Thursday, November 28, 2013

Former Soviet republics between a rock and a hard place

One of the many subjects I have not written about is the supreme indifference with which the EU seems to have accepted Ukraine being bullied to stay in Russia's orbit, though Ukrainians themselves seem distinctly unhappy at the thought of being nothing but Putin's vassals. I shall try to pick that story up as there is quite a lot there.

Now we have two other countries who might or might not sign trade agreements with the EU. One is Georgia that was badly let down by NATO five years ago when France and Germany with other satellites refused to contemplate a Membership Action Plan for that country, in order not to upset Russia, helped to unleash that war.

Five years on and with a new government, the country seems as defiant as ever. There has been some thawing in the relationship with the big bully over the border.
In a sign that ties could finally be improving, Russia this year lifted bans on imports of Georgian wine, mineral water and fruit that were imposed in 2006.

Even so, tensions remain high after the August 2008 war over two Moscow-backed breakaway regions. Diplomatic relations, severed after the war, have not been restored and Russia still controls the two separatist-minded regions.
I wish we would import Georgian wine in slightly larger quantities but I don't suppose the EU's wine producers will like that.

New Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili is insisting that Georgia is not Ukraine and it jolly well will initial a new trade and association accord in Vilnius tomorrow, with a final signature to follow next year.

Ukraine, as we know will not be there and will not be initialling anything. Moldova insists that it will be following Georgia's example though Russia's proxies, the Moldovan Communist has been staging demonstrations against the accord and the party's leader, who looks remarkably like an old-fashioned Soviet apparatchik, has been demanding that Moldova join the Russian customs union instead.
The Russian Foreign Ministry stepped up pressure on former Soviet republics hoping to move closer to Europe on Tuesday by warning that they would face "years of economic turmoil", including higher unemployment and lower living standards.
Moldova's living standards are already very low but the threat is not an idle one. The EU is not going to raise those living standards and economic benefits, if any, from the closer association agreement will be slow in coming. Russia can make life difficult for both countries, which will not benefit her either but will show everyone who is boss. One to watch with some dismay.


  1. IIRC whilst Miliband Maj was lecturing Russia concerning Georgia the French went in the backdoor and sold Ivan a couple of frigates.

    Good old EU solidarity.

    1. Indeed. I recall that unsavoury (are there any others?) episode.

  2. Given the way the EU is going for dictator status Putin might be a better bet!

    1. Says someone who is not actually faced with that option.