies for some time.
US policy in the region is in the process of being reassessed by the Obama administration as it seeks to balance its desire to reset relations with Russia with a desire to maintain strong ties to countries in the FSU. The reset with Russia has borne some fruit but fundamental disagreements persist. In the other countries of the region the picture is mixed. The presidential elections in Ukraine have changed the domestic and regional political landscape. Relations with Georgia have been upgraded to a strategic partnership, but Tbilisi fears that US support for Georgian NATO membership is dwindling.
During the previous US administration the EU and the US were following different approaches in this region. Nowadays there seems to be more openness at the strategic level, but considerably less interaction at a practical, day-to-day level between Brussels and Washington as well as diplomatic representations on the ground.
Against this background discussions during the workshop should focus on the following issues: I. Joint assessment of the most important challenges in the region: development of political systems/democratization; political and economic instability; unresolved conflicts; energy relations. II. EU and US approaches to the region: differences and similarities.III. Regional relations: processes of cooperation and integration (EU, NATO, regional organizations); the triangular EU-US-Russia relationship and its impact on the region
The outcome of the two workshops was a report written by F. Stephen Larrabee (RAND, Washington). The report synthetized the discussions of both seminars and contain policy recommendations to be presented at the main event, i.e. the 3rd Washington Forum held in mid-November 2010 in Washington DC.