Divisive identities, divided foreign policy? Policy makers' discourses on Russia in Germany, Poland and Finland
Numerous academics and foreign policy practitioners have argued that relations with Russia are one of the most divisive issues within the European Union (cf. Leonard and Popescu 2007, Mandelson 2007). Mainstream explanations highlight that this is due to the different interests and security concerns of EU member states (David et al. 2011). This dissertation proposes an alternative understanding that focuses on national identity construction and Russia‘s role therein. Germany, Poland and Finland, three EU member states that traditionally have different stances towards Russia, are selected for in-depth analysis. The key argument is that divergent national discourses on Russia are due to the different ways in which the country was constructed in national identity. In order to show this, the thesis elaborates on social constructivist scholarship studying the relationship between identity and foreign policy. It argues that constructivist models theorising a causal link between identity and foreign policy (eg Wendt 1999, Katzenstein 1996) are insufficient to fully explain the complexity of this relationship. Drawing on the work of scholars such as Ted Hopf (2002), Richard Ned Lebow (2008, 2008a) and Ole Waever (2002), this thesis develops an interpretive theoretical framework in which national identity and foreign policy are conceptualised as mutually constitutive and studied at the level of discourses. Dominant identity and foreign policy narratives are examined in a longue durée perspective, which allows for an exploration of their deep historical roots. The research conducted through this model highlights the relevance of long-standing narratives on Russia to current foreign policy discourses. However, the thesis also shows that national identity is malleable and top national officials can reformulate dominant discourses in order to achieve particular foreign policy goals. This is illustrated in the case studies, which focus on official narratives concerning the building of the Nord Stream pipeline, the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008 and the mass demonstrations in Russian cities in the winter of 2011-2012. The empirical analysis shows that gradual convergence took place across national discourses as national constructions of Russia were reformulated in order to pursue a pragmatic foreign policy towards Moscow. Finally, through the comparison of national discourses in the EU discursive arena, the dissertation assesses the prospects for the emergence of shared EU foreign policy narratives on Russia.