IPSA RC 41 - Geopolitics

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2013 Bordeaux


ECPR General Conference 2013

4th - 7th September 2013

The 7th ECPR General Conference will take place at Sciences Po Bordeaux, Domaine Universitaire.

http://ecprnet.eu/Conferences/General/2013_Bordeaux/Default.aspx

IPSA RC 41 Geopolitics Panel:

Section: Open Section

Panel: Emerging Geopolitical Contests and Contestants in Europe

Panel Chair: Igor Okunev. Moscow State Institute of International Relations, iokunev@mgimo.ru

Abstract: The balance of power in and across continental Europe is changing dramatically as the shifting interests of the E. U., the U.S., Russia and China conspire to redefine the structure of geopolitics on the continent. So, too, is European equilibrium increasingly influenced by social, political and economic turbulence in the adjacent regions of the Mediterranean Sea, the Arab Middle East and, only slightly further afield, the Persian Gulf and the Caucasus rimlands. These changes pose any number of policy challenges as well theoretical questions for students of geopolitics. Are we on the threshold of a bipolar-, tripolar-, or multi-polar “moment” in Europe? Who are the actors best positioned to lead in the rebalancing of power? What factors determine the hierarchy of influence and power on the continent? Where are the most likely and most readily identifiable trouble spots located? Lastly, which of these flashpoints has the greatest potential for tipping the delicately-poised scales between European peace and prosperity, on the one hand, and renewed instability and turmoil? In attempting to wrestle with these and related issues, the panel welcomes original research on any of the following core themes: • changing definitions of national power, • the best mix of hard, soft and smart power for dealing with diverse situations, • what distinguishes Great Powers from other actors, • the role of middle-range and smaller state actors (European and non-European), • mechanisms by which the balancing process not only unfolds but redirects itself. The Panel is sponsored by the International Political Science Association Research Committee on Geopolitics (IPSA RC 41), which welcomes contributions from historical and other perspectives and disciplines as well as specialists on European affairs.

Papers: Historicising Balance of Power as an expression of practical diplomatic logic in European History Frederik Dhondt, Ghent University

Balance of Power, or the organisation of the international system around the main actors' perceived strength, counts as one of the most disputed concepts in IR theory. Recent scholarship tends to dismiss its universality (Wohlforth, Little a.o., EJIR XIII (2007)), or its validity as a conceptual framework. I would not purport to question the former, but certainly challenge the latter assumption. Balance of Power-theorizing should not start from auto-referential system-building, but has foremost an instrumental value, to unearth the structure of practical diplomatic reasoning. The vagueness and flexibility associated with the concept are a product of the distinct normativity in international affairs (Hedley Bull), which, in turn, necessitates the study of historical context associated with the European state system. As a legal historian, I study traditional primary sources (diplomatic correspondence, published treaties, memoranda) for the 18th century (1713-1740), as well as the French challenge to American Cold War discourse (1958-1969). These documents are the output of political negotiations, thoroughly prepared by legal specialists, who are at the core of conceptual formulation in elaborating, applying and interpreting treaty law as well as international custom. At every time, the use of Balance of Power is not a mere metaphor for the furthering of national interests, but more an implicit organising principle of the praxeology (Pierre Bourdieu) of the European diplomatic community. I therefore aim to demonstrate that Balance of Power, as the starting point of practical legal reasoning, suits the consensual character of bottom-up norm elaboration, as well as the legitimating force of international law (Ian Clark).

Competing Hegemons: EU and Russian Power Projection in the South Caucasus Scott Nicholas Romaniuk, University of Aberdeen

Russia’s “Near Abroad” is a contentious region, within which the competitive friction between the European Union (EU) and Russia is a high-stakes political power game and the resurgence of a 19th century “Great Game.” Within the Caucasus, questions presiding over the establishment of zones of influence and political control have assumed a leading position in the on-going debate over the reorganization of the European “Common Neighbourhood” and the geopolitical positions of the EU and Russia as a whole. Shunning the term “Common Neighbourhood,” Russia has pursued its own agenda in what it refers to as the “regions adjacent to the EU and Russian borders” or the expanse comprised of the former Republics of the USSR. In the last ten years, Russia has not been reticent about its intentions to defend this territory. This paper assesses the European Union (EU) and Russian approaches to the “Common Neighbourhood,” and considers key factors in EU and Russian power projection in the South Caucasus. It examines elements that specifically drive Armenia closer to Russia and the EU’s efforts to balance this through its own external governance. In doing so, it looks at a range of “carrots” and “sticks” that both the EU and Russia, as geopolitical actors, employ to gain traction into this shared space. A theoretical framework of geopolitical strategies is employed to establish the context in which both the EU and Russia operate with respect to the South Caucasus, and establishes the basis for understanding how both actors respond to one another in their respective attempts to exert their dominance in the region. The argument is made that despite protracted efforts by the EU to establish its influence over the South Caucasus more generally, Russia’s geostrategic posture is better suited to secure a true and concrete zone of influence within the region.

European Integration and Transatlantic Relations Damla Cihangir, Meltem Muftulerbac, Sabanci University

What role does the European integration process play in shaping transatlantic relations, if any? The question brings forth the related issue of whether the EU is able to exercise leadership in fostering changes in the international system and through its relationship with the US. The paper provides a literature review on the EU as a foreign policy actor, specifically the extent to which it contributed to changes in the international system along a multipolar pattern. To do so, the paper looks at the EU’s ability to strengthen multilateralism in international trade, in particular through the WTO and its role in international security through NATO. The paper’s analysis of the EU and its ability to speak with one unified voice is significant in understanding the EU’s role in Transatlantic relations and its ability to become player on its own right with regard to the US.

The EU’s unique territorial paradigm. Centre, periphery and the EU's external borders Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane

It is commonly assumed that the EU member states share a single interest in the external borders. However, we emphasize that the EU is characterized by a spatial territorial paradigm, as the creation of a common area of mobility constitutes centre and periphery within the EU. The difference between centre and periphery can be attributed to the unequal distribution of benefits and costs for maintaining the Schengen area among EU member states. Hence, the question emerges how it is possible that the tension between centre and periphery does not lead to the breaking up of the Schengen Area. It is argued that mutual trust was a prerequisite for the implementation of the Schengen Area, but with the increase in heterogeneity between the Member States in the course of eastern enlargement, the decrease of trust in the soon-to-be new member increased the fragility of the Schengen Area. Consequently, the question becomes apparent how the Schengen area is stabilized and consolidated despite the lack of trust among member states. Supranationalization, as it is further argued, serves as a functional equivalent for trust, as it reduces the periphery's discretion in policing the external borders and thereby enhances the centre's stable expectations in the border's control performance, while exterritorialization of migration control reduces the burden for the peripheral member states.

Does Asymmetric Economic Interdependence Promote Cooperation: Political Economy of Russian-Turkey Energy Relations Tolga Demiryol

This article discusses the security implications of the energy trade between Turkey and Russia. As a growing economy, Turkey's energy consumption has grown over the last decade, and is projected to continued to do so. Since Turkey's indigenous energy reserves are relatively poor, Turkey has come to rely on energy imports, particularly Russian natural gas, which in turn resulted in a high level of energy dependency for Turkey. Moscow strategically wields its monopoly power over Ankara not only to secure Turkey's support for Russia's major energy transport projects like the South Stream but also to influence Turkey's security strategy in the Caspian region and the broader Middle East. Thus, its energy dependence on Russian natural gas appears like a clear liability for Turkish foreign policy. At the same time, Russia needs Turkey’s cooperation as the latter offers the most feasible transit route for Russian natural gas to reach Europe. Without access to European markets, Russian hydrocarbon reserves has little strategic value for Moscow. In other words, Russia needs Turkey just as much as Turkey needs Russia. How does the resulting asymmetric interdependence affect the prospects of security cooperation between Russia and Turkey? In this article, I evaluate this question from the competing neo-liberal and realist perspectives. Based on an examination of energy trade data and analysis of Russian and Turkish foreign policy strategies, I show that the energy trade between Russia and Turkey and the resulting asymmetric distribution of relative gains is more likely to foster conflict than cooperation in the long run.

For all the questions regarding IPSA RC 41 panel at ECPR 2013 General Conference please contact Dr. Igor Okunev at iokunev@mgimo.ru

Published on Tuesday, December 18 2012 by Igor Okunev