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Cooperation through a Common Framework of Bilateral Relations

Cristian Nitoiu

The paper argues that although the EU is yet to develop a common policy towards Russia, 'cooperation' with the latter stems from a pattern of enhanced bilateral relations with Moscow that most member states have sought to develop. These enhanced relations have been characterized by strong economic and energy security ties modeled on the approaches of big EU players like Germany or France. Moreover, such approaches have impeded any solid practical promotion of the EU's norms and values both in Russia and its Eastern Neighborhood - or any coherent CSDP actions for that matter. This has happened although rhetorically states like France or Germany present a highly normative discourse about the EU's role in its Eastern Neighborhood. A second goal of the paper is to evaluate the way this pattern of 'cooperation' impacts on the EU's policy over its Eastern Neighborhood and on the geopolitics of the region. Consequently, the paper suggests that the practice of developing enhanced relations with Russia opens the way for Moscow to be viewed by the Eastern neighbors of the Union as a power that can give short term solutions to pressing problems. At the same time, the shared framework for 'cooperation', that seems to inform the behavior of most EU member states, de facto legitimates Russia's bid for having the Eastern Neighborhood under its sphere of influence.

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