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Research Report

From Competition to Compatibility: Striking a Eurasian balance in EU-Russia relations

Tony van der Togt
Francesco S. Montesano
Iaroslav Kozak
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2015
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 82
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep05445
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Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 7-11)

    In January 2015, Russia, together with Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan (Kyrgyzstan joined in May) launched the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU, or, in short, Eurasian Union¹). Loosely modelled on the European Union (EU), the Eurasian Union has a Moscow-based executive body (the Eurasian Economic Commission), a political body (the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council) and a court based in Minsk. This new Union builds on the previously developed Customs Union and strives for an internal single market, supported by free movement of people, capital, goods and services. Russian plans are even bigger and would include a broader political union and movement towards...

  2. (pp. 12-18)

    The history of post-Soviet cooperation could be summarised as a Groundhog Day of disappointments and illusions. Time after time, new initiatives have come to nought, and declarations of good intentions have been betrayed by self-centred autocratic leaders. The Eurasian Union has a long pedigree and is the latest effort to integrate (part of) the post-Soviet space. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is the oldest integration framework in the region, emerging directly after the relatively peaceful disintegration of the Soviet Union. In December 1991, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian leaders met to disband the USSR, expressing their collective will to create...

  3. (pp. 19-26)

    The Eurasian Union’s post-Soviet opacity becomes evident when one tries to read the organisation’s founding legal documents. The Treaty of the Eurasian Economic Union (signed in Astana on 29 May 2014) set the stage for confusion by declaring that the law of the Union comprises the treaty itself, all international agreements within the Union and by the Union with third parties, as well as decisions and regulations emanating from the Eurasian Union’s institutions. How could this possibly go wrong?

    After the pompous signing ceremony in Astana, observers asked whether this new treaty actually changed anything, apart from the name of...

  4. (pp. 27-52)

    Russia has been the main driving force behind all initiatives to re-integrate the post-Soviet space; the new Eurasian Union is no exception. President Putin launched his plan during the campaign for his re-election in 2011 to highlight Russia’s future place in the world as a bridge between the EU and China.34 By allying with its closest partners, Moscow could establish itself as a new Great Power in a multipolar world order. Putin never indicated whether these ‘close partners’ shared his vision, and basically assumed that what was good for Russia would also be good for the other former Soviet states,...

  5. (pp. 53-63)

    Since the beginning of the millennium, China’s foreign policy has shifted away from Deng Xiaoping’s ‘low-lying’ doctrine towards a proactive and ‘responsible’ global engagement. Today, China is engrossed in a vast array of new and often ambitious initiatives and projects, of which the development of a New Silk Road is the best known. China’s new-found self-confidence and activism has resulted in a strategic focus on Central Asia, making the process of ‘Eurasian’ integration a central plank of Beijing’s foreign policy. The contrast with the EU’s approach to this region could hardly be starker; while Brussels may be geographically far removed...

  6. (pp. 64-75)

    Karl Marx famously argued that ‘History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.’ The history of East-West trade and institutional ties is replete with examples that substantiate this claim. Since the founding of the USSR in 1922, the debate in the West has swayed between fully-fledged engagement and containment, with a broad field of ad hoc and unprincipled policy schemes in between. British Prime Minister Lloyd George argued in the 1920s that political engagement with the Bolsheviks was opportune, as it would bring ‘civilisation through trade’.163 Many Western countries adopted the opposite approach, claiming that a policy of excommunicating...