The end of the ideological Cold War divisions created a cheery sentiment of renewed unity in Europe and the world, with chances for development for all. As the stability of the bipolar structure vanished, strengthening regional integration entities seemed to become the bricks for the new organizational edifice of world society.
At first, this vision was substantiated by countries coming together in various regional groupings, led by pragmatic interest, overcoming age-old perceptions of neighbours typically fighting each other. Several types of regions formed: a top-down integration as in the European Union and its institutions; a bottom-up expansion of regional supply chains as in East Asia; the more limited approach of free trade agreements as in USMCA; or simply regions without regionalism. This talk will look for common principles underpinning the various efforts at regional integration, such as the joint pursuit of peace and economic development, assistance to laggards, etc., building on existing theories (Neofunctionalism, New Regionalism and Comparative Regionalism), trying to go beyond.
The cheery picture of a harmonious world society built from regional blocs came under stress at the end of 2013, when two concepts of regional integration clashed over Ukraine: the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. The complex development of Ukraine until then was complicated further by this rivalry, compounded by several layers of escalating tension that led to the current Chicken Game, involving local and global actors.
It is important to look carefully at what will come next for regionalism, what the dynamics of regional cooperation and integration in Eurasia will be, how to relate mainstream organizations (like the EU) to regional security (like OSCE and NATO), cultural, subregional, and other organizations.
Mario Apostolov is a Regional Adviser at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and Lecturer at the International University in Geneva.
Clemena Antonova, Research Director of Eurasia in Global Dialogue at IWM, will moderate the colloquium.