Research Conclusions: Core Europe and/or Greater Eurasia: Options for the Future


On 1 December 2016, the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute in Berlin hosted its first full-day workshop on the future of the peace and security order in Europe and its neighbourhood, bringing together renowned experts with diverging positions to discuss the topic. The event provided a forum for interested stakeholders from various professional and national backgrounds to exchange opinions and to gain a better understanding of the multiple geopolitical complexities Europe is facing today.

The first round of the workshop centred around options for a comprehensive peace order in Europe and explored possible paths of dialogue and cooperation, which could alter the current political stagnation and mutual disenchantment, both within the EU and between the EU and its neighbours. The visions presented on how a peaceful environment may be achieved included the concepts of a ‘Core Europe’, a ‘European Commonwealth’, and a pragmatic, multi-level cooperation between the East and the West.

The second session focused on questions regarding European security, including possible policy measures for building a revised security framework based on cooperation and mutual respect. Particular attention was given to issues such as the common neighbourhood of the EU and Russia, neutrality as a security model, and possible means of cooperation within the field of security.

The last part of the event was devoted to the theme of energy, trade, and infrastructure within the Eurasian region. Most notably, questions regarding challenges to European energy security and the political and economic implications of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative were addressed.

Each of the three panels was followed by a lively discussion with the audience.

All of the speakers offered both thoughtful observations and analysis of the current crisis we are witnessing as well as practical measures that could help to reverse the alarming developments within the European security environment.

The following conclusions can be drawn from the presentations and discussions during the workshop:

–          Dialogue and enhanced cooperation, a peaceful neighbourhood, and early warning systems are urgently needed to guarantee security in Europe.

–          A robust and peaceful European security architecture cannot be built without Russia and must be based on mutual interest and shared responsibilities.

–          In view of changing global dynamics and events, including Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, the EU needs to undertake efforts to revive its position in the world and to engage more seriously with actors in the international community, including Russia and Africa.

–           ‘Core Europe’ – i.e., a smaller but more powerful EU with a real Common Foreign and Security Policy and a strong European Parliament – may be the answer to Europe’s inner crisis as well as the existential security threats it is faced with.

–          In the light of the ever-increasing importance of national governments, developing a ‘European Commonwealth’ – i.e., an association of multiple nations and peoples based on an open method of coordination – seems a plausible format for international collaboration.

–          The responsibility for the deteriorating relations between Russia and the West is shared by both sides. Therefore, both must engage in constructive dialogue and develop a strategic approach towards each other. While Russian foreign and security policy needs a new direction, NATO must become more self-critical instead of shifting the blame.

–          The strong involvement of civil society in politics is indispensable for achieving rapprochement between Russia and the West.

–          Building peaceful relations between the East and the West in the long term, based on mutual trust and respect, requires pragmatic cooperation, which should start in areas in which both sides share interests and goals. These areas include the challenges posed by migration, terrorism, and the Middle East.

–          An institutionalised form of cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is required.

–          Unresolved questions with regard to the common neighbourhood remain a key impediment to building constructive EU-Russia relations.

–          The question of whether neutrality may be a viable option for certain countries located between Russia and the West – including Ukraine, Moldova, and Serbia – must be subject to the thorough analysis of a future security architecture in Europe.

–          The smooth integration of the South Caucasus and the Caspian region into the world market is hampered by complex geopolitical dynamics in the region. The diversification of transport routes and production face challenges posed by the region’s dependence on transit countries for hydrocarbon marketing.

–          Despite the existence of competing interests between China and Russia in the Central Asian region, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative provides an opportunity for cooperation between Russia and China, including engaging in joint transport and infrastructure projects.