Regionalism and Regional Policy in Eastern Europe and the Post-Soviet Space

« Back

Regionalism and Regional Policy in Eastern Europe and the Post-Soviet Space 16.07.2018 13:21


June 7, 2018 at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI) held a scientific conference "Regionalism and regional policy in Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet space." Experts from RISI, the Russian Humanitarian State University (RGGU), the Institute of the CIS Countries, the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Center for Integration Studies of the Eurasian Development Bank, the Higher School of Economics and others.

The conference was opened by the head of the Center for Studies of CIS Countries V. Holodkov. Following him, a leading researcher of the Center for Humanitarian Studies of RISI, Doctor of Historical Sciences, T. Guzenkova on "Transboundary regionalization: an agenda for policy and analysts". In her report, she noted the importance of cross-border cooperation between Russia and CIS countries and China. At the same time, in her opinion, it is necessary to use the experience of the European Union (EU) in building models of cross-border cooperation. T. Gusenkova stressed that regionalism is becoming a leading trend in international relations, which is accompanied by the creation of complex network links. In conclusion, the expert shared her experience of an analytical study that was conducted in the border areas of Ukraine.

Further, with a report on the theme "Eastern Partnership of the EU: common approaches and fragmentation of installations", the vice-rector for scientific work of the RSUH, candidate of historical sciences O. Pavlenko, who shared her experience of the four-year analytical study of the EU's Eastern Partnership program and its impact on the Eastern European partner countries (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan). The expert noted that the methodology of such a partnership has changed. If before 2011, the EU has had a significant impact on these countries, then in the context of limited resources, attention is now focused on point-to-point interactions.

However, through the "promotion of democracy" funding in the framework of the "Eastern Partnership" program for the period up to 2020 has been increased by 1.5 times.

Especially, this is evident in the work with the young parliamentarians of these countries. Moreover, the EU divides the countries of the "Eastern Partnership" into two groups: P-2 and P-3. Currently, there are discussions about determining the status of these states, which are still considered to be a "circle of friends". In Brussels, the decisive role is assigned to infrastructure, energy cooperation, the creation of joint digital platforms (especially with Georgia), the liberalization of the visa regime and respect for human rights in the countries of the Eastern Partnership. It is believed that it is necessary in the partner countries to establish a cooperative order through the strengthening of the structure of local communities.

Another feature is that the EU's political vocabulary is changing. For example, the concepts of stability and stability differ. Thus, the expert notes that according to the definition of the EU, Azerbaijan and Belarus belong to stable states, but not stable.

Deputy Director of the Institute of the CIS countries, Candidate of Technical Sciences. V. Evseev made a report on the topic: "The CIS as a platform for dialogue in the post-Soviet space." He reminded that the Commonwealth of Independent States has already turned 26 years old. In Russia, this organization is treated differently. Some are still waiting for her inevitable collapse and are surprised that this has not happened yet. They pay attention to some amorphousness of the CIS, its inability to further integration in the military-political and economic fields and the reluctance of the organization's participants to fulfill the numerous previously signed agreements. Unfortunately there are a lot such agreements.

Others are trying to see in the Commonwealth a prototype of the new Soviet Union, in which the Russian Federation will play a decisive role. They do not rule out that in some perspective the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will expand into the entire post-Soviet space, which will raise the issue of qualitative renewal of the CIS taking into account new realities. At the same time, it is emphasized that the Commonwealth is the most representative organization in the space under consideration.

Obviously, such approaches are subjective and far from always correspond to reality. Preservation of the CIS as an organization is conditioned, inter alia, by the fact that Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan (at least until Armenia is there), Ukraine and Moldova are not going to join the CSTO. It is difficult to involve even Tajikistan in the EEA, which is largely determined by the negative attitude of China towards this. At the same time, even leaving the Commonwealth, states (in particular, Georgia) continue to remain within the framework of many CIS treaties, as this is economically profitable. A striking example in this respect is Ukraine, whose desire to withdraw from the CIS contradicts its own national interests.

Consequently, the CIS will remain in the medium term, which will gradually allow Turkmenistan to enter the orbit of this organization and will not allow Ukraine to go far. Such a platform for dialogue in the post-Soviet space is extremely necessary, especially for creating a favorable foreign policy environment around itself.

The head of the Department of Economics of the Institute of CIS countries, Doctor of Economic Sciences A. Migranyan made a speech on the topic: Russia in the processes of regional integration in Eurasia ". In her report, she noted that Russia still holds leading positions on the formation of an economic agenda in the CIS space. But in the last 3 - 5 years in this area, it is increasingly inferior to other foreign players (we are talking about China). From its point of view, Russia's goals in this space are:

- reduction through the integration of sanctions restrictions on the part of the United States and its allies;

- modernization of the national economy with the help of regional partners;

- use of own transport potential;

- development of new technologies (the Russian Federation has great achievements in the field of science, but cannot always implement them in practice);

- implementation of energy cooperation;

- cooperation in the field of finance.

As A. Migranes noted, through the mechanism of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Russia cannot block Western sanctions, so it is necessary to create free trade zones (FTAs) of the EAEU with other countries located in Eurasia. The first such FTA was created with Vietnam, now a temporary FTA is being introduced with Iran. FTA in the form of an economic favored zone will begin to work with China.

In her opinion, the SCO and the BRICS deserve special attention, which have different directions. For example, the SCO is used by the PRC to implement major infrastructure projects under the “One-Belt One-Way Initiative” while BRICS is trying to create economic attractiveness for countries. All this should be used in Russia's national interests.

Then the head of the Center for Integration Studies of the Eurasian Development Bank, Ph.D. V. Pereboev made a report on the topic "Interests of the EAEU in the context of Greater Eurasia". He noted that, in aggregate, the member countries of the EAEU provide only 2.5% of world GDP, so this organization is not a self-sufficient economic entity. It is important for the EAEU to remove barriers, restrictions and sanctions, as well as create new sales markets. In the expert's opinion, the EU remains a priority for the EAEU, so its interests are taken into account. Among the latter, the researcher singled out trade liberalization with partners across the continent, deregulation of competition in the EU member states and ensuring energy security. In turn, the EAEC is interested in creating free trade zones with the EU and increasing European investment.

Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, Higher School of Economics, Higher School of Economics, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences Candidate of Political Sciences E. Entin focused her attention on the challenges and prospects of Russia's policy in the Western Balkans. The researcher gave a retrospective analysis of the development of political events in the late 20-th and early 21-st centuries. The expert noted the growing influence of NATO and the United States in Montenegro and the challenges of including other Western Balkan states in the North Atlantic Alliance.

E. Entina noted that Russia had largely lost the political weight and support in the region in the Balkans. Meanwhile, while retaining its presence there, the Russian Federation is strengthening its negotiating positions with both the EU as a whole and with Turkey and China. Thus, Beijing realizes the international format of "16 + 1" with the states of Central and Eastern Europe, promoting the Chinese initiative "One Belt, One Way" and its private project "The Economic Belt of the Silk Road" and other economic projects. The expert expressed her concerns about China's high political support in the region. As measures for Russia, she recommended departing from bilateral relations with the countries of the Balkan Peninsula due to the strengthening of NATO's military-political factor. As a so-called "window of opportunity" for Russia, there is a variant of interregional integration, for example, through the BRICS.

Senior Researcher of the Department of Contemporary History of Central and South-Eastern Europe of the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Candidate of Historical Sciences A. Edemsky spoke on the topic: "Modern forms of multilateral regional cooperation in South-Eastern Europe in the context of Russia's long-term interests". The expert told the prehistory of multilateral formats and noted that the territory of the former Yugoslavia has always been located between the geopolitical blocks of the Russian Empire / USSR and the West. He also noted the need to continue point long-term economic projects (for example, on nuclear power plants) in the territory of South-Eastern Europe. In conclusion, the researcher noted the cautious attitude of the population of the countries of the region (especially Croatia regarding the construction of an LNG terminal) to the EU policy.

The candidate of historical sciences I. Mamedov, the senior researcher of the Department of Contemporary History of the countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe of the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences spoke on the topic "Regional policy of Turkey in the Balkans". He gave a historical and geopolitical description of the region, concluding that the Balkans is a heterogeneous mixed region. Further, the expert cited the statistics of living in the Balkans of a population of Turkish origin (2-4 million people) and Turks of Balkan origin in Turkey (10 million people). In conclusion, the expert reviewed the regional policy of Turkey in the context of the concept of former Turkish Prime Minister A. Davutoglu, described by him in the book "Strategic depth. The international situation of Turkey". The researcher said that Turkey has its geopolitical and geocultural zone in the Balkans, different from the regional policy of NATO.

Researcher of the Department of Contemporary History of the countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe of the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, candidate of historical sciences G. Engelhardt spoke on "Attempts to" change the regime" in the Serbian Republika and their regional dimension". The researcher noted the challenges and threats that the republic will face in elections of all levels of power that will be held on October 7, 2018:

- impossibility of a new presidential term for the current leadership of the country (2010-2014 and 2014-2018);

- nomination of candidates to the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH);

- absence of a real opposition candidate;

- double turn of Bosnian Serb parties;

- stake on the Macedonian scenario - the creation of an inter-ethnic coalition;

- socio-economic crisis;

- sensation of futility of development;

- lack of rotation of power;

- irritation on the part of the population by an ineffective state apparatus.

The expert also noted that the campaign "Responsibility for David" is gaining momentum in the country.

Deputy chief editor of the site М. Samorukov made a presentation on the topic “Visegrad Group between Russia and Western Europe". The expert disclosed the political and economic aspects of the activities of the Visegrad Group. Thus, the expert indicated that Germany is the largest trading partner. But the Visegrad Group cannot function as an independent economic association, since its economies are not complementary. Thus, it can exist as a political union.

Regarding the sanctions against Russia and the attitude of the "Visegrad Group" to them, the researcher reported that three countries (the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary) are in favor of reviewing the sanctions against Russia, whereas Poland is sharply against this. The expert noted that with the change of political leadership in Poland there could be some prospects for improving relations with Russia. In conclusion, he concluded that in the present unfavorable conditions for Russia with the countries of the "Visegrad Group" it is necessary to build bilateral relations.

Leading researcher of the Center for Near Eastern Studies RISI O. Nemensky spoke on the theme "The Three Dimension Development Project and the Prospects for the Development of Regional Integration in the Polish Foreign Policy Strategy." The speaker stated that the main reason for Poland's regional ambitions in Central and Eastern Europe is its geographical position and the average size of the state. Then the expert gave an evaluation of the project "Interworld", which appeared after the First World War, sponsored by the United States. The main difference between the projects "Interworld" from the project "Three Sea" is its focus on military cooperation. The "Three Sea" project, according to the expert, acts as an economic project that is focused on the development of infrastructure (for example, roads) and energy cooperation.

Head of the Sector for bilateral relations between Russia and neighboring countries of the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, associate professor of the Department of World Economy and World Finance at the Finance University under the Government of the Russian Federation; A. Pylin spoke on the topic: "On trade and economic cohesion of the countries of the Unified Energy System in the conditions of global instability." The expert came to the following conclusions.

1. The foreign trade openness of the EAEU countries over the past years has had uneven dynamics:

- countries predominantly export-oriented economies (Kazakhstan and Russia) - net energy exporters;

- countries with high import intensity of the economy (Kyrgyzstan and Armenia) - net importers of hydrocarbons;

- Belarus simultaneously has the most powerful export-oriented production with the maximum share of exports to GDP and high import intensity, which is largely due to the dependence of its exports on imports from abroad of raw materials and components.

2. The EAEU countries differ significantly in their main trading partners, which affects the possibilities for their closer coordination in foreign markets.

3. A key feature of the integration of the EAEU countries into the global economy is their significant dependence on the export of fuel and raw materials and products with a low degree of processing.

4. The commodity structure of exports of the EAEU countries varies significantly in the main regions and areas:

- intraregional exports are more balanced and diversified in comparison with exports to third countries, which potentially increases the stability of trade interaction within the framework of the EAEU, given the worsening of the situation on world markets;

- during the years of operation of the CU-CES the participating countries (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia) managed to significantly improve the structure of mutual trade;

- the differences in the commodity structure of exports in mutual trade and in third countries differ even more for each of the countries of the EAEU;

- a feature of small economies of the countries of the region is that they seek to diversify possible risks by targeting different industries to different sales markets.

The main results of assessing the connectedness of the countries of Eurasian integration:

- for 2012-2016, the trade and economic ties of the EAEU fell by an average of 7.7%, which was due to a fall in the absolute indicators of mutual trade;

- at the same time, the coherence of individual countries in the region has increased markedly, taking into account the continuing positive trade dynamics (or its lowest decline) between them - Armenia-Russia, Armenia-Belarus and Armenia-Kyrgyzstan pairs;

- Armenia's accession to the Unified Energy System (from January 2, 2015), at least allowed the republic (in contrast to other countries) during this period to prevent a strong decline in trade with other states of the association;

- the coherence of Russia and Belarus has remained at the same level;

- the cohesiveness of the EAEU and the EU countries decreased significantly more - on average by 43.9% (the strongest decline in EU-related ties occurred in Belarus and Kazakhstan, and the lowest in Armenia);

- the connectedness of the EAEU countries with China also significantly decreased - by 44.1%, which is mainly due to a higher increase in the volume of the Chinese economy, which is not kept up by relatively low trade flows, as well as by a significant decrease in Kazakh-Chinese and Russian-Chinese trade;

- the bonding within the EAEU is 1.4 times higher on average than with the EU and 3 times higher than with the PRC (in conditions of unfavorable external factors 2014-2016, the cohesiveness of the EAEU countries decreased much less than with the EU and PRC, which indicates on the preservation of the higher complementarity of the economies of the Eurasian Five countries, which was facilitated by the entry into force of the treaty on the establishment of the EAEU and a more diversified structure of mutual trade within the framework of the EAEU);

- the key task of Eurasian integration is the formation of a capacious domestic market as the most important driver of economic growth;

- preliminary results of the functioning of the EAEC show some positive results for Armenia and Kyrgyzstan joining in the processes of Eurasian integration in 2015;

- in 2017, for the first time in five years, the growth of mutual trade resumed throughout the whole association, but its value volumes so far differ significantly from pre-crisis indicators.

Risks of development of Eurasian integration:

1) taking into account the current situation in the region, integration effects (including for new participants) will not immediately manifest themselves and will be of an implicit, deferred nature;

2) in conditions of aggravated competition of integration projects in the post-Soviet space, we should expect further strengthening of China's ties with the countries of Central Asia, which may affect the intensity of ties within the framework of the Unified Energy System;

3) the persistence of US and EU sanctions against Russia will restrain its economic growth, hinder modernization and diversification of its economy using Western capital and technology;

Opportunities for the EAEU:

- activation of sectoral cooperation projects in selected industries and industries;

- search and introduction of new drivers of cohesion: social, innovative, infrastructural, security;

- gradual shift of emphasis from mutual trade to joint development and implementation of own technologies and implementation of coordinated modernization;

- establishment of cooperation with third countries.

Deputy Head of the Caucasus Department of the Institute of CIS Countries S. Sargsyan in his report "The impact of the EU Eastern Partnership project on the South Caucasus states: expectations, dreams and realities" presented the dynamics of the development of relations between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia with the European Union and led a comparative analysis of each country's individual approach to the implementation of the EU's Eastern Partnership program". This year, 10 years have passed since the presentation of this program, and it is possible to sum up some of its effects on the relations of the states-participants of the South Caucasus with the EU, to assess whether the current state of its implementation corresponds to the initial expectations of it, and how much the actual results of participation in this program have an impact on the political and socio-economic situation in these countries. The mechanisms for rendering EU assistance within the framework of the EU Eastern Partnership program to civil societies and political parties were considered, as well as how participation in this program affects the bilateral relations of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia with Russia, and the relations of these countries with the EAEU.

Scientific employee of the Department of Eurasian Integration and Development of the SCO of the Institute of CIS Countries D. Kharitonova spoke on the theme: "The Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the process of its expansion. "In her speech, the expert outlined the problems facing the Organization as an internal (institutional plan) and the impact on its stability on the part of the SCO member states, including India and Pakistan. The researcher noted that the unresolved issue remains the formation of the "core" of the Organization and the complexity of implementing the initiative of the Russian President V. Putin on the formation of "Greater Eurasia" on the basis of the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN. But at the same time, the expert notes that the SCO is the organization of the future, where decisions are really made on the basis of consensus.

Thus, within the framework of the RISI scientific conference "Regionalism and Regional Politics in Eastern Europe and the Post-Soviet Space", the Institute of the CIS Countries was represented with dignity, which indicates its high prestige in the Russian expert community.



V. Evseev, D. Kharitonova