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The European Union as a Model for Regional Integration. Views from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Irina Khayrizamanova

This paper purports to investigate the extent to which the European Union serves as a model for regional integration, focusing on the Eurasian Union, the brand-new project, initiated by Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan. This new-fangled initiative will be based on numerous overlapping integration projects on the Post-soviet territory, such as the Customs Union, the Union State, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Commonwealth of Independent States. However, as the political leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan explicitly claim, they are going to draw heavily on the experience of the European Union. The paper aims to undertake an empirical exploration to reveal the perceptions of the EU as a model for regional integration, held in the three countries and how these images contribute to the nascent identity and, by extension, foreign policy of the future organisation. Exploring this question is essential, taking into account the change of the perceptions and attitudes towards the EU in these countries. The paper will aim to answer a question if the Post-Soviet states, especially Russia, have managed to overcome their reserved attitude to the EU and started to perceive the EU as a possible model for their own integration? Moreover, this paper attempts to contribute to the theoretical discussion of how the external perceptions can contribute to identity formation and consequently, foreign policy formulation and implementation. The analysis of the perceptions will concentrate on official discourse of the Russian, Byelorussian and Kazakhstani decision-makers found in public declarations, press statements, their articles and different documents, most of this material published only in Russian.



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