Reintegration vs. Regional Cooperation?
Some Puzzles in Post-Soviet Eurasia, in the context of Comparative Regionalism
The numerous and unsuccessful attempts at regional integration in post-Soviet
Eurasia provide an opportunity to analyze factors unfavorable to integration and to identify impediments to this process. The issue motivating this study is that unsuccessful attempts should be analyzed not less than successful ones, thus providing new material and contributing substantially to the development of the theory of regional integration. Apart from theoretical interest, an area-related puzzle is also involved in the study: how come the former Soviet republics, so well interconnected during at least a century, disintegrated in a few months with little hope of re-establishing any functional cooperation in the region? The theoretical analysis is built on neofunctionalism; however, it also considers alternative theoretical explanations. Empirical analysis provides evidence on the impediment to integration in post-Soviet
Eurasia and ultimately indicates the importance of factors such as regime disparities and the correlation between (successful) regional integration and democratization. Another conclusion is that the "shadows of the past” and the "shadows of the future,” seen as prospects for the former
USSR's integration within a new supra-national organization (CIS), present a major obstacle to the development of regional cooperation. On a theoretical level, the paper is meant to contribute to the theoretical discussion on the phenomenon of regional integration as a process. It also has implications for the literature on comparative regionalism world-wide, beyond the European experience.