agree the decisions at Vilnius will be highly consequential. But we
do not really know what we want the decisions to be. And we probably
have profound disagreements even in this room about what we expect to
achieve with these decisions, either at the Vilnius Summit or in the
future of the Eastern Partnership.
the Vilnius Summit is the first occasion the EU has ever had to make
any decision on the Eastern Partnership itself since its founding on
May 7, 2009 in Prague. Over the past four years experts have focused
on facets of the problem (values vs. interests, Orange or Blue,
Russia or Europe) and neglected the context for the Eastern Question
as a whole. I want to step back and look at how the EU and Eastern
Partners have arrived at this crossroads in Vilnius and how the key
questions have been framed.
The Eastern Partnership was not, as most people suppose, an
altruistic response to the weakness of the smaller, post-Soviet
states. It was Western Europe’s response to the deficiencies of
its institutions and its loss of influence in the East. On April 4,
2008, NATO’s MAP had collapsed at the Bucharest Summit with the
rejection of Georgia and Ukraine and in a bitter dispute between the
US and Germany. In response to the institutional vacuum which then
spread throughout Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, Radek Sikorski and
Carl Bildt pitched the Eastern Partnership to the European Union less
than sixty days after the disaster in Bucharest.