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April 23, 2008

European Union policy towards Russia and Ukraine

This guest web log has been produced by Professor Elzbieta Stadtmuller, Professor of International Relations from the University of Wroclaw in Poland. Professor Stadtmuller is an International Visiting Fellow at the Alworth Institute.

Russia seems to be moving towards an active and individualistic foreign policy. It is concerned with developments on its borders and in its former spheres of influence, including the Ukraine. What is the policy of the European Union (as opposed to the policies of individual states) towards Russia and the Ukraine? How successful can the policy be?

European Union’s policy approach towards Russia and Ukraine is a specific element of the broader question of how to deal with Eastern Europe. The short history of relations contains two periods. The first one, from the 90s, was based on cooperation and economic aid (Phare and Tacis funds) offered to all countries in the East. The second, at the turn of the 21st century divided Eastern Europe into countries of enlargement and those others left behind. The EU of 27 member states promised further enlargement only for Western Balkans’ states, and as for the others – the European Neighborhood Policy (the ENP) as a substitute for enlargement. Russia, amongst these ‘others’, takes a special place.

The Ukraine-EU relationship contains a number of agreements: the Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA), in force from March 1998 (signed in 1994); established cooperation in the framework of the EU-Ukraine Council; the Common Strategy towards Ukraine which was agreed in 1999 (for the strengthening of democracy, for security cooperation, and for increasing economic and cultural exchange); the Action Plan (2004) in the framework of the ENP; and support for Ukraine in the accession to the WTO (2008). Between 1991 and 2001 the EU offered also Ukraine over 1 billion euros in support and became its second biggest trade partner after Russia. However all these documents avoided the word ‘membership’. This fact was accepted by the Ukraine with difficulty, particularly after the ‘Orange Revolution’. Currently the EU considers (meeting in March 2008) embracing it by the application of Common Market Rules (three economic freedoms) and the exchange of students programmes. This closer cooperation has strong advocates among Ukraine's western neighbours, particularly Poland. But there are also obstacles stemming from the continued instability of the Ukrainian political and economic system and from the fact that Russia is against Ukrainian links with the EU. There are also rivals of the Ukraine with respect to EU policy (the question of Turkey) and funds (the Mediterranean states).

Russia’s story of relations with the EU contains the PCA, agreed in 1994 and in force from July 1997 (now under revision) and the four ‘road maps’ (agreed at the St. Petersburg Summit of May 2003). This ‘road map’ embraces: a common economic space - including a specific reference to environment and energy; a common space of freedom, security and justice; a space for cooperation in the field of external security; a space of research and education, including culture. But the core of relations goes much beyond formal agreements. On the one hand Russia is a special and precious partner of the EU member states in many areas, such as European security, the global order, and economic relations. On the other hand the EU members are obliged to ask themselves how far they can disregard the ‘democratic deficit’ in Russia and Russian demands to be treated exceptionally. Controversial concerns include the Energy Pact/bilateral disagreements on trade and delivery of energy. A main concern is Russia’s very different ‘philosophy’ of international relations. New chances for overcoming troubles are likely to appear in June 2008 during the EU-Russia meeting.

The EU is shaping its current policy towards Eastern Europe with difficulty. Enlargement is now finished, for a while at least. The Neighbourhood Policy has not enough instruments, funds and legitimacy to be an efficient tool to influence the Eastern neighbourhood. Moreover a common foreign policy approach of all 27 members towards Ukraine and Russia has not yet been achieved.

April 16, 2008

Security and foreign policy in Poland during transformation.

This guest web log has been produced by Dr. Elzbieta Stadtmuller, Professor of International Studies at the University of Wroclaw and International Visiting Fellow at the Alworth Institute.

Poland has always been situated in a geopolitical dilemma. Historically is has been located between an expansionist West (Germany in one form of another) and an expansionist east (Russia in one form or another). What have been and continue to be the issues facing Poland? How are such issues being resolved during this time of transition and transformation in Eastern Europe?

To understand contemporary Polish policy it is necessary to have a brief look at the historical background. For centuries Poland had a geopolitical dilemma: how to survive between East and West? This dilemma faced the Polish Kingdom till the end of XVIII century; Prussia/Germany and Russia (after the Partitions); Germany and the Soviet Union (after W.W.I). The Yalta/Potsdam decisions, after the Second World War, were a kind of solution to the Polish dilemma, placing Poland in one camp with East Germany and the Soviet Union. However, the real dilemma was not solved because of the artificial friendship with Russia and East Germany and lasting problems with the German-Polish border.

The period of transition, from the 1990s, brought changes in the political landscape around Poland. German unification radically altered the immediate geo-political landscape. The end of the communist block led to an avalanche of new neighbours (from 3 to 7). Russia re-emerged as a ‘new’ state, though what kind of state is still under discussion.

Polish policy had to be reshaped. For the first time in generations Polish foreign policy could be created independently. Hence, priorities were established: membership of the EU and security in the structure of the West (NATO); the best relationships with all neighbours; regional co-operation. This new policy (supported by all political parties and society almost unanimously in the 1990s.) led to real successes. Poland achieved a friendly neighbourhood through legal agreements with all neighbours, and a strategic partnership with Ukraine and Lithuania. Germany interested in making up for past history and in the interests of border stability supported Polish interests with respect to the EU and NATO and as a result was named ‘the best advocate of Polish interests’. Regional structures of co-operation were established (the Baltic Sea Co-operation Council, the Central European Initiative, the Visegrad Group, the CEFTA) and Poland became a member of NATO (April 1999) and the EU (from 2004).

However some problems with the neighbourhood still exist: the historical burden of Polish domination is still felt in the relationships with Ukraine and Lithuania, especially where minority populations are concerned. The historical burden and contemporary problems in the relationship with Germany can resurface (economic fears of either country, disequilibrium of power, and the question of expelled people). As for relations with Russia – who knows? We have here a ‘swinging’ from political manifestations (e.g. NATO, Chechnya, antimissile defence) to attempts at co-operation on the background of historical trauma. The 21st century also opened new questions, on the future of NATO and the EU. Polish policy needs to confront them from the ‘inside’ not the ‘outside’ which is more challenging and leads to controversies among Polish politicians. Should NATO be responsible for actions ‘out of area’; how far should it go in its involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan; how to deal with transatlantic relations; should the EU evolve towards a more unified political body?

But in spite of controversies it is clear that in Polish foreign and security policy security is seen as multidimensional: economic (based on the EU, Eastern neighbours and regional cooperation plus global partners); concerning energy (EU, NATO, neighbours as partners); military (focus on NATO, USA, EU); political (keeping diversity in security tools, preserving a stable, democratic system, developing the EU, Eastern neighbours and regional cooperation); cultural (the EU’s programs but also keeping Poland’s own traditions). In this way also an old dilemma is solved. Germany is a member of the common structures of the West, and common membership in the EU and NATO will protect Poland from standing alone against its economic and political power. Russia is separated from Poland by a barrier of new countries in the East (which need to be supported by Poland) but also it is under pressure from the international community to be more democratic. This traditionally unfortunate location between Germany and Russia could even be transformed into a very good place on the Earth: from a field of bloody battles to an area of transit, trade and investment for both the West and the East. Poland’s recent economic growth may be

April 7, 2008

European Union and regional and global order

This guest web log has been written by Professor Elzbieta Stadtmuller, from the University of Wroclaw in Poland and Visiting International Fellow at the Alworth Institute.

The European Union is seen as a well-established international actor which is able to shape the regional and global order. On the other hand it is under pressure from a range of significant contemporary problems. What are these problems? How does the EU react to those processes which are shaping the contemporary world, such as globalization, fragmentation, regionalization and governance? What, if anything, is the European Union model of governance?

The interdependencies and challenges facing the international order to which the EU has to relate contain a long list of items: political, economic, military, cultural and legal. Among them: the role of super-powers, organisations, and international/global/civil society. There are choices between: multilateralism versus unilateralism, domination versus co-operation, free trade versus market protection. There are threats: stemming from disparity of global development, mass-migration, religious fundamentalism, environmental pollution; the prevailing new types of conflicts (intrastate, failing states, not interstate), terrorism, humanitarian intervention, conflict and post-conflict management, mass destruction missiles. New chances and obligations stemming from new technologies and science, the concept of international law and human rights and their protection, must also be included.

The EU is a globalising as well as a globalized actor. It gains economic profits from the free market, being one of the biggest world traders. It is challenged by cheaper labor from outside Europe and from new economic powers such as China. Immigration is both warmly welcomed as the savior of a shrinking population but also creates a desire to build a protective fortress; cultural meetings with others leads to acceptance of a hybridisation process but also arouses fears about the loss of homogeneity or of being uprooted from European culture. The Union’s response towards all these old and new security threats accelerated by globalisation is: involvement in conflict resolution and management, EU humanitarian aid, environmental protection, development policy, and interregional cooperation.

There is a similar response to the disintegration processes afflicting the world including the nearest neighbourhood of the EU. However the states that make up the EU are not always unified enough to meet the challenges and divisions of the contemporary world and its international conflicts. Moreover, Europe is itself divided into sub regions, nations and minorities. It suffers social disparities – the EU tries, on the one hand, to preserve differences which are enriching Europe (according to the slogan: unified in diversity) and on the other hand to offer various aid programs which can protect and assist the development of the socially excluded.

The EU, at the heart of regionalization processes, is considered to be a model for the new regionalism. It has a strong community approach exemplified in its Single Market; its non-economic areas of integration; its network of governmental and non-governmental actors sharing common values and interests; and its attempt to develop cooperation with its neighbourhood (via enlargement and the neighbourhood policy). The EU, as such ‘a multilevel governance system’, can be seen as a potential model for the successful initiation of regional governance in a regionalized world. However it is only potentially so because the EU members have problems with creating a common approach towards the serious foreign and security policy problems listed above. Moreover, the institutional system faces a fundamental dilemma: should it seek more efficiency or greater democracy? Politicians have to find a way of legitimizing governance in a non-state entity like the EU. On the other hand, if one looks at contemporary Europe, one has to say that the EU has made a real and positive difference to the regional order. This Community may also be seen as a sort of laboratory of supranational governance. But can this European model really be adapted everywhere? In North America, for example, there have been calls for a more developed NAFTA, partly organized along European lines. This question remains open.


April 4, 2008

President Mugabe is what is wrong with Africa today.

In this passionate guest weblog John Arthur, Professor of Sociology in UMD and Alworth Institue associate, strongly urges President Robert Mugabe to go gracefully.

President Mugabe’s time is past. He operates in analog mode. Zimbabweans are now in the digital age. They envision a better and brighter future for themselves and their children. Mugabe is not part of that future. Things have fallen apart for him. His center cannot hold. He has wiped out all the good things he did for his country. His role in the independence movement and in the birth of Zimbabwe will always be acknowledged in the annals of history. But his persistency that he is a symbol of what is best for his country is laughable. I have been to Zimbabwe as a guest lecturer at the University. I saw the energies and talents of the people in this beautiful country. He ought to accept the verdict of the electorate and relinquish power to new crop of political leaders in Zimbabwe. The world is watching and waiting.

Zimbabweans will not be moved or shaken by any intimidations and machinations on his part to gun his way to hold on to political power. For as long as he has stayed in power, I will like to think that he is not a poor man. Does he need more money to do what? African leaders must learn that to be a political leader or figure is to have class, dignity, and a presence that is graceful. Our leaders must know when it is time to exit. They have to learn how to retire, to become statesmen and stateswomen, age gracefully and to show that we as Africans are capable of embracing change.

Perhaps, Mugabe has not kept abreast with the sea of change that is remaking the political and economic landscapes of Africa. A new generation of African men and women do not have any loyalties and are not beholden to the pioneers of political self-determination. The new generation of Africans are young, driven to become successful, highly educated, and are eager to move the Continent to its zenith in the global society. Mugabe’s kind are those who are out of touch of this new African fervor. The task of rebuilding Zimbabwe is daunting and monumental. Fortunately, she has the human and natural resources to meet this challenge.

If Mugabe attempts to destabilize his country so that he can hold on to power, the international community led by the African Union should act swiftly and decisively. Sustained pressure on him from the West must continue. Perhaps Nelson Mandela should counsel Mugabe. Perhaps President Kufour of Ghana and other African leaders ought to act now to let Mugabe know that he will not have their support if he decides to de-legitimize the results of the elections. The people of Zimbabwe have spoken loud and clear. A new era has dawned. I expect Mugabe to heed the results of the elections and exit gracefully. Mugabe may try to use his puppets and political surrogates to do his bidding. After all, he has used the country’s resources to prop up his sagging image. He may appeal to his cronies and political benefactors to stir trouble, to destabilize the country, to divide the people and fan tribal, ethnic, and class animosities. Mr. Mugabe, we are all watching you and have been watching you for a very long time. You no longer command that stature of dignity. Please leave quietly. Save Zimbabwe. Save yourself from further humiliation. And save Africa.