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European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called it a "new start" in the EU's relations with its eastern neighbors.
But one year after the signing in Prague of the Eastern Partnership with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, the European Union seems to have all but forgotten what was then touted as a landmark initiative.
As journalists often do, RFE/RL's Belarus Service wanted to write a story to mark the anniversary. The only problem was that no one seemed to know what they were talking about.
A press representative for Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign-affairs chief, seemed genuinely surprised to get a call about something called the Eastern Partnership. Turns out Ashton was not giving interviews about the Eastern Partnership, whatever that is. And no, her office had no plans to issue a statement to mark the occasion.
To make matters worse, today was also supposed to be Ukraine Day in Brussels to mark the first anniversary of the Eastern Partnership. But Ukraine Day turned into plain old Friday, with no explanation.
RFE/RL's Belarus Service also wanted to get reactions to recent comments made to Reuters by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, in which he said the West had abandoned him in the wake of the Eastern Partnership, by failing to deliver on agreements allegedly forged in Minsk by visiting EU heavyweights eager to get "Europe's last dictator" on board.
Easier said than done.
Former EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, one of the architects of the Eastern Partnership, now works for the German reinsurance giant Munich Re. Contacted by RFE/RL, representatives there would only say that "this is not a political company." No help was given.
Former EU foreign-affairs chief Javier Solana, another architect of the Eastern Partnership, is listed as a distinguished senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. A call to the communications department at Brookings elicted no contact number for Solana -- only a suggestion to call the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland -- where, it turns out, they didn't know what RFE/RL was talking about either.
Anyone have Barroso's phone number?
-- Grant Podelco - Eastern Partnership
Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
the second text is about the EU negotiations with Iran, telling