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GCBF ♦ Vol. 11 ♦ No. 1 ♦ 2016 ♦ ISSN 1941-9589 ONLINE & ISSN 2168-0612 USB Flash Drive 245 Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings ♦ Volume 11 ♦ Number 1
Bulgarian nationalism as a political force for state political reform faces formidable challenges due to the Bulgarian state’s dependent development under Communism. Nationalist communism was a comparatively effective component of the legitimation strategy for the Communist regime. In neighboring Serbia, the Titoist regime suppressed ethnic nationalism. As the largest nationalist challenge to the Communist Yugoslav state, the Serb national community was partitioned. One-third of ethnic Serbs were placed outside of the Serb republic, and Kosovo and Vojvodina were officially subunits of Serbia but were Yugoslav federal constituent republics in all but name. Russian exploitation of opportunities for influence expansion in Serbia and Bulgaria exist but differ, reflecting this conflicting legacy of Communism in both states. Serb rejection of Communism included advocacy of Serb irredentism, which the post-Soviet/Russian nationalist regime under Vladimir Putin seeks to exploit. Bulgarian nationalist Communism associated itself closely with the USSR until the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev and his reforms in the USSR in the mid-1980s. Bulgarian militant nationalism lacks societal consensus on the basic principles that constitute it. NATO-Russian competition for influence implies European Union deepening and widening occurs in opposition to postSoviet Russian state influence. Europeanization implies reducing Russian bargaining leverage within the Bulgarian polity.
JEL: F5, K4, P3, Y8 KEYWORDS: European Union, Russia, South Stream
INTRODUCTIONEuropeanization in relation to national polities is a prominent focus in the European Union literature, with a focus on top-down and bottom-up Europeanization (Borzel & Panke, 2013). Top-down Europeanization for Bulgaria means reducing Russian bargaining leverage over the Bulgarian government. It focuses on reducing the influence of Russian hard and soft power influence within the Bulgarian polity deriving from economic assets and traditional pro-Russian identity sympathies. Europeanization in Bulgaria means the strengthening of the autonomy of the Bulgarian state to alleviate its neo-colonial relationship to Russian influence. It implies the strengthening of the judicial branch of the Bulgarian government and the professionalization of the civil service. The Europeanization of Bulgaria interacts with the creation of a European area of freedom, justice and security. It aims towards the institutionalization of the rule of law in international relations in the European regional context and into the broader world (Carrapico, 2013: 461;
Giumelli, 2013: 396). European international relations become progressively a matter of opposition to crime and corruption, increasingly equated with Russian influence (Blank, 2011). For the foreseeable future, it is likely to require centralization of Bulgarian public administration implementation authority at the national level. Decentralization, either to geographic administrative regions or to policy actor networks, or to some combination of both is unlikely and undesirable. The general tendency in much of the European Union is towards multilevel governance (Piattoni, 2012). Europeanization increases possibilities for greater diversity in the creation of advocacy coalitions within subnational, national and European levels of public policy making (Weible et al. 2011). Yet, such a public administration trend is likely to make Bulgaria too sensitive and vulnerable to Russian formal and informal actor influence. Nevertheless, by allying with Bulgarian GCBF ♦ Vol. 11 ♦ No. 1 ♦ 2016 ♦ ISSN 1941-9589 ONLINE & ISSN 2168-0612 USB Flash Drive 246 Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings ♦ Volume 11 ♦ Number 1 nationalism as a liberal actor, the EU promotes the top-down Europeanization of Bulgaria. It stands in contrast, however, to Serb irredentist nationalism that has been frustrated by Euro-Atlantic structures (“The Balkan Crisis,” 1997; Gow, 2003: 5). Serbia, therefore, is likely to remain more amenable to Russian influence than Bulgaria.
South Stream, Nationalism and Conflict in the Balkans
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned in assertive statements against the 2008 formal secession of Kosovo from Serbia. He argued that it will set a precedent for international resolution of other secessionist disputes, such as in Cyprus and in Georgia (“Putin’s annual news conference,” 2006). Yet, Russia in 2003 withdrew all of its forces from the Balkans with the exception of Moldova (Financial Times, 2004). In fact, Russia (and China) has at times indicated that it will acquiesce to the separation of Kosovo from Serbia, albeit it expected an appropriate trade-off for accepting this outcome (Dinmore & Dombey, 2006). The authorities in Republika Srpska, one of the two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, hoped to link to South Stream at the contested city of Brcko (International Crisis Group 2011, 4).
The EU plays an important role in post-Milosevic efforts to engage in state building in Southeast Europe in that weak states generate corruption, strife, poverty and terrorism (Solana, 2003: 6). It thereby serves to reinforce the stabilization strategy of the international community to the national peoples of the former Yugoslavia. The prospect of the relative individual and group opportunities for utilitarian gain from European integration are an influential factor. They induce cooperation among actors in BosniaHerzegovina, who would rather not cooperate, to do so (Judah, 2005; International Crisis Group, 2006).
Belgrade and Zagreb are currently unwilling actively to encourage their Bosnian ethno-sectarian compatriots to aspire towards unification with their respective patron states. It is a critical factor supporting this cooperation (Dombey & McDonald, 2006). In the event of the collapse of this cooperation, then an upsurge in the nationalist components of Muslim Bosniak identity should be more likely, i.e. an increase in pan-Islamic appeals (BBC Monitoring 2008). Parallels here might be found in the intensely violent conflict in Chechnya, with Chechen nationalism having acquired an Islamist element. It is partly as a consequence of a Chechen search for support to counteract the Russian comparative power advantage (Buckley 2006;
“Rebel Chechen minister,” 2006). In this context, despite its Cold War history, Bulgaria remains a model of peaceful Balkan political development.
The romantic appeal of the social justice ideals of socialism in Bulgaria have become greater along with the passage of time away from the actual reality that ended in 1989 (Genov, 2010: 41). One social mobility incentive that Russian interests competitively offer is the $500 million that it claims would come to Bulgaria from South Stream pipeline annual transit fees (Roth 2014). Bulgaria is clearly the poorest EU member state (“GDP per capita,” 2014). The US government views the South Stream project as about increasing Russian influence in Europe more than making money (“Results of Vladimir Putin’s Visit to Serbia,” 2014;
Nichol, 2014: 37, 46, 66). U.S. media reports Russian financial support behind “anti-fracking” protests expressing environmental protection concerns in Bulgaria and throughout Eastern Europe (Higgins, 2014).
These reports reflect a concern in Germany about general Russian efforts to increase its influence in Eastern Europe (Wagstyl, 2014). Some observers have noted a particular focus on the Western Balkans, i.e. Russia’s traditional regional ally, Serbian nationalism (Spasovska, 2014). Despite announcement of cancellation of the project, particular Bulgarian and Russian decision makers continue to discuss how to continue with the project (“Russia Asks Bulgaria,” 2014). Alliance with Russia is necessary to rectify power imbalances that currently prevent Serb acquisition of self-perceived national rights (“Putin guest of honor,” 2014). Such an alliance with Russia increases Serb bargaining leverage towards Brussels regarding Serb claims on Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. A primary source of Brussels’ bargaining leverage lies in the economic field.
Ensuring the cancellation of the South Stream gas pipeline project reduces Serb economic options and strengthens Brussels’ bargaining leverage towards Belgrade. Russian economic leverage towards Serbia and Bulgaria has heavily emphasized the economic benefits oil and gas pipeline cooperation (“Results,” GCBF ♦ Vol. 11 ♦ No. 1 ♦ 2016 ♦ ISSN 1941-9589 ONLINE & ISSN 2168-0612 USB Flash Drive 247 Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings ♦ Volume 11 ♦ Number 1 2014). Following the cancellation of South Stream in December 2014, the Russian government proposed Turkish Stream as an alternative (Stern et al. 2015: 5-13).
Figure 1: Schematic Representation of Actor Power/Capability Base and Diplomatic Influence
The power potential base (including resource base and mobilization base), the power instrument base (the governmental and military programs for generating influence abroad), and the bargaining base (the target government's perception of the capabilities of the agent government, which the agent government may or may not be using) collectively comprise the capability base of a state. The capability base translates into the bargaining leverage system: the level of diplomatic interaction. Collective as well as individual decision maker perceptions/misperceptions of power capabilities and ultimate intentions of confronting states reflect a community’s historical experiences (Cottam & Galluci, 1978: 9).
CONCLUSION: THE ON-GOING BALKAN TRANSITION
Acquiescence to the European Union’s directives is likely to continue in Bulgaria, a community whose state generally encompasses the Bulgarian nation. Yugoslavia’s disintegration set the stage for the emergence of nationalist irredentist demands. The subsequent recovery of post-Soviet Russia has created perceived opportunities for Serb nationalism to seek support from its reinvigorated Russian patron. South Stream can be seen as an attempt at reconstituting Russian bargaining leverage in Southeast Europe among national peoples still seeking patrons.
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