Academic journal article CEU Political Science Journal

Eiki Berg, Piret Ehin (Eds.), Identity and Foreign Policy. Baltic-Russian Relations and European Integration

Academic journal article CEU Political Science Journal

Eiki Berg, Piret Ehin (Eds.), Identity and Foreign Policy. Baltic-Russian Relations and European Integration

Article excerpt

Eiki Berg, Piret Ehin (eds.), Identity and Foreign Policy. Baltic-Russian Relations and European Integration (Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2008).

For Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, both the EU and NATO integration processes were considered as the ultimate guarantee of a definitive status quo in the European and trans-Atlantic community. As members of the two main international organizations, the danger of possible aggression from the part of the Russian Federation was significantly diminished. But, instead of a likely normalization process of the relations between each of the three Baltic States and the Russian Federation, the regional foreign affairs agenda registered consistent moments of tension. How the situation might be explained using the current repertoire provided by theories of international relations.

The volume Identity and Foreign Policy. Baltic-Russian Relations and European Integration, edited by Eiki Berg and Piret Ehin, is the result of a project with the same name funded by the Estonian Science Foundation, developed between 2006 and 2008, aiming to explore the influence of identity over the behaviour of states in the domain of foreign policy. The relation of the three Baltic States with Russia might offer, in the opinion of the contributing authors, a starting point for further analysis about the complex interactions amongst memory, identity and international relations at the beginning of the 21st century.

The authors of the ten chapters are academics from the region, offering insightful and first-hand accounts of the events they are covering, the diversity of the approaches being undertaken by the variety of their professional backgrounds political science, history, international relations. The studies balance analysis of facts and episodes taking place after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with theoretical insights and evaluations.

The chapters neither intend to challenge the present-day design of international relations nor to propose innovative approaches. The theoretical framework is provided exclusively by the constructivist paradigm, according to which for understanding international relations we have to better know the social relations and the history of the societies and communities interacting. In our case-study, the weight is epitomized by the long history of conflict between each of the three countries, on one hand, and Moscow. What the reader would be curious to document further at the end of the book is the genesis of this historical ballast into the new European and Euro-Atlantic identity: Did the entry of these countries into EU and NATO influence the relation of the two institutions towards the Russian Federation? And, another question we would like to find an answer is: what is the recent and less recent history of the relations between the three Baltic countries themselves? What are the nuances of their bilateral relations and their relationships, including by being part of various regional and international coalitions, at world's level? Are they acting united (in comparison with Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia, for instance, adopted a more pragmatic relation with Russia, maintaining a certain level of normality of the bilateral relations), according to the same regional interests--among which, the most important, consolidating their security situation in relation with Russia?

The first years of the EU and NATO memberships of the three Baltic States registered an intensification of the tensions with the Russian Federation. The causes were determined by different assessments of past events. For example, the 9th of May represents for Moscow the date of the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union the "Victory Day", and for the three states the end of their independent statehood. …

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