A NORMATIVE EUROPE: FALSE – TRUE DICHOTOMY

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A NORMATIVE EUROPE: FALSE – TRUE DICHOTOMY



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2. A NORMATIVE EUROPE: FALSE – TRUE DICHOTOMY

The discursive distinction between “false” and “true” Europe has some roots in Russian intellectual tradition. «False Europe», as understood by Russian intellectuals, includes countries with strong anti-Russian sentiments and those having lost the «genuine European values», while the «true Europe» is arguably populated by friendly to Russia nations. False Europe also tends to be mostly pro-American1289 which links the whole discourse with Russia’s attitudes toward the United States.

As Viacheslav Morozov points out, this confrontational strategy «was hardly successful internationally, but worked almost perfectly on the domestic political stage»1290. Put differently, by discursively molding “the true Europe”, Russia strives to overcome and displace its own fears of being isolated from the European culture and values1291.

The “false” innovations in Europe are associated with “colorless primitivism” and the evaporation of the national spirits (the nationals of the EU countries are referred as “the post-Germans”, “the post-French”, etc.), while the “real relics of antiquity” (exemplified in the heritage of prominent European intellectuals, artists and musicians) are respectfully valorized and cherished1292. As an authoritative political analyst Sergey Karaganov puts it, “Russia hardly needs to give up its longing for traditional European values for the post-European ones”1293. The rhetoric of this sort has reached its peak in Dmitry Rogozin’s proclamation of Russian as being a “real Europe”, free of homosexuals, punk culture and other detested by Russian conservatives elements of today’s European lifestyle.




3. A EUROPE OF DIMENSIONS



The very fact that Russia is a country which has much to do with both the Northern and the Eastern Dimensions (ND and ED, correspondingly) of the EU, opens new discursive opportunities for repositioning herself in a changing system of “geometries of regionalism”.

In Europe, the ND is comprehended by many as “an imagined empty space”1294 which ought to be filled with concrete initiatives and projects. That is why this pattern of “dimensionalist” mindset implies options and alternatives, signaling that either of them is only one of possible variants/types/models of spatial interaction between numerous actors involved. Another important asset of the ND is its potential of ironing out the distinction(s) between “the united part of Europe”1295 and what is called “the neighborhood area”. “The underlying idea of the ND is inclusiveness by countering marginalization. In a way it is almost a replica of the Council of Baltic Sea States”1296.

The idea of “dimensionalism” (either in its “Northern” or “Eastern” formats), as applicable to the areas of EU – Russia direct touch, has much to do with the idea of Europe as consisting of a set of “Olympic rings” (i.e. more horizontal, network-oriented, and region-specific). The EU seems to be interested in using both “dimensionalist” and “Olympic rings” frameworks to transform Russia in a way that may be beneficial for the EU. “Dimensionalism” thus becomes a new type of policy of accommodation and reformation of the neighboring countries to the extent that they could become acceptable partners of the “European core”.

However, Russia seems to follow a more critical logic of those commentators who are of the opinion that there is a certain degree of exclusion in both the ND and the ED. This critical vision is based on the understanding of “dimensionalism” as a by-product of the successive rounds of the EU enlargement: “the emergence of new dimensions is in a sense an (unintended?) external manifestation of the limits of expanding”1297.

Poland offers its own version of the EU policy towards its eastern margins. With clear assistance from the US, Poland has elevated to the position of forerunner and is keen to improve its centrality in terms of European relations1298. On its way to self-assertion, this country allowed itself a great deal of self-minded interpretations, with some of them being quite in tune with the philosophy of “dimensionalism”. At some point the Polish spokesmen forecast that the Eastern Dimension ought to be of even larger scope and more multilateral than the ND1299.

Yet Russian attitudes are still uncertain. On the one hand, the Polish initiative is met with understanding and satisfaction. It was a group of experts from Warsaw that made it clear that the enactment of the Schengen acquis may have a detrimental effect on the relationships of the candidate countries with their immediate eastern neighbors… The enforcement of visas will not be a barrier for organized crime but may potentially become an insurmountable obstacle for thousands of ordinary citizens»1300. In the opinion of influential Polish experts, Europe needs immigrants at a growing pace, up to 500,000 per year. As far as Poland itself in concerned, this country «should promote the inflow of foreigners… and take advantage of» their integration into the Polish society1301. Polish authorities hope that incoming labor force from the East would become a substitution to these citizens of Poland that have left the country in search for better jobs in the West.

The Polish goal is believed “to consist of demonstrating to the EU countries the diversity of the area lying in the immediate neighborhood of the enlarged EU, together with the resulting necessity to conduct a differentiated policy in that area”1302. Yet what kind of diversity is at stake and what role(s) Poland ought to perform in East – West communications (an intermediary, a transmitter of reforms, or somewhat else) – these are the main interpretative questions pertaining to Russian debate on the ED. It is mainly about interpretation of what exactly should be meant by the policy of acknowledging the diversity among the EU neighboring countries, and what kind of differentiation – as a “key element in the future implementation of the neighborhood policy”1303 - is in the agenda.

Yet on the other hand, many people in the Kremlin feel unhappy to see that Poland’s foreign policy departs from the assumption that the main stimuli for all ex-socialist countries bordering on Russia is to “ultimately separate them from the post-Soviet space”1304. In the Russian media, Poland is presented as a country striving to demise the current elites in Ukraine and Belarus, to hinder the EU – Russia rapprochement, and to play the role of a peace-keeper in the CIS1305. Nikolay Bukharin, a Russian expert, relegates to Poland the responsibility for the emergence of new dividing lines between the West and the East1306. Mark Urnov, Chairman of the Center for Political Technologies, pinpointed Warsaw's reluctance to accept the idea of transit “corridors” and accused Poland (“a small country”, in his judgment) of being swayed too much by “foolish myths and prejudices of the crowd”. Polish commentators partly confirm these fears by suggesting that relations with Russia should not dominate the EU foreign policy agenda and ought to develop in direct dependence upon Russia’s approximation of its political and legal norms to that ones of the EU.

It seems almost unfeasible that Russia might recognize the role of Poland as an “intermediary” in communications between Moscow and Brussels (Finland with its ND had no such ambitions). In the meantime, Russia seems to be willing to explore the vulnerability of Poland presuming that “almost nobody would take seriously a country that, on the one hand, has pretensions for a leading role in designing and coordinating the eastern policy of the EU, and on the other hand, proves incapable to maintain normal relations with the main country”1307 of the region to the east of the EU.




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  • 3. A EUROPE OF DIMENSIONS