European Interference in Autocratic Processes – Strategies for the Promotion of Civil Society and their Impact for the Eastern Partnership

Research Paper by Thibaut Le Forsonney



When the EU needs to choose between values and diplomacy, civil society should play a deciding role.

In a moment where attention is caught between reflections on democratic vulnerabilities inside Europe and reaction to the authoritarian atrocities emanating from Russia, many stories from the Eastern Partnership region risk being underappreciated in the EU policy community. The countries of Ukraine, Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Armenia have undergone immense changes thanks to their democratic citizens and despite authoritarian governments. The EU has been eager to support their growing civil societies but unable to protect them in the face of violent government crackdowns. Authoritarian actors often perceive active citizenries as a threat. When in government, they face a trade-off between good relations and dealing with their perceived weaknesses. With this background, the EU has sought to broaden the benefits of cooperation. Yet this has proved insufficient deterrence to regimes in a crisis. The EU needs new policies to better protect those who share its values abroad.


About the author

Thibaut Le Forsonney is a Policy Analyst at OpenForum Europe. He has completed a traineeship at the European Parliament as well as internships at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. He holds a master’s in Politics, Economics and Philosophy from the University of Hamburg.

#EuropeanUnion #EasternPartnership #CivilSociety #DemocracySupport #ForeignInterference #AutocraticRegimes