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Dangerfield, Martin

Economic Relations Between Visegrad Group Countries and Russia

This paper examines the main trends in trade between the Visegrad Group (VG) countries (Czech Republic Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) and Russia since the end of communism and break-up of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA). The main focus will be on the post-2004 period during which Russia has become an increasingly important trade partner of the VG countries, with EU accession actually marking the end of a protracted period of stagnation of VG states’ exports to Russia. The paper will therefore explore the main dimensions and determinants of the recent surge of VG trade with Russia, especially in exports, and assess the influence – if any – of EU membership on this process. The paper will draw attention to the role and significance of specific intergovernmental arrangements between the individual VG states and Russia that are designed to promote trade and intensify cooperation. These have been given a more prominent role in recent years, suggesting that EU membership could have actually stimulated bilateral efforts to increase trade and economic cooperation. Finally the paper will consider the impact of political factors inside the VG countries, namely the relationship between the (polarized) party perspectives and how the political complexion of specific governments has affected the trade and economic sphere of bilateral relations with Russia.