Exclusive interview of the Ph.D. Alex Grigorievs, Vice Chair of the Board, Baltic to Black Sea Alliance (BBSA)
What are your expectations from the upcoming December London NATO summit?
I expect surprises, and I would be happy if my expectations did not materialize. We have at least two sources of surprises in NATO: President Donald Trump and President Emmanuel Macron. But they may have started a bad tendency in international politics, and other leaders may choose to follow their example. Both surprising leaders are wooing President Putin of Russia; President Trump for mysterious reasons and to have him as an ally against China, and President Macron – to have him as an ally against President Trump and China. What I wish this Summit to do, ideally, is to confirm the strategic challenge that both Russia and China pose to the free world and allow the military of NATO countries to deal with these threats. They know how.
Is the format of EU cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries successful?
It is successful in that it is vague enough to allow a different format for each of the Eastern Partnership country. The level, intensity, format, and volume of cooperation is suited to the situation of each participating country. With that, it is quietly acknowledged that Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have ambitions to accede to the EU and, sooner or, more likely, later these ambitions may become reality. We can say that, in the case of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, Eastern Partnership has led to Association Agreements and even Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA). The more integrated these countries become in the EU, the better.
China and Russia in Central Asia: is there any room for cooperation?
Primarily Russia and China compete for influence in the area, with Russia’s impact waning and China’s increasing. Most countries of the Central Asia are trying to counterbalance one against the other. China is destined to outmaneuver Russia in the long run, as it is much less in a hurry and has a lot more money. Russia, of course, has an established network of ties and contacts, military bases and historic traditions of influence. Russian is still spoken in the area a lot. So, there is much to build upon. But Russia’s imperialist expansion by military means in Georgia and Ukraine has scared the leaders of Central Asian autocracies. Currently, the situation is developing so that they may start to look for a third influence to counterbalance that of Russia and China.