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Friday, June 15, 2012

Pacta sunt servanda

The relations between the EU and Russian Federation are very complicated. The process of enlargement created new political reality that the leadership of Russia and the EU-member states face today. The main problem here is that the leadership of Russia still thinks and behaves in a geopolitical situation of Cold war. The relations with the EU's new member-states concern following issues: antidumping consolidated actions of the EU towards Russia; the enlargement of the EU considered as a threat to the integration organizations like CIS and EurAsEC (in terms of political realists); the development of common transportation system; the cooperation in the sphere of security; the status of Kaliningrad region; promotion of the liberal-democratic values etc.

In my work I'll focus on the fact that taking into consideration (that is recognized by many experts) that Russia has no clearly formulated national interests it would be very hard for the EU-Russian relationship to be truly productive. It can be proved by the boundary disputes of Russia and Estonia, Latvia; the tension between Russia and Poland because of meat quality etc. The process of the EU's and NATO's enlargement along with the "color revolutions" in the Ukraine and Georgia are seen as a threat to the national security of Russia although it isn't mentioned in the National Security of Russia. Russian political elite tries to cast false color on the processes taking place in Europe and seeks the ways of returning to the confrontation model trying to drag European states into soft opposition towards the US foreign policy(vividly seen in the Munich speech of Russian president). My point is that we(Russians and maybe in much less sense Europeans) should get rid of the ho stile rhetoric and politicians shouldn't mixed up economy and politics, try to blackmail one states with the concepts of "Energetic empire" and delays in energy supplies due to political interests and should in any case implement the treaties.

To begin with I'd like to say that the process of integrating new members to the EU is a complex one. Many analytics and scholars suggest that admission the number of East and Central states into European Union is a political decision to demonstrate the population of these countries that most economically developed European countries consider them to be a part of European civilization. However it doesn't seem that East and Central European countries are really ready in terms of economy, policy-making to get into "big European family". Admission of new members that in 2005 was a tremendous leap for EU to the East today seemed to be rather the leap to the dark because of all the uncertainty that this integration step produced. Majority of the new member-states were former socialistic and regarded as the allies of Soviet Russia up until the collapse of USSR and dissolution of Warsaw pact organization. Being always considered by the Russian political elite and leadership as th e sphere of Russia's vital geopolitical interests the Russian government and population of Russia were very concerned by the movement of the EU and NATO towards the borders of their homeland by making East and Central European countries their members. It was clear then and it's still obvious now that enlargement of the EU is unfavorable for Russia in many senses.

First of all, the international politics. The EU is as supranational organization tries to develop CFSP but so far no progress is seen. Not indulging in fantasies we should make it straight: the relations of Russia and East, Central European countries can't be called warm. The problem of Kalingrad oblast' is one of the best examples that illustrates this idea. This region of Russia happened to be remote from the main territory of Russia and as in 2005 Poland and Lithuania became members of the EU very intricate question in relations between the EU and Russia has been risen. What Russia wants is visa-free regime for Russian citizens as far Kalingrad oblast' can't be reached without trespassing other countries.

Another problem is problem of Russian minorities in Baltic states that count up to one third in some republics. Russian government always tried to show concern about Russian-speaking minority to protect it and as years go by the situation is not becoming any better: Russian minority seeks vast political autonomy and recognition by the central authorities as well as rights to have Russian taught lessons at school, non-discrimination process of getting the citizenship for people of Russian nationality.

Speaking about the influence of the EU enlargement we should take into account the processes that were taking place in the CIS and relations of Russia with former USSR republics. Throughout the 90s Russian government was pushing for the economical and political integration of ex-USSR's states. The idea of the Commonwealth of Independent States as a corner stone of the future structure failed as the organization of GYAM appeared and it became obvious that the positions of states towards Russia were(and are) different. Another attempt was made by at time President Boris Yeltsin and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko who initiated the idea of so called "allied states" that would have in future common currency, internal and external policy etc. But from the very beginning it seemed that either Russia or Belarus meant something opposite rather than the idea of "allied states". For Russia Belarus is one of the main economic partners as great volume of Russian oil is being transported by the pipelines through the territory of Belarus not taking into consideration some military opportunities for military bases deployment there. Belarus was more interested in economical component of the integration: Belarus's economy is very dependent on low cost of mineral resources that come from Russia. Many Russian policy-makers complain that Russia permanently subsidizes the economy of the neighboring state getting neither a union nor "allied relations". Next idea that appeared (EurAsEC) was the idea of free trade zone between Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The idea of establishing a kind of economical union along with CIS countries but having understood that the political reality an attempt was made to create a structure that is a mixture of NAFTA and the EU. When we read the aims of the organization we can suprisingly find there that the main goal is establishment of the free trade zone but at the same time the organizational structure includes such bodies as Court of Justice, Interparliamentary Assembly. The creation of these bodies proves that the true goals of the organization lie far beyond the idea of free trade. Initially after 2002 when the Ukraine got the observer status politicians in Russia waited for the Ukraine's entry. But former president of the Ukraine Leniod Kuchma made a statement that the Ukraine was not going to enter neither the EU not the EurAsEC. But after the "orange revolution" in the Ukraine, the "rose revolution" in Georgia and the coolness in the relations between Moldova and Russia as well as bet ween all "young democracies" the idea of EurAsEC expansion was buried. The role of the EU's enlargement here is quiet important thus is not seen right away. The entry of 10 countries in 2005 to the EU showed willingness of European bureaucrats to turn a black eye on the economical situation of the candidate-states if there is a political necessity for the EU to accept them.

It's no secret that the Ukraine now wants to be the EU member-state and not going to enter the EurAsEC in any case. This can result in economic and political loses for Russia. At first, Russian Navy in the Black sea deployed mostly in the Crimea and the Ukraine's entry to the EU can effect this situation and Russia surely would find itself in case when the Navy wouldn't have bases and in need of new base construction and extra budget spending for that. Secondly, the Ukraine is one of the most important for Russia's oil transition partners. The situation with the pipelines and illegal oil consummation is on top agenda in Russian � Ukrainian relations almost since the collapse of the USSR. The EU enlargement makes Ukrainian politicians feel secure as after the "orange revolution" they receive backing from the EU where the number of Russia's opponents present. The Ukraine has traditionally close tights with Poland and after the presidential election that was won by Victor Yus henko the relations with former socialistic(and today EU's members) countries are at its peak. And the EU has to pay much attention to the gas agenda in Russian- Ukrainian relations as it's very dependent on it. And as a matter of fact during the disputes about the gas at the beginning of the 2006 the EU's politicians seemed to be at the Ukraine's side and it's no wonder as the number of voices that still accuse Russia to be an empire(now of energetic type) after 2005 increased and no one can say that today Russia is surrounded by peaceful and amicable neighbors.

Also the countries that are feeling that they oppose the politics of Russia established a parallel free trade organization � GUAM(Georgia, the Ukraine, Azerbadjan and Moldova) and under the support of the EU the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development was established. That is going to be preoccupied with democracy distribution and in this case brightest opponent of Kremlin but the same time the allies for some extent of the EU and its new member states.

Another burning issue in the EU-Russian relations is Kaliningrad problem. It's a Russian exclave that is surrounded by the EU member-states. The importance of Kaliningrad for Russia is dramatic: it's the only one ice-free seaport of Russia in the Baltic sea. Year 2003 when a visa regime for Lithuania transition created many problems for Russian citizens and business that operate and live in Kaliningrad oblast'. The problem of Kaliningrad lies in sphere of big politics. It's rather common situation that there is a possibility that exclave can gain independence from the main land as it doesn't have borders with it. It would be a nonsense in political sense in this case but it's possible in economic sense as the GRP of Kaliningrad oblast' is growing better than the GDP of Russia and in whole return of the Kaliningrad oblast' under the sovereignty of Germany would bring investments and an increase in GDP per capita. Also there is an interesting fact that the new visa regime wi th Poland was introduced soon after the celebration of 500thanniversary of the city where to the polish president wasn't invited. In case of further confrontation with new EU-members the economic blockade is likely to take place and as the exclave can't compete with the economies of the neighbors due to the size the position of Kaliningrad is very vulnerable and it would be always the subject of the debate between Russia and the EU.

The EU enlargement has significant economical influence on Russia. After entering the EU the new member-states had to enact special antimonopoly mechanisms as well as the mechanisms of goods certification and antidumping procedures. It sounds good for Russia too(trade relations become transparent) but in fact everything is not so easy. One of the main obstacles for Russia to enter the World Trade Organization is that foreign companies and officials want to get the inner energy market of Russia liberalized. It means that the price of electricity for instance would be risen to the level that can be compared with average world price in other case it would be called dumping and all the goods being produced with the help of this cheap energy can be prohibited to be sold in Europe or the EU would rise the customs to make its production as competitive in price as Russian one. This question is followed by the problem of Energy Charter ratification. It was designed to regulate the relations between Russia and other countries, especially European concerning the energetic issue. And this agreement stated all signators of the agreement should open their inner market and make it easier for foreign investors to get the share in the market of mineral resources, the system of pipelines and distribution. But Russia opposes these terms of the agreement as it has vast deposits of gas and oil and can't find its profit in giving one of the major trumps away. The Europeans are frightened by the expansion of Gazprom the largest gas producing and transporting company in the world. But for the EU the fact that Gazprom is so powerful isn't so important as the realization of the idea that Gazprom is controlled by the state and would be constantly used as a tool in international politics. In case of the Ukraine this tool proved its effectiveness when Victor Janukovich the leader of the opposition became the prime minister soon after the gas crisis.

Another very important issue in the role of the new member states in the Europe. So Central and East European states became not only members of the EU but NATO too. Ironically both organizations produced nothing but disorder. The Central and East European states after the collapse of the Soviet Union proved to be in the USA's sphere of influence supporting the initiatives doubtless. This can be proven by the reaction of "old Europe" and new EU members towards the war in Iraq. The "old" Europeans opposed the idea of the USA to invade Iraq only because of the suspicion that Saddam Hussein possessed the WMD but Romania, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Czech republic participated in this military intervention. As well as the desire of NATO to deploy once again in Czech republic some elements of Anti-missile defense that are declared to be against possible attack or Iran. All this factors make the policy of the European Union in spheres of common security hard to be implemented as there is no unity in decision-making bodies of the EU. As for Russia this situation of bipolarity in the EU can be either comfortable or not. On the one hand the idea that the EU has to listen to the complaints of countries that in most cases oppose Russia(Poland, Baltic states etc) is not inspiring. But on the other hand this situation makes the EU less capable of taking some fast and consolidated actions. This way Russia can manoeuvre among different groups of interest in the EU. In general what is Russia's leadership still fails to understand that the EU is supranational organization and the relation between Russia and Poland for instance are the relations between the EU and Russia too. And the system of bilateral agreements between Russia and the EU member-states don't prevail over the common policy of the EU in the field.

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