Workshop in Tbilisi, 20-21 November 2017

As part of the Horizon2020 project EU-STRAT –The EU and Eastern Partnership Countries: An Inside Out Analysis and Strategic Assessment – Katharina Hoffmann and Ole Frahm from the University of St Gallen conducted a workshop in Tbilisi on 20-21 November 2017 with mostly young researchers and practitioners from five Eastern Partnership region countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine). In addition to the main objective of jointly developing a common framework for event data collection on Eastern Partnership countries’ bilateral relations with Turkey, another key aim was to transfer knowledge on best practices of social science methods.

In organizing and running the workshop which took place at Fabrika, a converted former sewing factory, the team from St Gallen cooperated closely with the Caucasus Research Resource Center in Tbilisi with whom the university had already collaborated as part of the FP7 project ISSICEU ( The meeting in Georgia therefore also served to strengthen and enlarge an existing network of researchers from the region. Befitting the occasion, the conversation at the closing dinner was held in a mixture of German, English, Russian and Turkish.

A follow-up event is planned for 2018 to ensure that all participants can make ample use of the data both during the project and beyond.

Seventh EU-STRAT Working Paper is out!

Working paper / November 2017

EU-STRAT’s seventh working paper is out. Click on the paper title below to download PDF.

Working Paper No.7 (2017): Assessing Legal and Political Compatibility between the European Union Engagement Strategies and Membership of the Eurasian Economic Union

Rilka Dragneva, Laure Delcour and Laurynas Jonavicius


One of the challenges to EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) policy relates to structuring cooperation with countries
that have opted for membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), such as Belarus and Armenia, while
avoiding the problems faced in the Ukraine crisis of 2013-2014. Acting on its revised European Neighbourhood
Policy, the EU has sought to develop differentiated and flexible tools of engagement with the EaP countries,
including a new type of agreement with Armenia, the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement
(CEPA). Delivering on this agenda, however, requires clarity on the constraints and limits imposed by membership
in the EAEU. The EU has tended to establish such limits by reliance on the technocratic analysis of current
obligations contained in formal legal agreements.

Yet, as revealed by the Ukraine crisis, this approach has not necessarily reflected the geopolitical realities in the region and Russia’s view of integration and its compatibility with EU’s policies, in particular. This paper argues that establishing the limits imposed by EAEU membership requires an assessment of the range of legal as well as non-legal levers at play in individual member states in relation to Russia’s integration projects. What matters is how Russia as well as its Eurasian partners play the ‘integration game’, and the degree to which political elites in Belarus and Armenia can manoeuvre a space for independent engagement with the EU. This is necessary because of the particular nature of the EAEU, defined by a mixture between current and future commitments, problematic institutional boundaries between delegated
powers and members’ commitments, and the prevalence of power relations within a highly asymmetric huband-spoke
context. In this context, Russia has a continued ability to interpret the nature of the commitments undertaken and their compatibility with overlapping international agreements, and enforce it using critical interdependencies of the members.

We examine how the ‘compatibility space’ is negotiated by elites in Belarus and Armenia, and elaborate on the case of CEPA as the most recent test to complementarity of integration
engagements in the region.

Dialogue with H2020 Project FEUTURE

On 19 October 2017 EU-STRAT researchers from the University of St. Gallen have attended the mid-term conference of the H2020 project FEUTURE ( to start dialogue on Turkey-related research. FEUTURE , a collaborative project on Turkey-EU relations, and EU-STRAT pursue complementary research in the field of Turkey-EU relations in the shared neighbourhood, including the South Caucasus, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.

On the panel “What kind of f(e)uture scenarios?” Katharina Hoffmann presented first EU-STRAT results on how Turkey´s role in the shared neighbourhood should inform EU-Turkey collaboration in foreign policy matters.

The panel was moderated by Piotr Zalewski (The Economist).

Nathalie Tocci (Scientific Coordinator, IAI), Javier Nino Peres (EEAS), Nilgün Arisan Eralp (TEPAV) and Katharina Hoffmann (University of St. Gallen) discussed different options of how to frame EU-Turkey relations in the future.

EU-STRAT’s Midterm Conference took place in Vilnius!

EU-STRAT’s Midterm Conference took place last week from 5-6 October at our partner institute, Vilnius University, in Lithuania. Keynote speeches from Leszek Balcerowicz (Warsaw School of Economics & former advisor to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko) and Vassilis Maragos (European Commission, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations) started off two days of discussions on how interdependencies shape social orders, usage of EU and Russian soft power, and the strategies of external actors in the Eastern Partnership countries, amongst other research topics of EU-STRAT.

Leszek Balcerowicz (Professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, Former Advisor to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko)

Vassilis Maragos (European Commission, Head of Unit, DG Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR))

Andrius Kubilius (former Prime Minister of Lithuania)

Khatuna Salukvadze (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Lithuania)

Coordinator Tanja A. Börzel  (FU Berlin)

Co-Coordinator Antoaneta Dimitrova (Leiden University)

EU-STRAT’s Midterm Conference forthcoming in October 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania


EU-STRAT’s midterm conference will take place from October 5-6, 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The conference sets out to present the intermediary findings of our research project EU-STRAT that set out to provide a re-assessment of the European Neighbourhood Policy, focusing on the Eastern Partnership countries.

The midterm conference features a welcoming word by Linas Linkevičius (Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania), a keynote speech by Leszek Balcerowicz (Professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, Former Advisor to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko) and Vassilis Maragos (European Commission, Head of Unit, DG Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR)) followed by roundtable discussion on the future of the Eastern Partnership. Throughout the conference, all project partners, invited guests, and the interested public will have the opportunity to discuss EU-STRAT’s intermediary findings and debate its future research agenda.

Please find the programme of the event here (last update 26 September 2017).

Please follow this link to register for the conference.

For further information on the conference, please contact Eglė Kontvainė (


Sixth EU-STRAT Working Paper is out!

Working paper / September 2017

EU-STRAT’s sixth working paper is out. Click on the paper title below to download PDF.

Working Paper No.6 (2017): The Association Agreements as a Dynamic Framework: Between Modernization and Integration

Kataryna Wolczuk, Laure Delcour, Rilka Dragneva, Klaudijus Maniokas, Darius Žeruolis




The EU has concluded the Association Agreements (AAs) with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. These are very ambitious, complex and comprehensive legal treaties. The AAs have a dual purpose: to enable political cooperation and economic integration with the EU and promote modernization of the partner countries. The key instrument in achieving these goals is the ‘export of the acquis’: the partner countries have taken on extensive, binding commitments to adopt the vast sways of the acquis.

In this paper, however, we argue that the transformative role of the acquis on its own have not been tested and hence should not be overstated ex ante. In our view, for the AAs to achieve their objectives, it is imperative to recognise this underlying challenge and develop strategies to address the fundamental ‘commitment-capacity gap’ in the partner countries.

Against this backdrop, we investigate to what extent EU’s strategy focuses on the narrowly defined legal approximation versus broader support for strengthening state capacity. In the empirical part of the paper we examine specific measures adopted to close the ‘commitment-capacity’ gap of the partner country. Our analyses indicate that only in the case of Ukraine have some deliberate, pro-active adaptations taken place. The dramatic events of 2014 and Russia’s punitive measures against Ukraine prompted the EU to provide more tailored and flexible assistance to ensure support for institutional reforms, as a precondition for legal approximation. In Moldova, the EU has confronted the fundamental weakness of the state only as a result of the 2014 banking scandal. In Georgia, it seems that the EU is conducting ‘business as usual’, although there is some early evidence that it has started to take into account the developmental needs of the partner country. The limited appreciation of the challenges and resulting adaptions so far has implications in terms of the implementation of the AA and, more importantly, the actual transformative power of the EU in the Eastern neighbourhood.

Third EU-STRAT newsletter is available!

Newsletter / September 2017

We have just released  EU-STRAT’s third newsletter!

Highlights include:

  • “Working togheter on ‘medium caliber’ goals”: Interview with Michał Boni (Member of the European Parliament)
  • EU-STRAT at work | A look at science policies and international cooperation in the Eastern Neighbourhood
  • Russian Soft Power: Official Discourses and Less Official Actors
  • Policy comment | Making Association Agreements with the EU a Modernizing Tool: towards a more focused, developmental and innovative approach
  • Stories from the field

…and more! 

Click here to download the third issue of EU-STRAT’s newsletter!

New Working Paper on the effects of scientific cooperation between the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries

Working paper / August 2017


We have just published EU-STRAT’s fifth working paper!

The working paper studies the effects of the EU’s scientific cooperation programmes on the Eastern Partnership countries. It comprises a bibliometric analysis of the impact on the scientific output and a qualitative study of the broader societal impact of scientific cooperation. The working paper is co-authored by Honorata Mazepus and Dimiter Toshkov from Leiden University and Tatsiana Chulitskaya and Ina Ramasheuskaya from SYMPA.

Here is the abstract (click on the link above or thumbnail image on the right for free access to the full text):

The Effects of the EU’s Scientific Cooperation Programmes on the Eastern Partnership Countries: Scientific Output and Broader Societal Impact

by Honorata Mazepus (LU), Dimiter Toshkov (LU), Tatsiana Chulitskaya (LU), and Ina Ramasheuskaya (SYMPA)


“Scientific cooperation between the European Union (EU) and its Eastern neighbours has grown rapidly since the early 2000s. This cooperation holds great promise to influence not only the science and innovation sectors, but also to affect the practices and values of research communities in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, their public policies, and societies at large. In this paper we aim to assess the impact of scientific cooperation with the EU with a focus on three countries of the EaP: Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. Our analysis is divided into two parts: first, we focus on the scientific impact and conduct a bibliometric analysis that tracks several important indicators of the scientific output of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine for the period of 2000-2016; second, we address the broader impact on the scientific community, institutions, and society by analysing new data from expert interviews. In terms of scientific output we find that while the EU has not radically transformed science in the EaP countries it might have provided it with an essential lifeline of support. We also uncover clear evidence for positive impact of cooperation with the EU on the participating institutions from the EaP countries, but very little evidence (so far) about effects on public policies or significant impact on society at large.”


New policy comment is out!

Policy comment / August 2017

Making Association with the EU a Modernizing Tool: towards a more focused, developmental and innovative approach

by Klaudijus Maniokas (ESTEP), Kataryna Wolczuk (UoB), Laure Delcour (FMSH), Rilka Dragneva (UoB), Darius Žeruolis (ESTEP)

“The Association Agreement (AA) was meant to become a major tool not only to enhance relations with the EU, but also to help to modernize or even transform Eastern EU members in a similar manner to what was achieved during the latest EU enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe. Was this a feasible expectation? Does the AA have the potential to become a major modernization tool?

While the AAs offer a template for reforms in order to address weaknesses of the partner countries, such as weak state institutions, lack of competitiveness and socio-economic mis-development, importing the acquis by the partner countries is not only not the solution to these problems, but may actually exacerbate them. This is primarily because it is questionable whether these countries have the capacity to ensure the effectiveness of the vast and sophisticated corpus of rules they are importing, and, whether the acquis actually helps address the immediate developmental objectives of these countries. The suitability of the  acquis for fast and cost-effective modernization of the state and economy is not clear. (…)”


Did you like it? Please take a look at our previous policy comments!

New working paper on the elements of Russia’s soft power

EU-STRAT’s fourth working paper is just out:
you can find it here!

The paper analyzes the elements of Russia’s soft power, and is produced by a team of EU-STRAT scholars from four partner institutions: Antoaneta Dimitrova, Matthew Frear, Honorata Mazepus, Dimiter Toshkov, Maxim Boroda, Tatsiana Chulitskaya, Oleg Grytsenko, Igor Munteanu, Tatiana Parvan, and Ina Ramasheuskaya.

Here is the abstract:

Soft power can be exerted by a variety of actors using different channels and tools. This paper focuses on actors and channels transmitting Russian messages and discourses in the Eastern Partnership countries. It contributes to enhancing our understanding of Russian influences in the region in two ways. First, it maps the network of influential actors who have the potential to transmit Russian messages and target various audiences. Second, it offers a detailed analysis of the coverage of Russia (and the European Union (EU)) in one important channel for dissemination of information about Russia and the EU: popular TV stations in Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. The analysis shows the presence of a wide variety of actors focusing on ‘compatriots’, religious bonds, and Russian-language speakers in the region, which reflects the key ideas of the ‘Russian World’ narrative. These actors promote Russia’s role as a centre of gravity and aim to appeal to Russians, Slavs and Orthodox Christians. This image of Russia, however, does not dominate the news programmes in any of the three countries. In Moldova and Ukraine, Russia is most often mentioned (negatively) in the context of security, while in Belarus it is covered more often than the EU in economy-related news items. Moreover, a large portion of the news about Russia and the EU has no positive or negative tone or is presented in a balanced way. In general, apart from what was conveyed by Russian TV channels, Russia does not have a more positive image than the EU in the news programmes in the countries we monitored.