Two general conclusions might stem from the analysis undertaken above. Firstly, 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 “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;
“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.
Secondly, in concluding remarks, let me come back to the hypothesis briefly introduced in the beginning of this paper. Each of the three conceptualizations of Europe which were identified within the framework of the Russian discourse, in one way or another is grounded in the idea of exceptionality represented in its different modalities.
As we have seen, a “Europe of colors” offers a rather controversial picture which could be interpreted, on the one hand, as a substantiation of Russia’s exclusion from Europe based on an alleged Russian dissimilarity with the EU countries. Yet on the other hand, this logic could be reversed by arguing – perhaps, paradoxically – that the “gray zone” metaphor could be read as a variant of in-between marginality, possessing of a constructive force of its own.
The Russian discourse on “Europe of spaces” and, concomitantly, “Europe of dimensions” looks more certain. Both conceptualizations, being logically interconnected, are composed of a series of inclusive moves offering a playground for innovative thinking. Therefore, Russia’s exceptionality (as exemplified, for example, by her reluctance to consider herself a part of the EU neighborhood policy) is semantically associated with a form of inclusion. The experimentation discourse is rather strong in its “spatial” and “dimensionalist” modalities, which, nevertheless, leaves open the question of practicality and efficacy of the “spatial” and “dimensionalist” arrangements. In the same vein, an interpretation of “dimensions” and “common spaces” as tools of exclusion is also feasible, though in much less pronounced modalities.
Within the framework of the “Old – New Europe” debate, Russia comes up with her own understanding of exceptionality. Being politically attached to “Old Europe” (as exemplified by Germany and France), Russia underlines her “special” relations with the strongest EU founding members. What is interesting is that this manifestation of the Russian exceptionality transforms into a tool of Russia’s own “policy of exclusion”, turned, in particular, against some of the EU newcomers. Russian debates on the possibility of the Latvian’s President participation in the Moscow-based celebration of the 60st anniversary of the end of the Second World War, as well as a non-invitation of the leaders of Poland and Lithuania to the celebration of the 750 anniversary of Kaliningrad/Konigsberg, are the most visible symptoms of this emerging policy.
This is at this point that the “Old – New Europe” problematization overlaps with the discursive division of Europe into “true” and “false” components. By practicing such a divide, Russia tries to mark by her own discursive means the European cultural landscapes and offer her own version of what is a (positive) norm and a (negative) exception in Europe. In fact, the construction of a dichotomy “false – true Europe” is an indication of Russia’s vision of what is a dominating pattern of Europeanness and what is, on the contrary, a deplorable deviation from otherwise indisputable socio-cultural standards.
Russia seems to be rather conveniently positioned within much of the discursive spaces given above. She may not only easily live up with some of the binary oppositions representing Europe, but also to deconstruct some of them for her own avail. If needed, she might be attacking the “New Europe” concept as one pointing to a group of pro-American countries. Yet on different occasions, a drastic re-signification is possible, that one turning Russia herself into an organic part of the “New Europe”. Furthermore, the claim that Russia is a New Europe is a peculiar example of discursive deconstruction of a dichotomy borrowed from the outside.
The same goes for the “gray zone” concept which can also instantiate the deconstructivist possibilities embedded in Russia’s European discourse. The “gray zone” metaphor makes the East – West opposition less rigid and more flexible. Being neither East nor West, Russia may present herself as a peculiar type of a borderland between these two geographic poles.
All this leads to assume that Russia, metaphorically speaking, constructs multiple images of Europe, all of them tailored for her own convenience and according to her own predispositions. Europe appears in the Russian discourse either as a contrast to Russia herself, or as a model to be closely associated/identified with. In both cases, the way Europe is (re)invented meets the Russian needs for either “the Big Other” or a site of positive impulses and incentives. This is only through relating – in a positive or negative sense – herself with Europe that Russia is capable of uncovering and exposing her own identity. Therefore, Russia uses Europe – repeatedly constructed and reconstructed in her own discourse – for the purpose of shaping the space convenient to live in.