New Europe’s leaders want a new enlargement to the east

EU Business, UK
April 4 2004

New Europe’s leaders want a new enlargement to the east

Only a few weeks away from joining the European Union, the so-called
New Europe’s leaders are already dreaming of expanding the EU even
further to the east, to Ukraine, Belarus and perhaps Georgia.

The former Soviet bloc states set to join the EU on May 1, and
considered the New Europe, want to use their new status to lead a
debate on the Union’s future borders, a debate existing members shy

“If you look at the map, you’ll see that Ukraine and Belarus are part
of Europe and I can’t see why we would refuse to others what was
generously granted to us”, Estonian foreign minister Kriistina
Ojuland told journalists.

Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski has said repeatedly that the
EU must remain open to new members, particularly his country’s
neighbours Belarus and Ukraine.

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel agrees.

Sensitive to the fate of opponents to Belarus President Alexander
Lukashenko’s regime, Havel, himself a former dissident, has demanded
that the EU offer Belarus’s fighters for democracy a chance of
joining Europe, as the Union did for former communist countries in
central Europe.

“I believe that the future of Belarus is firmly linked with the
future of Europe”, Havel said only last week. “The door must remain

Meanwhile, Bulgaria and Romania, which hope to join the EU in 2007,
want to see the Union push further east, namely to include Turkey, a
candidate for membership since 1999, and the impoverished Moldova.

Bulgaria and Romania are also looking at their neighbors across the
Black Sea.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Passy has pleaded enthusiastically
on behalf of Georgia and Armenia. In his mind, the Black Sea would
become an internal sea within the European Union.

“From a strategic perspective, the Black Sea region is part of
Europe”, Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase told a conference in
Bratislava in March.

“The EU can make a new success-story of the Black Sea-Caucasus
region,” Nastase said.

These aspirations are strongly supported by US conservatives, such as
the influential Bruce Jackson, who acted in the wings last year to
ensure the support of New Europe for the Iraqi policy of George Bush.

These conservatives are hostile to a European federation which would
rival the United States but would like to have the EU function as an
instrument of economic and political stabilisation for the former
Soviet Bloc countries.

Above all, the new members are worried that remaining the easternmost
countries of the EU would leave them stuck with borders that isolate
them economically from their eastern neighbors.

There is also a real solidarity among the former Soviet republics.

“When I see how these countries are increasingly deprived of the
simple perspective of EU membership … it’s terrifying,” said the
father of Lithuania’s independence Vytautas Landsbergis.

The new countries will however have to be strong to convince others.
More than one year ago Romano Prodi, president of the EU’s executive
arm, the European Commission, drew the future map of the EU —
integrating Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and the Balkan countries but
saying that others would have to remain “friends”.

And to hear the increasingly strong voices rising in western Europe
against Turkey joining, it is not certain the future EU map will be
even as large as that envisioned by Romano Prodi.

The 10 states set to join the EU on May 1 are Cyprus, the Czech
Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland,
Slovakia and Slovenia.