EU’s regional integration strategies and its implication for civil society participation in Eastern partnership countries: comparing Georgia and Armenia
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Institutional framework within the EaP introduced a tailor-made policy approach towards six Eastern Partnership countries. Meanwhile, another regional integration project, the Eurasian Economic Union, was created by Russia which challenged the EU’s position in the region. This thesis tries to identify how different paths of regional integration affect the direction and the intensity of the process of Europeanization of civil society in Georgia and Armenia. The theoretical expectations are drawn from Neighborhood Europeanization through spreading ‘external governance’ by Lavenex and Schimmelfennig. According to them, the modes and effects of ‘external governance’ increases with three different factors: international legitimacy, the EU’s power, also alternative poles of governance and the domestic structure of the third countries. As civil society is the least studied field under the EaP, the thesis applied a semi-structured in-depth interview method to gather more data from experts in the field. Official agreements and documents produced by the EU, as well as in-depth interviews, are analyzed through qualitative content analysis. Overall, the study finds that Georgia’s regional strategy choice resulted in higher intensity and degree of the Europeanization of civil society in comparison with Armenia. However, it also identified that the selective will of domestic authorities largely influences civil society’s participation in the reform process and in monitoring implementation. In addition to this, the thesis demonstrates that the conditionality offered from the EU is effective until it meets the certain expectations of the partnership countries. The study confirms the expectations of the theory.
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