We have a handful of difficult problems on our eastern borders.
Former Ukraine PM Yulia Tymoshenko was jailed for having concluded a gas deal with Russia during her time in office. She remains in jail following a trial heavily criticised by Baroness Ashton External Affairs EU Commissioner. I think she will appeal. Ukraine is struggling between looking western and applying to join the EU and others looking to Russia. Ukrainians suffered appalling injustice during World War II to degrees that are beyond most of our worst dreams in this country. Its population has known terrible poverty and still does. I would like to see Ukraine able to join the EU.
Belarus (former White Russia / Byelorussia) is ruled by an autocrat who perpetrates may human rights injustices that we must take note of and stand up to. We should support brave citizens who stand for human rights.
The Balkans outside of the EU have suffered – and perpetrated – many injustices in the post-Tito wars and distrubances. We have done a good job seeking to protect people there. It would be good to see Serbia take a more neighbourly approach and to see the Serbian Orthodox Church hold its land’s own government to account. Presumably it is difficult to do so but I think encouragement and courage is needed there. There is probably useful casework to be done on specific cases of injustice which could help reformers in the Serbian government to be a constructive influence.
The people of Moldova (which is outside the EU) are entitled to Romanian Passports with which permit travel and I think residence throughout the EU. It is a poor nation and this freedom to travel must surely introduce an incentive for migration, trafficking and crime. Again, personal knowledge and links is a valuable influence for good.
Transdneistr is a old-fashioned enclave between Moldova and Ukraine (which Moldova considers part of its territory), with attitudes that take one back to Stalinist pre-Gorbachev Russia. A unit of the Russian army is stationed there despite there being no land link with Russia. Again personal links may be a help in promoting a good outcome.