EASTERN PARTNERSHIP COUNTRIES ON THE CROSSROADS OF THE EURASIAN INTEGRATION PROCESSES PART 2
EAP, EEU AND BRI ON THE CROSS-ROADS OF EURASIAN GEOPOLITICS
The “father” of political realism Hans J. Morgenthau specifies two types of external interests – complementary and conflicting .
At the same time American political scientist Michael G. Roskin is adding “identical” interest to the H.Morgenthau`s classification, clarifying, that “two countries, even allies, seldom have identical national interests” .
Identical are the interests of the parties, generally allies, which are practically the same. Complementary are those interests, which do not completely match, but provide large room for agreement around the exact issue on the basis of a compromise, which satisfies all the parties. Thus, it means that complementary interests do not completely match, but provide points of contact during this or that period of political time and environment.
There are very few cases in history when national interests are identical, especially in the long run. In most cases they are complimentary or conflictual.
Thus, reflection of this trilateral approach on the results of the above performed research clearly demonstrates that both EaP, EEU and BRI contains at least two types of the interests presented by H.Morgenthau.
It is worth to mention that if one side has the same interest as the other, this contains dual potential for both cooperation and conflict. For instance, if we speak about the fight against terrorism, it is clear that if all sides have this interest, they can relatively easily combine their forces. However, when it comes, for example, to energy security, it is much more difficult. Each side is interested in energy security, but the provision of one`s energy security could lead to the other side`s energy insecurity, as kind of security dilemma. For instance, if the EU sees the EaP as an opportunity to alternate its gas import from Russia, and buy it in Azerbaijan, this causes counter-reaction of Russia. As the latter will lose the EU gas market in the amount equal to the import from Azerbaijan.
In this context the below table presents EaP, EEU and BRI interest-comparison. It follows the above presented Morgenthau-Roskin combined approach.
Thus, summarizing it could be concluded that all the parties have both complementary and conflictual interests, and not surprisingly no identical ones. All the sides need long-term political stability in the region, development of multipolar world order, better connectivity and cooperation in Eurasia, as well as peaceful coexistence.
On the other hand, all the sides are interested in trade and new markets, but in case of EaP/EPP this interest is complimentary because of a different structure of trade balance with the EaP states. However, in case of EaP-BRI this interest is merely conflictual as both sides compete (or have intensions to in future) for the same markets with similar export structure.
However, the main question here is which of the above presented interests are more vital in long-term perspective – peaceful co-existence with global and regional stability or economic interest, where it is much easier to find a compromise.
Hans J. Morgenthau writes: “The concept of the national interest, then, contains two elements, one that is logically required and in that sense necessary, and one that is variable and determined by circumstances. The former is, then, of necessity relatively permanent while the latter will vary with circumstances” .
Accepting the leading role of long-term permanent interests, it is clear that EaP, EEU and BRI should strive for peaceful co-existence, directed towards cooperation, not confrontation. Оn the other hand, competition is an inalienable part of human and state nature. For this reason, the importance of cooperative competition should be emphasized, which aims not at destruction, but construction.
At the same time, it should be clear for all sides that nowadays each EaP country has its own rather developed identity with nation-centric core population. For this reason, it`s counter-productive to promote the idea of exclusive sphere of interests. Absence of strong pressure will allow small states to be more self-sufficient on one hand, and promote more straight and clear foreign policy. This will allow work in with each center of power more openly and honestly, very often cooperating in the framework projected together with the center of power.
On the other hand, the greater the pressure from the center of power, the greater is the desire of the relatively small state to join another side. The latter is the first step to induce tensions in the region.
“I think Ukrainian conflict led to the domination of negative narrative between, particularly, the EaP and EEU. It made the sides to concentrate on differences of these projects”, says my interviewee, answering the question about the impact of Ukrainian conflict on cooperation between EU, EEU and BRI.
Taking into account the fact that all the sides are interested in cooperation and trade, it becomes evident that accentuation on differences is not the best or most desirable outcome. Hence it would be much more effective to foster development in the region instead of confrontation and concentration on spheres of influence. Open cooperation will allow receiving as much output as you invest, at the meantime enjoying political, economic and social stability in the neighborhood.
American political scientist Donald Nuechterlein in a lecture on “National interest as a basis for decision-making”, given at the University of Virginia's NAVAIR Executive Seminar on June 5, 2007, particularly, outlined (talking about the US national interests), that “… in time of war, defense of homeland and world-order receive the highest priority. In peacetime, economic well-being and promotion of values usually get more attention” .
Given the continuing turbulent developments and feeling of uncertainty in Eurasian geopolitics, all three initiatives are in need of deep and comprehensive cooperation among each other and with the EaP countries, at least to promote their own self-interest.
EASTERN PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMM, EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION, BELT & ROAD INITIATIVE AND EASTERN PARTNERSHIP COUNTRIES
The interest-based comparison of the EaP, EEU and BRI among each other raises the necessity to analyze and understand the state of cooperation among EaP countries and three initiatives.
The following table provides a short overview of the current picture in that relations:
Simultaneously the picture would not be complete without economic indicators of cooperation, driven by the above mentioned political and legal bases. In the economic overview the article stops on three indicators – export, import and foreign direct investments. This choice is explained by the declared economic nature of all three initiatives. At the same time, it is necessary to keep in mind cooperation in political, military and other fields. These factors only strengthen the necessity of tighter multivector cooperation.
Thus, the above presented overview can be summarized with an image, where all six countries have rather significant bilateral political and economic routes with Brussels, Moscow and Beijing. The level of cooperation varies from country to country. However, it is worth it to acknowledge that multi-vector cooperation with and within EaP, EEU and BRI will be profitable for all EaP countries.
“Being proactive, the EaP countries can largely enjoy the situation, when they can work with different stakeholders and gain as much as possible”, says a Hungarian expert on Eurasian geopolitics.
A question could be raised, if Ukrainian conflict has alienated Kiev and Moscow with no possibility to cooperate. However, there is a deep-rooted opinion that the conflict has even increased Russian influence in Ukraine.
“Currently Ukraine is more dependent on Russia than it used to be before the conflict. The reason is the conflict itself”, says a Hungarian expert on Russia-Ukraine relations.
The problem is that negative collaboration as a starting point will never lead to the development of neither a separately taken country, nor the whole region. The same could be acknowledged for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Disintegrated South Caucasus will never have the development it could have as a united and cooperative entity, taking into account small economic, political and geopolitical potential of separately taken South Caucasian countries.
At the same time the main question for all the end users, specifically, for small and medium-size, what they can offer to their “big partners”.
Answering the question if the EaP countries can become a “bridge” between EU, EEU and BRI, a Hungarian expert on China and BRI: “We all believe to be bridge, but infrastructure is nothing, you need to have something to export, or you need to have some product to involve in this giants` relations. Just to be a bridge – it will have some economic impact, but not that much. Your region (South Caucasus) will be one of the corridors, and not the main one, because it`s too complicated. It is good to be part of the corridor, but how will you integrate into this huge formulating relations. It is necessary to connect, but how to use it: do you have product, do you have talent, can you provide a logistic center? These are the real questions. You need to have a strategy how to be involved in this region! We have a clear vision that the world is changing and then what to do? For our countries it is an historical chance, but we have to be smart”.
Continuing the discussion on opportunities of being a bridge for EaP countries, another Hungarian expert explains that it is very difficult to receive the role of “bridge” among global and regional powers. Particularly, Brussels, EaP countries have different “bridge” role taking into account their low influence in international relations. Moreover, big actors prefer to talk directly. “I know very limited number of small and medium size states which succeeded in being a “bridge”. For instance, that is Switzerland. But in that stance, we should acknowledge the role of strategic and geopolitical knowledge of Swiss elites, which has been accumulated during centuries”, he explains.
Thus, it can be summarized:
- First of all, all the sides are interested in mutual positive cooperation. Negative cooperation will not provide any solution to solve the existing problems.
- Secondly, each EaP country needs a clear strategy how to deal with Eurasian integration initiatives not to wait what Brussels, Moscow or Beijing will offer, but to have clear vision.
- Moreover, each EaP member will have stronger negotiation positions if it would be possible to develop a joint strategy and approach for six countries. At the moment it could seem not that realistic, taking into account the existing problems among EaP countries. However long-term interests could lead the countries to take this decision.
- At the same time, if the EaP countries want to take a significant role in the Eurasian geopolitical arena, there is strong necessity to continue the process of development of strategic elites with strategic knowledge and connections, of that elite, which would be able to lead those countries throughout the current stage of political and economic turmoil to more politically and economically stable region.
COOPERATION AND MODERNIZATION IN EASTERN PARTNERSHIP REGION
The previous parts demonstrated deep necessity for cooperation both among the initiatives themselves and EaP countries with all three projects. From this perspective, it is worth it to understand the opportunities and room to maneuver for all the players, to create a more stable and peaceful region. This will allow the sides to foster their goals based not on confrontation but the necessity of peaceful co-existence, cooperation and fair competition.
There are different opinions on how it is possible to provide the cooperative framework taking into account the interests of the EaP, EEU and BRI. Particularly, very often these projects have competing and even conflictual interests.
Below some approaches are presented from the expert interviews on how to deal with this issue.
“We mentioned that the EU is rather skeptical about BRI, because of the values, etc., but the EU has already started to change. Because of the Brexit, Germany seems to be in next few years the real core of the EU. Inner balances will be changed, Germany will have more voice. At the current situation the EU and the US will move further from each other, and this will support BRI. And this will enforce BRI. The big picture will change towards multipolar system. Germany has to make decision to move closer to China or not”.
Answering the question about how Germany and China can move closer, if they are exporting or will export similar things and to the same markets, my interviewee replied: “This is the problem, you are trying to look at this in Western conflictual way. If we want the same thing, we think, that the outcome will be a conflict. But in China they have different view about this. Why don`t you think in terms of favors. For example, if Germany wants to move closer to China, probably they should ask about favor. Ok, I want to support your idea, but I want this. And if China accepts this, this favor starts to be exchanged. In that case it is possible to avoid conflict. E.g., you are exporting to Russia this, and I am this. This is different kind of thinking that we have in the West”.
“I would not suggest the EU not to participate in this project, but to be smart enough to have strategy and idea how to take part in it… There is always competition between great powers, and is it new? It is normal to have different interests… How to change the others behavior, don`t see it as a problem, the problem is when we see it as a problem… Those regions in the history which tried to avoid competition, they always lose… China is this country with completely different culture and historic experiences, and China now is a rule-setter power, but we do not have this kind of experience”.
“When you think about Eurasia, at the moment Russia could be the bridge. For Russia being in this cold war situation is the worst case, as in longer terms it means it will be the minor part of China, and less and less important. It is much more important to have Eurasian region, where they can export gas to both economic centers. They can be road. On the other hand, China thinks that Russia is important, because it can create problems, so it provides to Russia acceptable role, not too much of course, but not to make Russia openly argue BRI”.
“The development of these three integration projects not necessarily will lead to collision. The EU has not declared the strategic goals of the EaP (spread of influence and decrease of Russia`s role in the region), and Ukrainian conflict forced to forget about them. I think it is possible for the projects to cooperate. First of all, that would be beneficial for the countries in the region to receive advantages from all the projects. On the other hand, it is possible to provide cooperation between EaP, EEU and BRI in case of development and promotion of mutually beneficial plan. The issue is that each initiative has its own goals”.
The issue is the level of influence. The EU wants to recognize partners and decrease influence of Russia and China, Russia strives to have what EU wants, plus hard-power (including military cooperation) and development of new political and economic relations. China tries to adopt the European approach and add economic component. Thus, the development of these three integration projects will not necessarily lead to collision, as EaP is more about promotion of democracy, China – infrastructure, and Russia – military cooperation. If the sides will agree to develop only “their own” field, it could provide peaceful coexistence and cooperation, when each actor plays its own game without interfering into the partner`s “garden”.
Agreeing with the expert, at the same time it is worth to mention that all three initiatives are also about trade. In this regard fair market competition based on international norms and principles could be the best solution to avoid confrontation in the region.
The main point is that neither the EU nor China has the necessary military or hard-power capabilities to enter into the EaP region. At the same time, most security problems in the region have hard-security essence. Thus, the issue is that both EU and China should either develop hard-power capabilities in the region, or promote economic cooperation and normative power.
From this perspective most of the EaP countries could be a reliable basis for the EU to develop cooperative values in the region, including both EaP countries and centers of power. This will allow avoidance of Ukrainian scenarios in the future.
The main point here is that survival is more essential than attempt for one-sided domination, especially given the process of development of multipolar world, when it is no longer possible to promote one-sided solutions to other players.
From this perspective, development of cooperation culture and humanization of international relations could become the necessary ground and framework, to allow putting aside less important and short-term interests and focus on long-term interests of peaceful co-existence.
The director of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association Alexander Duleba acknowledges that there is the necessity of cooperation for the EU with both Russia and China. He says: “It is not clear for many politicians, what to do with Russia, Europeans are lost, if they do not have constructive agenda. Once we lost these common spaces, then we offered this Partnership for modernization, so Europeans should have something constructive with Russia…”
At the same time, he suggests two possible variants for cooperation with Russia and EEU. According to him, one variant is the establishment of a common economic space on the standards and principles, which were developed in the EU during a few decades.
Another option is cooperation between EU and EEU on the institutional and not bilateral (country-to-country) basis: “Good example is MERCOSUR. They established regional cooperation and the EU has deal with them as a whole”.
Mr. Duleba also accepts the necessity to work with China: “We can agree with China and the talk started after Trump decided to withdraw from the trade agreement with the EU”.
All these ideas bring us to the understanding that there is necessity and what is more important there is a certain room for cooperation among EaP, EEU and BRI.
However, the development of each initiative should take into account not only bilateral relations, but it should be strategic enough to be responsible for the regional and global security architecture. This raises the necessity of modernization for each initiative to provide more cooperative ground.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Thus, we see that all the above discussed sides are deeply interested in cooperative, humanized and peaceful relations in Eurasia. From this perspective the EU can become the locomotive of transformations, using and fostering its normative and economic power to provide:
- More interdependence between the EU and EaP countries, as well as among EaP countries, as the less conflictual the region is, the easier it is to provide the EU`s strategic goals. “These will lead to more interdependence among this countries, on one hand, and increase EU`s leverages. As a result the EU will be able to develop more peaceful agenda in the region, providing political stability and sustainable development”, says a Hungarian diplomat.
- More financial support for economic development (not to provide a fish, but to teach how to get the fish out of the river), as it will make the countries more self-sufficient and as a result less dependent and more cooperative.
- Ongoing work with local elites. The above cited diplomat explains it the following way: “Going hand to hand with traditional European lines, reforms of public administration, business relations, we should focus on educating of local elites to foster more democratic views and how such issues as, for instance, business to business cooperation or local administration can be handled… “, and he continues, “… because whatever happens in the capitals mostly stays in the capitals and if you can educate basically in municipalities and in long term perspective this can force, speed up integration processes...”
- Another solution could be stimulation of positive collaboration in political, economic, social and other fields among six EaP countries.
- No less important is standing hard on the bases of the normative power. “The thing is that because of the economic interest we sacrifice our values that was also problem within this region. If you want to transform this region towards our values to be big brother of the region, you have to be more coherent in your views”, explains the Hungarian expert.
- At the same time there is a strong voice for diversified approach towards those EaP countries which have signed the Association Agreement and which have not. On one hand it is a fair point and the policy “more for more” should be in place. However, on the other hand, such kind of policy could lead to the alienation of those participants or groups within exact countries which see cooperation with the EU as one of the main foreign policy priorities.
However, modernization of the Eurasian cooperation architecture is not a unilateral process and should be developed by all stakeholders.
Thus, if the EU becomes the locomotive for normative change, other actors should also take the responsibility for change and provide the maximal input into the “common budget” of peaceful co-existence. The first step could be the re-evaluation of the principles of doing business and politics, based on fair competition, mutual respect and responsibility to provide peaceful coexistence among EU, Russia and China, and EaP countries on the other hand. At the end of the day, the more developed the small or medium-size country is, the more opportunities it can offer to the investors and trade partners. One can think that the richer the six EaP countries are, the more they will distant themselves from “big partners”. But this is only partially true, as interdependence and the necessity for further cooperation and peaceful coexistence will make these countries continue cooperating on local, regional and global levels in all existing fields of current collaboration.
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The article was initially published by the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade
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