Journal of International Relations, European, Economic and Social Studies
This assertive stance is of course a direct consequence of Russia’s increasing economic affluence and its emergence as a geopolitical centre of gravity for European energy-security architecture. Indeed, because Russia has a significant role in the production and distribution of fossil fuels, it has achieved an economic leap. From 1999 to 2005 the Russian GDP tripled. According to the Russian Federation’s ”Energy Strategy of Russia to 2020” (August 2003), “the role of the country in world energy markets to a large extent determines its geopolitical influence”. Rather than opening the energy market to corporate interests from Europe, Putin nationalized the oil and gas sectors, gaining a near monopoly leverage in the European fossil fuel market by promoting two major pipeline projects (North Stream and South Stream). Simultaneously, Russia pursued a Trojan horse strategy designed to infringe upon the Union’s solidarity. In 2007, the European Commission published its policy paper ‘An Energy Policy for Europe’ and in 2008 a Strategic Energy Review. There the Commission envisioned the Nabucco project, designed to loosen Gazprom’s grip upon the European market. But, Russia made deals with major German energy companies and the Baltic Sea pipeline project was secured. And on the South Stream front, President Putin made deals with Austria, Bulgaria and Greece, as well as Turkmenistan, undermining the Nabucco project. And when NATO, once again, bypassed the UN Security Council to grant Kosovo independence in February 2008, Moscow was far stronger than it had been in 1999 and responded in a twofold manner: first, it lobbied countries who felt threatened by secessionist-minded minorities, including a number of EU member states such as Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus; second, Moscow stepped up its support for secessionist movements in Georgia, only to follow up with full-scale military intervention. In sum, it is wishful thinking to assert that a “strategic partnership” is a more symmetrical relationship. So far, a “strategic partnership means that a power of geopolitical consequence can treat the EU as a sum of its parts, concluding separate economic, political, financial and diplomatic agreement”. Time and again, this has also been the US experience vis a vis the EU. Indeed, the history of European Integration is full of instances where the British ‘special relationship’ has challenged the political priorities of the FrancoGerman axis. However, given the history of European integration, the
Turkey on the European doorstep
Published on Feb 16, 2012
A Publication based on the International Conference organised at the European Parliament/Brussels by Dr. ELENI THEOCHAROUS, Member of the Eu...