Success stories in what the European Union calls “the neighborhood” have been hard to come by. First Georgia, then Ukraine, and most recently Moldova have all been big EU hopes. But, in each case, those hopes were dashed. Unfortunately for the EU, this year’s annual summit with Ukraine (on November 22) will likely showcase this failure.
“CORF [Collective Operational Reaction forces] will be no worse than NATO,” claimed Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, only one year ago. Today, these words are used in Russia to popularize the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the CORF within the post-Soviet space.
At the beginning of July, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus signed a number of protocols establishing a customs union between the three countries. The union, scheduled to be fully operational in January 2012, will create a single common market of about 170 million people and represents the latest of several attempts by Moscow to create an effective trade bloc with its newly independent neighbors since the break-up of the Soviet Union. In addition to the economic ties maintained through the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Russia first committed to a union with Belarus in 1994.
Having already been pummeled by rising fuel prices and political instability in recent months, the creation of a Customs Union among Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia threatens to deal yet another economic blow to Kyrgyzstan, and is exerting pressure on Bishkek to decide whether to cast its lot with Moscow or the West.
The European Commission has called an emergency meeting.
Astana has promised to open Kazakhstan’s border with Kyrgyzstan almost one month after the violent regime change in Bishkek. Astana remained reluctant to re-open the border despite numerous pleas from the Kyrgyz. The cost of the closed border was high – Kyrgyz businesses claim millions of dollars in losses. As Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Kazakhstan has also pledged that it will work on a special strategy to help stabilize Kyrgyzstan.
Former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev said the resignation he signed had not come into force because the interim authorities reneged on a promise to protect his relatives.
Belarus`s president declared an end on May 29 to "begging" to Russia and told his government to ignore Moscow`s decision to shelve a $500 million loan and turn elsewhere to find credits. Alyaksandr Lukashenka made his comments a day after Russia`s finance minister said the funds were no longer on offer as its smaller Western neighbor -- linked by a "union treaty" since the 1990s -- could be insolvent by the end of the year.