Eastern Europe/NIS as European States: To the Question of Constructing Identity

  • Abstract:

    When we use the term ‘identity’ we are often speaking about different matters and its sense depends on various contexts. In International Relations, we can determine at a minimum such different aspects and levels: individual (considering the accruing role of individuals in modern international system); several ethnic, social, political etc. groups (depend on their role and influence in the policy-making process); regional/sub-regional level; and national and supranational level. Eastern Europe is a good example, where we can illustrate and analyze specific tendencies. Eastern Europe as region of Europe can be characterized as:
    - Dynamic category (different sense of the term in different historic periods);
    - Heterogeneous: ethnical, religious, political
    - Common (European) values
    - Common historical backgrounds vs active competition
    - Civilization (modalities): as heritage of Austrian-Hungarian and Russian Empires
    - Different self-perceptions of the people within Eastern European states etc.
    Nowadays, the question of identity and self-perception of NIS is determinative for their foreign policy. For example, the European integration of Ukraine. For the most Ukrainians their country is a part of Europe, but in political context and in the sphere of human rights and democratic governance there is a strong influence of our past (soviet, as part of Russian Empire etc.). Another aspect, which generates another tendency is the creation and construction of new identities based of former soviet mentalities. We observe the strong and powerful efforts of Russia to monopolize political influence, information and communication processes: to create a common cultural and political area. When we are talking about Russia’s policy towards European integration, and especially about the European integration of the former soviet republics and Russian reaction to it, we can note concrete mechanisms of constructing by the political elites and population of these states of a particular identity as a part of a common Eurasian space.