Comparing the strategy documents
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Comparing the strategy documents book
The EU’S Russia strategies Before engaging ourselves in the frame analysis of the key EU strategy documents on Russia, we must pause briefly to reflect upon their origins. This is, of course, always important as all documents only emerge from and exist within a particular context that has to be taken into account in their analysis (Guba and Lincoln 1981; this applies perhaps especially to the case of the EU; see Jørgensen 1998). In the case of the two strategy documents that will be discussed in the following, we can identify two relevant contexts. The internal context relates to the Union’s own quest to become a more efficient and coherent international actor. The repeated attempts at devising a more strategic CFSP have been one of the mainstays of the developments in the field of ‘European foreign policy’ during the 1990s. The two Russia strategies should be seen as part of the Union’s own attempts at finding a coherent set of ideas and common interests in the field of external action, as well as devising the institutional structures and policy instruments to deal with these challenges. The external context behind the documents naturally deals with the challenges the EU had faced in its relations with Russia. As we have seen, the PCA negotiation process had already exposed the EU to an unexpectedly tough Russia. Russia’s image as a prickly and difficult partner was only reinforced by the Russian military campaign in Chechnya in 1994-96 (subsequently dubbed the First Chechen War). The ruthlessness of Russian action in Chechnya cast doubt on Russia’s commitment to common European values and forced the EU to halt the ratification process of the PCA, which was only fully resumed after the cessation of hostilities in Chechnya (the EU response to the First Chechen War has been discussed in Forsberg and Herd 2005; good overviews of the war itself are to be found in Dunlop 1998; Evangelista 2002; Lieven 1998; and Seely 2001). The war showed the EU member states that the PCA alone was not sufficient in guaranteeing the strategic guidance and flexibility of EU action vis-à-vis Russia (Herrberg 1998: 97). In addition, the severe economic and financial crisis in Russia in August 1998, together with some problems in the implementation of the PCA, gave further impetus to the need for a more strategic approach towards Russia (European Parliament 1999: 10). Once again, Russia’s weakness acted as a catalyst for policy innovation in the Union: the adoption of the first common strategy particularly on Russia in 1999 reflected the EU’s need to kick-start the ailing partnership in the aftermath of the First Chechen War and the 1998 financial crisis.