As for Romania and Bulgaria, they had not even been considered, but a few years later they were admitted in bulk. The European Union became a more complex and more fragile construction in the context of revealing common interests with Russia. In 2003 we were able to agree on Road Maps of Four Common Spaces, but since then we have not been able to reach such a consensus between Russia and the EU. Prior to 2004–2005, we had EU-Russia summits every six months. At practically every summit we managed to adopt joint declarations on political issues. Today this is something I can't even dream about. Of course, both parties used to bargain about the wordings. But we had a 90% common vision of the issues, of evaluations. Then suddenly the scenario changed. Other powers gained the upper hand in Europe.
A crucial moment worth mentioning was the replacement of the European Neighborhood Policy with the Eastern Partnership. We discussed it frankly with EU representatives. I remember our discussions with the German colleagues very well. We, the Russian party, explained what could happen to Ukraine (and what is happening to it now – not the military operation, but the numerous problems, I mean): distancing from Russia, from the Russian space, Russophobia, nationalism, and the consequences of all that for the EU-Russia relations, of the entire Russia-West relations. Nobody believed us then. They said we were intimidating them. But all our anticipations have come true.
The concept of the Eastern Partnership was a big mistake because there was no equality in it, and the partnership could only be built on the EU priorities, with its new members playing a subdued role. Either you are with the EU and obey the EU will, or you are treated as a threat to your independence (like Russia), and other mechanisms are applied to you. I believe, it was a negative turning point in EU-Russia relations, and we have been unable to overcome it. I am not sure we shall be able to overcome it without some qualitative changes, above all in the EU, in the general approach to what Russia is, what role it plays on the continent, and what they can get from the bilateral relations.