Perceptions How the Membership of the Baltic Essay

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¶ … Perceptions

How the membership of the Baltic States into the EU has impacted relations between the EU and Russia

Since the downfall of the Soviet Union the relationship between: the EU, Russia and the Baltic States have become increasingly complicated. Part of the reason for this, is because of the past divisions and future areas of influence / cooperation. Where, the rapid expansion of the EU eastward has made this relationship more complex based upon: historical, cultural and political factors. As a result, the relationship between the EU and Russia has become rather heated at times. As it this has raised areas of concern that could have an impact upon future relations. In this paper we will examine this relationship and the role the Baltic States are playing.

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Essay on Perceptions How the Membership of the Baltic Assignment

Over the last several decades, the European Union has evolved into an entity that has become a driving force for: economic, political and military cooperation throughout Europe. While this is no doubt a great thing, the reality is that the expansion of the EU has caused a certain amounts of tension. Part of the reason for this, is because Russia is struggling to maintain its influence within the region. While trying to limit, the overall amounts of: EU expansion and influence. In the case of some of the former satellite states of the Soviet Union, this relationship has become increasingly complex, as they try to maintain close ties with the EU, while limiting the overall influence of Russia. This is because of the heated relationship that many of these nations would have with Soviet Union, as they dominated every aspect of daily life during the Cold War. As a result, many nations must engage in balancing act of the two different influences. A good example of this can be seen by looking no further than, Estonia. Where, the country has embraced EU membership. Yet, they are cautious of the EU improving ties dramatically with Russia, as the different historical issues continue to affect the Estonians. (Antonenko, 2005, pp. 211-212) This is important because, it highlights how the EU must be able maintain some kind of balance between the Baltic state members and Russia. To see how this is having an impact upon the relations between the EU / Russia requires: examining the history / background of the region, the advantages / disadvantages of such a relationship, what issues a SWOT analysis can uncover and providing recommendations on possible foreign policy / security arrangements. Together, these different elements will provide the greatest insights, as to how the Baltic States have impacted relations between the EU and Russia.

A Central Puzzle

The past relationship between the EU and Russia has been a mixed one, filled with a variety of highs / lows. What happened was the predecessor to the EU (the European Community) was not officially recognized by the Soviet Union, until the late 1980s. This is because the Soviet Union often viewed the European Community, as an economic extension of the NATO alliance and did not want to have any kind of relationship with them. Once the Cold War ended is when this relationship would begin to change, as there were 15 independent states located in the backyard of the EU. As a result, an aggressive expansion took place during the 1990's and early 2000's, with nearly all of the Baltic States becoming members. In the aftermath of the downfall of the Soviet Union, the new levels of engagement would change perspectives between the two sides. Where, both would begin to engage, in a series of agreements designed to promote: political, military and economic cooperation. (Romanova, 2004, pp. 84 -- 87)

However, this relationship would change with the Russian Federation Middle Term Strategy. This is where the Russian government, would begin to deviate from the agreements with the EU. As they begin backing away from some of the basic commitments they agreed to (such as the support of basic human rights). This shift in the policy would begin bring about a change in perceptions. As the different perspectives would become a major area of contention. At which point, the relationship between the two sides would continue to become more strained. From the Russian perspective, they have always tried to maintain a balance between Asia and Europe. The problem is that the expansion of the EU in the Baltic States meant that it would be encroaching upon Russia's borders. With various Baltic countries as EU members, they could have an influence on how EU policy will be directed towards Russia. At the same time, the unified market of the EU would be able to squeeze Russian manufacturing out of key markets in many Baltic States. This perspective would lead to Russian perceptions, that EU enlargement was a threat to: the economic, political, military and cultural influence they would have in the Baltic region. From the EU perspective, the various Baltic States wanted the Russia policy, to be one of creating a stable circle of friends surrounding the EU. Where, the EU and various countries in the area would be able to work together on variety of issues ranging from economic to military cooperation. Over the course of time, this would lead to an alliance between these countries and the EU. However, to achieve this ideal, economic cooperation must take place. As a result, the Common European Economic Space was introduced as a way to address these issues. This is important, because it shows how EU perceptions of bringing Russia into such an alliance could cause conflict. As their intentions are genuine, yet Russia is worried about losing its influence. The perspectives of the Baltic States, embracing the ideals of the EU, meant that their perceptions of engagement would influence this policy. As they wanted to see more eastward expansion in countries such as: the Ukraine. This would play a role in shaping EU perspectives / policy towards Russia, by forming zones of cooperation with neighbors. (Romanova, 2004, pp. 84 -- 87)

Brief History & Background of EU, Russia and Baltic States

The history / background of all three entities are: one of division, followed by an attempt to reconcile the issues of the past. In the case, of the Baltic States and Russia, these wounds run deep within the populations of both countries. Where, the Baltic States are cautious of being dominated by Russia, and have became a part of the West. What happened was; the Soviet Union had controlled the Baltic States for 45 years, after the end of World War II. During the occupation, the Soviets would dominate every facet of daily life. This constant domination by Russia would make the Baltic States weary of their intentions in the future. As the two sides would seek to bury the issues of the past, yet are unable to so because of: the memories of what life was like under the control of the Soviet Union. A good example of this can be seen in border security issues between the Latvia, Lithuania and Russia. Where, negotiations broke down because both countries (Latvia and Lithuania) wanted a clause in the border provisions that they could seek more territory from Russia in the future (due to the occupation). These views of the Baltic States have made the relationship more strained, as Russia is seeing them as an extension of the EU. Given the fact that Russia has been invaded from the West militarily (on numerous occasions), means that they are beginning to become concerned about similar issues of encroachment and the loss of influence, in the former satellite states of the Soviet Union. (Buhbe, 2005, pp. 5 -- 8)

Advantages / Disadvantages perceived by EU, Russia and Baltic States respectively, on such a Relationship

The advantages that are being perceived from the EU would be: increased cooperation and better relations with Russia. As the standards and principals of the relationship, would help Russia be able to become a major economic / military partner. The disadvantages of this, is that Russia is seeing this as an attempt by the EU (indirectly through the Baltic States), to weaken the nation. As they are telling them, how and what policies need to be implemented as far as their internal affairs is concerned. From the perceptions of Russia, increased cooperation with the EU can, mean that they will have increased access to European markets, for the various natural resources they produce. Yet, there is a price that must be paid, as Russia would have greater scrutiny on issues such as human rights and nuclear proliferation. This is problematic, because Russia would like the advantage of working with the EU, but does not want to have to follow EU provisions on a host of issues. In the case of the Baltic States, they want to be able take advantages of being integrated into Europe and the West. This helps to improve their economic and political prospects, as they follow the same model utilized throughout the EU. The disadvantage… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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