Hence the need for the Eastern Partnership.
The role of GUAM, whose members are both identified by the EU as the preferred four in the Partnership and who collectively comprise two-thirds, indeed the foundation, of it, will be taken up in depth later on.
As will the simultaneous and complementary Brussels program aimed at Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, itself mirroring US and NATO military and energy plans for Central Asia.
The day after Poland and Sweden first proposed the initiative in May of last year, the British newspaper The Telegraph, under the headline "Poland takes on Russia with 'Eastern Partnership' proposal," wrote that "Poland will take on its mighty neighbour Russia today when it proposes that the European Union extends its influence deep into the former Soviet Union by establishing an 'Eastern Partnership' and more markedly that "The Eastern Partnership would be particularly galling for the Kremlin if its aspiration to include Belarus is achieved." (The Telegraph, May 26, 2008)
Ahead of last December's EU summit where the plans were formalized for the implementation of the Eastern Partnership project at the summit of EU heads of state in March of 2009, this commentary appeared in a Georgian paper:
"[T]his latest EU action could entail another consequence, one that few appear to be thinking about now.
"In the early 1990s, the United States took the lead in pushing the idea that EU membership for East European countries could serve as either a surrogate or a stepping stone to NATO membership.
"If that idea should resurface, and some of its authors will be returning to office with the incoming Obama Administration in Washington, it would change both the EU and NATO and equally would change how Moscow would deal with Brussels, thus introducing yet another complication in East-West relations."
(Georgian Daily, December 8, 2008)
With the Czech Republic poised to take over the presidency of the EU in two days, The Telegraph of Britain accurately characterized not only the subversive but the provocative nature of the Eastern Partnership by indicating that "The Czech Republic, which will become the first former Warsaw Pact country to hold the presidency, has made a priority of a scheme to establish closer ties with former Soviet states, irrespective of Russian concerns of encroachment close to its borders."
It further stated that Czech Foreign Minister Karol Schwarzenberg, coincidentally or otherwise a staunch supporter of US missile radar plans for his country, "stressed that the EU's relations with the former Soviet states were its own affair and that Russia should not interfere." (The Telegraph, December 30, 2008)
To insure that the point wasn't missed in Moscow, Schwarzenberg thundered that Russia should abandon any illusions it might entertain concerning “some privileged interests abroad” and, throwing down the gauntlet altogether, “in such cases a red line must be established beyond which the EU must not make concessions.” (Black Sea Press [Georgia], December 30, 2008)
The Czech foreign minister evinced a curious sense of geography in his use of the word abroad, as Russia borders Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine and is only one nation removed from Armenia and Moldova, whereas his own government is pressing for the deployment of missile radar facilities and troops from the other side of the world and has troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As though in anticipation of Schwarzenberg's diktat, two weeks earlier Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned "[W]e cannot agree when attempts are being made to pass off the historically conditioned mutually privileged relations between the states in the former Soviet expanse as a 'sphere of influence,'" adding "If you accept that logic, then under this definition fall the European Neighborhood Policy, Eastern Partnership and many other EU (let alone NATO) projects, on which the decisions are taken without the participation of Russia or countries to which they apply."
(Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, December 15, 2008)
Just two days ago the last US ambassador to the Soviet Union [1987-1991], Jack Matlock, "explained Russian motivations and highlighted what he considered to be American hypocrisy in geopolitical affairs. While America has claimed nearly monopolistic power in the Western Hemisphere for 200 years, Matlock said, it has increasingly denied Russia its own regional sphere of influence since the fall of the Soviet Union. The West has been picking and choosing which principles to uphold.” (Yale Daily News, February 12, 2009)
To backtrack, a month after the initial proposal for the establishment of the Eastern Partnership in May of 2008 Polish Foreign Minister Radoslav Sikorski called the Partnership “the practical and ideological continuation of the European Neighbourhood Policy”, which should become a supplement to the Mediterranean Union...." (InfoTag [Moldova], June 26, 2008)