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

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There is some logic in the fact that Finland and Poland, two former margins of the Russian empire, have become the most important sources of regional innovations in Europe as exemplified in the Northern and the Eastern Dimensions (ND and ED, correspondingly). Both initiatives have to be analyzed as parts of “new geometries” of regionalism that link the core powers with Europe’s margins and relate to the EU enlargement (“the Barcelona process”, the Barents-Euroarctic project, the Central European Initiative, and some other examples could be recalled). In this context, the cases of Finland and Poland seem to confirm the widely discussed idea that margins may define the nature of the whole (Parker 2000: 7).

My intention in this paper is to incorporate the ED into marginality theory developed by Noel Parker. My argument is that the ED stands out as a discoursive battlefield for different representations of Poland and Europe’s margins. In devising its marginality strategy, Poland has learnt from Finland about the ability of a state on the edges of the EU to have an impact on the whole. However, Poland is torn between sovereign and post-sovereign discourses of space and identity; the tensions between them may explain why the ED itself remains rather vague

The paper is divided into four chapters. First, I will describe the basic concepts of marginality and “dimensionalism”. Second, I will turn to the ED as an instrument of Poland’s marginality strategy. The most important questions here touch upon the utility of the Nordic-Baltic region-building experience for the ED. Third, I will find out what hinders the de-bordering effects of the ED. Fourth, I will show other visions of the ED emanating from Russia and Ukraine. Divergence of opinions testifies to the fact that the ED is, in a way, a constructivist project depending on what ideas it will be filled by.

Playing on the Margins and Dimensions: Conceptual Underpinnings

The concepts of marginality and “dimensionalism” focus on the questions the ED raise for the understanding of political space in general and construction of Europe in particular.

Conceptually, there is a difference between peripheries as “subordinate and voiceless fringes of a single entity”, and margins as “self-conscious (and often ‘contested’) spaces in-between two or more centers that are possessed of a certain amount of influence, power and subjectivity” (Browning and Joenniemi 2003: 181). Marginality, in Parker’s vision, should not be equated with inferiority; moreover, the post-sovereign era opens new opportunities for marginal actors. Thus, countries located at the intersection of different polities and identities (“cross-roads actors”), start thinking about how to make better use of their marginality resources through inclusive cooperation with adjacent territories.

Another useful distinction has to be drawn between the concept of “dimension” and bilateral agreements. The idea of “dimension”, as seen from the ND perspective, is conceptualized in the following assumptions:

  • political space is seen as heterogeneous and self-organized, with a variety of “growth poles”;

  • its components are active agents of regional integration, not subjects of someone’s policies;

  • dialogue between different “dimensional” actors facilitates cultural exchanges, and undermines the “self – other” opposition;

  • the boundaries of “dimensions” are flexible and don’t overlap with the administrative borders;

  • as an “open forum” model of integration, “dimensionalism” closely correlates with globalization paradigm.

To some extent, the differences between the “dimension” concept and traditional state-to-state arrangements remind the ”hard vs. soft regionalism” distinction (Makarychev 2002: 36). ”Hard regionalism” refers to top-down, state-centric, hard security - oriented, and a centralized and hierarchical pattern of regional dynamics, focused on control over sovereignty, territory and borders. Alternatively, the “soft regionalism” concept has connotations with “dimensionalism” and post-sovereignty discourse due to its accent on decentralized, networked regionalism leaving ample space for grass-roots initiatives beyond the “administrative market”. Creativity, inspiration and imagination become the guiding principles of “soft” regionalism. Like “dimensionalism”, it incarnates a set of shared meanings giving rise to a «sense of belonging». Regions are understood as mobile social constructs that might «encounter», «clash», «inject their own stories», etc. (Joenniemi and Lehti 2001: 32).

In this sense, there is always something «new» in “dimensionalism”. “The regionalism of dimensions” allows for different spatial shapes, and thus blurs the distinction between «insiders» and «outsiders». Identity markers always involve a choice («what we wish to belong to?»), because the social world is defined not only by physical constraints but also in spiritual and normative categories. In post-sovereign way of thinking, there can be no single mode of spatial representation, and all spatial arrangements can be opposed by alternatives. Geography cannot lock up regions in a ‘steel cage’, and geographical affiliations are subject to re-interpretation (Nekrasas 1998: 22-23). Region building begins in the field of ideas, public debates, and is supposed to convince participants of a common background, and by making common values come into force.

The following table illustrates some of the differences noted above:

State-to-state policies




Depend on administrative and/or diplomatic levers

Relies upon a networking concept of integration

Territorially confined (what matters are borders)

Intellectually defined (what matters are ideas)



Promotes hierarchy and standardization

Develops autonomy and variety

Main organizing principles are sovereignty and security

The key marker is de-regulated regionality

Relations between constituent parts are more formal (framework-oriented)

Relations are less formal, more flexible (network-oriented)

Epistemic communities are used by political groups to legitimize political agendas

Epistemic communities incite changes within certain political space

Implies sovereign (modern) visions of regionality

Reflects post-sovereign (post-modern) territorial arrangements

The perspectives of “dimensionalism” in Europe are directly related to the EU enlargement, since increasingly diversified political space spells further differentiation. The more complex the EU is becoming intrinsically, the more space will be needed for regional groupings inside it, each one most likely to seek more autonomy in contacting with non-EU members. This potentially emerging structure of the European political space is metaphorically compared with “Olympic rings” picture, which is conceptually opposed by more traditional “Concentric rings” model. The distinctions between the two are shown below:

Concentric rings” Europe

Olympic rings” Europe

Regions subordinate to Brussels

Regional spaces co-exist with each other („neomedievalisation” of Europe)

Vertical integration

Horizontal interaction

Distinctive center – periphery divide

Nor clear center neither clear periphery

Regions have a priori different status within single hierarchy

Regions are equal in terms of their significance and importance

Reflects the sovereignty-based concept of space

Is part of post-sovereignty conceptualizations

Having presented the main analytical concepts to be used, in the second chapter I turn to the ED as seen from the perspectives of marginality and “dimensionalism”. The ED in fact is a “battlefield” with different interpretations on what the essence of the initiative should be, each one making its own points as to in which direction(s) the policy should develop. The ED is a matter of political debate both within Poland and internationally, which means that certain justifications push it in modern, sovereignty-related direction, while others move it in post-sovereignty destination.

Poland’s Marginality Strategy: Softening East-West Division(s)

The political space of “Eastern Europe”, being the legacy of the Cold War, has almost disappeared as one of formerly basic markers of European political space. The countries of what was formerly called “Eastern Europe” have to find new identifications, thus fueling debates about new “coordinates” in Europe.

The ED idea was initially proclaimed in 1998 and further elaborated by the international team of experts known as Villa Faber Group which has stated that the ED has to be modeled according to the ND and become the main instrument for implementing “the strategy of controlled permeability of the accession countries’ eastern borders” (Thinking Enlarged 2001: 10-27). Yet Poland’s officials themselves are very vague in describing what exactly the ED is – “umbrella”, “framework”, or “addition to the ND” (Cimoszewic 2003). The variety of the terms leaves the principal questions open: whether the ED is an effort undertaken by Poland to make use of the options embedded in the phenomenon of marginality, and whether there is something in Poland’s approach that tends to limit the ED scope. The question of how faithful to the ND its Eastern analogue should be is also debatable.

Studying the Finnish lessons

The ND which serves as a reference point for the ED is a good illustration of the feasibility of “dimensionalist” and post-sovereignty approaches to the European political space, because it highlights the changing meaning of borders in Europe. The ND regionalism first started as a concept that posits that the borders are not any longer to be perceived in traditional sense (since they are not only about delineation of sovereignties); they form a more complex set of issues only partially molded by the sovereign states.

The ND contributes to making the EU a multi-level regional entity to encompass a variety of center-margins and cross-border relations conceptualized in such post-sovereignty terms as cultural identities, economic flows, trans-national exchanges, soft security solutions, etc. It is appreciated in Poland that the ND has become a mediator of different historical and cultural worlds and thus opened new channels of dialogue with EU non-members, based on inclusive principles.

One of most convincing “Finnish lessons” for Poland is that “a small and relatively peripheral country appears to have grasped the initiative” of doing away with the old opposition between “East” and “West” as the core signifiers within Europe (Joenniemi 1999: 5). Like Poland, Finland in 1990s was not eager to associate itself with Eastern Europe which has become too uncertain and lost its political identity. Neither Finland wanted to accept the hegemony of the EU. That is why the ND is at odds with endeavors to maintain a rather centralized and hierarchic EU, and makes Europe more multilayered, pluralistic, less coherent and centrally controlled.

Making work the ND heritage

Poland has been impressed by Finnish success and appears keen to reproduce it in its own space. The very fact that the ED was born at the crossroads of different regional spaces contains some de-bordering potential, since Poland is able to accumulate regional experiences and influence the molding of several regions: Western, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Baltic area. Thus, Poland may potentially emerge as an intermediary in East-West political communications. Polish vision of its mission could be conceptualized in terms of "extended East and Central European region" to play the role of "good neighborhood” belt (Stanczyk 2002: 114).

For Poland, its long-awaited sovereignty (with borders at its core) “came at a time when the modern concept of the independent nation-state was no longer perceived as a viable” (Los and Zybertowicz 2000: 202). This increases the ED chances to integrate the most meaningful ND lessons.

First, Poland is interested in “Olympic rings” model of Europe because it wants to preserve its autonomy vis-à-vis France and Germany, and reshape political space in Central Europe accordingly. Poland became aware of its importance as a regional power, and is likely to emerge as rather obstinate EU member and a challenger to centralizers (Lukianov 2003: 20).

Second, what makes the ED similar to the ND is that its geographic area is a matter of diverging interpretations – for example, there is an opinion that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are to participate in the ED (Decker 2000: 23), along with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. Similar to the ND, the zone to be included into the ED intertwines with other institutions: Russia–led Commonwealth of Independent States, the US-sponsored GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova), and the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation with Ukraine as its key actor and the US also standing behind.

This institutional variety makes the whole ED area “networked polity without definite borders”, that ought to be conceived in post-sovereign terms of “trans-national spatializations of power” (Larner and Walters 2002: 411). Different regional arrangements are not mutually exclusive; rather than defined by natural features, they are increasingly seen as complex overlays of one particular space on another (Bort and Evans 2000: 9).

Third, the ED might also be instrumental in achieving Poland’s pacification with its neighbours. The general vector in Poland-Baltic relations is directed towards taking joint security responsibilities, and relations between Poland and Lithuania are gradually improving (Bajarnas 1995). Rapprochement between Poland and Ukraine, a cornerstone of the ED, can in principle be modeled on Poland – Lithuanian dialogue strengthed by the promotion of the ND agenda. Ironing out tensions between Poland and its eastern neighbors may also be important in economic terms, since a meaningful part of Polish population is unhappy with breaking commercial relations with the East (Bort 2000:5).

Fourth, in seeking NATO accession, Ukraine may take the road tried earlier by Poland, and later by Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – that one which Russia has to finally accept without any noticeable damage to its international roles. NATO affiliation ought to increasingly be treated as strengthening soft security arsenals of all parties involved, including Russia. There are some indications that the situation develops in this direction: both Ukrainian and NATO officials consent that the main spheres of joint interest are science and environmental protection, economic security, aiding the civil population in cases of man-caused disasters and natural catastrophes, search and rescue operations.

Therefore, an important contribution to be transferred to the ED from the ND might be the experience of “soft security regionalism”, i.e. the pattern of regional integration based on common projects dealing with pollution, poaching, trafficking in human beings, energy transportation, etc. Non-state-related security threats are proliferating all across the world, making the NATO expansion a significantly less dividing issue. Soft security is more conducive to regional integration because its actors and the threats they are repelling are less bound to a specific national territory. “Although ‘hard’ security still works to constrain regionalist schemes, the sphere of the ‘soft’ has expanded inviting for regional cooperation” (Joenniemi and Prawitz 1998: 248).
What Hinders the De-bordering Agenda

As we have seen above, there are some chances that the previous „either – or” approach (Poland being categorically part of the “West” with the “East” being something different) would be substituted by a both/and approach softening the East-West gaps. Yet the question of whether Poland can effectively pursue a positive marginality strategy sharpens once we take into account its self-perception as the geopolitical leader of Central Europe (CE), and in view of Poland’s inclination to see itself as victimized by a position in-between Russia and Germany. It is this tension in the ED project that turns the ED into discursive battlefield.

Many of Polish voices that profoundly clash with post-sovereign approaches are heavily influenced by past understandings and self-conceptualizations. The historical self-image of Poland is a combination of “the inferiority complex of a poor relative”, on the one hand, and the heroic image of a “former protector of Christianity from Eastern barbarians”, a country that used to “purify and save Europe” (Mach 1997: 35-36), on the other. Unlike Finland, Poland still lacks convincing experience of reaping the fruits of “in-between” marginality.

Many elements of Polish foreign-policy thinking are dominated by security considerations as seen from traditional geopolitical lens, which undermines the ED initiative. “The memories of 1939, when Poland was almost surrounded by enemy forces, are still alive” (Lachowski 1998: 139). Hence, the ED might be taken as a counter-move aimed at overcoming the security disadvantage of being “sandwiched” between Russia and Germany. Meanwhile, the ED can be interpreted in terms of Poland’s desire to have common EU policy towards Russia to avoid separate bargaining of Germany with Russia. According to Ilya Prizel, Germany still tends to regard Poland as a “client state”, which enhances the perspective of Europe being de-facto partitioned between EU and Russian zones of influence (Prizel 2002: 690).

Despite the fact that Poland has positioned itself as the biggest CE country overtly committed to Western values (Johnson 1996: 249), there is a feeling among Polish elite that their country is underestimated in Europe. These sentiments had nurtured long-run international ambitions of Warsaw. In promoting the ED, Poland may wish to occupy a certain power niche and announce its larger geopolitical plans in Eastern Europe to become a prelude to forthcoming struggle for influence with Russia. Poland seeks to retain exclusionary functions vis-a-vis Ukraine presuming that a Ukraine „drawn into the 1992 Tashkent Agreement on military cooperation with Russia would create a serious source of tension in the region…As Belarus merges with Russia, bilateral cooperation is becoming even more significant for both Warsaw and Kyiv” (Pavliuk 1997: 47). It is quite indicative, for example, that Warsaw officials have made special emphasis on the political importance of Ukraine’s participation in Polish sector in Iraq (Rzeczpospolita, N 118, 22 maja 2003).

Some of Polish experts declare that the ED ought to “prevent the development of the policy which is often reduced to ‘Russia first’ concept” (Mazur 2000: 59). Yet in this case Poland faces two dangers: the first one stems from her over-identification with Ukraine, that might unleash negative reaction from major EU powers reluctant to extend their commitments further eastward. The second danger is clash of interests with Russia, which may make true the prediction of Poland being “the bridge to nowhere” (Bachmann 2002: 223).

There are still some chances to make the ED-covered area a more diversified, less strictly bordered political milieu evolving towards true “dimensionalism”. One of conditions is paying more attention to the Baltic regionalism.

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International relations -> Материалы для чтения the four freedoms as part of europeanization process: conditions and effectiveness of the eu impact
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Departments -> Учебно-методический комплекс по дисциплине " финансы и кредит" Нижний Новгород 2004 Печатается по решению редакционно-издательского совета гоу нглу им. Н. А. Добролюбова
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International relations -> Материалы для чтения
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