Belonging to Europe, Returning to Europe or Behaving like Europeans? Semantic aspects of Memory and Space of Self-Thematization of the Baltic States
Latvian Academy of Culture, Latvia
The beginning of 2017 marked a minor battle of thematization of the Baltic states, reflected both in political debate and public discourse level. Three significant benchmarks should be mentioned: first, an open request by the ambassadors of the Baltic States pleading for discarding thematization of the Baltic States as post-Soviet republics in German media, second, the debate about the classification of the Baltic States as Northern European countries – although regionally still belonging to Eastern Europe - by the UN (although stated as early as in 2002), and finally, the following discussion in public media suggesting that Baltics could perhaps be regarded as a unique case not attached to any region (Cepurītis, 2017). This discussion, like Bloomberg View columnist Leonid Bershidsky has suggested, might signify an issue of self-identification, or at least an upcoming tendency of reassessing certain aspects forming historical master narratives of the Baltic States, particularly those linked to interrelations of memory and space and the thematization of these aspects. The proposed paper traces structural changes of these aspects in the Baltic States with a specific attention to how these changes are influenced by nationalist – post-nationalist – neo-nationalist tendencies in both political and public discourse.
Between an Alien and a Citizen. “Fuzzy” Citizenship in the West and in the East
Jagiellonian University, Poland
The concept of a “fuzzy” citizenship appears in two different contexts. The first one refers to the situation of immigrants, who are long-term residents in particular countries, exercising more and more rights, which makes their status - as the so-called “denizens” - close to the status of citizens. The second context refers to people living outside their home states, who are granted privileges and benefits by these states, in some cases enjoying numerous rights even without a formal citizenship . Such a special treatment is based on the ethnic links of these compatriots with their countries of origin.
In the paper, these two types of a “fuzzy” citizenship will be analysed as related to modern and postmodern transformations. Their reference to the classical division between Western and Eastern Europe will also be examined.
Performing Europeanisation in Georgia: What do Political and Popular Discourses Reveal?
Tbilisi State University/Center for Social Sciences, Georgia
After persistent attempts, Georgia signed the Association Agreement with the EU in 2014. Georgia’s persistence can be explained by various factors roughly divided in the utilitarian and identity ones and revealed in Georgians’ political and popular discourses on Europeanisation.
The research project: "Performing Europeanisation - Political vis-a-vis Popular Discourses on Europeanisation in Georgia" supported by Academic Swiss Caucasus Net (ASCN) and led by the author (2014-16) aimed to analyze the abovementioned discourses in a comparative perspective focusing on such utilitarian factors as the country’s security, economic growth and a new experience of doing politics, as well as the perception of national identity as affected by Europeanisation.
In-depth interviews with the political and intellectual elites and focus groups with the population residing in different regions of Georgia reveal that on the declarative level, the participants offer socially desirable narratives on the EU and Europeanisation that are in compliance with Georgia’s foreign policy course. In particular, they depict the EU as a safeguard of Georgia’s security, a guarantee of its economic prosperity, and a means of reinforcing its political institutions. However, their ambivalent attitudes are revealed behind this façade reflected in the fears that the EU might pose a threat to the country’s sovereignty, that its economic performance might be measured merely by formal characteristics, and that Europeanisation might represent a part of political image created by Georgian politicians for the domestic audience. Furthermore, Europeanisation is perceived as both a safeguard of and a threat to the Georgian identity. Thus, the research shows that Georgians mix their strong support for the EU with a significant concern about what outcomes EU integration might bring to the country.
Social attitudes of Belarusians towards integration: between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union
Belarusian State University, Belarus
After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Belarus defines itself as a strategically significant junction between East and West, in geopolitical terms. In this context, the Belarusian Government aims at a well-balanced foreign policy. The periods of Belarusian foreign political activity based on the government forms (People’s Republic, Union Republic, Parliamentary Republic, Presidential Republic) have been defined. Each period is characterized by various proofs of the Republic’s ability to exist independently. However, Belarus has always demonstrated high geopolitical valence, by making part of certain unions, such as the USSR, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Union of Belarus and Russia, etc. At present, European integration within the European Union is brought as closely as possible to the Belarusian borders. Yet, public opinion is in favour of integration with Russia in the first place (75.1%), according to the republican opinion survey Belarus-2030 conducted by the Institute of Sociology of National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (Minsk) in 2014. Belarusians refer to historical background (57.6%), shared language (38.1%) and culture (35.6%) as key factors for the unification of Russian and Belarusian people. Belarusians see main advantages of becoming a member of the Eurasian Economic Union in domestic goods market development (49.8%) and financial support of manufacturers considering economic instability (44.6%). Thus, a high level of social expectations in terms of integration with Russia is marked by a greater number of Belarusians supporting economic cooperation.
Keywords: integration, Belarus, social attitudes, Russia, Eurasian Economic Union, European Union.