At a meeting of the European Union's General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on May 26 of last year, Poland, seconded by Sweden, first proposed what has come to be known as the Eastern Partnership, a program to 'integrate' all the European and South Caucasus former Soviet nations - except for Russia - not already in the EU and NATO; that is, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The above are half of the former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) established as a sop to Russia immediately after the breakup of the Soviet Union in that year and in theory to be a post-Soviet equivalent of the then European Community, now European Union. (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania never joined and both were absorbed into the European Union and NATO in 2004.)
The Eastern Partnership has since last May been presented as an innocuous enough sounding proposal containing a mission statement to promote "a substantial upgrading of the level of political engagement, including the prospect of a new generation of Association Agreements, far-reaching integration into the EU economy, easier travel to the EU for citizens providing that security requirements are met, enhanced energy security arrangements benefitting all concerned, and increased financial assistance."
(European Union press release, December 3, 2008)
The key phrases, though, are "upgrading of the level of political engagement" and "enhanced energy security arrangements."
What the Eastern Partnership is designed to accomplish is to complete the destruction of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) comprised of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and the only post-Soviet multinational security structure, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), as well as to abort the formalization of the Belarus-Russia Union State.
Which is to say, to isolate Russia from six of the twelve CIS states, with the other five, in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), simultaneoulsy targeted by a complementary EU initiative.
The ultimate intent of the Eastern Partnership is to wean away all the other ex-Soviet states from economic, trade, political, security and military ties with Russia and to integrate them into broader so-called Euro-Atlantic structures from the European Union itself initially to NATO ultimately.
Coming out of last year's NATO summit in Romania the increased political, security and military integration - one is tempted to say merger - of the EU and NATO, trumpeted by France's President Nicholas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, warmly embraced by the Bush administration and since affirmed most strongly by British Foreign Minister David Miliband at the recent Munich Security Conference, is the yet further consolidation of the longstanding EU-NATO "soft power, hard power" division of labor mutually agreed upon.
"[T]he Partnership would demonstrate the 'power of soft power' and acknowledge that the conflict in Georgia in August had influenced the decision to launch the Partnership." (PanArmenian.net, December 11, 2008)
The Eastern Partnership was first proposed in May of 2008 as mentioned earlier, but the impetus to endorse it at a meeting of leaders last December was the 'soft power' response by the EU to complement NATO's establishment of the NATO-Georgia Commission a month after Georgia's invasion of South Ossetia triggered last summer's Caucasus war.
The EU will provide the 'diplomatic' persuasion and the economic subsidies as NATO and its individual member states (in almost every instance in Europe the same as the EU's) continue to supply Georgia with advanced offensive arms, surveillance systems, military training and permanent advisers.
As a further indication of what the EU's true objective is, Belarus has been added to the other five only with the proviso it will be accepted "if it accepts a democracy improvement plan." (PanArmenian.net, December 12, 2008)
The same has not been openly stated regarding Armenia, but for two critical reasons it is in the same category as Belarus, all pabulum concerning democracy notwithstanding. (If democracy in any acceptation of the term was a precondition then the US-installed despot and megalomaniac Mikheil Saakashvili and the hereditary president-for-life dynasty of the Aliev family would disqualify Georgia and Azerbaijan, respectively.)
Armenia and Belarus are both in the second tier of Eastern Partnership candidates and will require a good deal of "improvement" before being absorbed into the West's new "soft power" drive to the east.
Neither is part of the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) anti-CIS bloc set up in 1997 through the joint efforts of the Clinton administration and its secretary of state Madeleine Albright and its European Union allies in Strasburg.
Both are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with Russia and four Central Asian nations (all except for Turkmenistan), which has in recent years taken on a more overt military mutual defense nature.
The deadly "Daffodil Revolution" in Armenia a year ago and the attempted "Denim Revolution" in Belarus two years before having failed to replicate their predecessors and prototypes in Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004 and Kyrgyzstan in 2005, other means were required to "reorientate" the two nations from their close state-to-state and security relations with Russia.