Elsa Tulmets

After joining the European Union in 2004 or 2007, all Central and Eastern European countries have expressed their will to transfer their experience of democratization, transition to market economy and introduction of the rule of law to other regions in transition. They have influenced in particular the launching of an EU policy towards the East, which was so far rather absent, and of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2003. The rhetoric developed is particularly strong and visible, but what about the implementation of the aid policies to transition? Which reality does the political discourse entail, both in its bilateral and multilateral dimensions? Central and Eastern European countries do not represent a homogeneous bloc of countries and have constructed their foreign policy discourse on older ideological traditions and different geographical priorities. Despite the commitment of a group of actors from civil society and reforms in the field of development policy, the scarce means at disposal would need to be better mobilized in order to meet expectations. In the context of the economic crisis, the search for a concensus on interests to protect and means to mobilize, like through the Visegrad Group and other formats like the Weimar Triangle, appears to be a meaningful option to follow in order to reinforce the coherence of foreign policy actions implemented.

Due to the growing importance of religion in post-Soviet Russia and the prevalent place of the Orthodox Church in Russian politics, certain analysts have argued that Russia is undergoing a process of desecularization today. While this phenomenon is also occurring in other parts of the world, Russia is different from these cases—notably because of its sociopolitical history and its particular religious context. Instead of opposing this trend toward desecularization to the earlier trend toward secularization at the time of the Soviet Union, the emphasis is put on the continuity of governemental practices. Religion today has become an essential part of a mode of governing that was made possible through a form of identity-building reinvented by the elites. This mode of governing reflects to a certain extent the continuity of the Soviet mode of governing characterized by a non pluralist ideology.