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Regional Security in the Wake of the Collapse of the Soviet Union: Europe and the Middle East

Münchner Beiträge zur Europäischen Einigung, Band 8

Gabriel Gorodetsky, Werner Weidenfeld (eds.): Regional Security in the Wake of the Collapse of the Soviet Union: Europe and the Middle East. Band 8 der Münchner Beiträge zur Europäischen Einigung herausgegeben von Werner Weidenfeld, Europa Union Verlag, Bonn 2002.

05.12.2002 · Forschungsgruppe Europa

The collapse of the Soviet Union, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, German unification and the tragic events of "11 September" are a watershed in European history. "Regional Security in the Wake of the Collapse of the Soviet Union: Europe and the Middle East" was the topic of a Euro-Israeli dialogue in two conferences held in Caesarea, Israel, in December 2000 and in May 2001 by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Center for Applied Policy Research at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Curiel Center for International Relations at Tel Aviv University. Both conferences formed part of the project European Policy Network at Israeli Universities, initiated by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Center for Applied Policy Research.

The challenge facing Russia in establishing her new identity bears directly on her foreign policy. The forging of Russian foreign policy reflects the search for identity and an attempt to reconcile traditional national interests with the newly emerging social and political entity. This process is affected by constraints, imposed by the exigencies of a defused new world order, where contradicting forces such as globalization, regionalism and American unilateralism seem to reign.

The present study attempts to track the mechanism of Russian foreign policy in transition through a comparative study of the continuity and change in the policies executed by Russia in diverse conflict ridden regions. Such a study unveils modes of behaviour and fixed patterns in the conduct of foreign policy, which enable the reader to draw the applicable lessons from one arena to the other. The contributors to the volume seek to identify European security interests and those governing the "New Middle East", against the background of the changing political and economic circumstances in Russia. In doing so, an attempt is made to establish the extent to which security factors continue to determine the course of Russia's foreign policy. The authors of the papers, all leading authorities in their field, conduct a comparative study of Russia's relations with the West and with the countries of the Middle East in an attempt to establish the extent to which the traces of the Cold War are indeed fading from Russian military and political thinking. They go further to investigate and establish whether other forces and values, if any, have been filling the vacuum. In addition, the papers question the compatibility of German and West European interests with those of the Americans vis a vis Russia, as well as the ability of the Russians to act as honest brokers in the Middle Eastern conflict.

The end of the Cold War seemed to open for Europe a new window of opportunities in the attempt to create a pan-European security zone beyond the current frontiers and to forge alliances and partnerships. In this context, the reassessment of relations between the European Union and the countries of the former Soviet Union on the one hand and Russia's new role in the Middle East on the other hand is indispensable. In the European case, experts of the strategic network of the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Center for Applied Policy Research presented the results of the recently published "Beyond EU-Enlargement", which analyses the potential risks existing to European security along the future frontiers of the enlarged European Union. The asymmetries between the EU and its future neighbouring states might present mainly low security risks. Those, however, extend beyond the narrow definition of conventional military threats. They might emanate from political, social, economic and ethnic conflicts. The Balkans, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia were chosen as case studies reflecting such risks and opportunities for the European Union in the wake of Eastern enlargement.

The main thrust of the papers dealing with the Middle East is the dramatic impact of the end of the cold war on the perspectives of a peaceful settlement of the conflict between Israel and the Arab countries. While a window of opportunities did seem to pop up once the region stopped serving as an arena for the major powers to wrestle, the more genuine traits of the conflict have been resurfacing. While in the past it appeared opportune for both Russia and the United States to keep the conflict broiling, now the urge to create conducive conditions for economic growth, enhancing globalization, and the creation of a wide scope coalition against militant terror mitigate reconciliation. The book looks into the success as well as the limitation of the major powers, and especially Russia, in achieving this objective.

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