News / Europe

Europe Raises Stakes With Tour of Former Soviet States

Europe Raises Stakes With Tour of Former Soviet Statesi
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 14, 2014 9:40 PM
The President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy visited Georgia Wednesday - the latest stop on a tour of former Soviet states which aim to sign Association Agreements with the European Union. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, analysts say the agreements are likely to cause further friction between Moscow and the West.
Henry Ridgwell
The President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy visited Georgia Wednesday - the latest stop on a tour of former Soviet states which aim to sign Association Agreements with the European Union. Analysts say the agreements are likely to cause further friction between Moscow and the West.

Herman van Rompuy met Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili Wednesday in Tbilisi - and pledged that the EU would sign an Association Agreement by the end of June, a first step on the road to EU membership.

“Georgia at this time is not so much under threat, but it can be the case as so we are here to support them to show that they are not alone, that the EU, the 28 Members States are with them and that we have a common future,” said van Rompuy.

In 2008 Russia and Georgia fought a war over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia - which Moscow later recognized as independent.

Europe and the West fear Moscow is plotting a similar scenario in eastern Ukraine, where separatists held a referendum Sunday on independence. The result was overwhelmingly in favor of breaking away from Kyiv. Critics called the polls illegitimate.

Prior to his Tbilisi visit, van Rompuy was given a guard-of-honor welcome in Moldova Tuesday. The former Soviet-controlled state is due to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union on June 27.

It’s a sign the West is not stepping back, said Nicholas Redman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“The signing of those Association Agreements is the signal that the Europeans are taking this seriously, that they are not shrinking back, that they are prepared to contest with Russia for influence and primacy across the former Soviet space,” he said.

Moldova’s alliance with the EU is complicated by the pro-Russian breakaway region of Transdniestra, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine.

The region declared independence in 1990 - but has not been recognized by any other state. Over a thousand Russian troops are deployed on the territory.

Speaking in April, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Transdniestrans should not be forced to follow Moldova’s lead.

Putin said there is a large number of Russian citizens living in Transdniestria. People have their own understanding how they should build their future, their fate, he said. And that is nothing else but a manifestation of democracy if we allow to those people to do what they want.

The recent violence between pro-Russian and pro-Kyiv supporters in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa has focused attention on Russia’s links to Transdniestra, says Orysia Lutsevych of policy institute Chatham House.

“Because of the level of corruption we’ve seen in Ukraine, it [Odessa] was one of the hubs also for smuggling and trade for the territories including Transdniestra," said Lutsevych. "And we see some of the roots connecting through the southern corridor, from Transdniestra through Odessa to Russia.”

Through signing the Association Agreements next month with Georgia, Moldova and possibly Ukraine, Europe hopes to seal the former Soviet states within its orbit of influence. Analysts say Russia is unlikely to allow a smooth transition.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs