While the still new Obama Administration may change the tone of foreign policy between the US and Russia, the policy experts believe the onus is on Moscow to open up to the concept that there could be common interests with the West in order for any potential strategic partnership to succeed.
Atlantic-Community.org has asked twenty-one experts from EU and North American think tanks and universities for their assessment of
relations between the West and Russia. We also wanted to know whether the experts
felt the global economic crisis was a window of opportunity to enhance
cooperation. Moreover the policy analysts shared with Atlantic Community their recommendations on how to make EU countries act more cohesively towards
Russia. We publish the results of this survey in four parts.
Part One: Do the West and Russia have more common or more conflicting interests?
Fourteen of the twenty-one experts polled by
Atlantic-Community.org felt that the West and Russia shared more common interests than conflicting. The experts
from eleven EU
countries and the United States argued that Russia needed to recognize that
they shared many interests with the West - such as free trade,
non-proliferation, stability in the Caucasus and Central Asia, fighting terrorism,
organized crime, and climate change.
At present, many of these issues were interpreted differently by the West and Russia which has lead to misunderstandings. Katinka Barysch of the Centre for European Reform in the UK said: "Objectively, they have a lot of common interests but they interpret the situation very differently at times." This gives rise to the feeling that Russia and the West have less in common than they do.
In fact, Elzbieta Stadtmuller from the University of Wroclaw in Poland explains that "Russia is not aware of such common interests because it is attached to the realistic paradigm and sees international politics as 'loser-winner' relation," while the West has by and large shifted towards a win-win game.
Janusz Bugajski from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington remarks that "the current government in Moscow does not share the long-term strategic targets of either NATO or the EU." While Jeffrey Mankoff from Yale University adds that "a genuine partnership will have to accept that Russia remains apart from the West, but nonetheless shares a range of common interests."
If the common interests outnumber and outweigh the conflicting interests, can the United States and the European Union turn Russia into a strategic partner in the next three years? Read the experts' responses in the second installment of Atlantic-Community.org's four part survey: A Future with Russia as a Strategic Partner?
Although this poll was done specifically with analysts from the US and the EU, we'd like to ask Russian experts on their nation's relationship with the West whether they agree with the thesis above. Is it just the Russian mindset that requires change or is there more the West could do to bring about a strategic relationship?
Experts, who participated in the Atlantic-Community.org survey:
Katinka Barysch, Centre for European Reform, United Kingdom
Dr. Michael Brzoska, Institut für Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik, Germany
Janusz Bugajski, Center for Strategic and International Studies, United States of America
Leonidas Donskis, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania
Dr. Hans-Georg Ehrhart, Institut für Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik, Germany
Sami Faltas, Centre for European Security Studies, The Netherlands
Dr. Hans J. Giessmann, Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management, Germany
Merijn Hartog, Centre for European Security Studies, The Netherlands
Andres Kasekamp, Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, Estonia
Lukasz Kulesa, Polish Institute of International Affairs, Poland
Teemu Naarajärvi, University of Helsinki, Finland
Marek Madej, Polish Institute of International Affairs, Poland
Dr. Jeffrey Mankoff, Yale University, United States of America
Maciej Mróz, University of Wroclaw, Poland
Heiko Pääbo, University of Tartu, Estonia
Luca Ratti, American University of Rome, Italy
Ivo Samson, Research Center of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association, Slovak Republic
Eugeniusz Smolar, Center for International Relations, Poland
Elzbieta Stadtmuller, University of Wroclaw, Poland
Jan Závěšický, International Institute of Political Science of Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Milan Znoj, Charles University, Czech Republic