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Exercising influence in a challenging geopolitical environment : the EU’s 'Far Neighborhood’ policy in Central Asia

Abstract : Central Asia is a region beyond the EU’s direct neighborhood and thus an area that allows the EU to demonstrate its desire to enter the global political stage where it needs to cope with other great powers and to pursue its own strategic interests. However, the Central Asian republics have shown little interest for European transition assistance and political norms, unlike other post­communist countries in Europe’s orbit. Hence, the central question of our study was thus: How does the EU exert influence in such a challenging geopolitical context? Our empirical results suggest that the EU tries to exert influence in such environment by consciously taking the position of a second­tier actor who acts as a “consultant”, rather than a power, and whose influence is confined to niche domains in the security sphere. The EU is eager to project a picture of itself as an honest broker with no geopolitical agenda in order to enhance its legitimacy; however, its vision of Central Asia being its ‘far neighborhood’ and the related approach unveils the geopolitical nature of its policies through which the EU tries to shape its close and wider environment. However, the EU struggles to put into effect its normative agenda beyond the EU’s direct neighborhood where other normative actors’ influence (Russia, China) exceeds that of the EU. The EU is not a great power in the region that is capable of competing with other external actors. Nor it is willing to become one. It does, however, have comparative advantages in being perceived as inoffensive and for occupying areas that are neglected by the other actors, thus playing the role of a niche actor, albeit an indispensable one.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 20, 2022 - 11:38:10 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 27, 2022 - 1:25:33 PM

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Olga Spaiser. Exercising influence in a challenging geopolitical environment : the EU’s 'Far Neighborhood’ policy in Central Asia. Political science. Institut d'études politiques de Paris - Sciences Po, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015IEPP0021⟩. ⟨tel-03647106⟩

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