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Aleksanteri Conference
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DeDominicis, Benedict E., Shenderovich, Yulia:

Neo-Containment Strategy: Nationalism and Competitive Interference in the Politics of European Post Communist States

European national identity politics has become a resurgent battleground between NATO and resurgent Russia.  A comparison between the internal politics of the Balkans and Belarus highlights the continuing impact of nuclear weapons in diverting great power competition from direct confrontation into competition for influence within the internal politics of weaker third states.  Post-communist multiethnic “transition” states such as Georgia and Belarus become the metaphorical battlefield for generation of influence through alliances with ethnic identity constituencies within each state.  Democratization trends which accelerated after 1991 increased political opportunities for appeals by local actors discontented by the prospect of domination by local adversaries to more-or-less receptive external actors.  These actors include Euro-Atlantic alliance members in the case of Belarus ethnic identifiers and Russia in the case of Abkhazian and South Ossetian national identifiers.  In contrast to the typical view that European integration is a  challenge to nationalist political self-expression values, in the case of Eastern Europe, the EU is an advocate of national identity consolidation for “state building.”  The latter serves as a component of a NATO neo-containment strategy towards a resurgent Russia as Moscow seeks to reassert its influence in the territories of the former USSR.  The EU promotes a pro-Belarusian language police because it appears to be part of an emerging containment strategy by the North Atlantic Community (i.e. NATO + EU) in response to a resurgent Russia.  The EU and particularly its front line states including Poland and Lithuania promote this Belarusian identity through support for Belarusian media. They  thereby equate being “European” in Belarus with being “genuinely Belarusian,” i.e. manifesting Belarusian culture, particularly the Belarusian language.  The Belarusian authorities may respond to the Russian challenge with more economic and trade assistance from the EU but it would require a major change in the western perception of the regime.

Saturday 31 Oct 9.30-11.30 SESSION 7
Panel: Constructing Post-Cold War Europe: "New Europe" and the EU