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Academic conference: “Does a European neighbourhood in crisis affect our fundamental values?’

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Academic conference: “Does a European neighbourhood in crisis affect our fundamental values?’

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The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) held a full-day academic conference with academics and senior policy makers on the 8th of February 2017.

The event was a collaboration between ENC and the Institute for European Studies (IEE) at the University of Saint Louis in Brussels with support from La Vigie, European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), Royal Institute for International Relations (Egmont), and the Order of Malta in France.

The main objective of the three-panel conference was to foster a new and open scholarly exchange of ideas on values and European foreign policy in the immediate neighbourhood.

To promote new academic concepts and narratives, the conference put together a diverse selection of historians, sociologists, political scientists and security experts in various areas to discuss remedies and solutions for upholding European values throughout the shared neighbourhood area covering countries like the Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey and Libya.

Speakers: three panels and closing remarks

The first panel consisted of Prof. Didier Francfort, Professor at the University of Lorraine, Prof. Christian Franck, Professor at the Catholic University of Leuven, and Dr. Olivier Galland, Director of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

The second panel consisted of Jean-Louis De Brouwer, the Director for the European Commission Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection, Prof. Samim Akgonul, Professor at the University of Strasbourg, Georges Niculescu, Researcher at the European Geopolitical Forum, and Andrei Sannikov, previous Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus.

The third panel consisted of Bernard Philippe, formerly at the European External Action Service, Dr. Elisabeth van Rijckevorsel, Researcher at the Catholic University of Leuven, Victor Fevre, Researcher at La Vigie and Bernard de Gerlache De Gomery, previous President of the Belgo-African Chamber of Commerce and the current Vice-President of the Order of Malta.

The closing panel consisted of Monica Frassoni, the Co-President of the European Greens (Party) and Lorenzo Consoli, former President of the Brussels International Press Association and lecturer at IHECS.

Each panel was introduced and moderated by Jacques Keller-Noellet, Honorary Director General of the Council of the European Union, Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, Director of the European Neighbourhood Council and Prof. Eva Saenz-Diez Jaccarini, Professor at the Catholic University of Leuven.

In theory: using history and our cultural fabric to shape European domestic and foreign policy.

The first and third panel took a socio-cultural and historical approach in dealing with the topic of values in Europe, and how they shape foreign policy. This was deemed necessary in order to find answers to the issues related to current tendencies of European identity crisis and the value-versus-realism discourse.

Professor Francfort noted that it was very important to differentiate between universal moral values and values only related to European cultural heritage.

In an effort to explain how various strands of social fabric and culture have collectively led to our common understanding of ‘Europe’, he went through a selection of cultural artefacts, literature, history and music which have come to represent certain values.

For example, the Byzantine Empire, Charlemagne and Celine were part of European identity, but were often used by different European groups for very different political purposes, ranging from nationalism to socialism.

On a separate note, Philippe acknowledged the importance of Abrahamic concepts in shaping European identity and values, with a strong reference to Hanna Arendt.

With a re-evaluation of values across Europe, the re-studying of cultural backgrounds for new narratives and cultural identities could become increasingly important, including in areas of foreign policy.

Prof. René Leray, Professor at the University of Saint Louis, further explained that the current ‘crisis of values’ in Europe could likely also be a product of neighbouring regions, which are moving towards more authoritarianism and illiberal ideas, while indirectly influencing core-European values.

Rijckevorsel added that the EU’s ‘treaty weapons’ to protect itself against a crisis value in domestic and foreign policy include the concept of supranational politics, mutual recognition of legal systems and practices, and the respect for refugees.

According to Prof. Franck, the multilateral and soft-power approach of Europe appeared to have worked sub-optimally, whereas the EU interests continue to be ill defined in texts.

Whereas Prof. Francfort added cultural and historical insights into the possible ‘glue’ that can hold together a new European narrative and foreign policy, Galland added a more static image of the situation across the EU.

According to Galland’s quantitative study, Europe can be categorised into various value groups that heavily impact the way in which we think about foreign policy and act on questions of authority, integration, autonomy and individualism.

This would explain the diverse and at times vague foreign policy concepts put forward by the EU, as they represent very diverse value perceptions, reflecting various interests and norms across member countries, as Prof. Franck explained.

In practice: success or failure in foreign policy across Europe’s neighbourhood?


The second panel discussed the growing division in foreign policy between the real-politik and value-based school of thought by looking at real examples in Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and also covering thematic elements like the infamous ‘Refugee deal’.

According to Prof. Akgonul, the EU still has soft-power leverage over Turkey, but appears to have stopped using the ‘carrot and stick approach’ in recent years.

On the topic of Russia and the Ukraine, Niculescu argued that there were four scenarios to study closely, including creating a buffer zone area which is supported by Henry Kissinger; a general decline of the West; an interim alliance with the Baltic states and Poland against Russia; or regional chaos with a high probability of proxy and direct war in countries like the Ukraine.

Most importantly, he added that the EU should prioritise how it wishes to shape policy in its Eastern Neighbourhood in terms of whether it decides to defend values, roll back or find a compromise over countries like the Ukraine.

According to Sannikov, authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe usually face economic difficulties due to protectionism, which – in turn – means that the EU has much more ‘sticks and carrots’ at its disposition due to its economic status.

Finally, on the topic of migration and foreign policy, de Brouwer added that – despite criticism over the refugee crisis – the EU’s humanitarian aid remains the top donor in the world.

More importantly, the EU chooses not to work with governments to avoid ethical issues, while instead operating solely with the United Nations, non-governmental organisations and the Red Cross when it comes to refugee and migration aid distribution.

Roundtable Policy Discussion – Setting the EU-Turkey economic agenda: customs union reform

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Roundtable Policy Discussion – Setting the EU-Turkey economic agenda: customs union reform

The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) held a European Parliamentary Roundtable Policy Discussion on the topic of Customs Union reform with Turkish economic experts and academics, including private sector groups and business associations on the 25th of January 2017. The first in a series of ENC roundtables on Turkey and trade, the parliament event aimed at opening the floor to questions from the private sector and informing parliamentarians and commission officials about the concerns from each side. In turn, this is aimed at pre-empting unforeseen obstacles throughout the negotiation phase and to reinforce inter-institutional coordination and transparency between the private and public sectors when dealing with customs union reform between Turkey and the EU. The roundtable was supported by the Turkish private sector; represented by the Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD), in cooperation with the European Entrepreneurs (CEA-PME).

Roundtable Discussion on Cyprus and Energy – An exchange of views

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Roundtable Discussion on Cyprus and energy – an exchange of views


The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) held a European Parliamentary Roundtable Discussion with experts, academics and private sector representatives on the 24th of January 2017.

To foster an exchange of ideas and to advance new methods of cooperation on energy across the East Mediterranean, the Parliamentary Roundtable brought together both representatives from the North (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) and South of Cyprus (Republic of Cyprus), as well as high level officials from the European energy community.

Roundtable speakers and participants – expert views to inform the parliament about energy and Cyprus

Among the distinguished speakers were Ozan Serdaroglu, Associate Fellow at the Institute for Security & Development Policy (ISDP), Prof. Angelos Giannakopoulos, Adjunct Professor at Dortmund University and a Heinrich-Heine Visiting Professor in European Studies at the University of Tel Aviv, and Dr. Hayriye Kahveci, Assistant Professor at the Middle East Technical University Northern Cyprus Campus.

The roundtable was introduced and moderated by Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, Director of the European Neighbourhood Council and Ilhan Kyuchyuk, ALDE Member of the European Parliament.


East Med energy challenges and potential: multi-sided expert opinions

Due to conditions of anonymity held during the Roundtable Discussion no direct comments will be attributed to comments or Q & A remarks made during the event.

The speakers spoke about energy discoveries, including the Zohr gas field off the coast of Egypt, Aphrodite gas field in the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Leviathan gas field, off Israel’s coast, as the main players for energy development.


Ozan Serdaroglu added weight to the importance of the energy triangle – between Greece, Cyprus and Israel – which since 2010 has played a vital role in shaping energy in the region. He added that, the new Turkish-Israeli relationship is likely to further impact this triangle and add a new component, possibly building LNG terminals on the Island or perhaps moving gas to Israel from Aphrodite and through Turkey into Europe.

He also noted the importance of a stable business environment, focusing particularly on the fact that bypassing Turkey could be costly with LNG costing around 10 billion euros over 10 years, whereas a pipeline project would be estimated at around 2.5 billion euros in less than 5 years.

The Anastasiades government – so far – has insisted on enjoying the ground it gained in the Eastern Mediterranean.

He noted that, Cyprus – and others – may be facing certain risks when it comes to engaging in long term relations based on unrealistic partnerships. For example, Egypt is an unstable partner with economic difficulties, and any energy engagement with Egypt in absence if Israel is difficult to realize.

In this regard, after the reconciliation agreement with Ankara, it is possible that Israel further approaches Turkey and considers a pipeline through Turkey as a more cost-effective alternative. This may also incite Nicosia for a faster solution on the island and with Israel, due to its status as Washington’s strongest ally and a global power in need of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. This could open Turkey’s guarantee status to debate instead of an absolute rejection by the Greek side. If the solution depends on the guarantees, then Turkish Cypriots could be given these guarantees in alternative ways as a result of better relations between Nicosia and Ankara.

Turkey also may therefore express its peaceful intentions and make some gestures as opening its ports for Cypriots shipping and aviation companies and include Cyprus in its customs union with the EU. These measures must definitely be paired with a will for dialogue by the Greek side on energy issues. Mutual confidence building measures in this case would prove essential, according to Serdaroglu.

Drawing comparisons to the European Coal and Steel Community, Serdaroglu emphasized that energy interdependence in the Cyprus and East Med could generate physical and structural elements which are likely to help towards political cooperation.


The second speaker – Professor Angelos Giannakopoulos – noted that the Leviathan and Aphrodites gas exportations through Israel could only occur with a proper settlement and peace in Cyprus, but would be substantially important for regional peace and stability, if no other gas discoveries occur in the meantime.

He reiterated the previous analysis about Turkey being essential, as a guarantor and a key energy country in the region.

Concerning the internal dynamics of Turkey – despite expressing serious doubts about its democracy – noted that a top-down a vertical decision making structure led by President Erdogan would probably facilitate and ease the solving of the Cyprus dispute. In other words, the constitutional change which is likely to occur could therefore impact the process and facilitate an easier negotiation environment.

Professor Giannakopoulos also noted that new energy discoveries may lead to price slumps that can block development of smaller fields; like the one in Cyprus.

He also added an interesting comment about potential future Greek-Turkish conflict over the so-called ‘hydrites’ in the sea areas between Greece and Turkey.

Concerning the reunification of Cyprus, he said that it will not be solved, solely, by energy, but that EU energy policies had the power to impact the future.


The third speaker – Hayriye Kahveci – spoke about the Caspian sea basin as a good comparison model for Cyprus and the East Med.

She also noted that the current gas prices remain very low, meaning that it becomes difficult and sometimes too expensive to invest.

Assistant Professor Kahveci also noted that the Cyprus reunification attempts has been guided by gas related problems – expressing little hope about gas discoveries being a main driver and giving various examples from 2004 during the Annan Plan.

She however noted that energy discoveries do play a positive role in adding governmental attention to regions which could otherwise go forgotten, and conflicts that could stay unresolved.


The event was also attended by government and private sector representatives that shared their thoughts and ideas about recent gas discoveries and the possibilities of peace and unification in the light of energy cooperation.

Research on energy in the Eastern Med

ENC will co-conduct research about energy geopolitics and private sector involvement in the eastern Mediterranean in 2017.

The purpose of Roundtable Discussions, held jointly with parliamentarians, is to inform and exchange ideas on specific policy topics in order to improve inter-institutional dialogue while improving best practice and EU policymaking. It also serves as an important instigator for further research and policy making.

Shaping Liberal Policy on ENP and EU Foreign Affairs

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The Future of the European Neighbourhood Policy

European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) – in tandem with the European External Action Service (EEAS) – helped advise the young liberal European parties at their annual meetings in Bucharest to adopt a final resolution on European foreign and neighbourhood policy. The advice and contributions from ENC and EEAS will lead to the annual resolution which will be officially presented during the European Liberal Youth (LYMEC) Congress in Estonia between the 11th and 13th of November, 2016.

The European Liberal Forum (ELF) and LYMEC – with the support of the European Parliament – organised the two-day conference focusing on “The Future of the European Neighbourhood Policy” which took place in Bucharest, Romania, between 21st and 23rd of November, 2016.


The workshop gathered young liberal members from across European parties and associations to discuss the future of the EU Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) by bringing a mix of EU and non-EU nationals together for policy discussion and briefings. The official foreign and neighbourhood guidelines of ELF and LYMEC were set during these preliminary talks through consultations with ENC and EEAS, which will lead to an official foreign policy resolution later this year. The seminar promoted capacity building for the liberal activists and helped develop the young liberal party association’s views and policies on the EU’s neighbourhood and foreign policy.


Inter-institutional cooperation is the key to move forward

Among the distinguished speakers was Andreas Marazis, Head Researcher for Eastern Europe and Eastern Partnership at ENC. He spoke about the current status and the future prospects of the Eastern Partnership, while noting that the alignment of our partners with the EU’s norms and values of democracy, human rights and rule of law should be the ultimate goal. He highlighted the need for deeper inter-institutional cooperation, especially between the European Parliament, NATO and the EaP members. He noted that it is important to effectively communicate the benefits of reforms, while pushing for stronger links between civil society and academia on one hand and policy-makers on the other.


Unity and Solidarity: Key EU strengths

Mihaela Vasiu, Policy Coordinator, Strategy and Instruments of the European Neighbourhood Policy at EEAS, talked about the current state of affairs of the ENP. According to Vasiu the ENP division (between North and South) should be avoided to encourage further engagement and cooperation. The EU is more influential when it remains united in a common approach, while communicating a single message.


EU Enlargement always on the table

Teodor Melescanu, Vice-president of the ALDE Party Romania and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania argued in favour of EU enlargement, stating the right of any European geographic country to apply for EU membership. The importance of the Copenhagen Criteria and the Lisbon Treaty remain crucial during the candidacy process for the positive development of fundamental rights, democracy and rule of law, as well as prosperity and stability.



Investigating new options and formats for NATO/EU cooperation with Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova

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High Profile Roundtable Policy Discussion in the European Parliament on Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova

The European Neighbourhood Council held a roundtable policy discussion with experts representing academia, think tanks and European Union (EU) officials in the European Parliament on September 29th, 2016.

In order to foster relevant dialogue, the roundtable included officials from the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Parliament, regional diplomats and a representative from each of the Ukrainian, Georgian and Moldovan representations.


Shaping EU foreign policy: exchanging ideas with policy makers and experts

Among the distinguished speakers were Mrs. Clara Ganslandt, Head of Division, EU Common Security & Defense Policy (CSDP) Partnerships and Agreements at the EEAS, Prof. Bruno Coppieters, Head of the Department of Political Science at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Mr. Sergiy Solodkyy, first Deputy Director of the Kyiv-based think-tank Institute of World Policy (IWP), and Mr. Stanislav Secrieru, policy analyst at the Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI). The roundtable was introduced and moderated by Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, Director of the European Neighborhood Council and Ilhan Kyuchyuk, ALDE Member of the European Parliament.


Increased need for EU consultations on security and NATO

On the record, Mrs. Ganslandt stressed the importance of the Eastern Partnership Panel on CSDP and the need for more consultations on security-related issues.

Prof. Coppieters, spoke about the concept of forgotten conflicts on behalf of the international community, referring to the cases of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia while placing the conflict in Transnistria (Moldova) under the same category.


Mr. Solodkyy underlined the necessity to strengthen and deepen the cooperation among all stakeholders (Ukraine, EU and NATO) in the area of intelligence sharing.

The Moldovan perspective was presented by Mr. Secrieru who stressed the importance of the EU’s support in order for Moldova to stay on the right course and tackle internal issues.

Future research on Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova

ENC will publish the remaining research and commentaries anonymously in our upcoming research contributions.

The purpose of High Profile Roundtable Policy Discussions, held jointly with parliamentarians, is to inform and exchange ideas on specific policy topics in order to improve inter-institutional dialogue while improving best practice and EU policymaking.

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High Profile Closed-Doors Meeting Organised by NATO and ENC

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High Profile Closed-Doors Meeting Organised by NATO and ENC

NATO Public Diplomacy Division, in cooperation with the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), organised a high profile closed-doors meeting of senior experts on Eastern Partnership that took place at NATO Headquarters. Representatives from the think-tank community in Brussels and Paris, as well as in the Black Sea area had the opportunity to discuss the political and security environment of the region and its perspectives in the light of an increasingly aggressive Russia and surrounding instability. The discussion also included the aspects of NATO’s policies and its role in the area.

Turkey – EU Cooperation in Counter-terrorism: Challenges of ISIS and PKK

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Turkey – EU Cooperation in Counter-terrorism: Challenges of ISIS and PKK

One-day event implemented by (ENC) and the Center for Middle Eastern and Strategic Studies (ORSAM). This was the first The event included panel speakers from Turkey and the EU’s leading civil society groups, the European Neighbourhood Council civil society dialogue on counter-terrorism between Turkey and the European Union (EU). as well as high-level representatives from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European External Action Service (EEAS), Turkish Police Academy and Directorate General for Migration Management.

Visa Liberalisation Expert Panel – Socio Economic Effects on Turkey and the EU

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Visa Liberalisation Expert Panel – Socio Economic Effects on Turkey and the EU

“Visa Liberalization Expert Panel – Socio Economic Effects on Turkey and the EU” was held in Brussels on the 22th of June and chaired by MEP Ismail Ertug in the European Parliament at a relevant time when Turkey’s visa liberalization is being scrutinized by the European Commission and is expected to face a vote in the European Parliament towards the end of 2016.

All business associations present presented detailed outlooks and analysis of the socio economic impacts of visa liberalization.

Due to the relevant topic and the high profile speakers, several news articles were written about the event.

Some of the articles included:

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Training Course in Diplomacy, Stability and Prosperity for Junior Diplomats from Central Asia and Mongolia

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Training Course in Diplomacy, Stability and Prosperity for Junior Diplomats from Central Asia and Mongolia

European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) – together with the Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations – hosted a young group of diplomats from Central Asia and Mongolia on the 2nd of December at ENC head office in Brussels. The programme also included meetings with officials from the European Commission, the European External Action Service and NGO representatives working actively in Central Asia like ENC.

One of the aims of this programme is to elevate regional cooperation and give the opportunity to junior diplomats to interact with experts from European civil society on how organisations deals with tensions between countries as this is a challenge for achieving cooperation in the Central Asia region and what kind of projects they are implementing in the region.

The group consisted of twelve junior diplomats from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Mongolia.

ENC’s Model of Partnership and Cooperation

The training session opened with remarks by ENC’s Managing Director Samuel Doveri Vesterbye who presented ENC’s research activities across the wider European Neighbourhood, including also accession countries and Central Asia. Emphasis was put on ENC’s unique organizational structure and academic council, which is made up of university scholars from across most of Eurasia, enlargement countries and North Africa. Mr. Doveri Vesterbye also spoke about the need for increased dialogue, innovation and regional consensus in foreign affairs.

Among the distinguished speakers were Andreas Marazis, Head Researcher for Eastern Europe and Eastern Partnership at ENC. He spoke about the current status and future prospects of EU-Central Asia relations. According to Mr. Marazis, Central Asia needs to take ownership so as to strengthen cooperation with the EU in as many levels as possible. He highlighted the importance of the continuous review – every two years – of the EU-Central Asia Strategy in order to address current challenges of anti-radicalisation, civil society engagement, energy and trade. The possibility of an updated version of the Strategy in 2019 was also discussed by the participants. This will most likely focus on resilience, as outlined in the EU Global Strategy, as well as migration, economic growth (including job creation and enhanced employment opportunities), support to private sector development, youth and education.

Business and Funding Opportunities for Central Asia and Mongolia

Dr. Andrea Mogni, ENC external advisor and former senior policy coordinator and financial expert at the European External Action Service (EEAS), spoke about the business opportunities and the economic potential that Central Asia and Mongolia have vis-a-vis Europe. He referred to the financial instruments which Central Asian scholars have access to, such as the Horizon2020, which is the biggest EU-funded project, covering scientific and societal matters among other things.

Dr. Mogni also mentioned the role of thematic instruments covering issues related to food security, water management and migration. He also highlighted the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) role in financing big infrastructure projects supporting the countries in their development process.

The Training Session for junior diplomats is also part of ENC’s 2017 European Diplomatic Training Program, in which various speakers, including Dr. Mogni, teach diplomats in EU affairs, financial instruments and decision-making.