The objective is to trace the movement of any former Soviet Republics towards joining the EU.
In the final decades of its existence, the Soviet Union consisted of fifteen Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR), often called simply Soviet Republics. Within the USSR they were also called union republics (Russian: союзные республики, soyuznye respubliki). All of them were considered to be socialist republics, and all of them, with the exception of the Russian SFSR, had their own Communist parties, part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. All of the former Republics are now independent countries, with twelve of them (all except the Baltic states) being very loosely organized under the heading of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The republics and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The republics played an important role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Throughout the late 1980s, the Soviet government attempted to find a new structure, which would reflect the increasing power of the republics. These efforts proved unsuccessful, and in 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed as the republic governments seceded. The republics then all became independent states, with the post-Soviet governments in most cases consisting largely of the government personnel of the former Soviet republics.
EU EXPANDED THE ZONE
The EU expanded the zone to embrace the eastern and central European countries that joined in 2004 -- Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The nine, including three former Soviet republics, joined 15 already enjoying the benefits under the Schengen agreement. In addition, Switzerland has signed up to the Schengen agreement and is set to implement it next year. Britain and Ireland are the only EU countries to have so far opted out.
TEN COUNTRIES JOINED THE EU
On 1 May 2004, the Czech Republic, together with nine other East European and Mediterranean countries, joined the European Union (EU) as an EU member. This has aided the country in further integrating with Western European and world economies.
A total of 10 countries joined the EU on 1 May 2004, namely Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
But Central Europe's economic results are impressive only by EU standards. From 2000 to 2005, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary grew on average by 4 percent a year, compared with 8 percent a year in the 15 former Soviet republics. Admittedly, the Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are EU members, and they perform well, with growth rates of around 8 percent a year, balanced budgets, low flat taxes, and moderate public expenditures.
On May 1, 2004 10 new members joined the European Union: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta, and parts of Cyprus. The new entrants are expected to have equal political standing, yet it will take some time before they become equal economic partners.
Attendees at the Ethics Center meeting raised questions concerning the inclusion of Russia, the free movement of workers, agricultural subsidies, and the relationship between the EU and NATO. Russia was wary of the Baltic States joining the organization and will object to any other former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Belarus joining EU and/or NATO.
THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU)
The European Union (EU) was created by six founding states in 1957 (following the earlier establishment by the same six states of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952) and has grown to 27 member states. There have been five enlargements, with the largest occurring on May 1, 2004, when 10 new member states joined, and the most recent on January 1, 2007, when Bulgaria and Romania joined. Currently, accession negotiations are underway with several states. The process of enlargement is sometimes referred to as European integration.
In order to join the European Union, a state needs to fulfill the economic and political conditions generally known as the Copenhagen criteria. That requires a secular, democratic government, rule of law and corresponding freedoms and institutions. According to the EU Treaty, each current member state and the European Parliament have to agree to any enlargement.
FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the former Soviet republics of Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus have been looked upon as potential candidates for EU enlargement. Russia itself has also been brought up for consideration as well as Kazakhstan. However, these states will probably remain outside the Union, at least for a significant amount of time. They are not currently on any enlargement agenda as the Union is currently focused on the Balkan states and Turkey.
The South Caucasus states of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan have been the site of much instability in the 1990s. Currently, there seems to be a feeling of hope in the region's future. Their EU membership would be conditional on the political assessment by the European Council about whether or not they are considered European. Nevertheless all three states are admitted as full members into the Council of Europe (like Cyprus) after similar assessment process.
It is unclear as to when they may move towards membership but they are part of the European Neighbourhood Policy and are often referred to as part of "a wider Europe". Since their only land contact with European states is through Russia and Turkey, it is possible that they would only join after Turkey did so first. However, on January 12, 2002, the European Parliament noted that Armenia and Georgia may enter the EU in the future regardless.
Many political factions of Ukraine advocate joining the EU and developing ties with Europe. However, some in the EU are more doubtful concerning Ukraine's prospects. In 2002, EU Expansion Commissioner Günter Verheugen said that "a European perspective" for Ukraine does not necessarily mean membership in 10 or 20 years, however, that does not mean it is not a possibility.
For the time being, Ukraine will most likely develop intermediate relations with the EU as it is strongly backed by all major political forces in Poland, an EU member with strong historical ties with Ukraine (through the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth). On January 13, 2005 the European Parliament almost unanimously (467 votes to 19 in favour) passed a motion stating the wish of the European Parliament to establish closer ties with Ukraine with the possibility of EU membership. Though there is still a long way to go before negotiations about EU membership can start, the European Commission has stated that future EU membership will not be ruled out.
A poll of the six largest EU nations conducted by a French research company showed that the European public would be more likely to accept Ukraine as a future EU member than any other country that is not currently an official candidate. In October 2005, Commission president José Manuel Barroso said that the future of Ukraine is in the EU.
Georgia's current President Mikheil Saakashvili, has expressed a desire for Georgia to join the EU. This view has been explicitly expressed on several occasions as links to the United States, EU and NATO have been strengthened in an attempt to move away from the Russian sphere of influence. Georgia is considered the most favoured Caucasus country to join the EU, especially after the Rose Revolution, but territorial disputes and corruption are still an issue. It has not, as yet, applied for EU membership, but the President has said the country would be ready in three years' time.
Several Armenian officials have expressed the desire for their country to eventually become an EU member state, some predicting that it will make an official bid for membership in a few years. However, the current president, Robert Kocharyan, has said he will keep Armenia tied to Russia and the CSTO for now, remaining partners, not members of the EU and NATO.
Public opinion in Armenia suggests the move for membership would be welcomed, with 64% out of a sample of 2,000 being in favour and only 11.8% being against.
Azerbaijan, a majority-Shia Muslim but secular country with a Turkic population, would need to overcome several obstacles in order to be considered a potential EU candidate. Azerbaijan's vast military spending and the warlike rhetoric of the country's leadership are becoming somewhat of an alarm to the EU, which wishes to ease tensions in the area. These are the main obstacles ahead of a possible EU application from Azerbaijan. The country itself has not expressed a desire to join the EU but it is not unreasonable to assume that integration could be delayed, with Azerbaijan likely facing difficulties similar to Turkey's.
In an article published to Italian media on 26 May 2002 he said that the next step in Russia's growing integration with the West should be EU membership. At present, however, the prospect of Russia joining the EU any time in the near future is slim. Analysts have commented that Russia is "decades away" from qualifying for EU membership.
Kazakhstan, which has a portion of its territory in Europe, is considered a European nation by the Council of Europe, the subject of joining the EU has not yet been even remotely discussed. The Kazakh Foreign Ministry has also expressed interest in the European Neighbourhood Policy.
Accession to the EU has exerted direct and indirect influences on economic and social policy reforms in the Baltic States and the changing role of the state. Joining the EU resulted in the shift of resources to the regulatory functions of the state, redirection of public expenditures, and relative lack of attention to reforms of the policies (education, health care, social support) and essential state functions (contract enforcement, law and order) which are not directly under the competence of the EU. Additionally, competition from China and India has added another dimension to the debates about economic policies, in particular external trade, of the EU and its member states.
ROMANIA AND BULGARIA TO JOIN EU
The final stage in the EU's historic "big bang" enlargement of 2004 was completed today when the European commission announced that Romania and Bulgaria would be allowed to join on January 1 next year."Our conclusion is that both countries are in the position to take on the rights and obligations of EU membership on January 1 2007," he told MEPs to applause.
"The accession of Romania and Bulgaria will mark an historic achievement: the completion of the fifth enlargement of the European Union will further pursue the reunification of our European family." The announcement closes the final chapter on the 2004 enlargement of the EU when eight former Warsaw Pact countries - plus Malta and Cyprus - joined.
Today's announcement means that every Warsaw Pact country outside the former Soviet Union - bar Albania - will be a member the EU by January 1. So far only three former Soviet republics - the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - have been allowed in.
The EU delayed Romania and Bulgaria's EU membership by nearly three years amid deep concerns about their failure to crack down on organised crime and corruption - and fears about their criminal justice systems. Such fears were highlighted today when the commission announced that it would impose a series of restrictions on both countries, with the toughest penalties falling on Bulgaria.
The strong criticisms in today's report will strengthen the hand of critics who say that Romania and Bulgaria are not ready to join the EU. But the commission will argue that allowing them to join in January - given that its only sanction is a year long delay until 2008 - is the best way of encouraging reform. A delay would, the commission believes, be a gift to EU critics in Romania and Bulgaria.
The EU's rules are currently covered by the Nice treaty, which sets a cap on the number of members at 27. This will be reached in January. Croatia, which is next in line to join, will now have to wait until the EU decides what to do with its constitution.
On Sept. 26, the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, announced that the Balkan-duo would be allowed to enter the EU on Jan. 1, 2007. The argument that EU membership will deeply anchor democracy, the rule of law, and the free market economy in the new member states and will enhance regional stability is not bound to time and space. Logically, it could be applied to all the countries on the European continent that have displayed interest in eventually joining the ranks of the EU — so not only to Bulgaria and Romania, and before them Poland, the Baltic States, and all the other countries that joined the EU in 2004 (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia), but also to Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Moldova, Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and, after dictator Aleksandr Lukachenko's voluntary or forced retirement, Belarus.
"The upcoming enlargement with Bulgaria and Romania will be the last stage of enlargement allowing the reunification of Europe. There are limits to our absorption capacity." An institutional agreement among its current members should precede further EU-enlargement, the president of the commission added in the European Parliament.
All the new EU members are Protestant or Catholic, while all the former Soviet republics to the east are Orthodox or Muslim.
But as the former Soviet satellites of Central and Eastern Europe join major Western institutions while Russia and the other former Soviet republics do not, a new dividing line is being drawn in Europe, separating a unified Europe from its eastern neighbors. The resulting political geography looks a lot like a map from Huntington’s book.
In the less than 15 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, “New Europe,” namely the non-Soviet states and the Baltics, have diverged dramatically from the former Soviet Union. Economically, the 15 new European nations have largely recovered from the depression that followed the end of central planning and are on track to lead growth in Europe over the coming decade.
Ten are already in NATO, and the rest could conceivably join in the next decade. Eight have joined the European Union, two more are targeted to join in 2007, and the rest have real possibilities to join in the future. Most will be using the euro as currency within a decade.
In contrast, most of the former Soviet states have not yet recovered from the economic and political collapses following the end of the communist regime. All of the countries of New Europe are either EU members already or can expect to join, if they meet EU standards. Non-members like Croatia and Albania have a clear road map to Western integration; Ukraine and Armenia do not.
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF EU ACCESSION
The EU accession process is both a result and a cause of the New Europe’s relative success in making the political and economic transition from the Soviet bloc. Part of the reason why they have been invited to join the European Union is that they have done well in creating democratic states and re-orienting their economies to the marketplace. But, equally, part of the reason why they have done as well as they have is their expectation of EU membership.
There are many practical aspects to the prospect of EU membership: increased trade links, encouragement of foreign investment, a common currency, legal access to Western labor markets, common rules, and substantial financial aid.
Expansion of the European Union and NATO clearly made a big, positive impact in New Europe. Expansion to the former Soviet states may not be possible or even desirable. But what is the alternative? Now that New Europe and Old Europe have ended their Cold War division, this is the next big question for the continent.
FORMER SOVIET COUNTRIES: A RETURN TO THE OLD WAYS?
Some precarious gains
Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia, all due to join the EU on 1 May 2004, respected press freedom. But in most of them, laws punishing defamation and perceived insults frequently hampered journalists in their work and gave undue protection to the authorities. Events in Romania, which hopes to join the EU in 2007, were disturbing however. Four journalists investigating corruption among local officials of the ruling party were badly beaten.
Lithuania signed an Association (Europe) Agreement on 12 June 1995 and began negotiations to join the EU in March 2002. Negotiations were completed on 13 December 2002. Lithuania signed the EU Accession Treaty in April 2003 and joined the EU on 1 May 2004.
An important step forward in relations with Russia was the signature of a border agreement on 24 October 1997. Lithuania was the first former Soviet republic to conclude such an agreement.
Brussels offers favoured status to boost former Soviet republics
THE EUROPEAN Union reached out to three former Soviet republics in the Caucasus yesterday, promising new ties to boost economic growth and tackle illegal migration and organised crime. The EU already has a programme of co-operation with Russia, Ukraine and a host of other nations.
ENLARGEMENT AT A GLANCE
The European Union welcomed ten new Member States on 1 May, 2004, including three former Soviet republics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), four former satellites of the USSR (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), a former Yugoslav republic (Slovenia) and two Mediterranean islands (Cyprus and Malta).
Countries joining the European Union must adopt and implement the entire body of legislation of the European Communities - often referred to as the acquis communautaire - upon accession.
The EU has now undergone six successive enlargements:
- 1973 Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom
- 1981 Greece
- 1986 Portugal and Spain
- 1995 Austria, Finland and Sweden
- 2004 The Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia
- 2007 Bulgaria, Romania
Lithuania is the largest of the three Baltic states that joined the EU May 1, but very nearly the poorest. Lithuania's insurance sector has bloomed late; it was the last of the EU's new members to make auto third-party liability mandatory.
The European Union has granted Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey the status of candidate-member countries. Bulgaria and Romania are expected to join the European Union in 2007, whereas Turkey hopes to receive a preliminary entry year by the end of 2004. If so, this will most likely be a year in the mid 2010s. Moreover, the European Union has identified the countries of the West Balkans region, including former Yugoslav republics, as potential candidates.
On May 1, 2004, the fourth major enlargement occurred when ten countries joined the European Union all at once: the three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), five countries in Central and Eastern Europe (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia), and two Mediterranean mini-states (Cyprus and Malta).
On 1 January 2007 Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU increasing the number of Member States to twenty seven. Slovenia became the thirteenth country to adopt the Euro.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 8, 1991, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was founded, consisting of Russia, White Russia and the Ukraine. On December 21 of the same year a further eight former Soviet republics joined the CIS—the states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenia and Uzbekistan.
For Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, meanwhile, the prospect of joining NATO looks more attractive than waiting for the EU. Nineteen months after it achieved its cherished goal of joining the European Union, one might even characterize Estonia as the un-Europe. Estonia became the first country to adopt it in 1994, as part of a broader strategy to transform itself from an obscure Soviet republic into a plugged-in member of the global information economy.
Source: A Land of Northern Lights.pdf
By joining the European Union (EU) and NATO, the three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—clearly signaled that they did not want to be within Russia’s sphere of influence.
After intense negotiations, Russia and the EU signed a joint statement in which Russia agreed to extend the PCA’s provisions to the 10 new members of the EU.