This page was archived on October 2020.


European security issues

19 - Relations with Russia on protracted conflicts

Grade: C+
Unity 4/5
Resources 3/5
Outcome 3/10
Total 10/20
Scorecard 2010/11: C+ (10/20)

Protracted conflicts in the South Caucasus are not a priority for the EU. The EU engaged Russia in a dialogue on Transnistria but took no initiative on the conflicts in Georgia or Nagorno-Karabakh.

The EU’s goal is to meaningfully engage Russia in mediation and resolution of thethree protracted conflicts that continue to affect four Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova. The efforts on Transnistria begun by Germany in 2010 have brought progress in terms of re-launching the official talks between all involved parties. However, officials in Berlin see progress as insufficient. The EU’s offer of setting up a joint EU–Russia Political and Security Committee in exchange for substantial progress on conflict settlement in Transnistria was apparently not attractive enough to entice the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, the EU has achieved virtually no progress in co-operation with Russia on the other two conflicts in the neighbourhood. While Germany has taken the initiative on Transnistria, there was no high-level engagement by the EU or its member states on the conflicts in either Georgia or Nagorno-Karabakh. While EU member states agree that Russia is both part of the problem and an integral part of the solution of these conflicts, few member states apart from the Czech Republic, Lithuania (which held the OSCE chairmanship) and Poland made the effort to push Russia to follow through on its commitments such as withdrawal to its pre-2008 war positions in the provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Other states are only sporadically involved: during his visit to Tbilisi in October 2011, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Russia to fulfil its part of the ceasefire agreement and “stop the occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia”, but Moscow made no official response.

The EU’s monitoring mission in Georgia, whose mandate lasts until September 2012, is still denied access to both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In October 2011, the Polish and Swedish foreign ministers suggested in a non-paper that the EU should boost co-operation with its eastern neighbours on security issues, including collaboration on CSDP missions. While it is too early to assess the impact of the initiative, Moscow is unlikely to greet it with enthusiasm.

Member States
Leaders:  Czech Republic - France - Germany - Lithuania - Poland - Romania - Sweden
Slackers: Belgium - Cyprus - Italy