Atlantic Council

Toward a Transatlantic Strategy for Europe’s East

The Way Forward for the Eastern Partnership
and Conclusion

Hryhoriy Nemyria,
Chairman, Human Rights Committee,
Parliament of Ukraine

Štefan Füle,
Former European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy

Ana Palacio,
Member, Consejo de Estado of Spain;
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain

Elmar Brok,
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,
European Parliament

Fran Burwell,
Vice President and Director, Transatlantic Relations Program,
Atlantic Council

Ambassador Juris Poikāns,
Latvia’s Ambassador-at-Large for Eastern Partnership

Damon Wilson,
Executive Vice President,
Atlantic Council

Location: Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C.

Time: 10:15 a.m. EDT
Date: Friday, January 30, 2015

Transcript By
Superior Transcriptions LLC

FRAN BURWELL: My name is Fran Burwell. I’m one of the vice presidents here at the council. And I want to thank you all and congratulate you for staying through the lunch break. We’ve had an excellent, I think, discussion so far today, both on and off the record. This session is on the record. And I think we will return to a lot of the themes of the day. You’ll see there’s still one missing panelist, and he is on his way from a meeting over near the White House. So he will – Elmar Brok will be joining us very shortly.

We’ve heard a lot today about the importance of a transatlantic strategy towards Europe’s east. Many speakers, going back to our first two, Steve Hadley and Radek Sikorski, have been eloquent about why, as was Foreign Minister Rinkēvičs. The panel is about – this panel is about the how. It – clearly part of the how is about defense and military capabilities. And so NATO will play a key role here. But as an earlier speaker said, it is key to make the rest of Ukraine and the rest of Europe’s east a success – economically, politically, et cetera.

So in 2009, the EU launched a major effort to bring relations with the countries to the east to a new level. The aim of the Eastern Partnership was to accelerate the political association and further economic integration between the EU and interested partner countries. And I would point out, this is not just about developing them separately, but about bringing them closer to the EU and along the EU model.

It was based on the idea that this was in the interest of both the EU and those countries. And this was a significant and comprehensive approach addressing governance and political reform, economic reform and growth, including deep and comprehensive free trade agreements, energy diversification and competitiveness as well as, was mentioned earlier, people-to-people contacts, such as the Erasmus+ program.

But as we head toward the Riga summit, it’s clear that this effort now faces a very, very difficult environment. We’ve talked today about how at one time Russia was on a more positive path, but that has now changed. And in fact, Russia has made the Eastern Partnership process, I would say, a target itself. We have seen that the technical Eastern Partnership has become in a way a very strategic program. And it is, I would say, at risk right now.

So what we’re going to talk about in this panel is, first, a bit on what are the lessons of the Eastern Partnership and the experience since 2009, particularly as we find ourselves in such difficulties in Ukraine. But more importantly, given this new environment, how do we go forward? What should we expect at the Riga summit? What will it take to make the Riga summit a success?

The Georgian foreign minister described Riga as an opportunity to demonstrate that the Eastern Partnership can deliver. And I think we should hold the summit to that high standard. We’ve also talked a lot today about – in earlier panels – about how the U.S. can engage with this process. So my other big question for the panel is going to be: What should be the U.S. role? Perhaps not so much at Riga itself – obviously that’s an EU meeting – but how do we go forward with Europe in firing out what is next for the Eastern Partnership?

We have a great panel to talk about this. First up is going to be Ambassador Štefan Füle, former European commissioner for enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy. From 2010 to 2014, he essentially was the Eastern Partnership person, managing this and leading it during a key period. He’s also served as his country’s ambassador to Lithuania, Ukraine – I’m sorry, not Ukraine – U.K. and NATO.

We then have Ana Palacio, former foreign minister of Spain and very active in European politics, and I would say one of the most astute commentators on European politics that I know. And then Dr. Hryhoriy Nemyria, who is chair of the Human Rights Committee in the Rada and a former vice prime minister of his country and former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Tymoshenko.

And we will be joined by Elmar Brok, who is chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, and who has been very active, particularly in the – is he just coming in – particularly in the lead-up to the Vilnius – to the Vilnius summit in terms of trying to convince that – the then-Ukrainian government to sign the association accord.

But let me start with Ambassador Füle. You ran the Eastern Partnership for some time, and through a very difficult summit in Vilnius. What lessons have you drawn about this experience? And what do you think will make Riga a success?

ŠTEFAN FÜLE: Many thanks.

Before I start, let me address one misperception. Eastern Partnership is a technical process. It ignores one thing – in 2011, together with Cathy Ashton, we have looked at our Neighborhood Policy and we have “Lisbonized” the foreign policy of the European Union. We have not talked about that until now, but that is quite a profound change on what we can achieve using all those instruments commission and the member states have in their power.

We already at that time, 2011, took lessons from Arab Spring – and I’m still using this one using this expression – and we have introduced not only more for more principle, which was not there originally in the Eastern Partnership – we have also introduced the element of interacting not only with authorities, but also with the civil society. We have introduced another important element, the stability should not, never again be sort of put on in our relations with representatives of the totalitarian regime, those who do not promote democracy, but fight democracy. In other words, the stability should be based on the democracy.

But we were very clearly saying the road to achieve that is going to be bumpy and might be long. We didn’t know, I mean, it would be that long and it would be that bump, yeah? But we also introduced another element. Our new Neighborhood Policy in 2011 is the only document in addition to Lisbon treaty which talks about Article 49, before the first time we put the wall between the Eastern Partnership and the eventual membership in the European Union, right?

Of course, as a commission – I mean, it’s in the hands of the member states, not up to the commission to tell, I mean, who’s going to join EU or not. But we for the first time, 2011, said that the country which should have delivered on the Eastern Partnership, with the European – and has a European aspiration, actually gets closer to then eventual, at certain time, refer to Article 49 and join the European Union.

After all, if he’s serious about the reforms and transformation in that part of Europe, which is the remaining part of Europe still to be addressed, then I think we need to be serious about the most powerful transformation mechanism our organization, the European Union, had. And it is enlargement – as clear as that.

Lessons – we made a mistake. Michael, he’s here. Michael? Oh, he’s not. He’s not here.

MS. BURWELL: He was.

MR. FÜLE: Because he asked in the morning, I mean, what are sort of the lessons from mistakes we made. Actually, I have identified three. First, Ukraine: We focused on benchmarks, but before the Vilnius summit – you remember, some of you. But was it really about the Ukrainians’ ability to sign the association agreement, or was it about us finding a consensus of member states to sign this agreement? I would say it was about us.

Just let me remind you that Yulia Tymoshenko was in prison at that time, but Yanukovych, his steps were sort of far from being described as a democratic and pro-reforms. So the ready – the association agreement which was ready there – on the table for two years, we had an important task to find a consensus among ourselves. What it meant – what it meant that we did not have really time on addressing substance and preparing for the implementation of the association agreement.

And if you’re interested then in the questions you could ask me, I mean, what President Yanukovych 10 days before the Vilnius summit, which stunned me as far as – huge misperception what the association agreement was about or what it was not about. That was the first mistake.

The second mistake was we had a consensual and ambitious policy vis-à-vis our eastern partners. You cannot say the same about Russia, OK? It was not ambitious. It was not consensual. So you had a geographical line in the east of Europe which clearly defined this consensual, ambitious policy on one side and the lack of an ambitious and consensual policy on the other side. As in the first place, could that mistake be somehow prevented? Well, hardly, at that time.

The third mistake – and that’s my final remark at this stage – we have not been able to react to the European aspiration of our partners. The mentioning of Article 49, 2011 was first steps from the commission. I would still claim brave step, but then I thought it should be the member state saying that – not that Ukraine or Georgia or Moldova would become a member state in five, 10, 15 years, but to show the light at the end of the tunnel, because with the association agreement, the DCFTA we come out with the most ambitioned agreement and treaty between the EU and partner countries, something which really bring the partner much, much closer to the European Union.

And all the partners were telling us, we will do the reforms. We will implement them. But make sure that there is a path after the association agreement. Tell us that at the end we will be able to join the club. Come on, you Czech – I’m Czech – it was easy for you because you had that perspective from the very beginning. And that allowed you to – at that time to adopt some of the legislation and do the things you would not do just for your country. But you did it because you knew that the end there was a membership. And I expect that from Riga. If we fail in Riga delivering on this one, it will be – it will be a huge mistake.

MS. BURWELL: Well, let me follow that up with Ana Palacio. Ana, you’re from Spain, a country far from Ukraine. And a lot is made about divides in Europe – north, south – and who is – there’s this idea that some countries are more supportive of the southern neighborhood and some are more supportive of the eastern neighborhood. Do you see that divide? Do you see the eastern neighborhood as something that still must be a priority?

And also, particularly on this question of the membership aspirations, Štefan Füle has said it was the most important foreign policy tool that the EU had. And there were some implications this morning that by not granting it, it has made it – those countries more vulnerable. So do you think that there is a consensus to move toward Riga and change anything that we’re hearing about the membership perspective? Do you – what do you think will happen and how important is that?

ANA PALACIO: Well, thank you. And really thank you or a fantastic event.

Well, first, allow me a couple of comments on this idea of joining the European Union being the most important. No, it is the tool – frankly, the tool. You really – you cannot ask countries to engage in very difficult reforms, and especially in a country like Ukraine that had to combat the corruption, for instance. I have the experience – and this is one of these things that I don’t have to prove my Atlanticist colors, but if I had as – I was just invited by the National Democratic Institute to co-chair the delegation mission to the elections in Ukraine with Madeline Albright. And this allow me to just crisscross the country and speak with people.

And what people will tell me is, you know what? We need Europe because without European Union we won’t be able to tackle corruption. Corruption is our main issue and we need you because without belonging, we won’t be able to address this. And this is something that it was not just one person, from all levels this was so. I think that we, in the European Union, we have to have a clear analysis. And we don’t. And this is not a criticism to European Commission, because the European Commission cannot go be beyond the powers that the treaty gives the European Commission.

So many times we just, I mean, lambaste the European Commission. European Commission is too bureaucratic, it’s too technocratic, it lacks strategy. You know what? It cannot just go beyond what they can do. But the truth of the matter is that we have had scattered policies, because the commissioner responsible for the enlargement was not in charge of the – of some of the big budgetary lines, for instance. So we have a lot of limitations. We cannot ask what we cannot deliver to the European Commission. And, frankly, if we go back to Romano Prodi, when he said, well, we give everything except institutions. Thank you very much. What are you giving?

I mean, honestly, it’s just joining abiding, having to change. And I come from a country that joined the union. And we had not to just perform the reforms that a country like Ukraine has to perform, and yet it was very difficult to comply with the – (inaudible). You know, it’s not an easy task. We need to have a good analysis of where we stand, what we can deliver and what are our instruments. And the first thing is that we have the transformational power. The – not the most important, no – the transformational power of the European Union is the prospective of joining the European Union.

So you ask me, either south, either north – I mean, Fran, let’s be clear about this: It’s not the south or the north, except Poland, the Baltics, Finland, the – I mean, the Nordics and I would say that Denmark much less than Sweden, and just to different extents. I mean, don’t ask me about Hungary, for instance. So it’s not just the southern that are looking to the Mediterranean. No, it’s pervasive.

And frankly, in Germany – and here we have Elmar Brok – in Germany, and this is what makes the position of Angela Merkel – of Chancellor Merkel very courageous, is that both the public opinion and the business community are not at all for sanctions. There is a sympathy towards Russia. And frankly, the business – the German business community bet on the modernization of Russia as the next – I mean, the next big increasing business of their GDP. So it’s not the south. But, yes, of course, having said all this, in the south Ukraine is very far away.

If I may tell you an anecdote, when I was in government we were discussing the Neighborhood Policy enlargement to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. And I was very vocal on this. And everybody came to us – everybody, meaning colleagues from other – foreign ministers from other countries – hey, what do you have with this region? Are you – have you lived there? Do you have a – know people there or what? Because nobody could understand that a Spanish foreign minister has to be projected to the Mediterranean. It just is these are the preconceived ideas.

So, yes, it’s far away. It’s less well-understood. And principally, these are countries that do not have had hard experiences with Russia. When I saw with Russia, I mean with Russia, not just during the Soviet Union but with imperial Russia. Another issue that I think that we have to be very clear is that this is not going back to the Cold War era. It’s going back to the ambitions, to the – to the ambitions of the empire of the Russian – the old Russian empire. So it’s difficult. There are divides. And we need leadership.

Chancellor Merkel has been a – I would say a – sometimes I would have appreciated more decisiveness, so sooner – decisions taken soon. Sometimes it has taken a long time. But she has been there. And I think that this is – we’ve been – the commission – we have a new commission, a new organization of the commission. I hope that certain key – I mean, key mistakes, frankly – but key mistakes that are not – this is not a criticism to Commissioner X or Commissioner Y, it was to the – it is to the structure.

I think that we will try to overcome them, but, frankly, we know what happened at the – at the foreign affairs minister’s council and how Greece created havoc. In the end there was, as always, we muddle through. But you know, this is not what we need. We need assertiveness. And if you ask me, Ana Palacio, yes, we need to give a clear information perspective to these countries in the east. And for that, we need leadership because right now nobody’s saying this. There is no voice.

You read everything and the first thing is that, oh, there is an enlargement fatigue. OK, there is an enlargement fatigue. And nobody says that we are going to include Ukraine into the union, or Georgia, or – into the union tomorrow. But I think that we need to – all these wordings where we are masters and just having these very convoluted wordings where each and everyone can read a different thing that just reads suitable, we cannot just saying that you will get closer to Article 49. Come on, what does this mean? You need – we need to have clear. And I think that what is at stake, it’s not more and not less than the liberal rule of law order today, as Radek Sikorski said this morning.

MS. BURWELL: Ana, if I can follow up very briefly on a – on a particular, specific point. Commission President Juncker has said that there will be no enlargement for five years. Do you think that that was a useful thing to say or – is it the truth, or is it just something that you –

MS. PALACIO: That’s the reaction to a – to what the perception of what public opinion wants and to the results of the elections. But we haven’t worked and tried to change. We need a narrative. We need to explain to European citizens why it makes sense to – just to give this European enlargement perspective. And I say perspective, not the – I mean, I don’t say –

MS. BURWELL: Not guaranteed.

MS. PALACIO: No, no, no. Yes, no, what I don’t say is that the process will be finished before five years.

MR. FÜLE: It was true to say, because there will be no member states joining in that five years, but it was wrong – sending a wrong signal because he changed the rules of the game because until that time the rule of the game was that we judge our candidate based on its own merit, while President Juncker has introduced the political calendar into that. And that’s – you know, bad message to Balkan – western Balkan countries, yeah, because the enlargement fatigue – reform fatigue is much worse than enlargement fatigue.

MS. BURWELL: Let me bring in Elmar Brok.

ELMAR BROK: No, no –

HRYHORIY NEMYRIA: He is fed up. (Laughter.)

MR. BROK: No, I would like to take Nemyria also.

MS. BURWELL: You want – well, all right then. Dr. Nemyria, you have been – as someone who comes from Donetsk, obviously the current crisis strikes in a very personal way. And the – what has happened in terms of the Eastern Partnership also, I hope, has a very – the prospects, the lessons in a personal way. So what do you see, as someone who has worked in government in a country that is, shall we say, the object of the Eastern Partnership, or one of the partners, what do you see as the lessons? And what do you think, shall we say, Eastern Partnership 2.0 should be doing?

MR. NEMYRIA: Yeah. Thank you. And thank you for reminding that I’m from Donetsk. It’s surreal what is happening there because spending half of my life there, I would never have imagined that things like that could happen. The Donetsk Airport has a name of Sergey Prokofiev. He was born in a village called “sunny” village, Sontsovka, in the region now – in the territory controlled by the terrorists. The most – the heaviest shelling fell on the town called Schastya which is, direct translation, “happiness” in English. And we have 900,000 internally displaced persons in Ukraine now – 900,000, maybe more.

So then Ana prompted me to quote Romano Prodi again when he said – in addition to everything but institution – he said the goal of the European Neighborhood Policy, that was the original, was to create a “ring of friends.” So instead of ring of friends, we have ring of fire. It doesn’t mean that we have to blame the European Neighborhood or Eastern Partnership – not at all. But it’s a point of caution, a bell – alarm bell that the if the inertia will be allowed with the Eastern Partnership that we are running the risk to have more of the same, which is, on balance, not good.

So the lessons learned and the expectations and what we expect from the Riga summit. So two things, basically: clarity of strategy and strong commitment based on deliverables. The clarity of strategy has to do with what some colleagues already mentioned, stopping the game that’s – the door is neither closed nor open – the other quote of the other predecessor of Štefan, other commissioner. I think this is important to repeat what has been said. You have – if you meet criteria, you will have European perspective. And in the future, you will become member of the European Union. But it’s mainly your task that you have to deliver.

The second thing, the strong commitment based on the deliverables, has a very concrete expression. If Ukraine and Georgia would deliver on the visa liberalization action plan, that it should be granted, the visa-free travel, for in a way that it – Moldova has received. And it would be unthinkable, believe me, in the environment that Ukraine currently is, that under the pretext of some other reasons, if Ukraine will deliver, that that would not materialize. This is a minimum, I would say, that would be reasonable to except from the Riga summit – lessons learned from the Eastern Partnership, edition one.

The important thing that’s one of the principles was an east principle of differentiation. But what is more important now, the self-differentiation phenomena that has happened and is happening now. What I mean by self-differentiation? Those six countries, since the inception phase of the Eastern Partnership, they went through their very different, sometimes common but different, their own experience.

And some of them, like Ukraine and Euromaidan, when people went to protest against the decision of the president not to sign the agreement, Ukraine gained deep insight, their sense of direction. And this is very important part. The same goes for Georgia and Moldovans. So this self-differentiation that has been gained through the hard experience needs to be reflected in the future modernized Eastern Partnership.

The next – the second point, the second lesson, structured conditionality is important. But structured conditionality if it’s not couple – it is not coupled with deep attention, strong attention to the system of the governance of the particular country, could be not sufficient to deliver sustainable result. We have an example when, in the case of Armenia, country make a U-turn because that was the decision of the political leaders – or leader. In the case – and the society didn’t revolt – accepted, basically, this.

In Ukraine it was close to that when political leader or leaders also if not making a U-turn but puts the European integration on pause, but that society revolted. So I think it is important when we are talking especially about the implementation of the association agreement, and this is the name of the game on the Eastern Partnership, to make sure that the system of governance, the checks and balances, the transparency of decision making should receive an utmost priority because with all that, I think we’re running the risk to repeat more of the same.

And now the third lesson that we should be aware of, this is the attention to the very dynamic environment in which Eastern Partnership will go after Riga. And unfortunately, this environment is not a positive one. If you – in fact, anything indicative of this environment could be – I could give just one example. On Wednesday in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe there was an important vote on the resolution on the Russian credentials of delegation. And it was a particular amendment on the suspension of the voting rights of the Russian delegation.

And it was supported overwhelmingly, but there are four delegations who voted against. Those four delegations were in full – all members of these delegations – were two countries from the Eastern Partnership, it was Armenia and Azerbaijan, it was Serbia, the candidate country, and it was Cyprus, EU member states. And Turkey, nine out of 10 delegates also voted against. It shows us at least that the lowest common denominator as far as EU is concerned probably could become even lower, and with the priority given to preserving the unity of 28. So that was not good sign for the leadership, especially when hard decisions are expected.

The second conclusion that as far as the even candidate countries, but if you look on the region it concerns Balkans. So probably, and there are already some analysis that if Putin is really launching the real hybrid war, so he could launch second front and it would be in the immediate underbelly of the European Union, the so-called Balkans. And then it clearly gives a hard choice to make by Ukraine and by Georgia and by Moldova.

So my conclusion, that we are going to live through a very difficult period of time, but we’re probably better equipped to deal with because we don’t have any illusions that we had in 2004 or even in 2014, most recently, because we are currently in the state when the – what is at stake, the survival of Ukraine as a state, and its survival will be better preserved if country has a clear European perspective.

MS. BURWELL: Thank you. I now do want to bring in Elmar Brok, as chair of the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament, but also a leading German EPP politician.

Mr. Brok, we’ve talked a lot – the first three have talked a lot about membership perspective and how that is something that has really been a key tool of the EU in moving the Eastern Partnership forward. But it’s clearly not – the idea of giving membership perspectives in Riga is clearly something that is not with widespread consensus across Europe.

And I wonder if you would say whether Germany would be likely to support that and under what conditions. Or do you see some countries in the Eastern Partnership as potential members, but not all, and how that would – Dr. Nemyria has pointed to self-differentiation rather than differentiation by the EU.

But I think also the question for you is – Dr. Nemyria made this point about the lowest common denominator becoming lower because of some of the connections of some of the other countries. Germany has been a leader in Europe on this issue. And how will the chancellor help to keep that lowest common denominator from sinking really low?

MR. BROK: I cannot accept the content of the question.


MR. BROK: First. Secondly, the title is the way forward for the Eastern Partnership. What I heard until now is history books and how to blame the European Union. As a ranking member of the European Parliament we were nine member states. Now, we are 28. And to have to build a political entity – we are built on an internal market and common foreign security policy, where we have still (an enmity ?) as a problem between 28 member countries.

We have a monetary union in a very difficult time because we have big problems because the financial crisis came from United States to Europe, that we still struggle with. This has to be seen. And the European Union and its member states have given to our new member states in the east and neighborhood countries so much money in the last 20 years – hundred times so much as the United States of America, at least. That’s the truth. And therefore, I wouldn’t like to be blamed in Washington about that we have not done enough.

And we have to see that we struggled for that, that we struggled for that, that we got a new treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon, that lasted too long, in order to get the constitutional framework that we can deal with more countries. And we got it only after the enlargement. We should have had it before. And to have still the shortcomings of the treaty, we have to see the integration capacity of the European Union. Should nobody tell me the European Union in this present stage would be able to deal with five seats or 10 more countries. That is the reality. That’s the reality.

And I think we have achieved a lot of things. If someone would have told me 20 years ago that European Union would stand there where we stand now, I would say that it’s a vision which is never achievable. And that we have the stable situation in our new member states and all the positive development in most of the member states has to do with the European Union and the – (inaudible) – that was achieved, and that we have now a region of 28 countries of stability – incredible, positive development the European Union achieved.

I was very happy that I heard yesterday from Vice President Biden that this includes also the United States position that all these countries must have the same level – the same quality of security as any kind of country both within the European Union and NATO. It’s an incredible achievement. And I must say not everything what happened in the Eastern Neighborhood countries was so successful in the past. You know it, the total failure of the Orange Revolution, no progress, had something to do with Ukrainian ambitious and the present situation. Then, Yanukovych came up.

So you cannot blame the European Union for that, that were shortcomings. But now see, at the moment the difficulty is – (inaudible) – to get a proper European government in Moldova. I went there last week to try to be helpful in order to get the two party coalition and minority coalition supported by the communists. Membership perspective? And what we have there – you should look at the realities.

And therefore, that was the question before Riga – before Vilnius – before Vilnius, that we have said countries must make certain movements. Yanukovych stopped that, the question of political reform, of judicial reform, which is a condition for us if you want to give a European perspective. The European Union is not just a free trade area. It’s a political entity with common values – (inaudible) – democracy and the rule of law. And a country does not make these changes and that transformation process.

MS. BURWELL: But if you can’t offer membership perspective, and I understand the argument you’re making –

MR. BROK: No, no, not offer something which if the countries cannot deliver, as we cannot deliver, make hopes for things that might happen in 20 years. Do you know – and then to answer – (inaudible) – question, why not in the next five years? Tell me one country which will be able in the extent of negotiations to join within these five years. Not one. And therefore, to blame that it’s said no one will do that – no one will be able to finish this negotiation. Make it association and free trade agreement. Make it work. Go to the next step, and from next step to the next step in order until you come to the final result.

But it means also the development of the integration capacity of the European Union and the reform ability of certainly countries, not give over the line, everything in, membership perspective. The European Parliament has said a long time ago every European country that is in a treaty has the right to ask for Article 49 if this country fulfills the same. And nobody’s stopping that.

This is a right, but it has to fulfill the conditions. And we have also said in the European Parliament, make it faster. For example, to develop something like the Norwegian status or European Economic Area to bring things forward that is 70, 80 percent of the – (inaudible). It was all rejected, not by us.

MS. BURWELL: I think one of the questions – I think one of the questions is if there’s not a membership perspective on the table, how do you incentivize reforms. But I want to bring Ana in here.

MS. PALACIO: Just one sentence, Elmar. I mean, we have in mind the fifth enlargement – so the big enlargement, the big bang of 10 countries getting into the union in 2004. And this was a process that in many cases was rushed in. But I mean, we have also other precedents. Spain was negotiating for 10 years, and we accepted transition periods of 20 years and more. And so this means that this five years – five years period, this is not an up cycle. I think that for certain big reforms, Elmar, you have to be clear. You cannot say the door is not open the door is not closed. I mean, where is the door?

MR. BROK: We negotiate with countries. We negotiate with them, but it technically is not possible to conclude any of these negotiations. That’s the truth. (Don’t start ?) – (inaudible) – of wrong hopes.

MS. BURWELL: Let me bring in – let me bring in the person who did these negotiations for a while, Štefan Füle.

MR. FÜLE: I think the point is –

MR. BROK: Be realistic.

MR. FÜLE: – if you look at the western Balkans, the European perspective were given in Thessaloniki, what, 11 years ago? Eleven years ago, to the whole region. We brought Kosovo to the mainstream of enlargement only last year. So it is about the process. It is about the perspective, OK? It is – you’re not given the light at the end of the tunnel where everything is more or less ready and set up. You get that light at the end of the tunnel for the people to aspire something, and to trying to reach out. And later on comes, you know, these difficult negotiations.

Later on comes the decisions of the member states, including in some countries referenda. And I mean, you ask me on Turkey, by the way, can I imagine Turkey joining the European Union? Yes, of course. But it’ll be a different Turkey, it’ll be different European Union. And that’s the point, yeah?

Elmar, you’re absolutely right. And no one is saying that it is the European Union as I know, the commission as I left three months ago, they would be ready to accept Ukraine. It will be different European Union. But if we don’t reform the European Union, if we try sort of to create some kind of closed club and pretend that we will not be subject of these changes around us, wow, are we doomed.

MS. BURWELL: So I want to come back to this question. I also want to come back, before we finish, to the question of how the U.S. can engage with this.

MR. BROK: A good question, good question.

MS. BURWELL: What we’ve been talking about so far – (laughter) –

MR. FÜLE: Elmar.

MS. BURWELL: I’ll let him – what we’ve been talking about so far –

MR. BROK: Very good question.

MS. BURWELL: – is basically a European process. So, Elmar, let me challenge you – (laughter) – what would – how would you say the U.S. should get engaged with this? And then I’m going to open it to the floor. Thank you. Elmar, briefly.

MR. BROK: I’ve always said, in the question of Turkey, that – as an example – we will take Turkey into the European Union at a day if Spain becomes – if Mexico becomes the 51st state of the United States. (Laughter.) No, tell the hypocrisy of the debate in this country. You pay nearly no money, and then question what we do. You ask us to do more. You ask for more sanctions, but our countries have to pay it. You can ask on sanctions against Russia, but it is paid by countries like Bulgaria, not by Texas in real terms.

And take that into account. You can ask for sanctions against Iran. We did it all. But you have no problems with gas supply and oil supply from Iran. But Greece in a time of crisis had to get rid of 60 percent of oil supply which came from Iran, which was very expensive for that country. So be a little bit fair to European countries, who pay more for such sanctions which are right, which are supported, which is a good thing that European Council yesterday renewed that and made a clear commitment to that.

But it’s much more difficult to tell that to our people because it costs something. In your country, it does not cost anything. So be not so easy in that way what we do. Be helpful in that way. And be together in that way. That might help us to have a common strength.

MS. BURWELL: And I take your point about much of what you say, but I think we want some specifics on how we can be helpful. And I’d like to go to Nemyria and then –

MR. NEMYIRA: I want to provide an example, because we just started with the time horizon of three a little bit more months the Riga summit. But I think what is important also to bring back attention to the –

MR. BROK: Must have a little bit of fun. (Laughter.)

MR. NEMYRIA: – now what is happening. And by the way, whatever would happen would have an impact, not just Riga but more. This is here. We have an issue. And this is the issue which has to do, if the expectation that the lowest common denominator is going lower, then it would be a challenge to preserve the other important condition for solving the crisis, namely the U.S. and the EU working together and in coordination, which probably may require, and will require, more leadership from the U.S. side than it is now.

And one example, which are important now, as far as the lethal weapon, defensive weapon is concerned, because continue to say that’s – which is diplomatic solution, there is no military solution. True, but at the same time, we are dealing with conventional war where the conventional element, namely military element, is important. And I do expect that when this time will come, and time is now, then the EU would respond in a – in a constructive manner for the sake of this coordination and unity between the United States and European Union as far as the conflict in Ukraine is concerned.

MS. BURWELL: Thank you. I’ve seen a number of hands go up but the gentleman here was first. And then way in the back.

Q: Thank you very much. After Second World War –

MS. BURWELL: Please identify yourself.

Q: My name is Asim Mollazade, member of parliament of Azerbaijan.

After Second World War, the United States was backing the Nuremburg process, there were Marshall Plan for the reforms on Western Europe. And since those period, all the European countries never spent more than 10 percent of U.S. military budget. I don’t understand how many minutes Europe without United States can resist to new offensive coming from – because I don’t think that Ukraine is capable to resist Russia alone, and Georgia, Azerbaijan or Moldova can resist to former Soviet army.

And without United States, is it possible for European Union to create its own security system? That way all problem which we had on, let’s say, transatlantic cooperation during the last years made Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Moldova victims of such problems. Thank you.

MS. BURWELL: Thank you. Let me pick up the gentleman back there. Great, thank you.

Q: Thank you. My name is Valery Kavaleuski, Belarus Politics blog.

I would like to refer to the issue of Belarus. It’s not represented here among panelists, but nevertheless it has a very special place –

MS. BURWELL: Absolutely.

Q: – at this stage of Eastern Partnership. For more than 20 years, Lukashenko has been president of Belarus. And as a result of his policies, the opposition field in Belarus is destroyed, economy is very weak. Belarus has become very, very dependent on Russia. They’re vulnerable to aggressive policies of Russia. Right now, Lukashenko has reached out to the West, trying to normalize relations with the European Union and with the United States. And Eastern Partnership is one of the ways for him to implement this task.

At the same time, he remains true to his practices. He suppresses independent media. He keeps in check the opposition and civil society. Human rights defenders are expelled from Belarus. And new political prisoners appear, and existing political prisoners are not released from the country – from prisons, from behind the bars. At the same time, we have political opposition expelled. Some disappear. Some are expelled from the country. Some are – some are just forced to leave – to leave politics.


Q: So my question is: Is your Eastern Partnership ready to re-engage Belarus without reciprocity in actions of Lukashenko? Is there anything that could be done to make Lukashenko implement and actually change the regime from within without replacing the regime entirely? Thank you.

MS. BURWELL: I think we have two very interesting questions here for the Riga summit. I mean, to what degree, given the situation, should the Riga summit, whether it’s directly because of the Eastern Partnership or on the sidelines, be thinking more about security issues or the types of issues that Dr. Nemyria raised?

And the other one is, Belarus has been a difficult country for the Eastern Partnership to deal with. And yet, one does not want to abandon countries, necessarily. So how do – how does the EU create links, but with countries that are being difficult, who are – governments are going in the wrong direction, and yet you don’t want to simply abandon them?

So let me ask Štefan Füle to go first and then I’m going to pick up others.

MR. FÜLE: Can I have the first question, I mean, dressed a little bit differently? One of the challenge for the new – for Riga summit is going to be how to deal with those who do not clearly define their European perspective, how do deal with those whom we say that they are free to make their choice – and sovereign choice to make their own choice – but nevertheless because of the circumstances they are being made or even forced to make a different choice? You probably know the country I’m talking about. I’m not going to name it.

And this is important – this is important issue. One of – the person here sort of ask about let’s not create a new dividing lines. And me pursuing the policy I’ve always been very clear, the Eastern Partnership is not about choosing Moscow or Brussels, OK, but and – number one. Number two, I will say it was actually not about making them to that choice, but strengthening their sovereignty and their ability to make that choice. I hope very much that we’ll be able to do that vis-à-vis the countries with European perspective, but we need to do that also vis-à-vis the countries who have other concerns.

And those who, because of some other consideration, joined or about to join the Eurasian Union, we need to find the relationship with the European Union and the Eurasian Union so those countries are not forgotten. Why are we still pretending the Eurasian Union is only about Russia, only one person, Putin? Because, no, I’m sorry, it’s not true anymore. And by the way, Lukashenko is a good sign in that – in that direction. And Kazakhstan might have its concerns too after its being called artificial country again.

Coming back to Belarus, re-engage, yes. By the way, we have re-engaged Belarus already some time ago with the Dialogue on Modernization. But moving – engaging is one thing and moving forward is a different thing. More for more principle applies here, quite clearly. Each and every step by him will be accompanied by our step. We will not be making three steps and waiting for him to make one. We will do that together. And I hope very much that what’s going on in this region will make all of us able to walk that together.

MS. BURWELL: Let me bring in Elmar Brok on this issue, and particularly Belarus.

MR. BROK: Look, first of all, we would like to have such countries to keep their independence, which is of utmost importance. I agree with Mr. Füle that this – all this relationship to the Eastern Neighborhood countries is not against Russia, but enables such countries to take sovereign decisions. It’s all about territorial integrity and the sovereign right to make decision with whom an agreement should be set up. This is – Russia does not want.

And here we have one question to make the difference, that we say we will do that if such countries move towards democracy and the rule of law. That is a country where we have – with Belorussia certain problems. We had at the end with Yanukovych certain problems. But it was solvable. There was – (inaudible) – reason, who paid more money in Sochi.

And that is – questions that Azerbaijan chose not to make an association agreement, perhaps clever but also the development in that way of rule of law and democracy is not so very far in Azerbaijan. And that shows the level of possibilities. But nevertheless, we would like to help these countries in such developments and on a way to do so.

But it might be in a way, now we are in a fight with Russia again, that we should not look any more such much in the case of transformation process. But a transformation process, politically and economically, is a condition for a success story. I compare always Ukraine and against themselves is Poland. 1990, Ukraine and Poland and more or less the same GNP. Now, Poland’s – the Polish has one five times – nearly five times higher, or four times.

And that has to do with this transformation process, that euro is better, that market economy is better, that the support of the European Union is a good thing in – to have structural changes. European Union gives every year for not so much developed regions and (weak persons ?), every year 15 billion euros. Every year, a Marshall Plan – every year, free of charge, paid by Europe taxpayers – well, the taxpayers of the European Union to poorer regions and poorer people – European Union, and social fund, regional fund, countryside, it is rule fund and so on. And that is incredible progress. And we give also money via different instruments to countries, like Neighborhood countries. The European Union pays from its budget alone three times so much money for peaceful, non-military foreign aid than the United States does. It’s a figure. We should adjust not just what – the European Union pays 60 percent of the foreign aid of this world. Perhaps it’s not enough.

MS. BURWELL: Yes. So let me bring in –

MR. BROK: But not enough. But that I think has to be seen, that we are – do not enough, there are shortcomings, but that we’re trying. And that I think should be taken into consideration and not just say everything – it is people in Brussels do not want, are not able and do not understand.

MS. BURWELL: Yes, so –

MR. BROK: And – (inaudible).

And in – we in Brussels tried to change national mentality now in defense. We give 50 percent to member states for defense – 50 percent, but only with 10 percent of the results because we have not the synergy effects and everyone does his own procurement. This we want to change. The European Parliament will make their report in a few days about it.

Hopefully in the summer a summit about that to change that –

MS. BURWELL: Summer summit, yeah.

MR. BROK: – to have more military capacity because of that reason, because there is no money everywhere so we have to look for the synergy effects in that question. And that – we do a lot. But come to an army question, nations in – (inaudible) – have possibilities for their army and shared with other countries. It’s in a sense of national sovereignty an incredible step forward.

MS. BURWELL: Let me return somewhat to some of the questions we have before us. And I want to ask you, Ana, about this question of the EU engaging with the Eurasian economic union. Is this a way to engage countries like Belarus? Is it worth pursuing? What – and then I’d like to hear – I want to bring in the gentlemen here who had a question after that, and also hear from Nemyria on this.

MS. PALACIO: But first of all, on the Eurasian Union, it takes two to tango. And the Eurasian union has been created as an alterative to the European Union. So let’s not fool ourselves on this one.

Second, on Belarus, the two words – the two key words have been mentioned. First is independence, so the ability to really have a choice. Second is compatibility. And these countries have ties to the region, to Russia. And this is not – this should never be in conflict to just this process of getting closer to the European Union. Sometimes we have given this impression. And this was a wrong thing.

Now, two very, very brief comments on the United States. The first is, frankly, I agree with Elmar on this idea. Don’t ask us what you have to do, you know that, but we can tell you what you should never do is tell us what we have to do, especially vis-à-vis Turkey, because this is the worst thing that you can do in the interest of Turkey. Just being a member of the European Union, I fully agree with what you have said before. So this is the first thing.

The second thing, on aid – Elmar is right about official aid. But this is not true if we – if we take the aid that these countries or United States channels through private and NGOs and all these –

MR. BROK: Ah, come on. Millions compared with billions.

MS. BURWELL: No, it’s true.

MS. PALACIO: No, no, no. Elmar, no. That’s not – that’s not –

MR. BROK: Millions compared to billions, NGOs.

MS. PALACIO: But anyway, let’s not – let’s not discuss. I think that these – this is our official aid.

MR. BROK: Ridiculous. Ridiculous.

MS. PALACIO: And last is that investment is 10 times as effective and official development aid. And this is – in one of my previous incarnations, I have been senior vice president of the World Bank. So I know what I’m speaking about. Let’s not speak about aid. Let’s speak about investment. And this, by the way, it’s true in these countries we are speaking about. We need to make this – these economies performing so that there is a foreign investment that goes there.

MR. BROK: We should cut the original aid for Spain and have more investments there. (Laughter.)

MS. PALACIO: Well you know, now you can cut it. It’s not – it’s not – the aid to the eastern –

MS. BURWELL: So let me bring in Dr. Nemyria. Ana?

MS. PALACIO: – lander is much higher.

MR. BROK: Looking – the private investments is probably not so many countries would do so much private investment as Germany does, for example, in such countries.

MS. PALACIO: But of course.

MS. BURWELL: That’s right. That’s right.

MS. PALACIO: But what – this is what I’m saying is that –

MR. BROK: That is – I don’t know what you are going to say with that.

MS. PALACIO: – let’s speak about forming instruments –

MS. BURWELL: Ana, let me bring Dr. Nemyria in, please.

MR. NEMYRIA: For the sake of the clarity, I – Elmar was giving Poland as a success story, which I agree. But for the sake of the clarity, from the very beginning Poland and Ukraine, as well as other former Soviet states, were on the different tracks. Their cessation and the membership track for Poland and the partnership and cooperation track for Ukraine and others. So that should be very important point to be taken in account. And Slovakia is one example, when initially they were behind, they were catching up.

But the issue of the Eurasian economic union has to do with, as I understand on the one hand, a legal issue of compatibility because Belarus or Kazakhstan probably will become soon, but Belarus is not member of the WTO, so the whole issue of the compatibility. But it’s a matter of a future that should not be excluded, why not? And the one important point I want to make, because sometime the discussion took an angle like them and us. So I think this is a counterproductive tone or taste of the discussion.

And I want to – it was yesterday, a very good editorial in the Financial Times. It’s called, “The West Must Help Ukraine to Defend Itself.” But I think equally and even better the title might be for the same article or for the same thoughts: The west must help itself to defend Ukraine, because defending Ukraine was defending itself. So this is an issue, because defending – you’re not defending territory as such, not even the citizens who are leaving. You are defending the same space that those countries or citizens aspired for – the rule of law, democracy, human rights and freedom.

MS. BURWELL: Let me bring in Štefan Füle for a brief comment and then we’re coming back to the audience.

MR. FÜLE: You know, Putin has advised to the customs union first and then Eurasian Union quite smartly. His advice in such a way which does not really allow us to have a bilateral and separate association agreement with its members, because there is a lack of – there is a legal incompatibility. You cannot have an agreement with a member of the customs union on the trade and unbarriered obstacles to the trade – or, not trade, obstacles to the trade if the part of the part of the sovereignty decision in that area has been transferred by the member of customs union to Moscow Eurasian Commission, right?

So if we give up on the relationship with the Eurasian Union, we’re giving up on the relationship with all these countries, right? That’s a first point. The second point, now, I’m not hiding. I’m one of those who would agree that the Eurasian Union is a competitive project – or competition, I mean, to European Union. Absolutely. But it does not really change the argument that if that competitive integration project would follow its own regulatory framework, which is not going to be compatible with our regulatory framework, then you create in Europe a dividing line – a new dividing line for trade and economics.

MS. BURWELL: OK. Do you have one minute? Because I want to get your response to whatever Minister Sikorski had – Marshal Sikorski has –

MR. BROK: Let me just make – I agree with Štefan about Eurasian Union – Eurasian Union. But and also the chancellor has made this proposal in Davos.


MR. BROK: But it has one condition. The Eurasian Union was party invented by Moscow to control these countries. And it must be clear that that’s not Moscow has a right to control your countries. Ukraine wants not to join the Eurasian Union because it does not want it controlled by Eurasian Union by Moscow. And this condition must be fulfilled by Moscow before we can have negotiations with the Eurasian Union, the freedom and sovereignty of nations.

MS. BURWELL: So I understand Mr. Brok may have to leave, but I want to get your comment in, Marshal Sikorski, in case he wants to respond and go back to the audience.

Q: Well, Poland has been cited as a success story, so let me just remind you how the success of Central Europe more generally unfolded. And what happened was that we joined first NATO in 1999. That provided physical security, which was also important for investment. And then we got integrated into the EU. And what we are testing in Ukraine now is whether you can integrate even just economically without basic physical security.

And I suspect the answer will be negative because however well I wish Ukraine, to do all these reforms while also fighting the war might be beyond human capacity. I mean, I hope you pull it off and you shouldn’t – you certainly shouldn’t use the war as an excuse for not doing reforms. But you ask what the United States can do. Well, here’s the answer: Help provide Ukraine some basic physical security.

MS. BURWELL: So let me bring in this gentleman back here who’s been very patient.

MR. BROK: It least it has a logic.

Q: My name is Pavel Shidlovsky. I’m chief of mission of Belarus.

Thank you very much to Atlantic Council and to the Latvian presidency for inviting our country here. My government authorized me to represent my country, and I’m very pleased to listen to discussion, to frank exchange of opinions, heated exchange of opinions is perfect. (Laughter.) It’s perfect.

Well, all the dogs are thrown again on Belarus on human rights and democracy and everything. Well, we have human rights problems. We have democracy problems. It is not as perfect as it can be. We are doing the best we can to improve our human rights situation. We are doing that. But in this situation what is important is that our very sovereignty, independence is at stake.

And in this situation, our country has to be embraced into engagement with Russia, with the European Union. We are – we are there in this geopolitical context. So what I ask and suggest all speakers – and maybe you can have a comment on that – is that maybe it is time to recognize the special place of Belarus, the role of Belarus in this particular moment, in this particular place, to extend a helping hand to Belarus in our economic situation, which is tied to Russian economic problem. Engage Belarus, respect its sovereignty – which was said and which we really appreciate – and start cooperation with us through engagement. And we value our possibility to engage in Eastern Partnership. We have proposed a number of proposals to Eastern Partnership and we want to engage more.

MS. BURWELL: OK. Let’s – OK. So go ahead.

MR. FÜLE: The more you deliver on fundamental freedoms and human rights, the more we will help you, you know. Can I – can I –

Q: Let’s talk about –


MR. FÜLE: Can I make that point? I mean, I was listening, I mean, actually to debate in the morning. And I had occasionally a feeling that in the light of this tremendous challenge in Europe, we start to missing again an important point. Now, if you ask me what I think was sort of biggest achievement of the neighborhood policy as defined 2011, I would – I would tell you this one: We combined the values and interests together as the angle of our external policies, OK? Let’s not make that a victim of the real politics again, OK? The fundamental freedoms, human rights, the civil society, democracy needs to stay in the main focus of what we are doing. Once we slide back in the direction of only real politics, it’s a slide I don’t want to participate in.

MS. BURWELL: Let me bring in the Moldovan ambassador and then we’ll –

Q: Thank you very much. A stone was thrown in my garden and I have to respond. (Laughter.)

Well, a problem – Mr. Elmar Brok, you should not conclude or make conclusions on the declarations or statements of politicians because sometimes politicians have to adapt or confront with the challenges. At this point, when Moldova is, after election, still forming the government, it is not any clarity about the risk because the strategical aim for Moldova is to be fully integrated with the European Union and implement all the obligations deriving from the association agreement and DCFTA and visa free, et cetera. So this is an encore that we are very seriously considering, without any kind of reference to the color of the government.

We have a framework. And what we need – we need to advance this framework. Otherwise, you will look at Moldova and you will be like the car driver driving you in Washington according to the sky, not to the GPS. And what is extremely important also for now is to understand that European Union has also leadership. And the European Union is also aware about the political parties that demand divisions inside of the European Union.

From the arrows that have been thrown between you and Minister Palacio, it seems that you will not vote for Spain for the EU membership because there are differences in your view. What we need in Eastern Europe, we need strong support from your side. And we need to be part of the strategy.

MS. PALACIO: Well, you don’t understand, in the European Union we debate a lot, but in the end we just – we come to a – we muddle through, but we agree. (Laughter.)

MS. BURWELL: So I want to bring in Dr. Nemyria. (Laughs.) This is true, actually. Dr. Nemyria.

MR. NEMYRIA: Right. First, I want just to clarify with the Belarussian official, you said there is a threat to your sovereignty. Who is threatening your sovereignty?

Q: May I answer that?

MS. BURWELL: Yes, you may answer that, briefly.

Q: Lithuania. (Laughter.) Thank you for the question. (Laughter.) Well, in the current circumstances, when the war is going, as our president said, just next door to Belarus, and the arms race is virtually happening in the western borders of Belarus, we feel that our independence and territorial integrity is threatened. So we are between – you know, between the fire and the frying pan, between –

MS. BURWELL: Is it – is it threatened by the instability or is it threatened by a particular country?

Q: Instability – not a particular country. I won’t say about a particular country – I won’t say it in names. But, you know, instability, unpredictability, arms race in our western borders. We need to understand what is happening. We need to understand that this is not intended against us and our country is not like a play card in this geopolitical game, when we can lose independence in the moment.

MS. BURWELL: Right. No, it’s not. Of course not, yeah.

Q: That’s why we changed our martial law just a few days ago. It enters into force on the 1st of February. And it gives special provisions which trigger the imposition of martial law in the country.

MS. BURWELL: So, all right. Thank you. We have a bunch of other questions here. Let me get her right there and then back there, and then we’re going to have a final round I think.

Q: A quick question. My name is Nina Gippetti (sp). I have a question addressed to Elmar.

Rhetoric is so important. I imagine if Putin were to listen to our conversation here what you said about in five years that a single country would be ready to join European Union is music to his ears. Why are we creating this music rather than helping countries that are so much making strides to be ready to join European Union? Why not focus on the positive and make five years something for us to celebrate, rather than say that not a single country would be ready? Thank you.

MS. BURWELL: And in – like, three rows back. The gentleman – put your hand up, yes. Thank you.

Q: Let me add another Georgian voice. So I’m Grigol Mgaloblishvili, former Georgian ambassador to NATO.

So if I combine – it’s a very short comment – if I combine somehow couple of messages that I got here, is that Ukraine is not going to get any defense capabilities, not to escalate farther the situation from the Russian side. And unless we fully reform, we are not going to get a European perspective.

And I’m coming from domestic politics as well. I was a Georgian prime minister during the – after the Georgian-Russian War. So there are some groups – political groups in all of those countries who are seriously committed to reform and make very difficult reforms.

And if those countries do not have a very clear picture where is the end-state, and if those countries are consistently told that, well, you are not going to get a membership action plan but we will give you some kind of another commitment, it’s not a European perspective, you first to deliver those things, I think that at the end of the day with those two messages, you will weaken those people in those countries who are committed to reform.

Surprisingly, Russia has become very successful in using its soft power. And you will eventually see all of those countries backsliding, going back happily to the Russian-dominated, whatever organization it’s called. So this is a sure recipe of going back. If we don’t want to go back, I need that – we need those kind of leaders, courageous leaders that develop the idea of Europe whole, free and in peace.

And that’s why Poland get in. That’s why Czech Republic get in. And that’s why Hungary get in, because there was that kind of a strong idea, which unfortunately vanished. Thank you.

MS. BURWELL: So I would like Elmar Brok to respond to that, I mean, in terms of these two questions about is the EU or is the rhetoric undercutting the reform efforts of these countries that are trying to move forward? And how can we avoid that? If you can’t give them a membership perspective, what are other ways that we can incentivize them?

MR. BROK: The western Balkan countries have had a membership perspective since Thessaloniki 2003, if I remember that. It was (the ?), in turn, development of Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Then we cannot take them in. We cannot even start membership negotiations – to give you a few examples, and also an answer to that question.

With Serbia, at the moment, a positive feeling that we come forward. But technically it’s not possible to do that in five years, even it goes positively forward. And therefore, Serbia has – it’s in a very difficult situation. They’re saying the prime minister has – tells me that Brussels – (audio break) – Europe is the only future for the country, but their cultural relationship will play a role in that countries, old religious questions and so on.

Pan-Slavic question historically play a role. That’s a real fight within the country, with individual people, to find a solution there. And here we have to helpful, and that’s negotiations. And therefore I believe at the present Serbian government has a positive attitude, despite all their problems and that question with sanction, Ukraine and Russia there. And I think we should be supportive for them that they can make it.

And the thing in the western Balkans is to include Serbia on the utmost importance because that is a decision of stability for the whole western Balkans, if Serbia could be a part of that. And we support that. Germany supports it. The European Union supports it. And we will do so. And that’s a question, not music for Europe – what you say – for Putin.

What we have to do – the European Union is a political entity. We cannot solve the problems of this world if the countries do not want to come and fulfill the conditions. We’re a state-like organization with values, not just an economic area. And therefore, these countries have to fulfill that. Also, if they do not fill the market economic conditions, they will be pushed down if the conditions is not fulfilled for that. And therefore negotiation need that time. And they needed always time.

And when you said it was not even supportive of Spain, I belong to the parliament committee for the negotiations for the membership of Spain. And I have a short – long memory in that, that they did certain good things at that time, in the ’80s, as Germany did at that time for Spain, as for Poland. They played, I think in both cases, a quite pushy role in favor to get this member – these countries into the European Union.

And I think, you know, personally I have made a criticism here because of the debate in Washington, D.C., but I have my personal record, I think, which is enlargement not so bad, because I as the main rapporteur of the European Parliament of the membership of the 12 countries at that time and was pushing for that. So nobody can blame me for that.

But if you come to Moldova, I took part last week four hours in the coalition negotiations in Moldova, and I know something about that. If you have a problem that some people do not like to have an independent – what is Generalstaatsanwalt – general prosecutor because he might be too strong to fight corruption, there is a main obstacle to come to with the liberals party’s two term, then they become nervous. The readiness to fight corruption is a condition. It’s a condition. And this is one of the reasons why they do not like to have a liberal party in that.

And so I can continue and end, and these things have to been seen to be practiced to come to proper solutions. And I’m in favor of the membership – or, not the membership, the question of helping Belorussia. But as Štefan rightly said, please let the few human rights defenders out of prison. It makes also life for us easier. (Laughter.)

MS. BURWELL: Right. (Laughs.) And I think we can all agree that actually enlargement has been one of the great success stories of the EU over the last two decades. But I want to have a final set with you all here of brief answers. And you can pick up a couple of things that you might have not yet had a chance to respond to.

But I want to take this back to the question of U.S. engagement, because I think that Radek Sikorski has put an interesting point on the table, which is that the U.S., in a way, is responsible – that’s too strong a word – but it is – the mechanism or the country which can provide security. And we are right now embarked on an experiment contrary to some of the earlier experiences of trying to provide integration before that security was there.

So one way of interpreting this, if you’re an American, and interpreting the comments here from the panel, is that the United States should help in providing security, but we should not tell Europe what to do when it comes to integration, because that’s an intra-European issue. And I’m not entirely sure that that is fair or reasonable, but I’m looking for things – ways that we can engage this process, this very important process, which I think is key to the future stability and freedom of Europe, and not just of the eastern part of Europe.

And so I think that you have here an audience that would love to hear a bit more about what can the U.S. do to help make, in the first instance, Riga or the road to Riga successful, but also as we look forward in the Eastern Partnership, what can we contribute to this effort? So let me start. We’ll go this way.

MR. FÜLE: Make it easy for you, hopefully. Never ever leave Europe again, OK? And I’m referring to the reset policy being accompanying by the U.S. withdrawing from the Eastern Europe. Never, ever do that again, please.

Second, let’s not – beep – each other from the business, OK? We have each other sort of a very special instrument and offers to put on the table. We’re strong when we reinforce each other. We’re weak when we start accusing each other that we’re making a mistake.

Number three, let’s talk to each other not through the op-eds and articles in New York Times or some other newspapers. I’m still sort of looking for a structured dialogue to address these issues between the U.S. and the European Union.

And number four, let’s take up seriously the European – European security, OK? It needs to be reshaped. It needs to be reshaped with you having an important role. Let’s see where to start and let’s see how we could reshape and change that trend, which is extremely dangerous at this point in time.

MS. BURWELL: Ana Palacio.

MS. PALACIO: I fully agree with what has been said. And I would only underline one issue, that we really are confronting a different world. And we are confronting a different world that is about our values, this idea of a liberal rule-of-law based international order. And there, we have to be very clear what is at stake, and not be distracted by other issues that, although important, are not crucial.

I would like to add something about the Georgia. You say that in five years – and I mentioned the case of Spain and Elmar brought – Spain, when we started negotiations, we were at 70 percent of the GDP per capita of the then rich communities. We didn’t have to change one secondary law. We didn’t have to change any structure, but of course we needed to have the – I mean, the political rights and the constitution. So the change in Spain, we have laws – so in order to adapt to the European Union we didn’t have to change anything, the constitution or political rights.

It took us 10 years. Once more, there is a mirage that the reference is the fifth enlargement, the enlargement to Poland. This was an enlargement that in some cases was rushed. And we are – we are – and we are suffering the consequences of this rushed enlargement. This will never happen again. There will be – in my opinion, there should be a European perspective, but a European perspective to join when a country fulfills the Copenhagen criteria.

And as I say, 70 percent of the GDP per capita, we are very – I mean, we are very grateful of all of the funds that Spain has benefited, as other – for instance, the eastern lender or for instance Poland. This has been a fantastic policy. But do not think of the 10th – of the 10 countries enlargement as a reference.

MS. BURWELL: Nemyria.

MR. NEMYRIA: For the United States I think the importance is not just to be together, but complementary to each other with the European Union. There are some things that the EU is better equipped to do. That should be the case. There are some things that the U.S. is better equipped to do and has more political will to do. So that should be the ideal scenario.

The second thing which is important, as far as the current crisis is concerned is it important – and I have sense that in the U.S. it’s now better understood – to be more creative thinking about the conventional elements of the hybrid war, which as to do a military component, not as a substitution, not as the main instrument for solution, but a component for solution – without it, it would not be possible. Second thing, bringing attention – better attention to the importance of the external border, international border of Ukraine, monitoring and very important, credible verification of this border. So far it is insufficient.

And third thing, it is two areas – there are two areas in Ukraine that are important and probably the – where the point of departure for its economic revival: energy and agriculture. I think there is plenty of opportunities for private investments. And it is important also, that’s why I support Elmer’s point, so the better and the sooner Ukraine would deliver and I see some momentum on the judiciary reform, the prosecutor’s office reform, the rule of law, as such, then that potential will be utilized. But energy and agriculture I think stands as very important areas.

MS. BURWELL: Thank you. Very briefly, Elmar.

MR. BROK: I can just repeat one sentence. I was yesterday in a meeting with the vice president. He had four points in his introductory remarks. The second point was: The European Union has to be united and nobody should have a chance to divide the European Union in these circumstances with the Eastern Partnership. And I think that is a good contribution by the United States that it helps us to achieve that.

MS. BURWELL: Thank you very much. And I want to thank the panel for such an interesting and lively discussion. And I also want to – we should all give them a hand. (Applause.)

And I want to invite Ambassador Juris Poikāns, the Latvian envoy for the Riga summit, to say a few words.

AMBASSADOR JURIS POIKĀNS: Dear friends – and dear friends, more specifically, in the Atlantic Council, when we had initial deliberations on the content of this event last September here in the same building of the Atlantic Council, I can conclude that we have had very interesting and very ideas-provoking event. After so many interventions, it’s difficult to add anything new, but let me offer some general remarks and then more specifically about what we can expect from Riga summit.

It’s absolutely clear that the Eastern Partnership Policy is a policy of the European Union and it will remain a policy of the European Union. And primary responsibility over this region – on tackling the crisis in this region lies within the European Union. And I agree here with the Moldovan ambassador, this is about European leadership in this region. If we want to tackle the crisis in our neighborhood and we are unable to tackle the crisis, then the question is where we can do it.

So, second, I agree completely also with Mr. Nemyria, who was saying we must search for complementarity of our efforts in the area of the Eastern Partnership, not only with the United States, but with other likely minded countries, be it Canada, be it Japan, be it South Korea, because we share the same vision of stability and prosperity in this part of the world.

I think the Eastern Partnership has neither succeeded nor it has failed, because we have not been able to create the ring of stability and prosperity around our borders, but at the same time we have the necessary instruments in place. We have three association agreements signed with Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia, which are important political documents. And if properly implemented, it can be a game-changer in this part of the world.

And – but at the same time, it’s absolutely clear that these countries will need our assistance, the assistance of the European Union in implementing this agreement. And the quality of the implementation of the association agreements can bring tangible changes on the ground because when we, again, refer to Moldova, we saw the latest parliamentary elections where that nation is still very much divided.

I agree with Minister Lajčák, who said this morning: We don’t need to invent anything new when it comes to the European Neighborhood Policy. We must stick to our principles, to our commitments and our initial plans. There is nothing wrong in the European Neighborhood Policy, and more specifically in the Eastern Partnership, in our willingness to have stability and prosperity.

And more specifically about Riga summit, it has been mentioned here several times already today, the summit will take place in a difficult environment. And the summit itself is a very important part of the Eastern Partnership Policy. This is a process. We don’t know what is the end road. It has been discussed today many times. But the summit itself presents an opportunity and occasion to demonstrate the importance of the Eastern Partnership for European policy makers, for Eastern Partnership policy makers, for elites and societies of these states.

We shouldn’t be critical of what has been achieved during last five years. And more specifically, looking for Vilnius to Riga, I mention here about three association agreements. We have a visa-free regime introduced in the Republic of Moldova. I hope we come close towards at least a decision of introducing a visa-free with Georgia, Ukraine. And we are making the first steps when it comes to visa facilitation with Belarus. So even within this year and a half, we have achieved quite a lot.

And I would – I can just conclude that the Latvian presidency will continue working on the success of Riga summit. We see this as a summit of inclusiveness. All six eastern partners are important for Latvia. We need also those countries Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus because here, like former Commissioner Füle mentioned, we are not building new dividing lines within the Eastern Partnership. We are not building new dividing lines between Europe and Russia. But what we are searching, we are search stability and prosperity in these countries.

Thank you very much once more for being patient today, and to the Atlantic Council for their efforts to make this event a success. Thank you. (Applause.)

DAMON WILSON: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much. Is this on? Yes. Thank you very much, Juris, Ambassador Poikāns. I just want to – I won’t prolong us, I just want to thank everyone who’s joined us throughout the proceedings today, particularly thank our speakers who have done just a phenomenal job.

We set out this morning to try to tackle a few key questions. How do we actually formulate a strategy that deters Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, and potentially elsewhere? How do we begin to formulate our own vision for what we want in Europe’s east, our own values and interests in the region? How do we avoid a gray zone of instability in the region? And can we restore the prospect – a credible prospect of a Europe whole and free that includes this region?

What we’re taking away from this – we’ve heard a call for more decisive, determined strategy, a response to what’s unfolding in Ukraine today embedded in a broad strategic response. And I think we’ve taken our homework – we’re going to be working among the team here in the Atlantic Council to extract, borrow, steal many of the ideas that have come across the stage today to help to begin to articulate what that strategy looks like. So we’ll be coming back to tap many of you to remain involved in this process.

And I think one of the key things that I’m taking away from this is that we shouldn’t be focused on how little we can do reluctantly, or what our politics will be able to accept for the short-term, but how much can we do, what can we do to restore in advance our values and interests in this space?

So I just want to offer a final word of thanks. There’s been a terrific team that’s been part of helping to put this together. One of the ministers here said: You have this brilliant group of young people that just run around and get everything done. That’s really true. Many of them are in this room – Simona (sp), Megan (sp), Kate (sp)– and many who are not in this room as well, from Sarah (sp) to Vicente (sp), Paul (sp), Marie (sp), Julie (sp) – our whole team really just has done a fantastic job. (Applause.)

And I want to thank my partner in this effort, Fran Burwell, as well as Ambassador John Herbst, who’s been helping steward this entire effort, and our group of supporters that really made this possible, working with Michael Sawkiw and Paul Grod at the Ukrainian World Congress, with Steve from Frontera Resources, thank you for being here. And finally, most of all, to Juris, Ambassador Poikāns. It’s the Latvian Foreign Ministry and the Latvian embassy that really approached us first and raised the prospect of what we might be able to do on the path to the Riga summit.

We thank you for the opportunity to have built this platform, to have built this debate. And we’re not going to let it go from today. We’re going to continue not only on the path to Riga, but for many years ahead of this. So thank you very much and thank you for giving us your day. (Applause.)