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Eu and its Eastern Neighbours (Eastern Partnership)

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The EU Eastern Partnership, just a geopolitical game? What is the connection between the EU Eastern Partnership and the current trouble in Ukraine. Can geopolitics provide answers, or are the causes of the conflict hidden in the way the Ukrainian institutions are constructed?

Lecture given at Babes Bolyai University Cluj, 6/11/2014

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Eu and its Eastern Neighbours (Eastern Partnership)

  1. 1. EU and its Eastern neighbours Just a political geostrategic game? Kom verder. Saxion. Jacques Bazen Lecturer International Economics Researcher Regional Economic Development
  2. 2. Kom verder. Saxion. Overview of the lecture • International cooperation in Europe • EU Eastern partnership – case study • How to explain the Ukranian crisis: Geopolitics or Clash of values?
  3. 3. Kom verder. Saxion. Let’s start with taking a step back: What again is the European Union all about?
  4. 4. Kom verder. Saxion. Europe after WW II
  5. 5. Kom verder. Saxion. Europe after WW II • Situation: Europe was in ruins • Goal: How to break free from the past and prevent future wars? • Solution: Make the economies of EU countries dependent on each other! • Goal of the EU is political, to be achieved by economic means
  6. 6. Kom verder. Saxion. Goals of the EU • Internal market in Europe achieved… • Internal peace guaranteed… (we hope) • What now???
  7. 7. Kom verder. Saxion. Smart, Inclusive, Sustainable
  8. 8. Kom verder. Saxion. Nice, but how? Means to reach these goals: Targeted EU Funding for projects in the field of: - Regional development - Innovation - Social cohesion - Sustainable development Etc.
  9. 9. Kom verder. Saxion. EU Foreign relations • Several tools to support EU Businesses with international trade treaties • Among others also: EU Eastern Partnership
  10. 10. Kom verder. Saxion. International trade Is free trade (always) good for everyone? Upon constructing railroads in the USA: “If we buy the steel from Britain, we have the steel but the money is gone. If we buy the steel in the United States, we have the steel and the money, too. Such an advantage far outweighs a lower price for imported steel.” Abraham Lincoln
  11. 11. Kom verder. Saxion. The challenge of weaker economic regions Without right policies and actions, peripheral regions will remain underdeveloped, or get even worse.
  12. 12. Kom verder. Saxion. EU Foreign relations • Strengthening the position of EU Businesses in the world • Becoming the worlds most innovative region  And… STAY there!
  13. 13. Kom verder. Saxion. EU Eastern Partnership Aimed at improving: - Trade with former Sovjet Union states - Making travel easier - European-wide environmental issues (eg. Baltic Sea, Black Sea) Not: Candidate membership
  14. 14. Kom verder. Saxion. Trouble in Ukraine: A small story from the viewpoint of the West
  15. 15. Kom verder. Saxion. Trouble in Ukraine Can the EU help? Maybe a trade agreement/ other funding?
  16. 16. Kom verder. Saxion. Trouble in Ukraine Conditions for reform were demanded by the EU. The president refused to sign
  17. 17. Kom verder. Saxion. Trouble in Ukraine Conditions for reform were demanded by the EU. The president refused to sign Ukrainian people were fed up by the unfairness of the government and started mass protests.
  18. 18. Kom verder. Saxion. Trouble in Ukraine The protests succeeded: The president was ousted. Ukrainian people were fed up by the unfairness of the government and started mass protests.
  19. 19. Kom verder. Saxion. Trouble in Ukraine: View from the West Angry elite feels these changes as a big threat to their lucrative businesses... A threat that must be stopped...
  20. 20. Kom verder. Saxion. Is this what and why it happened? Or are there other explanations?
  21. 21. Kom verder. Saxion. How to explain the current crisis in Ukraine? • Is it a geopolitical game? • Russia: an attempt to expand the European Union's “sphere of influence” in the quest for oil and gas. International relations according to Russia: Zero-Sum game, so stay out of our backyard! • EU: These countries voluntarily joined the partnership. No geopolitical tool or blackmail
  22. 22. Kom verder. Saxion. How to explain the current crisis in Ukraine? Can Geopolitical theory help with some answers?
  23. 23. Kom verder. Saxion. Geopolitical theory Since the industrial revolution, states need more and more resources for production and people to work in factories. Foreign policy based on secure access to resources.
  24. 24. Kom verder. Saxion. Russia, Ratzel & The Roman Empire Friedrich Ratzel: Organic state theory. States are like organisms. Stagnation is decay  see Roman Empire. Ratzel’s idea of growth: German culture should “fertilize” minor nations with its superior culture. Organic state theory is influential in Russia (“Mother Russia”)  breakup of the Soviet Union was a psychological disaster.
  25. 25. Kom verder. Saxion. Secure access to resources • Eastern partnership? • Less dependency on Russian gas?
  26. 26. Kom verder. Saxion. Role of the USA Is there a secret conspiracy of the USA to destroy Russia? (Depicting Russia as evil aggressor) Over 60% of the Russians believe this. Emotion driven politics in Russia  the unknown is to be feared
  27. 27. Kom verder. Saxion. Role of the USA Is there a secret conspiracy of the USA to destroy Russia? Exchange rate politics? Depreciation of Ruble against the Dollar
  28. 28. Kom verder. Saxion. Role of the USA Oil politics – geopolitical measures? Decreasing the oil prices – Hitting Russia where it hurts the most?
  29. 29. Kom verder. Saxion. Sanctions in Russia Hitting Europe where it hurts the most? Food import boycott
  30. 30. Kom verder. Saxion. Sanctions in Russia Hitting Europe where it hurts the most? Food import boycott
  31. 31. Kom verder. Saxion. History repeating itself? American point of view Cold war containment policy: George Kennan: Soviet rulers need a hostile world to legitimize their autocratic rule and seek to expand to minimize the “threat” from outside. America should create a counterforce by giving economic aid (Marshall plan)
  32. 32. Kom verder. Saxion. American imperialism… Cold War history repeating itself???
  33. 33. Kom verder. Saxion. Another explanation “Institutional” theorists suggest the current troubles in Ukraine are most likely the consequence of the extractive nature of the Ukrainian and Russian government institutions. In other words: Any move towards the EU with its freedom means a threat for the personal interests of the elite in both Kiev and Moscow.
  34. 34. Kom verder. Saxion. Inclusive versus Extractive institutions Inclusive countries: Extractive countries: - Rule of law - Rule of elite - Equality for all: - Some are more equal Solid property rights than others - Aimed at effectiveness - Aimed at interests of and efficiency the ruling class - Encouragement of - Encouragement of clientelism: Entrepreneurship: incentive to be government Incentive to invest official or politician.
  35. 35. Kom verder. Saxion. Conclusion 2 Different paradigms/truths opposing each other: EU Russia - Countries should start from - Countries should take cover their own strengths behind the back of a strong ally (“Protector”) - International relations are - International relations are a synergetic zero-sum game - State is instrumental for - State is organic/sacred: supporting quality of life “Mother Russia” - Rational policies, but could - Emotion driven policies mean “creative destruction”
  36. 36. Kom verder. Saxion. Conclusion The role of the USA in the conflict remains unclear: The USA government claims to support freedom and security. The Russian government claims that the USA is only fighting for the interest of American politicians and American big business in their quest for world domination. In what sense is this indeed a geopolitical game in which the EU is squeezed in the middle?

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