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DIPLOMACY ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ

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COMPETING REGIONALISM IN

COMPETING REGIONALISM IN EUROPE AND ASIA: THE PERSPECTIVE OF RUSSIA... Competing Regionalism in Europe and Asia: the perspective of Russia and ASEAN Introduction Teodor Kalpakchiev The following paper reviews comparatively elements of ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Union (as the main project of Russia). It begins with historical, ideational and values comparison and goes on with the economic, political and security streams. Secondly, it reviews the two organizations in lieu of their positioning towards the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the European Union. The role of US, Central America and Africa is not discussed. The level of analysis is mainly economic, institutional, constructivist and realist. The term Russia, for having the leadership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), is used interchangeable with its regional organization. Comparison Modern Russia’s roots in the Kievan Rus in Ukraine, through which many Asian nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes passed (pechenegs, huns, proto-Bulgarians, Ostgoths) and where some of them settled, has shaped its historical attempts to counterpoise the indigenous north Rus and the central Asian, mongolized population. Its positioning as a social engineering experiment that has influenced the world’s developments throughout the 20 th century, has established its area of strategic interest in the blurry political notion of Eastern Europe, as well as in Central Asia. The ideological underpinnings of the Russian communist leadership have also been central to the post-WWII developments in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, where socialism has been predominantly, military-led, anti-western, capitalist and regressive. Eurasianism, although embedded theoretically in a rapprochement between Europe and Asia, has strengthened its Asian and BRICS pivot after the Ukrainian revolution 1 . The Social Construct of Ideas, Identities and Recognition The contemporary Eurasianism operates at an ideational and ideological contestation level, is by no means a post-sovereign unity 2 and can be defined as counter-Western. Although this is stated in the literature, one can observe that the Eurasian Economic Commission is actually dragging technocrats from world renowned institutions to staff the new body. For three years it has become quite active in producing regulatory patterns of its common market (e.g. railways) and will attempt to export them. ASEAN’s formulation and mission has been partially formulated as a way to deal with the Indochinese conflict and to constrain communistic and Chinese influence 3 . Its values are therefore counterpoised to the Russian project. The democratization trends in some of the countries in South East Asia would be welcomed by the leadership in ASEAN, but essentially, as being found on the ideas of political realism and protection of sovereignty, this would hardly create some form of shared 1 David Lane (2016): Post-socialist regions in the world system, European Politics and Society 2 Richard Sakwa, Eureasian Integration: A Project for the 21st Century, in David Lane and Vsevolod Samokhvalov, The Eurasian Project and Europe, 2015, Palgrave, p.54-56 3 Walter Kennes, ASEAN and the EU: An evolving and solid development partnership, in Louis Brennan, Philomena Murray, Drivers of Integration and Regionalism in Europe and Asia, Routhledge, 2015, p.367 DIPLOMACY 18/2016 197

COMPETING REGIONALISM IN EUROPE AND ASIA: THE PERSPECTIVE OF RUSSIA... identity 4 . The socio-cultural community of ASEAN was also not successfully underpinned by the people-centred approach that was put forward in the beginning of the 2000s 5 . On the other side of the story, the EAEU is an effort to achieve historical continuity on the common Soviet past. In terms of size and economic importance, the discrepancy between Russia and the rest of the countries in the Eurasian Union is much bigger than in ASEAN. The inclusion of the smaller members in EAEU also contributes less to their overall negotiating power and recognition in other formats, than in ASEAN. They also tend to act for themselves (e.g. Belarus engages in functional cooperation with the EU, Armenia attempts to become a trade hub and Kazakhstan a central Asian congress hub. The Economic Rationale While Russia’s interest to engage with the SCO is related to the possibility of building together the “One Belt, One Road”, it is mainly perceived as a threat by ASEAN. The latter’s main motivation for creating an intra-regional trade regime is to counterbalance China’s predominance in the region. The attempts to lower the tariffs of AFTA have been, however, quite unsuccessful 6 . The proliferation of FTAs signed by ASEAN with China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and India has been unsustainable and has led to protectionist economic nationalism, as well as preferences to country-to-country trade (e.g. Indonesia’s nonratification of ASEAN FTA with China) 7 . The EAEU has signed an FTA with Vietnam on 29 May 2015, while its experts have participated in an agenda setting dialogue with ASEAN in 2014 and a business forum in 2015 8 . The EAEU has thus borrowed the essential stake in EU’s regulatory competition and has engaged with functional cooperation with SCO, MERCOSUR and potentially ASEAN through Vietnam. The other contestable case of regulatory export is within Egypt, where both a DCFTA and a FTA with the EAEU are to be signed. In an age of connectivity, the engagement of Russia in other regional establishments is potentially be dictated by the reinvigoration of the Silk Road, once a trading route funded by the Mongol Empire, now a plan for landline connections between China and Europe. The staunch support of Kazakhstan, due to its geostrategic location, would be essential to adjoining this infrastructure to the already existing trans-Siberian route. Alternatively, it will have to pass through a number of dictatorial regimes and maritime transport over the Caspian Sea. At the same time, connectivity intra-ASEAN relies mainly on a well-developed maritime sector, while land connections are underdeveloped. This puts a special emphasis on creating multi-modal transport capacities and integrating national logistics plans and efforts 9 . The division of the world economy into center, semi-periphery and periphery 10 positions smaller countries exploited by multi-national companies in the periphery and EU and ASEAN in a semi-peripheral status, resp. a complementary to the traditional west and counterbalance 198 4 Jürgen Rüland & Anja Jetschke (2008) 40 years of ASEAN: perspectives, performance and lessons for change , The Pacific Review, 21:4, 397-409 5 Ivaylo Gatev & Glenn Diesen (2016): Eurasian encounters: the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, European Politics and Society 6 Jürgen Rüland & Anja Jetschke (2008) 40 years of ASEAN: perspectives, performance and lessons for change , The Pacific Review, 21:4, 397-409 7 Stephen V. Marks (2015) The Asean–China Free Trade Agreement: Political Economy In Indonesia, Bulletin Of Indonesian Economic Studies, 51:2, 287-306 8 Ibid. p. 266-271 9 Ruth Banomyong , P. Cook & P. Kent (2008) Formulating regional logistics development policy: the case of ASEAN, International Journal of Logistics Research and Applications, 11:5, 359-379 10 David Lane (2016): Post-socialist regions in the world system, European Politics and Society ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ 18/2016

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