EU and Russia – competition and cooperation: Balkans vs. Caucasus

The war in Georgia dramatically changed the situation both for the EU and its periphery. For a long time discussions and policy decisions in the EU assumed that the post-Yugoslavia and post-Soviet peripheries are historically, culturally, and politically too different to render similar analytical and policy approaches reasonable. For this reason it was believed that crises would evolve and conflicts resolved in radically different ways in these two spaces, and therefore the experience of the EU in Bosnia and Kosovo is not very useful in informing EU debates and policies in the post-Soviet space.
After the Georgia war this assumption is no longer adequate. Obviously similarities between the two peripheries are empirically substantial, analytically useful, and politically relevant.
We believe the analytical and policy community in the EU should focus on the similarities and differences in the two peripheries much more carefully that until now. We also believe that the Georgia war convincingly demonstrates the need for the EU to define a single common strategy toward its periphery in order to have a coherent and effective impact.
Thus we have set a group of experts on the Balkans and on the Caucasus to try to figure out what works and what proved not to be working in both regions. The group included Alex Rondos, Andrey Ryabov, Antoinette Primatarova, Goran Svilanovic, Ghia Nodia, Gerald Knaus,  Ivan Krastev, Ivan Vejvoda, Irina Yasina, Levan Tsutskiridze, Marie Mendras, Mark Medish, Milica Delevic, Nicu Popescu, Ognyan Minchev, Pavol Demes,  Pawel Swieboda, Soli Ozel, Steven Everts, Vessela Tcherneva, and Wolfgang Petritsch.                                                          
The two-days brainstorming session that took place on February 22-23, 2009 in Vienna in the premises of the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue was structured in five panels: EU and Russia in the Balkans; EU and Russia in the Caucasus; EU and Russia: troubled relationship after the Russia-Georgia war and against the background of the global financial crisis; Can the EU’s Balkan strategy serve as a model for its policy in the Caucasus? and ENP vs. Russia’s near abroad policy.
We organized also a public lecture of Steven Everts with respondents Ivan Vejvoda and Irina Yasina.

Period: December 2008 - September 2009
Coordinators: Anna Ganeva, Ivan Krastev
Financing Organisations: Balkan Trust for Democracy; Directorate for Security Policy of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defence and Sport
Partners: Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue
Global Affairs