The countries of the Eastern Partnership (EAP) – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine - as well as the Russian Federation are characterized by common structural problems and at the same time diverging development paths. All these countries are democracies according to their own expectations, but many of them often grant restricted levels of freedom to their civil societies. The democratic consolidation in most of them countries is considered as faltering or not yet completed. In the economic sector, the ongoing crisis shows that none of the countries had developed a sustainable strategy for growth and the vulnerability to external shocks stays high. The social situation of the population is consecutively uncertain, young people are often looking for prospects abroad.
The deciding factor for the foreign policy of the EAP countries is the “central position” between the European Union and Russia. In the last 25 years, all six states tried to expand their scope of action through more or less clever maneuvers between both of them, while through the successful completion of the association agreements with the European Union Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia currently seem to be firmly established in the “western camp”, whereas Armenia and Belarus had been looking for connection to the Russian dominating Eurasian Economic Union and at the same time other ways of cooperation with the EU. Only Azerbaijan stays undecided.
Those developments are taking place within an information space, in which even 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union the Russian language stays the lingua franca and therefor Russian-speaking media can have and important impact on formation of opinion in the individual societies.
At the same time, the single states and societies are orienting themselves towards the “centers” Moscow and Brussels, the cross connections between the individual states of the EAP are underdeveloped, in the case of Armenia and Azerbaijan due to the Karabakh conflict even not existing.
Although the paths of development vary widely, there are, based on partially common history and in some sectors likewise structural challenges, multiple starting points for a regional dialogue on matters concerning democratic consolidation, political and social fundamental rights, sustainable economic development as well as peace and security.
The Regional Project “Dialog Eastern Europe” of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung aims to contribute in this context to a bi- and multilateral exchange within the region and lays emphasis on junior experts out of the sociopolitical sector and pursues a cross-national approach with every individual measure.