When Legitimacy meets Violence. The Limits of EU's Soft Power in the Eastern Partnership

AuthorMihaela-Adriana P?dureanu
PositionFaculty of Communication and International Relations, Danubius University of Galati, Romania
European Integration - Realities and Perspectives. Proceedings 2020
When Legitimacy meets Violence.
The Limits of EU’s Soft Power in the Eastern Partnership
Mihaela-Adriana Pădureanu1
Abstract: Looking at the evolution of the Eastern Partnership in the last decade we can identify a number o f
contradictory messages o n the part of both sides involved. On the one hand, the EU has its own stated
objectives with this initiative, and on the other hand the member states have their own expectations and goals,
that more than once are subject to heterogeneous pressures. While the EU has proposed economic and political
measures for the transformation of the EaP member states, these measures have been counterbalanced by
military interventions on the territory of three of the EaP member states: Republic of Moldova, Georgia and
Ukraine. Another important actor in the region, NATO has different relations with the three mentioned states,
but nonetheless can be considered as the other relevant transforming element in the region, together with EU.
EU’s relation with its Eastern neighbours has been under considerable pressure after 2014. Although the
relations continued to deepen this has be mostly on the economic rather than on the political sector. However,
some groups still consider EU as a legitimate actor in the region. The problem of legitimacy in the evolution
of international organizations has attracted a number of important researchers in the last years and the goal of
this article in to contribute to this discussion. Due to the fact that military interventions took place in the three
EaP member countries, we consider this to be a relevant feature that must be taken into account when
analysing the capacity of the member states to comply with the reforms asked of them.
Keywords: Eastern Partnership; legitimacy; violence; European Union
1. Introduction
In this article we offer a brief discussion on the topic of legitimacy in International relations, EU
studies more precisely in relation to the EU foreign policy and global governance. As international
organizations have evolved the problem of legitimacy and who and how decides what actions should
be taken in external interactions. As the EU has at its Eastern border a number of countries that have
frozen conflicts on their territories, we consider EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative a relevant
example to discuss EU’s legitimacy in relation with these member states. We are interested to see if
there are any differences between the relations the EU has with the EaP member countries that have
territorial conflicts and have problems controlling their territory (Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and
Georgia) and those countries that do not have this problem (Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus). We are
not interested by conflicts that are between two state actors like is the case with Armenia and
Azerbaijan. Because we apply the subnational level in this article, we look only at Republic of
Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia to see if EU behaves in a way towards them and in a different way
1 Faculty o f Communication and International Relations, Danubius University of Galati, Romania, Address: 3 Galati Blvd.,
800654 Galati, Romania, Corresponding author: mihaela-adriana.paduraru@univ-danubius.ro.

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