The fourth pathway of conceptualizing Russia’s European discourse is through the “Old - New” debate, which renders a polarizing effect upon Russian community of political experts.
One group of opinion- and policymakers is distrustful to France and Germany due to their alleged ambitions to monopolize the European identity. In a revealing logic of Mikhail Margelov, the chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, Russia has managed to deal directly with the United States and thus avoided being fooled by the Germans and the French1690. It is also claimed that “at her western borders Russia needs free and developed partners, not the aggressive Franco-German monster”1691. There are also voices supporting the U.S. presence in Europe as a counter-balance to the German hegemony and the French independence in security issues1692.
This logic is conducive to expressing some sympathies to the “New Europe” which is seen as a playground where Russia could get certain advantages for herself. Thus, Solomon Ginzburg, director of the “Regional Strategy” Foundation in Kaliningrad, is certain that there is a need to make use of the Lithuanian delegates in the European parliament as lobbyists for Russia’s Baltic exclave interests1693. Dmitry Rogozin, the leader of the “Rodina” party, despite his tough attitudes towards the Baltic states, has come up with an initiative to prioritize Russia’s relations with Latvia which might become a country performing mediatory functions between Russia and the European north1694.
In the meantime, there is an opposite viewpoint in Russia, that one eager to shoulder responsibility for degenerating relations with the EU to Russia’s small neighbours that have succeeded in imposing their policies/visions upon Brussels. Within this discursive stream, Russian commentators make efforts to deploy the complexities of Russia’s relations with the Baltic countries in, at least, two wider contexts. The first one is related to the EU which is expected, in Russian reasoning, to bear responsibility for the behaviour of its newcomers. In its statement of October 22, 2004 the State Duma has declared that in the aftermath of Latvia’s and Estonia’s accession to the EU, these two countries have reinforced their anti-Russian attitudes through promulgating a number of initiatives aimed at laying material and political claims to Russia, as well as reconsidering the outcomes of the Second World War (meaning by that an alleged tendency of rehabilitation of the Nazi combatants)1695. Even more eloquent was Sergey Yastrzhembskii, President Putin’s aide on European affairs, who accused the EU newcomers in exposing political radicalism and “fairly primitive Russophobia”. These countries, in his assessment, are trying to actively “complicate the dialogue between Russia and the EU”, which appears to contradict the interests of the EU “old residents”1696.
The second context has to deal with the United States, since the new EU members are gloatingly depicted by some of the Russian commentators as “America’s fifth column in Europe”1697. “Congratulate Adamkus and then America”1698, - this is how some of the Russian policy commentators assessed the results of 2004 presidential election in Lithuania.
All in all, a significant part of Russia’s elites tends to suspect the «New Europe» countries of undermining the Russian positions1699, which resonates quite well with the opinions of some European policy analysis that “three Baltic republics and Poland will definitely turn into a complicating factor in the EU-Russia relations. Nevertheless, the political elites of France and Germany willing to keep working with Russia won’t allow the small countries to significantly spoil the work done before”1700. In Putin’s vision, it is Chirac and Schroeder who could bring Russia closer to Europe, “particularly if they would agree to avoid unpleasant topics” like Chechnya, or the democratic deficit in Belarus1701.
This way of reasoning is well complemented by voices assuming that the Russian-German alliance is the key factor of all-European stability. In particular, Alexander Dugin treats the French-German Europe as a historical chance for Russia to provide its security: “we have no right to miss this opportunity and plug into this process at any conditions”. In this reasoning, Russia is to offer herself as a logical extension of Paris – Berlin alliance to the east. “It is in this sense that the Russian patriots can proclaim: To Europe!”1702.
Two general conclusions might stem from the analysis undertaken above. First, the different conceptualizations of Europe, due to their discursively constructed nature, considerably overlap. This can be shown through a rather simple exercise of finding some common grounds between different combinations of Europe’s images:
“Europe of colors” and “False - True Europe”. By using “black” and “gray” metaphors in addressing other countries, Russia intends to treat them as deviating from what could be perceived as “normal” European-ness. By the same token, the accentuation of “false” European-ness of some of Russia’s neighbours pushes Russia to insist on re-articulation of their policies;
“Europe of colors” and “Europe of dimensions”. What is common for these conceptualizations is that both ND and ED are aimed at reducing the uncertainty immanent to the “gray zone” image;
“Europe of colors” and “Old – New Europe”. These two interpretations are related by the fact that a significant part of the “New European” countries used to be described as having their “gray” past which was meant to be left behind due to the EU enlargement;
“False - True Europe” and “Europe of Dimensions”. Presumably, Finland – with its ND - is much closer to Russia’s concept of “true Europe” than Poland which, most likely, could be relocated to a “false Europe” group of countries;
“False - True Europe” and “Old – New Europe”. The fact is that “false Europe” tends to be mostly pro-American1703 which links the whole discourse with Russia’s attitudes toward the “Old – New” Europe debate.
“Europe of dimensions” and “Old – New Europe”. The ED has to be approached as the first political product of the “New Europe” as articulated by Donald Rumsfeld. In the meantime, the ND stands close to the vision of “New Europe” as seen from the perspective of the New Regionalism vocabulary.
Second, the four categorizations of Europe may be related to different levels of regionness. The scheme offered by Rodrigo Tavares seems to grasp this multiplicity. Thus, both normative Europe (represented by a “false – true” conceptualization) and a “Europe of colors” may be attributed to “regional spaces”, i.e. areas that “have a certain degree of singularity, despite the non-existence of strong elements of any other sort that tie the agents”. Both “New” and “Old” Europes, as well as the Eastern Dimension area could be placed within the category of “regional complexes”, “marked by the dominant roles played by the states” that “live in a system where the idea of sovereignty and the Westphalian concepts of anarchy and balance of power assume a crucial position”. The Northern Dimension, in its turn, arguably stands closer to “regional society” since it is grounded in “interdependence on different subjects undertaken by actors sharing common values and rules”1704.