Russia and the European Union in the Baltic region: a treacherous path to partnership
This article examines policies of Moscow and Brussels in the Baltics since the launch of the European Union’s Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in June 2009. An increase in the efficiency of Russia’s policy in the region requires not only the development of bilateral relations with the region’s countries but also a dialogue with the European Union, the key player in the Baltic. The author identifies Russian economic, military, political, and humanitarian interests in the region, and describes the structure, content, and main areas of the implementation of the EU Baltic strategy in 2009—2013. The article examines the evolution of the Strategy, which initially ignored Russian national interests in the region, yet eventually resulted in cooperative efforts in the areas of common interest such as energy, transport infrastructure, environment, research, education and culture. The results of the Russian presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (2012—2013) are evaluated. It is noted that, despite an appealing presidency strategy and certain achievements in its implementation, Russia was unable to draw up a regional agenda and use the CBSS as an efficient platform for harmonizing its Baltic strategy with that of the EU. The causes of the current deadlock in EU — Russian relations regarding the Baltic are analyzed. The author formulates policy recommendations on fostering Russian-European cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. These recommendations range from the suggestion of joint revisions of mutual conceptual perceptions and strategic goals pursued by the EU and Russia in the Baltic Sea region to more practical measures in the institutional, administrative, and financial fields.
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