Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The Eastern neighbourhood of Russia and the EU can be finlandised some day

Adelina Marini, June 2, 2009

The term "Finlandisation" dropped out of the current diplomatic language after Finland quit this state of affairs and Russia is not the Soviet Union. But still the term is alive and the question is whether it can be applied to the countries of the Eastern Partnership, the latest initiative of the EU, presented for the first time on the 7th of May in Prague and based on the idea of Poland and Sweden. The issue of the Finlandisation is raised again by Michael Emerson, an analyst in the Centre for European Policy Studies, based in Brussels. The memory of Finlandisation returned into Michael Emerson's head exactly in Prague where he spoke to a civil society leader from Belarus. “We have the impression that Moscow has come to see a certain Finlandisation of Belarus as unavoidable and even useful", the leader said. But in the context of Belarus and today this would mean remaining in Moscow’s orbit for strategic security affairs (strategic military installations, 50% ownership of the gas pipeline, no question of NATO aspirations).

Similar is the situation with the emancipation of Moldova and Armenia, and of Ukraine as well which is hosting the Russian Black Sea Fleet until 2017 but it might appear that this term could be prolonged once again. Thus, Michael Emerson writes, the strategic landscape becomes clearer: none of the six Eastern partners has a credible membership prospect for either the EU or NATO on the political horizon, the Russian strategic presence is sustained or growing throughout the region, and all countries seek political and economic ‘Europeanisation’ in varying degrees.

The main issue, writes Emerson, is that Russia and EU share common Eastern neighbourhood or "near abroad". And while the EU is gently encouraging political and economic
Europeanisation, Russia seeking to consolidate its strategic security interests. The question is whether the 2 types of politics can converge on some common European space, house, home, order or architecture, asks Michael Emerson.