Ukraine Update: Elections, Conflict and the Future of the EU’s Eastern Partnership
In 2009, the European Union established its Eastern Partnership to advance political association and economic integration with six neighboring nations to its east. However, in November 2013, Ukrainian President Yanukovych refused to sign the Association Agreement, triggering mass protests that ultimately led to his departure and accusations that the EU “sleepwalked” into the conflict in Ukraine. Although the EU long asserted that the framework was not directed against Russia, the agreement with Ukraine was perceived in Moscow as crossing a red line. In the wake of the ongoing Ukraine crisis, some are questioning whether the EU’s Neighborhood Policy/Eastern Partnership should be fundamentally altered – and if so, how?
Against the backdrop of simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian people will go to the polls on October 26 to elect a new parliament. The new parliament members will then have to form a majority coalition and begin to tackle the pressing problems facing the country. Those problems include not just the situation in the east and the troubled relationship with Russia, but needed economic and political reforms as well as measures to curb corruption. The questions remain about Ukrainian public expectations and potential tensions in the immediate aftermath of the vote.
On October 29, the Brookings Center on the United States and Europe and the Heinrich Böll Foundation hosted a panel discussion assessing next steps for Ukraine and the EU’s Eastern Partnership. The first panel explored the Ukrainian election and what it means for politics within Ukraine, the Ukrainian economy, and Ukraine’s relations with Russia and the West. The second panel focused on international perspectives on the Eastern Partnership and the EU’s neighborhood policy.
Leave of Absence
Chief, Ukrainian Service - Voice of America
Former Brookings Expert
Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme - Chatham House
Senior Fellow - International Institute for Strategic Studies
President, Green Group - European Parliament
Senior Fellow - German Marshall Fund of the United States
Fulbright Scholar - Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
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President-elect Bolsonaro has embraced tough-on-crime measures that egregiously violate basic human rights and eviscerate the rule of law. Responding to Brazil’s 63,880 homicides in 2017, Bolsonaro calls for increasing protection for police officers who kill alleged criminals and arming citizens. He calls for further militarizing urban policing, reducing the age of criminal liability from 18 to 16, reinstating the death penalty, authorizing torture in interrogations and imprisoning more people... Brazil’s police are already notorious for being one of the world’s deadliest in the use of force. In many favelas, Brazil’s retired and current police officers operate illegal militias that extort and control local communities, murdering those who oppose them and engaging in warfare with Brazil’s highly-violent gangs and in social cleansing. Bolsonaro is simply threatening to turn the rest of the police into state-sanctioned thugs.