December 1991: Soviet Union is collapsing, due to its intrinsic inconsistencies, and its dissidences. Immediately, all its former satellites: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova express their strong wishes to join the European Union!
May 2004-January 2007: Europe celebrates the EU accession of these former communist countries within its enlarged club.
Have all acceeded the EU? No. Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova have remained on the fringes, without any perspective of joining the prosperous European club. Having missed such path to accession, these undiscovered Republics have fallen in autocracy, in economic crisis, and in social despair. Orange or Blue, the people’s Revolutions have come to a sudden end.
20 years on, Central Europe and the Baltic States continue their democratic and economic integration into the EU, in the face of all vicissitudes. European Parliament has been chaired by a Polish President and Poland has just chaired over all of the EU. Today, these Eastern Republics have become our new direct neighbours, in the EU-27. Their precariousness, their instability are from now on our own insecurities.
What a contrast with their neighbours and former cousins of the communist world! On this Eastern front, Moldova and Ukraine are collapsing from near bankruptcy and the weight of their internal divisions… In Belarus, the regime in Minsk increasingly imprisons its population in the “last dictatorship of Europe”. Georgia and Russia are reactivating the cold war, following a lightning and murderous conflict…
Regarding the ‘return to Europe’, why was there such a contrast between Central-Baltic Europe and Eastern Europe. Was it confounded… or contested? Were the republics of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova too distant from the EU-12 who were so focused on the West… or too close to Russia whose attention was riveted on its “near abroad”?
And how to foresee their future... Which means our own one as well? Is there any alternative to the EU accession for these countries? And, if joining the EU – which stands for their first wish – was finally as much valuable for these States... as for the whole EU... and up to Russia itself ?