This course takes a thematic and inside-out approach to the study of the EU’s relations with, policies towards, and relevance for the countries of the so-called “post-Soviet space”. The latter is conceived broadly to include the six EU neighbourhood countries in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, the five countries in Central Asia, Russia and, rather cursorily considering their membership of the EU, the Baltic states. Once all republics of the Soviet Union, these countries have followed distinct trajectories over the past 30 years and constitute an extremely diverse cohort.
The thematic and inside-out approach of the course rests in its departure from the usual EU-centric take and “EU framework policy” logic to viewing and analyzing EU interactions with the countries in the region in key spheres of cooperation or areas of policy, as embedded in broader domestic, regional and indeed geopolitical dynamics. After problematizing the very title of the course (namely, the “post-Soviet” and “space” markers in it) and identifying key steps in EU’s relations with the countries since their independence, we will address the following themes: political and economic regimes (incl. transition, change and the role of civil society); trade (incl. in the context of global supply chains and China’s Belt and Road Initiative); development (incl. aid and the role of civil society); energy; security and conflict (incl. regional and global security arrangements, internal conflicts, frozen conflicts and Russia’s war against Ukraine).
The classes in this course are very interactive and, besides the usual lectures-readings-final paper, include guest speakers, in-class assignments, weekly discussions of the news, and students preparing and delivering creative foreign policy speeches (in which students may embody any real or fictional character at any point in time – as long as it remains linked to the subject of the course).