This page was archived on October 2020.


Eastern Neighbourhood

22 - Rule of law, democracy, and human rights in the eastern neighbourhood

Grade: B+
Unity 4/5
Resources 3/5
Outcome 8/10
Total 15/20
Scorecard 2012: C (8/20)
Scorecard 2013: C (8/20)
Scorecard 2014: C+ (9/20)

There has been obvious, but difficult, progress in Ukraine. The picture elsewhere in the region is less positive. 

Ukraine saw democratic breakthroughs in 2014. These were domestic in origin, but the EU provided essential support. Despite massive Russian military and economic pressure, Ukraine held presidential elections in May and parliamentary elections in October, which were largely given a clean bill of health by the OSCE’s ODIHR. Slovakia has played a coordinating role in pressing for political reform on behalf of EU states. An EU advisory mission on civilian security sector reform, with 50 experts and a budget of €13 million, began its two-year mandate in December. While the importance of security sector reform is not in doubt, the timing of this mission is questionable.

Annexed Crimea has been dispossessed of democracy. Sham elections in September followed the sham referendum in March, and the 270,000-strong Crimean Tatar community face human rights abuses and the threat that their religious and political organisations will be banned and replaced by pro-Russian alternatives. A similar lack of democracy exists in the Donbas, alongside insecurity and a looming humanitarian disaster.

Moldova held elections in November, which were marred by the last-minute banning of the pro-Russian Patria party, and entrenched vested interests remain strong. In Georgia, selective and blatantly political prosecutions have become increasingly common and obviously targeted against the opposition United National Movement. Local elections in June were competitive, but resulted in a clean sweep for the ruling party, Georgian Dream, and a new round of charges came immediately afterwards.

There was talk of liberalisation in Armenia, where the ruling class, which is traditionally linked to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, is growing old in office. Azerbaijan, however, has used the crisis to crack down hard on activists and domestic and foreign-funded NGOs while the world’s attention has been elsewhere. Azerbaijan’s position as Chair of the Council of Europe provided a convenient cover story. In Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka has used the crisis to widen his political base and has won some support from nationalists anxious about statehood.