The EU Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw, on September 30, was hardly a big success. “[It] brought Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine closer to the EU – but by millimetres rather than metres … The success is that – thanks to Poland – Europe won’t forget now its East, its other lung”, comments Warsaw dailyGazeta Wyborcza.
The ongoing trial of former Ukraine PM Yulia Tymoshenko charges of abuse of power nevertheless continues to cloud the horizon. According to Gazeta Wyborcza President Viktor Yanukovych has “promised a conciliatory solution” on what observers believe is a personal vendetta against his long time rival. Meanwhile, Belarus refused to attend, after the summit issued a declaration condemning human rights violations in the country. In a surprise development, Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, unveiled an offer $9 billion [€6.73bn] in development aid to Alexander Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime if it frees political prisoners and holds democratic elections.
For Svenska Dagbladet, the summit failed to urge these Eastern Europe states towards reform in exchange for the prospect of EU membership. The Swedish daily argues that the union should “directly target” the citizens of such states with cheaper and less complicated visas, as well as support for civil society. “This is what could contribute to creating pressure for change from below."
For another Polish paper, Rzeczpospolita, the summit was of “little significance for Europe”. Most European countries “such as Belarus, Azerbaijan or Moldova are as distant from the Old Continent – mentally rather than geographically – as Bangladesh or Guyana”, it laments.