Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski argues compellingly in last week’s Wall Street Journal for the deepening of EU cooperation with six Eastern and South Caucasus States — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The Eastern Partnership, conceived by Poland and formally constituted under the Czech Presidency of the EU this year, aims to develop political and trade links with these strategically important states which lie between Europe and Russia. Free trade and visa liberalization stand on the far horizon as incentives for the democratization of normalization of relations between them and Europe.
Although this is an EU initiative, the United States does not have to stand on the sidelines. It has the option of complementing this diplomatic initiative by throwing its political weight behind the granting of NATO’s membership action plan to Georgia and Ukraine. It can also work with the EU to ensure energy and transportation corridors to bring the Nabucco gas pipeline to fruition. Finally, it can elevate its relationships with Poland and the Czech Republic while increasing transatlantic security by funding deployment of the third site missile defense installations in Europe.
Warsaw and Prague have set an EU agenda toward its neighborhood that has the potential to better engage and positively develop relations in these key states. The Obama Administration has said that it will use its diplomatic power in smarter ways; underpinning the EU initiative multilaterally through NATO and bilaterally with Poland and the Czech Republic would be really smart.