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An Audit of EU Soft Power: The Case of Ukraine

Ivan Bakalov

The European Union has forged its enlargement policy mainly relying on the attraction it exerts as a socio-political role model in its vicinity and has therefore earned itself a reputation as the epitome of soft power. Though fairly common, this assertion has rarely been put to the test, much less in a systematic manner. But with the growing reluctance of neighbouring countries such as Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus to follow EU prescriptions and with a significant part of Ukrainian society fiercely rejecting the European integration path, the time is ripe for a critical audit of the EU's soft power. This paper offers a rigorous research design, based on an inquiry into the two proxies for soft power in international relations: resources and behaviours. An innovative theoretical framework is used for a thorough investigation into the soft power resource endowment of the EU in the context of its relations to Ukraine, focusing on historical narratives, language, religion and public opinion (in Ukraine) as key indicators. In a second step, the EU's soft power behaviours in Ukraine are theorised through the perspective of broader power debates in IR and categorised as elements of the first, second and third faces of (soft) power, in an attempt at proposing a systematic understanding of the EU soft power strategy in Ukraine.

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