Energy as the Defining Component in EU-Russian Relations After the Eastern EU Enlargement
University of Groningen
* Marek Neuman is a PhD student at the University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
This paper has been presented at the Fourth Pan-European Conference on EU Politics held on 25 - 27 September 2008 at the University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia. Please do not distribute or quote without permission of the author.
Since the end of the Cold War, and especially with the signing of the first Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in 1994, the relationship between the European Union (EU) on the one hand, and the Russian Federation on the other, has been defined as a “strategic partnership.” This partnership has been further reinforced by the creation of four Common Spaces: the (i) Common Economic Space; (ii) Common Space of Freedom, Security and Justice; (iii) Common Space of External Security; and (iv) Common Space of Research and Education. If we accept Barry Buzan’s and Ole Waever’s Regional Security Complex Theory (RSCT), a close relationship in these areas of policy between the EU and Russia not only is desirable, but also essential for creating long-term peace in the region. According to Buzan and Waever, ‘[t]he central idea in RSCT is that, since most threats travel more easily over short distances than long ones, security interdependence is normally patterned into regionally based clusters: security complexes.’1 In other words, conflict is more likely to occur within a single region and hence developing an intertwined system of dependencies is seen as one way of preventing a potential conflict from bursting out.
Despite the constant declaration of the “strategic partnership” in the EU-Russian political discourse, their relationship cannot be described as harmonious. As scholars have pointed out, a multiplicity of actions undertaken by both sides have led to a gradually evolving mutual suspicion and even hostility. 2 Among the major problems figure such activities as the 1999 NATO military campaign against Yugoslavia, which was supported by individual EU member states, the Russian “counter-terrorist” operations in Chechnya, or the recent arrest and conviction of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. A further challenge for EU-Russian relations is the Russian military campaign in two Georgian breakaway provinces (South Ossetia and Abkhazia) in August 2008. This list, however, is incomplete without devoting some attention to the 2004/2007 EU enlargement and its effect on Russia.
Buzan, Barry and Ole Waever, Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003): 4.
Prozorov, Sergei, Understanding Conflict Between Russian and the EU: The Limits of Integration, ed. Richmond, Oliver, Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies (Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006): 8.
Although both Brussels and Moscow highlighted the ‘opportunities to further strengthen their strategic partnership offered by the enlargement of the EU,’3 the Union’s widening certainly dealt a blow to EU-Russian relations. The fact that ten former Soviet republics and Soviet satellite states decided to ally themselves with the Union to the utmost extent was perceived as a clear choice of the Union over Russia. For Moscow this meant losing authority in what it still perceived to be its natural sphere of influence. Furthermore, the historical perception of Russia in Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) indicated that future EU-Russia relations would be further complicated. That this was a real threat has been shown in the negotiation process of a new PCA that is to replace the original, long-outdated treaty. The launching of these negotiations has been successfully vetoed firstly by Poland and later by Lithuania.4 Thus, the relationship between the EU and Russia is far from being concordant. Besides practical issues...
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