Divided States: Strategic Divisions in EU-Russia Relations

By Maftean, Miles | Romanian Journal of European Affairs, March 2014 | Go to article overview

Divided States: Strategic Divisions in EU-Russia Relations


Maftean, Miles, Romanian Journal of European Affairs


Divided States: Strategic Divisions in EU-Russia Relations, Scott Nicholas Romaniuk, Marguerite Marlin (eds.). Hamburg, Germany: Disserta Verlag, 2012.59.90, pp. 476. ISBN: 1-978-942109-98-7

Abstract: This review analyses Scott Nicholas Romaniuk and Marguerite Marlin's book, Divided States: Strategic Divisions in EU-Russia Relations, highlighting the main aspects of the European Union's relation with the Russian Federation. This book introduces the topic by presenting the two major players involved, underlining the fact that many scholars have regarded the EU as the "good" and Russia as the "bad." Referring also to the regional impact of each actor, the review examines the role of third parties, civil society and minorities in official relations between the two entities. Influence of the Western world, often periods of hostility and isolation, and also relations with other actors represent just some of the main aspects of the research carried by the authors. Attractive to all types of readers, this book is suitable for students and scholars interested in this topic of research.

Keywords: EU-Russia relations, civil society, human rights, opposition

President Vladimir Putin has recently taken great strides to limit, if not completely dissolve, any influence that the Western world might have on the Russian Federation, especially on its institutions, practices, and citizens. As issues on the many agendas found within the framework of EU-Russia relations appear to carry-on routinely, disquieting changes have been taking place within this partnership that sees Russia pulling further away from Europe. In doing so, Russia has implemented a number of astonishing domestic and foreign policy measures that demand new and careful assessment of this turbulent relationship. Divided States: Strategic Divisions in EU-Russia Relations responds to these dramatic changes by addressing the complexities of multi-level (state and non-state) interaction from the Russian and different EU perspectives.

Scott Nicholas Romaniuk and Marguerite Marlin, both specialists in international relations (IR) and contemporary European history and politics, present a unique collection of works that provide a nuanced understanding of what may be considered some of the most critical and impacting issues within the realm of EU-Russia relations. This area is often oversimplified or obfuscated, and tends to be seen within isolated or inappropriately compartmentalized contexts. Experts in their respective fields drift from this unfortunate practice and present readers with highly original and thought-provoking chapters. The product is nothing short of essential reading for anyone interested in the intricate mechanisms that fuel political, social, and economic interests and policy within Europe and across its periphery.

Comprised of twelve chapters, the editors introduce readers to the topic by noting almost immediately that two major players, each carrying a sub-set of their own actors, are involved in the overall exchange. They draw attention to the idea that "Russia, to a great extent, has been demonized by Western scholars, who find that those casting analytic light on the EU point to the many weaknesses of the Union, particularly when it comes to (not) understanding its (own) neighbourhood and even the contemporary geopolitical world in which it attempts to operate" (p. 2). Romaniuk and Marlin, therefore, aptly plant the broader issue in terms of what it is not just as much as they engage with what it is and might become. They point to the formulation of a spectrum of socio-political uncertainty in which this topic flutters. They reason that the EU still remains an "experiment" composed of integration, immigration, monetary development and relationships, processes of decision-making, balanced or complementary and conflicting institutional arrangements, identity, policy-making, and power struggles. Their rich characterization in such a way establishes a useful stance from which springs a discussion undergirded by both theory and praxis. …

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