The Concept of ‘’Global Institutionalized Partnership’’ in the Context of the Foreign Policy Orientation of Current and Former CIS Countries: The ‘Council of Eurasia’.
The foreign policy orientation stands alone among the multiple diplomatic and political challenges Armenia faces along with other CIS members at this stage of the fundamental shift in the geopolitical preferences in Eurasia . Although the nation’s policy of accommodating the Eurasian integration with efforts to further enhance EU-Armenia cooperation through the Association agreement bore no fruit, the geopolitical orientation remains a subject of debate and criticism for both the supporters of the newly established Eurasian Economic Union and the advocates of closer ties and eventual integration with the European bloc. Thus, the subject of the observations in this article are the possible outcomes of the geopolitical choices Armenia and other current and former CIS countries have made coupled with a closer examination of the dynamics of global political interactions with an emphasis on the Eurasian core. The article aims to give insight into the basic frame and the cause-effect analysis of the recent geopolitical transformations but does not review the aspects of foreign policy choices of all the countries of the region with a holistic approach In the narrative of geopolitical choices of former Soviet republics, it should be noted that some of the CIS or former CIS countries have successfully made strides towards the European integration, such as Georgia, Ukraine or Moldova , while others have either backtracked from their European aspirations (Armenia) or have remained detached from the process (Azerbaijan, Belarus). It is uncontested that regional and global powers have a say in the geopolitical choices of the post-Soviet republics but the European vs. Eurasian dilemma forces most of the countries of the region to forge closer ties with various projects of supranational integration for two obvious reasons: the regional and global powers expect the countries to make a clear choice and the governing elites of the regions seek shields against the pressures of the other side of the equation .
The need for multilateral action for finding clues to issues of international or universal concern as opposed to international self-righteousness dates back to the end of the Second World War when the embryo of institutionalized internationalism started to take form. Samuel Huntington’s reference to Franklin Roosevelt concerning the end of unilateral action is no coincidence. The geopolitical developments are reflections of a chain of historic events, conflicts, revolutions and/or evolutionary changes that seed the need for a shift of focus in the perceptions and academic/political ken of international relations. As a result of understanding the importance of engagement and dialogue, the world powers for multi-national cooperation, mutual assistance, agreed tracks of economic patterns and , logically, international security and conflict resolution schemes either in the form of military blocs or security organizations. The notable examples are the UN, the Council of Europe, OSCE, NATO, NAFTA, CIS, ASEAN etc. However, it should be noted the extension of the network of what we call GIP- Global Institutionalized Partnership (the broad and narrow definitions of the concept are discussed later in the article) and the rationale behind it are not always viewed in the light of an international cooperative lust. This may be especially true for a unique kind of such bodies, namely international non-governmental organizations. To quote Edward A. L. Turner ,’’the rapid expansion of international non-governmental organization (INGOs) numbers in the last half-century is usually explained to be a result of decolonization, globalization, and/or increase in the number of global issues.’’ Therefore, we observe three layers of political dialogue on the domestic and international levels that shape the foreign policy priorities of the Republic of Armenia (henceforth RA) and most CIS nations: geopolitical dicta, prevalent international networks, alternative foreign policy tracks.
That said, Armenia and most of the CIS (and former CIS) countries are positioned well to benefit from the overlapping geopolitical networks and great power competition. However important Russia’s tools of putting pressure on the governing elites of its immediate neighborhood and its capacity of a regional gravitational force in terms of economy and politics may be, the newly independent republics have gone through a process of nation-building which has put national interests and political preferences ahead of the fear of confrontation with Russia. The short Georgian-Russian war demonstrated the CIS countries are less vulnerable when it comes to the preservation of their sovereignty as Moscow has to deal with the Western (principally American) political deterrent if it wishes to expand its sphere of influence against the choices made by the now independent republics of the former USSR. However, the aim of this article is not taking sides with either Moscow or Tbilisi blaming one of the parties for the ignition of the conflict and either attack and aggression or invasion and occupation respectively. Ultimately, the aspiration of the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are to be taken into account in some form as the right of self-determination cannot be applied on a discriminatory basis. The conflict dates back to the collapse of the Soviet Union and our objective is to view the latest escalation and military confrontation within the realm of the changing geopolitical landscape of the Caucasus and the wider CIS region rather than in the light of reviewing the roots, course and the outcome of the antagonistic relationships of the parties involved. Additionally, ‘’it is undeniable that both parties— the Russian-Abkhazian-South Ossetian coalition , on the one hand, and Georgia, on the other— took steps toward a military solution of the crisis, or, more correctly, of the crises’’.
But for the purpose of this article, the main point is whether the geopolitical reorientation is achieved through a mixture of revolutions, resultant conflicts and blatant anti-Russian posture or through a myriad of strategic and tactical moves aimed at reinforcing foreign policy priorities, the Russian presence in the region is undermined as two crucial factors come to play into each other.
First, the post-soviet republics steer away from the traditional economic, political and cultural dependence on Russia as the fear grows that Moscow will slip into a condition of the impetuous drive for expansion, in the broadest sense of the word. The geopolitical landscape of the CIS region is undergoing a profound transformation, albeit more revolutionary and painful than evolutionary and effective. Various comprehensive or/and security organizations in the post-Soviet region have aimed primarily at two things: to counter Russian interest in the region in the name of the right to pursue an independent course of development, cooperation and foreign policy(GUAM) or to help the Russian dominance perpetuate disguised as tools and mechanisms to maintain traditional ties, mutually-beneficial networks of cooperation and dialogue. Interestingly, there have been few, if any, attempts to impact the geopolitical realities of the region with a clear goal of converging the interests of the peoples and political elites of the republics to avoid clashes of interests, political ups and downs, and to promote understanding rather than turn a blind eye on yielding on the part of some of the countries to accommodate Russia’s desire of a perpetually dominant role and the right to exercise its influence in ways and times it sees fit.
As things stand, it is absolutely necessary to cultivate new political elites in the region capable of forging ahead with more ambitious and self-righteous , yet respectful and considerate steps, towards rather than against, Russia and the world powers interested and/or engaged in the region. In addition, the democratic and, up to a point, nationalistic forces within Russia should grasp the opportunities of the moment to force themselves a transformation of thinking and attitude toward the sovereign decision-making of the post-Soviet republics , especially when it comes to foreign policy choices and geopolitical preferences if they are to remain a dominant regional power.
Second, the geopolitical reorientation is a procedure or strategy that adjusts foreign policy priorities of a given state or region based on the geopolitical dictates of the time which by no means downplays the importance of the institutions and mechanisms already in place. Also, the geopolitical shifts are accelerated by the fact that ‘’since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the CIS has increasingly turned into a contested zone between the major powers: Russia, the United States, Europe, and, increasingly, China’’. Moreover, the renewed emphasis on the need to consider geopolitical reorientation is capable of giving a more nuanced understanding of the necessity to stick to different patterns of cooperation and render the isolationist or self-centered interpretations of international relations meaningless in the geopolitical context. To be specific, the North-Atlantic alliance has been the backbone of the global initiatives and strategy of the West from constructing a more democratic, secure and globalized world to the containment of the USSR and its eventual demise but currently is fast evolving into a new body with a distinct strategic vision and, possibly, international mission. As Graeme P. Herd and John Kriendler assert, ‘’the difference between a ‘dead-alliance walking’ or a NATO with a robust and rude health has profound implications for the national security strategies of the Alliance members, regional security architecture, and, indeed, the management of global security’’. For security policymakers and policy implementers , the fact that NATO will continue to exist is not in doubt, but what kind NATO- its roles, functions and memberships- will reflect future judgments and negotiated strategic calculi that will be very difficult to predict. Hence, it is a lesson to be learnt for Eurasian nations that the necessity to reevaluate and assess the strategic policy outcomes in the geopolitical context is an evolving cause that does not necessarily target the national security and aspirations of specific regional powers. Once the paradigms of economic and political and, consequently, military might have altered it becomes necessary to look into possible alternatives to provide with an ample amount of international security, ease the development of bi- and multi-lateral relationships and facilitate the creation of new avenues for cooperation. As a result of such changes in power structures and the perceptions of political and academic elites, the United States is fast shifting its direction from the Atlantic to the Pacific emphasizing the significance of the role China might or should play at the global level. In this environment, Barry Buzan discusses the possibilities and implications of China’s peaceful rise in the context of the logic of the saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. It is noteworthy that four CIS members are China’s immediate neighbors which casts light on the argument that ‘global institutionalized partnership'(GIP)- the creation of multi-national networks of cooperation via the institutionalization of regional cooperation and the establishment of an inclusive organizational structure capable of affecting the prospects of disagreements, conflicts of interests or even hostilities paired with boosting economic cooperation, political and societal dialogue- is a workable alternative. Also, the definition of the GIP rejects the idea of being pro- or anti-Russian: reduced to the lowest terms GIP is the third way of promoting sovereignty in times of geopolitical rivalry, collapse, passivity or impotence of existing international mechanisms. Barry Buzan’s illustration of the attitudinal change on the part of the emerging power and international society respectively to incorporate the new potent nation into the evolving international system sets a good example of understanding the 21st century imperatives of geopolitical drifts and crucial alterations in the existing networks. To be clear, ‘’peaceful rise involves a two-way process in which the rising power accommodates itself to rules and structures of the international society while at the same time other powers accommodate certain changes in those rules and structures by way of adjusting to the new disposition of power and status’’. The ongoing process of China’s peaceful rise and engagement, the establishment of pro-Western elites (the recent political developments in Georgia and the Ukraine are, in our view, more than a regime-change and a transition from corrupt and stagnant post-soviet non-institutional authoritarianism to pro-Western semi-democracies as these countries have survived an abrupt geopolitical reorientation with painful consequences to arrive at a new understanding and interpretation of strategic foreign policy choices and directions) in some CIS countries as well as the birth of the Eurasian Economic Union and the accompanying or resultant decisions and choices, the CIS countries need to rethink their foreign policy strategies based on the precepts of the GIP. The process has been fueled by the lack of willingness on the Russian side to construct institutions encouraging rapprochement and building mutual trust with the West. Yet, ‘’ the reasons for the Russian estrangement from Europe are numerous: Russia’s authoritarian drift, tensions over the expansion of the EU and NATO, Moscow’s interference in the affairs of its neighbors , and disputes over Russian energy supplies to Europe’’.
Regardless of whether Russia and the European Union are ready to accept the new foreign policy strategy of the post-Soviet republics, founding the diplomatic initiatives on the principles of GIP will connect and strengthen the foreign policy choices of the countries of the region. Although GIP implies participation in the institutionalized internationalism in the broader sense, it will have comparatively narrow application in the post-Soviet area as it sees Russia and the West as observers but not full actors of the process. Nevertheless, at later stages of development it will be possible to include third parties in certain projects.Consequently, deepening of mutual understanding between and among the former Soviet republics through the creation of academic, non-governmental and governmental avenues of enhanced dialogue and cooperation can be done in the following ways which intend to expose only a limited number of such channels of partnership.
- Holding annual conferences among young professionals and researchers, diplomats and civil society representatives to promote peer-to-peer interactions and exchanges
- Developing various formats and mechanisms for public diplomacy to encourage societal dialogue including educational and academic exchanges
- Including the Baltic States, Georgia, the Ukraine and Turkmenistan in the endeavors to expand the geography of the network with an aim not to be confined to the CIS area
- Submitting proposals for economic and political agreements to the legislatures of the countries . Forming ‘expert groups’ for multi-national lobbying of the legislative initiatives.
To go into specific details, as GIP becomes a feasible alternative to projects and initiatives dominated by either Russia or the West , it will be necessary to spearhead realization of developmental programs including, but not limited to, governance and public policy, human security, trade and economy giving weight to the full involvement of the four giants engaged in the geopolitical game in the region, namely Russia, China, the US and the EU. Throughout this effort, and for the purpose of the sustained continuation of the independent pursuit of cooperation, it will be a prerequisite to prevent the international bodies from becoming platforms of dealing with national priorities of individual member states , especially when it comes to conflict resolution or political confrontation. Towards this end, we suggest establishing a permanent body, namely the ‘Council of Eurasia’ to rigidly institutionalize the global partnership in the post-Soviet area. Ironically, the ‘Council of Eurasia’ should exclude Russia to build multilateral cooperation outside the Russian sphere of dominance, albeit without the express or implicit aim to counter its or any other great power’s vital national interests. It is clear that the idea of The ‘Council of Eurasia’ runs the risk of being misunderstood in Moscow and largely ignored by the West. From the point of view of the West the idea of the Council of Eurasia may be deemed as an ineffective tool to boost sovereignty of the post-soviet republics as the post-Soviet republics’ capability to defend their sovereignty with a united front is dubious .This observation looms large as we closely observe the political and strategic implications of closer relations with the West in the eyes of the latter:’’ Home now to about twice as many countries as during the Cold War, NATO and the EU faced prospective entrants who were eager to please: their elites were committed to going ‘’back to Europe’’ and instinctively and publicly saw Euro-Atlantic membership as validation of their geocultural belonging to the West’’ Also, the establishment of such a body requires extraordinary leadership and political will which renders the plausibility of the project rather vulnerable to outside pressure or internal discord.
Part of the problem is that the countries of the region lie in the sphere of interests of geopolitical networks with controversial relationships . Also, Georgia and Ukraine might not seek to establish any formal association with the members of the Eurasian Economic Union. Fearing that an international body which does not provide security guarantees or economic perks, the governing elites of some of the countries might opt out from the project at the initial stages of its realization. Therefore, confining the membership to the Council of Europe to three founding nations to process the enlargement policy at later phases of the evolution of the institution would make sense. To be specific , Armenia (the Caucasus/wider Middle East), Ukraine (Eastern Europe) and Turkmenistan (Central Asia) could initiate the process to decrease the possible limitations that can accompany the attempt to establish a body of its kind in case more parties are involved from the start. Moreover, the Turkmen leadership sticking to neutrality in great power rivalry and a policy of detachment, the Armenian diplomatic efforts to balance European and Eurasian dimensions of its foreign policy coupled with Ukraine’s ambitions to protect its right of opting for the European integration would augment the chances of establishing the Council of Eurasia as a demonstration of amicable relations and constructive role in the region . Ironically, the only country from the above-mentioned trio that is a member of the Eurasian Union but , at the same time, holds on to the deeply cooperative spirit in its relations with the West, and, therefore, is well-positioned to undertake risky diplomatic and political initiatives, is Armenia (the latest example upholding the argument is the participation of Armenian peacekeepers in providing stability in Lebanon). This is perhaps another indication of the strong support for strategic relations with the West in the Armenian public. To be clear, ‘’During the public discussions promoting the scenarios for the future development of Armenia worked out within the ‘’Armenia 2020’’ project, one of the scenarios that is supported by a great number of people is the one called ‘’Going Home’’, which envisions Armenia’s membership to the European Union’’ .
Summing up, the following observations consummate the argument about the need for an applied institutionalized setting for connecting the former Soviet republics to form a united front for the defense of their sovereignty and strategic foreign policy choices:
- The formation of international organizations is , in most cases, controversial and complicated. It requires diplomatic efforts, strategic vision, political agreements and at least partial convergence of national interests. Most undergo a prolonged and complex process of enlargement and formation of decision-making and policy implementation mechanisms
- The existing institutional networks in the post-Soviet area are either the initiatives of Moscow or Brussels that aim at reducing the member countries’ dependence on the other side of the geopolitical contestation. This increases external pressure on the participating countries to adapt.
- The right to veto the entry of new countries and the exclusion of regional and global powers will expand the opportunities of cooperation among the independent republics of the former USSR on an equal basis
- The creation of a regional body that adopts non-binding declarations, rules and norms and reaches certain agreements would be an attractive arena of cooperation for the countries of the region irrespective of the nature of the ruling elite, foreign policy priorities, inclusion in or exclusion from integration projects
- Traditional amicable relations between and among the peoples are a fertile soil for achieving common goals of more intense cooperation through public diplomacy, media connections and building bridges for the mutual understanding of future generations
- The projects carried out by the organization will be in the realm of education, public policy, sports and culture, media, legislative process putting aside sensitive political issues such as human rights or democratization that would alienate some or most of the countries due to authoritarian practices and , in some cases, records of egregious human rights violations
- The possibility to give equal representation to Russia, the US, China, the EU in the advisory committees will enlarge the scope of the operations of the body and equip it with both institutional flexibility and capacity to tackle emerging issues
- Third parties can fund specific projects upon the approval by the organization paving the way for productive cooperation with a myriad of governmental and non-governmental actors
- To assertively put an end to the divisive European vs Eurasian dilemma of the geopolitical orientation , the Council of Eurasia will help the participating countries lay the foundation for an organizational manifestation of the ‘global institutionalized partnership’ agenda of their independent foreign policies.
Concordia-4 Բլոգում տեղ գտած նյութերն արգելվում է արտատպել 26.04.2015
1 . EU Will Not Sign Agreement With Armenia: Asbarez: http://asbarez.com/113868/eu-will-not-sign-agreement-with-armenia-commissioner-says/
- Samuel Huntington, Clash of Civilizations
- Edward A. L. Turner:Why has the number of international non-governmental organizations exploded since 1960?:Cliodynamics : the Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History, p 1: 2010 See https://escholarship.org/uc/item/97p470sx#page-1
- Russian Leadership’s Preparation for War,1999-2008: Andrei Illarionov The Gun’s of August 2008: Russia’s War In Georgia,p. 49: Central Asia-Caucasus Institute:2009: Edited by Svante E. Cornell and S. Frederick Starr
- Organization for Democracy and Economic Development http://guam-organization.org/
- Russian Foreign Policy: The Return of Great Power Politics: Jeffrey Mankoff,. 2009
- Undertsanding NATO in the 21st century : Alliance Strategies , Security and Global Governance: Graeme P. Herd and John Kriendler : . 2013
- China in International Society: Is ‘Peaceful Rise’ Possible ?: The Chinese Journal of International Politics http://cjip.oxfordjournals.org/content/3/1/5.full
- International Organizations and Internal Conditionality: Making Norms Matter: Rick Fawn: 2013:
- Armenian Peacekeepers Leaving for Lebanon: ArmRadio http://www.armradio.am/en/2014/11/26/armenian-peacekeepers-leaving-for-lebanon/
- Establishing Security and Stability in the Wider Black Sea Area: International Politics and the New and Emerging Democracies: P.M.E. Volten, B. Tashev .2007
 EU Will Not Sign Agreement With Armenia: Asbarez: http://asbarez.com/113868/eu-will-not-sign-agreement-with-armenia-commissioner-says/
 Samuel Huntington, Clash of Civilizations, p. 32
 Edward A. L. Turner:Why has the number of international non-governmental organizations exploded since 1960?:Cliodynamics : the Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History, p 1: 2010 See https://escholarship.org/uc/item/97p470sx#page-1
 Russian Leadership’s Preparation for War,1999-2008: Andrei IllarionovThe Gun’s of August 2008: Russia’s War In Georgia,p. 49: Central Asia-Caucasus Institute:2009: Edited by Svante E. Cornell and S. Frederick Starr
 Organization for Democracy and Economic Development http://guam-organization.org/
 Russian Foreign Policy: The Return of Great Power Politics: Jeffrey Mankoff, p. 241. 2009
 Undertsanding NATO in the 21st century : Alliance Strategies , Security and Global Governance: Graeme P. Herd and John Kriendler : p. 214 . 2013
 China in International Society: Is ‘Peaceful Rise’ Possible ?: The Chinese Journal of International Politics http://cjip.oxfordjournals.org/content/3/1/5.full
 Ibid, introduction
 Russian Foreign Policy: The Return of Great Power Politics: Jeffrey Mankoff , p. 145: 2009
 International Organizations and Internal Conditionality: Making Norms Matter: Rick Fawn: 2013: p. 1
 Armenian Peacekeepers Leaving for Lebanon: ArmRadio http://www.armradio.am/en/2014/11/26/armenian-peacekeepers-leaving-for-lebanon/
 Establishing Security and Stability in the Wider Black Sea Area: International Politics and the New and Emerging Democracies: P.M.E. Volten, B. Tashev, p. 183 .2007