Rival Power: Russia and South East Europe

Rival Power: Russia and South East Europe

Wednesday, 7 March 2018 - 5:00pm
Seminar Room, European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HR
Dimitar Bechev (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Kalypso Nicolaidis (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Othon Anastasakis, David Madden, Jonathan Scheele (St Antony's College, Oxford)
Roy Allison; Othon Anastasakis (St Antony’s College, Oxford)

Abstract: A nuanced and comprehensive study of the political dynamics between Russia and key countries in Southeast Europe Is Russia threatening to disrupt more than two decades' of E.U. and U.S. efforts to promote stability in post-communist Southeast Europe? Politicians and commentators in the West say, "yes." With rising global anxiety over Russia's political policies and objectives, Dimitar Bechev provides the only in-depth look at this volatile region. Deftly unpacking the nature and extent of Russian influence in the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey, Bechev argues that both sides are driven by pragmatism and opportunism rather than historical loyalties. Russia is seeking to assert its role in Europe's security architecture, establish alternative routes for its gas exports-including the contested Southern Gas Corridor-and score points against the West. Yet, leaders in these areas are allowing Russia to reinsert itself to serve their own goals. This urgently needed guide analyzes the responses of regional NATO members, particularly regarding the annexation of Crimea and the Putin-Erdogan rift over Syria.

Dimitar Bechev is the director of the European Policy Institute, a think-tank based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Previously, he held research fellowships at Harvard University, University of Oxford and the London School of Economics, and headed the Sofia office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). Dr. Bechev has written extensively on EU’s external relations, the politics and modern history of Turkey and the Balkans, and Russia’s foreign policy. His book Rival Power, forthcoming with Yale University Press in 2017, explores Russia’s role in Southeast Europe (Balkans, Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey). He is a regular contributor to Al Jazeera, the American Interest, Politico, Foreign Policy, and openDemocracy. He holds a D.Phil. (PhD) from the University of Oxford. Dr. Bechev’s research project at CSEEES examines the foreign policy of hybrid regimes, looking at the cases of Russia and Turkey. It inquires into the impact of domestic politics and institutions on external relations.

Seminar Series: Key issues and developments in South East Europe

Our Hilary 2018 SEESOX seminar series on South East Europe looks at regional developments from a thematic, interdisciplinary and cross-country perspectives and touches upon issues which are at the forefront of the region’s current affairs. We look at South East Europe from international politics, political economy, and/or societal perspectives, by engaging with a selection of topics ranging from the challenges to democracy and free speech, to geopolitics, energy, migration and European integration.

Co-Convenors: Othon Anastasakis, David Madden, Jonathan Scheele (St Antony’s College)

A joint event with the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre (RESC), in association with Centre for International Studies (CIS).