Yes to ENP, a more qualified attitude towards enlargements

Finland
Finnish Institute of International Affairs
 
Because of geographical proximity and historical background, Finns are always eager to discuss issues related to Russia and the case was even more so during and after ‘Georgia’. NATO is the other international issue debated intensively on a regular basis. Moreover, Finland held the OSCE-Presidency in 2008, its own politicians were “out there” during the conflict, and all these reasons heightened interest in the issue. Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, went as far as to call ‘Georgia’ as “one of the big turning points of history after the end of cold war”[1] – a statement that was slightly modified later in autumn.
 
European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)
 

Will the EU defend democracy?

Estonia
University of Tartu
 
The future of the ENP and further enlargement of the EU and NATO are high-salience issues in Estonia. The conflict in Georgia is seen as marking a shift of paradigm in post-Cold War international relations in Europe. In the words of President Ilves: “It is now quite clear that the assumption that the borders of Europe are fixed and that no one will invade anyone are gone”.[1] Estonia’s leaders believe the EU has done too little to help its Eastern neighbours: “Europe has not given its neighbours the same privileges as have been given to Russia […] rather than assisting those democracies with visa policies or with having an effective European neighbourhood policy, we have decided not to deal with them lest they think they might become part of the EU. I think that ultimately it is about whether Europe will defend democracies and democratic choice or not. We do not know the answer to that question”.[2]
 

The first Western minister to visit Tbilisi

Denmark
Danish Institute for International Studies
 
The Danish Foreign Minister, Per Stig Møller, has on several occasions paid tribute to the French Presidency for its handling of the conflict in Georgia and its ability to disseminate between the two sides and put a hold to the fighting. Per Stig Møller believes that the French Presidency have secured a strong and cohesive EU.[1]
 
The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been very active in the conflict of the Georgian breakaway provinces. In the beginning of July, Per Stig Møller, was the first Western minister to visit Tbilisi and the leaders in the province Abkhazia.[2] Denmark was sceptical about the EU resuming negotiations with Russia on a new economic and political partnership agreement after the Russian withdrawal in Georgia. Per Stig Møller did not consider the peace agreement to be complied with by Russia but, however, agreed to resume talks with Russia at the European Foreign Minister meeting on 10 November 2008.[3]
 

Refocusing back on Western Balkan

Czech Republic
Institute of International Relations
 
For a majority of Czech politicians, the military conflict in Georgia provided a rationale for further deepening of the ENP and NATO enlargement. Especially the ruling Civic Democrats saw Russia as a clear culprit of the conflict. The Civic Democrats stated that they “with concern observe the true aims of Russia’s aggression, which were the violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia, the definite secession of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and a substitution of Saakashvili’s West oriented government with a pro-Russian regime”.[1] In the wake of the conflict, the Civic Democrats called upon an acceleration of talks about Georgia’s NATO membership.
 
Even though the opposition Social Democrats were more modest in their assessment of the conflict, they still treated Russia’s actions as problematic. Key Social Democrats even echoed the governmental position and expressed their support for Georgia’s NATO membership.[2] President Klaus put the blame for the conflict on Georgia and her president. But he did not give his opinion on a possible Georgian NATO membership.
 

Cyprus discusses participation in the Partnership for Peace programme

Cyprus
Cyprus Institute for Mediterranean, European and International Studies
 
The military conflict in Georgia and the role of the EU was extensively covered by the Cypriot media. But there was no particular discussion of any repercussions regarding the European Neighbourhood Policy and EU enlargement.
 
In any event, Cypriot political analysts have clearly welcomed the aim of the European Neighbourhood Policy, that is, to forge closer ties with countries to the South and East of the EU without offering them a membership perspective. Therefore, they favour the EU’s aim to promote greater economic development, stability and better governance in its neighbourhood. The pursuit of this objective helps to prevent the isolation of countries outside the EU and prevent the creation of new dividing lines in Europe.
 

Not much attention for the ENP, warning of a new Cold War

Croatia
Institute for International Relations

 
The issue of restructuring of the ENP after the Georgia-Russia conflict has not attracted much attention from Croatian political elites, while the official governmental reactions to the military conflict were rather cautious and largely echoing major reactions coming from the EU and NATO.[1] President Mesić in his statement has pleaded for the immediate ending of all military operations and supported the agreement between President Sarkozy and Medvedev on the ceasefire. He also mentioned that a renewal of the Cold War would be unacceptable and warned on certain tendencies which lead towards such divisions.[2] Some media reports have also particularly stressed the role of the former President of the European Council Sarkozy in the resolution of the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia. President Sarkozy was aware that this conflict has much deeper roots and is associated with the Russian frustration towards NATO eastern enlargement. That is why he has suggested, together with Russian President Medvedev, the creation of some new pan-European security scheme. Following this idea, this concept is supposed to be presented at the OSCE Summit in the second half of 2009.[3]
 

Support for EU and NATO enlargement, building bridges to Western Balkans top priority

Bulgaria
Bulgarian European Community Studies Association
 
The year 2008 was for Bulgaria the time when citizens were sobering out from the euphoria of the EU entry and their great expectations in relation to membership. Public attitudes to the benefits from joining the bloc affected positions on future EU enlargements. According to sociological surveys, Bulgarians associate EU membership with higher living standards, rule of law and security, free movement and a common cultural area. Their visions on the expansion of the EU should be traced along those lines. The dominant concept is based on giving prominence to the active and successful advancement of preparation for the accession of potential candidates. It is related to the experience of Bulgaria in meeting the requirements of the EU. Research polls revealed that support for the EU entry remains rather high.[1] However, citizens are more optimistic about the long-term benefits of the membership (75 percent of the respondents). By contrast, 60 percent of Bulgarians share the opinion that joining the EU had negative consequences for Bulgaria.[2]
 

No adhesion to NATO in the short term

Belgium
Centre d’étude de la vie politique, Université libre de Bruxelles
 
The position of the Belgian government is globally in favour of using dialogue and crisis management with respect to the territorial integrity of Georgia. This policy has been translated into two axes. On the one hand, the preferred option is to preserve all possible elements for a dialogue with Russia, which is implementing a cooperation policy rather than a confrontation policy; on the other hand, it was considered as essential to continue denouncing violations of the territorial integrity of Georgia. These two axes policies have been defended by Belgium at the occasion of bilateral talks between Karel De Gucht (Belgium Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Sergey Lavrov (Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) on the 3 September 2008 and between Yves Leterme (Belgian Prime Minister) and Vladimir Putine (Russian Prime Minister) on the 19 September 2008. The federal parliament, including the opposition, supported this position.[1]
 

No big issue in Austria

Austria
Austrian Institute of International Affairs
 
Since Austria is not a member to NATO, its enlargement seems to be of no great concern for the country. The enlargement of the EU is seen – depending on which country – as a positive or negative thing. The admission of Croatia is seen as useful and welcomed, but the admission of Turkey is – to put it bluntly – not wanted. The European Neighbourhood Policy itself is a rather seldom discussed issue and no interesting information or statement could be found, except from the news itself that this policy approach exists and is seen as a useful tool to set various standards and help develop the countries integrated in this policy.