Материалы для чтения the four freedoms as part of europeanization process: conditions and effectiveness of the eu impact

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2.3. Implementation Issues

Despite multiple obstacles and impediments, globalization does change a lot in the region: the way the political relations are organized, the structure of business enterprises, as well as the social milieu. Without international cooperation it would be impossible to introduce new advanced standards for production, run ecological management programs, develop charity initiatives, advance new banking technologies, and so forth.

Yet globalization had double-faced effect on the region. At one hand, it weakened the capacity of administrative and bureaucratic institutions in the regions to supervise economic development. Interestingly enough, these were private Russian companies - trans-regional and trans-national in fact - that took control over “industrial giants” of NNO (“GAZ” and “Red Sormovo” factories purchased by major Russian tycoons Oleg Deripaska and Kakha Bendukidze). This is a good indication that in domestic market those financial and industrial groups owned by Russians might win the competition with foreign capital.

Not accidentally, these are the largest enterprises that were acquired by “outsiders” and face drastic restructuring in increasingly competitive business environment. The advent of “outsiders” signals “partial liberation of capital from the concerns” of administrative bodies1426. The capital has more room to make its own decisions in its own interests.

On another hand, the challenges of globalization provoked an administrative response from the federal center in the form of seven federal districts. There are good chances that NNO will gain certain economic advantages from its political centrality within VFD.


Tatarstan belongs to a different group of ethnically non-Russian republics. Ethnicity is a powerful factor that almost automatically pushes those republics into a wider system of international and transnational relations1427. A search for ethnic identity is a factor of international socialization of Tatarstan, giving a new quality to their international standing. Transnational identity based on cultural heritage, religion, and language can provide a network of opportunities for the region’s population or for certain segments of the population1428. For example, some Islamic countries (Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others) assist Tatarstan in spiritual and educational affairs, as well as by rendering moral and political support1429. Establishing links with their ethnic diasporas also plays an important role in the foreign affairs of this republic.

What is more, ethnic republics usually are eager to position themselves internationally by placing special impetus on international legal norms defending ethnic minorities. At the same time all of them count on international solidarity in case of encroachment from the federal government on their autonomy, since they have both moral and material support abroad among like-minded ethnic groups and organizations1430.

Tatarstan’s ethnic regionalism is geared by the adaptation of international economic experience and its projection to specific ethnic backgrounds. Its elites try to thread ethnic identity through economic rationality. Ethnicity in this case is used as a resource to foster autonomy from the federal center and provide societal consolidation.

In the meantime, the polemics around Tatarstan is focused on core issues for Russia as a whole – those of its integrity, cohesiveness and the ability to speak with the single voice internationally. This region might also provide useful insights on the limits of Putin’s recentralization project.

The case of Tatarstan clearly demonstrates how slim is the line dividing Russia’s domestic and foreign policies. Indeed, one of major challenges to Russia is to learn to live with the revitalized world of Islam both on Russia’s southern periphery and within its own boundaries1431. Tatarstan is a good illustration of the “intermestic” nature of today’s political process and close interrelatedness of its different segments.

3.1. Globalization Paradigm as Seen From Tatarstan

On the one hand, President Shaimiev repeatedly underlines that the federal authorities ought to be primarily busy with taking strategic positions and defending globally the Russian national interests, presuming that the stronger are international engagements of the central authorities, the lesser would be their involvement in the plethora of regional issues.

On the other hand, Shaimiev himself strongly adheres to globalization approaches and is in no mood to give up the sphere of international relations to the Kremlin. In his words, the world consists not of governments but primarily of nations and ethnic groups whose interests ought to overweight the interests of states. The concepts of “nations beyond states” and “global federalism” are rather popular in Tatarstani ruling circles. Some local scholars deem that “national sovereignty of Tatars is more important than the state sovereignty of the republic”, since the territory of Tatarstan was fixed arbitrarily, while the Tatar nation is well integrated phenomenon1432 (which is not exactly the case since the bulk of Tatars reside outside Tatarstan).

As viewed from Tatarstan, globalization gives it direct access to international cultural and social milieus. Global norms and institutions are important for Tatarstan since they might internationally justify its strategic aspirations for autonomy and self-rule1433. International community, in Shaimiev’s words, is committed to preserving cultural diversity of the humankind and defending the rights of each of the ethnic groups. As Rafael Khakim (policy aide to Shaimiev) admits, without such internationally accepted values as human rights, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and democratic governance, the very survival of Tatarstan could have been put under question1434.

Yet the current state of international law does not satisfy completely Tatarstani leaders. Thus, according to Khakim, “pleading the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, the international community prefers to leave the solution of self-determination problems to the discretion of the states involved… The most radical step towards a renewal of international relations would be to establish a second chamber of the United Nations, one which would represent peoples and not states. This would change the structure of many international organizations, including the International Court of Justice”1435.

In his foreign policy President Shaimiev tries to maintain a balance between “West” and “East”. Authorities of Tatarstan keep ‘special relations’ with the Muslim countries that focus basically on cultural and political issues, while relations with non-Muslim countries are mainly aimed at improving economic ties. A good continuation of Tatarstan’s policy of balance was the project of restoring the “Great Volga Road” that historically has proven its efficacy in connecting the northern and western parts of Russia with Caspian and Black Sea ports1436.

President Shaimiev has pointed out that “Western Europe is the landmark for Tatarstan”. Tatarstani leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction with incremental anti-Western attitudes among Russian policymakers. At the same time, political and intellectual leaders of Tatarstan have repeatedly expressed their disappointment with the Western countries policies. Thus, Western-style reforms as implemented by Yegor Gaidar government in early 1990s and the shock therapy modeled after American advises were rebuffed in Kazan’. In view of local experts, the West sticks to selective support to the human rights by ignoring the bloodshed in Chechnia and refusing to recognize politically the separatists1437. In spite of the Western policy of economic sanctions against Saddam Hussein regime, Tatarstan is intensively cooperating with Iraq in oil extraction and reprocessing1438.

Opinion polls in the city of Naberezhnie Chelny had shown that only 10,9% of its population would applaud fostering market reforms on the basis of political rapprochement with the West. In minds of many Tatars, pro-Western policy attitudes might lead to strengthening of Christian influence in the republic1439.

Inside Tatarstan there are more radical foreign policy attitudes (of course, we should not exaggerate the political importance of those radical viewpoints for Tatarstan, since the governing elite is much more moderate and pragmatic). For example, activists of the “Tatar Public Center” (one of nationalist groups) call for boycotting the federal ministries in Tatarstan as “institutions of foreign state”1440. The Kurultai (Convention) of the Tatar People appealed to international community claiming that Tatarstan is Russia’s colony (local nationalists commemorate October 15, the day when the army of Ivan the Terrible militarily subdued Kazan’ in 1552, as national mourning), and has to be allowed full-fledged international participation. Among the most radical proposals of the Kurultai delegates were stigmatizing inter-ethnic marriages, establishing contacts with national liberation movements all across the globe and application for Tatarstan’s membership in NATO1441. Some radical extremists (frequently called “non-traditional Islam groups” backed by likely-minded sponsors from Pakistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Lebanon and other countries) are practically implementing some of those theories – recruiting volunteers for Chechen rebels and preparing terrorist attacks1442.

The table below illustrates some of those divergent assessments.
Table 1.


Radical Nationalists

Republic of Tatarstan government

Russian federal center authorities


Transition from “colonial dependency” to full-fledged independence which was interrupted by Russia’s military interference in 1552

Sovereignty is flexible and divisible (it might be shared between Tatarstan and Russian Federation)

Sovereignty belongs to Russia as a whole

Territorial integrity of Russia

The principle of territorial integrity might strain ethnic and regional development

Tatarstan does not seek full separation from Russia

Territorial integrity is unconditional political principle

Foreign policy

Completely independent foreign policy (up to application for NATO membership)

Republic of Tatarstan is the state associated with Russia (and is equal to Russia), and in this capacity is the subject of international relations

Tatarstan’s “foreign connections” (as different from the “foreign relations” of the federal center) are based on the treaty of division of powers between the regional and the federal authorities

Legal collisions

Tatarstan ought to have its own legal system

Laws of Tatarstan have priority over Russian federal legislation (as ruled by Tatarstan’s Constitutional Court)

Coherency and indivisibility of the legal foundations of the Russian Federation


Independent of Russia citizenship

Gradual acceptance of double (Russian and Tatarstani) citizenship

Single Russian citizenship (Tatarstan is allowed to issue additional inset for its residents)

War in Chechnia

Tatarstan ought to follow the Chechnia drive for independence, yet be better prepared

Appeal to stop the violence and military actions in the Caucasus, and start negotiations with the Chechen leaders

Massive use of military force to suppress rebels and terrorists


Islamic identity

Double identity (European and Islamic); Tatarstan as a bridge between West and East

Common multi-national identity of the whole Russian people


Forming global Tatar community

Diaspora as a factor legitimizing Tatarstan’s global bid

Diaspora is basically cultural phenomenon

Methods of settling center-periphery disputes

All possible methods up to military insurgence



Ethnicity and democracy

Defending ethnic interests is more important than democracy

Strengthening ethnic factor is a precondition for democratic development

Democracy has to be built up upon non-ethnic background

3.2. Constructing and interpreting the meanings of sovereignty

The problem of sovereignty is the core issue to understand the ways in which the foreign relations of Tatarstan are organized.

The notion of sovereignty - as used by Tatarstan leaders - is however rather vague. “Contradictory”, “complicated”, “clouded”, “unsettled”, “murky”, “amorphous”, “confused” – these characteristics could be given to Tatarstani-Russian legal collisions. Three blocks of controversies might be distinguished in this domain. First, according to the Tatar Constitution, this republic is a sovereign state and a subject of international law associated with the Russian Federation. By contrast, the Russian Constitution asserts that Tatarstan is a subject of the federation and a part of its territory. Secondly, although Tatarstan claims the independent right to determine its legal status, Russia contends that the republic’s status is defined according to a joint reading of both federal and republican constitutions. Third, each constitution provides for the supremacy of its own provisions1443.

It was former President Yeltsin who first offered self-rule and self-management for Tatarstan. Since that time, different interpretations of sovereignty have appeared: “taxation sovereignty”, “economic sovereignty”, “double sovereignty”, “shared sovereignty”, “distributed sovereignty”, “divided sovereignty”, etc. Most of these intellectual inventions are subjects to different interpretations and open for further discussions. None of them should be taken for granted, because these are not legal, but basically political issues.
3.2.1. Tatarstan’s Approaches

From the very beginning there was always a great deal of uncertainty with regard to Tatarstani sovereignty. Mikhail Stoliarov, the first deputy of the representative of Tatarstan Republic in the Russian Federation, assumes that in the federal state there is no single and indivisible sovereignty in the traditional sense, since under federalism there might be “cohabitation” of multiple sovereignties, as determined by the voluntary transfers of powers between the central and the regional governments1444. Farid Mukhametshin, the chairman of the State Council of Tatarstan, insists that the relations between Tatarstan and the Russian Federation are those between two states1445. President Shaimiev himself interprets sovereignty as “the right to act autonomously within the framework of proper prerogatives”1446. In his view, since “it would be too short-sighted to claim for full independence”, Tatarstan is ready to accept that it voluntarily becomes a member of the Russian Federation and transfers to the federal center the right to decide on such issues as the federal foreign policy, war and peace issues, international treaties of the Russian Federation 1447. This is what is baptized by Shaimiev himself as “moderate sovereignty”, that one which has neither anti-Russian nor secessionist background, and which even recognizes the functions of the federal authorities as “strategic planning”1448.

What we see here is clear mix of legal and political approaches. Legal purity had never been the highest priority for Tatarstan1449. What was most important is to maintain certain level of controversy and even conflictuality with the federal center in order to strengthen its bargaining power and find excuses for eventual failures in its own policies.

The durability of all legal irregularities and imperfections mentioned above might be explained by the fact that neither of two parts – the federal center and the republic of Tatarstan – was interested in establishing clear and transparent mechanism of relationship. Both parts were wishing to leave as much room for “under-the-carpet” bargaining and personal deals as possible1450.

It is true that Tatarstan quite succeeded in informally lobbying its interests using a variety of political arguments. Not all of them however are in good tune with each other, and almost all are open to multiple interpretations. Thus, Shakir Yagudin, the Law Department Chairman in the State Council of Tatarstan interprets the legal uncertainties in such a way that this republic is “the state within the state”1451. Describing its nature, President Shaimiev defines it as “the state of all peoples living in our territory”, and simultaneously as “the state of Tatars”1452. He wants independent powers but pledges not to undermine the unity of Russia. Presenting himself as a federalist, Shaimiev opts in fact for the “union state with the elements of confederation”1453. He is in favor of raising the status of Russian oblasts within the federation, but opposes granting the oblasts the same rights as the republics enjoy1454. In our view, all these statements are based on political symbolism rather than on targeting the real issues Tatarstan has to face.
3.2.2. Federal Policies

Not less controversial is the federal center stand. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation had ruled that the recognition of the Tatarstani statehood does not necessarily imply the recognition of its sovereignty. The statehood, in the Constitutional Court interpretation, only reflects certain peculiarities of Tatartan’s legal status, as related to historical, ethnic and other legacies. In reference to 1992 referendum, the Constitutional Court argued that it was illegitimate to formulate that Tatarstan is the subject of international law.

Sergey Shakhray, one of Boris Yeltsin’s top political advisers, uses different explanatory markers assuming that having elected their representatives to the State Duma and voted in all-Russian presidential elections, the people of Tatarstan de facto recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over the territory of Tatarstan1455. Shakhray, one of key political figures in charge of drafting Moscow - Kazan’ agreement of 1994, reinterpreted “associated status” of Tatarstan not in terms of state-to-state relations (as authorities in Kazan’ did) but rather as a kind of “natural association” going back to the middle ages. Associated relations are treated as those of historical alliance of Tatars and Russians, united organically by the very nature of vicinity and multiple communications1456.

As to legal part of the story, according to the Federal Law of January 1999 “On coordination of international and foreign economic activity of Russian Federation’s constituent parts“, Russian regions can’t sign agreements with foreign central authorities unless Russia’s government approves them. This provision formally runs against the power-sharing treaty between Russian Federation and Tatarstan. The Constitutional Court of Russia has issued two statements on Tatarstan: that ones of 13 March 1992 and 17 June 2000, which indicated – in defiance of multiple documents signed between Moscow and Kazan’ - that laws proclaiming Tatarstan’s sovereign status were unconstitutional.

Despite all these inconsistencies from both parties involved, it is important that from the very beginning of 1990s sovereignty was seen in Kazan’ as a process to be developed on ad-hoc basis. In Shaimiev’s words, “we don’t think the sovereignty is an absolute, neither we push it forcefully in those directions where there is no way to come – for example, in defense or financial matters. Should the circumstances change, we shall react”1457. Again, this is a good example of purely political approach to solving the legal controversy. Rafael Khakim has explicitly acknowledged that „we were independent only one day we have proclaimed the sovereignty, yet next morning we have started the process of self-restriction”1458. Here is the core difference between Tatarstan and Chechnia: the former is eager to achieve the “free hands policy” within the federation, while the latter was aimed at “running away” from Russia.

Tatarstan’s strategy might be called a piecemeal sovereignty. What Tatarstan proposes – and the federal center might easily accept - is the set of key points:

  • recognition of its partial (limited) sovereignty;

  • further delineation of responsibilities between the republic and the federal center;

  • in case of legal conflicts between the republic and the federal center, priority should be given to the legal norms of that party which is in charge of the question under consideration1459.

This is exactly the agenda for negotiations between Tatarstan and the federal center under President Putin presidency. We are turning to this issue in the next section.

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