EU's eastern neighbors may not to receive proper attention during Polish presidency

EU's eastern neighbors may not to receive proper attention during Polish presidency

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 30 /Trend, E.Ostapenko/

Poland is interested in the promotion and development of the eastern dimension of the European Neighborhood Policy, but the political process and military actions in the Arab countries of the Mediterranean can prevent it, experts say.

"It is clear that there is potential danger that the Eastern dimension of the EU policy will not receive the full attention it should have, because of the dramatic processes in the EU Southern Neighborhood," Thomas Klau, Head of the Paris Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Trend.

On Friday, Poland will receive the six-month EU Council presidency - one of the governing bodies of the European Union. Poland replaces Hungary in this post.

According to expert, like Denmark and Cyprus, which will take the presidency in 2012, Poland is interested in the stable European neighbourhood and successful Policy European Neighbourhood Policy.

"At the same time, it is clear that with the Euro zone crisis, as well as transformation, sometimes peaceful, sometimes violent, that is happening in the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean, said Klau. These are very important and dramatic processes, which capture a lot of leaders' attention. The attention which leaders have is by definition limited, because it is a matter of making time to discuss them and address them."

Massive protests in recent months have covered a number of Arab states and led to the downfall of the ruling regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. Currently, in addition to Libya, the riots continue in Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain and Syria. Anti-government protests were also held in Algeria and Jordan.

A Polish analyst on European policy Piotr Kaczyński does not believe that one of the dimensions of European foreign policy will outshine the other one.

"Of course, the situation in the Southern Mediterranean is on many peoples' mind. It is exactly for countries like Poland, which does not want to forget about countries in the East, to keep the momentum going. And they will keep the momentum going," said Kaczyński, analyst at the Center for European Policy Studies.

Eastern direction of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) covers Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. ENP is the first unified EU policy with respect to its eastern neighbors, aimed at involving them in a closer and deeper relationship.

The mechanisms of the ENP, which has been acting since 2004, and the Eastern Partnership, which was founded in 2009, have enabled to significantly diversify and deepen the cooperation of the EU with eastern neighbors.

The initiators of the Eastern Partnership were Poland and Sweden. The program offers partner countries to facilitate the visa regime, energy cooperation, the introduction of free trade zones. Small projects on student exchange, environmental protection and energy supply will also be carried out as part of the program.

"Poland and all the other member-states are strategically involved and deeply engaged in remembering all dimensions of European foreign policy, not just Southern Mediterranean one, not just the Eastern European one, but the strategic relations with the United States, China, Russia, relations with developing nations," said Kaczyński.

Under the program, adopted in late May, the main task of the Polish presidency is to lead the EU towards economic development and political unity. To achieve these goals, Poland will focus on the three main priorities: "European integration as a source of development", "Secure Europe", "The benefits for Europe in openness to new ideas".

Polish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Michal Labenda considers balance in foreign policy the optimal decision.

"Eastern Partnership assumes a great interest for the Polish presidency. However, we do not want the Eastern Partnership program to develop to the detriment of any other program or to the detriment of EU relations with other countries during the Polish EU presidency. We need an optimal balance between the southern and eastern directions of the EU external policy," Labenda said in an interview with Trend.

A good opportunity to promote this initiative would be the summit of Eastern Partnership in late September, he said. Of course, the summit is an important political event that will enable to meet all leaders of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership countries, said the Ambassador.

Heads of EU member states and partner countries were to meet in May in Budapest during the Hungarian presidency. But due to the fact that the summit coincided with other important international conferences, it was decided to postpone it for four months.

According to the ambassador, Eastern Partnership summit will be another good push for the development of this initiative.

It is impossible to imagine a better advocate for Azerbaijan and generally for the South Caucasus than Poland, said Labenda.

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