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Chapter III


									                              CHAPTER 3

1. Organisational Fields: The Structuration Process

Although it is relatively simple to demonstrate by means of literature review the need for
theoretical and empirical research on the institutional transformations in the post-Soviet
space, the actual research itself promises to be more of a challenge. In the previous
chapters, I expressed the intention to study institutional change in the Slavic Core of the
CIS through organisational analysis. In order to determine whether the processes of
institutional transformation were of isomorphic nature, a theoretical framework was
introduced in which institutional isomorphism – and the causal mechanisms behind it -
would be assessed through different stages.

The next two chapters will cover the first stage that was previously discussed; processes
of structuration of and institutional definition towards the organisational field. In this
chapter, the first dimension of this stage will be studied; the collective definition which
leads to the structuration of the organisational field. This implies a clear delineation of
the organisational field by assessing the gradual development into the organisations
perceived here to be part of the European organisational field. This first step is essential
in order to present a truthful image of the variegated structure that this organisational
field is. The European Union is not the sole institutional structure on the West-European
continent. The same goes for the Commonwealth of Independent States, which co-exists
with many other (sub)-regional structures in Eurasia. Therefore it is important to
establish clearly from the start which institutional components construct both
organisational fields. Secondly and simultaneously, the increasing institutionalisation of
organisational forms that leads to the collective definition of the organisational field will
be considered. This description of the structuration process will provide an institutional
context that looks into the institutional reforms that took place in the newly independent
Russia, Ukraine and Belarus after the implosion of the USSR. Mapping the institutional
changes in these countries (in chapter 4) is a crucial element, since it paves the way for
the second dimension (of stage 1) to be studied: the institutional definition towards the
organisational fields, which will be discussed in chapter five. Before going into how the
new institutions of the NIS relate to the organisational fields, one should have a view of
which institutions developed into what. Since the literature review illustrated a hiatus in
post-Soviet literature on state building, the mapping of institutional change after 1991
will be challenging yet invigorating.

Fig. … Structuration and Institutional Definition of the Organisational Field: Two Dimensions

                                                  STAGE ONE

                           1.                                                         2.
 Collective definition of organisational field                 Emergence of centre-periphery structure

   - clear delineation of organisational field                  - institutional definition of peripheral
     - description of structuration process                     institutions towards an organisational field
                     (chapter 3)                                                   (chapter 4)

As was mentioned earlier, stage one’s second dimension concerns/behandelt the
emergence of a centre-periphery structure. After delineating the organisational field and
providing a basis for further research by giving adequate background information on
recent institutional change, we will set out to study the relations between the institutions
in the countries at the periphery of the organisational field with the central institutional
structure of the field in chapter five.

The prime goal of this study is to determine whether the institutions of Russia, Ukraine
and Belarus are being influenced by other institutions that are part of a larger whole;
identified here as an organisational field. It is therefore necessary to first of all elaborate
on the definition, connotation and delineation of an ‘organisational field’ – more
specifically the one mentioned in this study - before assessing the possible influences
between institutions in its centre and in its periphery. The few authors (Lodge 2000,
Radaelli 2000) who have engaged in the study of institutional isomorphism however
have often skipped the first part and immediately shifted their focus to the second stage
(isomorphic tendencies). They rushed to assess the important and more intriguing
dynamics of institutional change, thereby discarding the significance of the
organisational field, whose (institutional) structure and cooperation mechanisms is
exactly what influences the peripheral institutions and generates isomorphic change.
Structuration processes are not only ‘historically and logically prior to processes of
isomorphism’; what is most important is that the study of the structuration and
institutionalisation of an organisational field can uncover new causal dynamics that add a
new dimension to the theoretical framework that is being developed to explain the
reasons for isomorphism. Therefore, ‘to understand the institutionalisation of

organisational forms, we must first understand the institutionalisation and structuring of
organisational fields’ (DiMaggio 1991:267; 1988a). A last argument for focusing on the
organisational field before going into processes of institutional definition and
isomorphism is the importance of the boundaries of the field. ‘Field boundaries, as they
are perceived by participants, affect how organisations select models for emulation,
where they focus their information-gathering energy, which organisations they compare
themselves with, and where they recruit personnel’ (DiMaggio 1991: 267).

In other words, the delineation of an organisational field’s structure and connotation is
just as important for this study as is the second stage of analysing isomorphic processes.
Therefore, studying this crucial process should not be avoided, since this would imply a
‘one-sided vision of institutional change that emphasises a taken-for-granted, non-
directed, non-conflictual evolution at the expense of intentional (if boundedly rational),
directive, and conflict-laden processes that define fields and set them upon trajectories
that eventually appear as ‘natural’ developments to participants and observers alike’
(DiMaggio 1991: 268) – which they aren’t.

a. Definitions

An organisational field is generally defined as ‘those organisations that constitute a
recognised area of institutional life’; key suppliers, regulatory agencies, a legal system, or a
supranational organisation IS THIS IN THE ORIGINAL DEFINITION? (Powell & DiMaggio
1991: 64). An organisational field implies a totality of relevant actors, and therefore
encompasses both the notion of connectedness and structural equivalence (Laumann,
Galaskiewicz & Marsden 1978). Paul DiMaggio, who along with Walter Powell
developed the theory on institutional isomorphism and concepts such as organisational
field and structuration, refers to Bourdieu in order to explain his notion of the
‘organisational field’; ‘I use ‘field’ in the dual sense in which Bourdieu (1975) uses
‘champ’, to signify both common purpose and an arena of strategy and conflict’
(DiMaggio 1983: 149)1.

One can best distinguish the contours of an organisational field by looking at its
institutional structure, since ‘[organisational] fields only exist to the extent that they are
institutionally defined’ (Powell & DiMaggio 1983: 148). Indeed, an organisational field
emerges through a process of increasing institutionalisation of organisational forms.
This development is usually termed the structuration process. Structuration of an

1 Both Powell and DiMaggio refer repeatedly to their great predecessors who inspired them to develop their
theory and supplied/furnished them with some key concepts; Weber (efficiency/legitimacy), Bourdieu
(champ/organizational field), and Giddens (structuration).

organisational field can therefore be defined as ‘the related emergence of a collective
definition of a set of organisations as an ‘industry’, of formal and informal networks linking such
organisations, and of organisations committed to supporting, policing or setting policy towards
the ‘industry’ (DiMaggio 1991: 267). Being a process symbolising gradual development,
structuration should be distinguished from structuring. Whereas structuration signifies a
process that is ‘enacted continually in the course of interactions among organisations in
the field’ (DiMaggio 1983: 160), structuring lacks this repetitiveness and rather implies a
one-time action which results in a fixed structure. Anthony Giddens, who devised the
concept of structuration, explains structure (as the result of structuring) as ‘rules and
resources, organised as properties of social systems’, whereas structuration connotes
‘conditions governing the continuity or transformation of structures, and therefore the
reproduction of systems’ (Giddens 1979: 66).

b. Exploring the Field as an Analytical Construct

An organisational field emerges when different organisations start interacting and
cooperating on a certain level (politically, economically, …) and attempt to coordinate
their actions. However, one should not forget that an organisational field as described
by Powell & DiMaggio is always an analytical construct; its definition depends on ‘the
phenomena in which one is interested’ (DiMaggio 1983: 149). Therefore, an
organisational field does not necessarily correspond with an existing field like the
European Union or NATO, but is more an aggregate of organisations that have certain
interests in common. In this sense, an organisational field is rather a ‘network of
interaction’ consisting of e.g. cultural organisations, industries, or even countries.
Moreover, the extent of cooperation within in the field as an analytical construct should
be determined empirically, since ‘the degree of interaction (and the nature of inter-
organisational structure) may vary within organisational fields over time’ (DiMaggio
1983: 149). One should therefore not look at the organisational fields and its periphery as
a snapshot picture, but study it over a more extended period of time in order to take the
possible variations of interaction over time into account.

Apart from common interest, the centralisation of resources is another aspect that
stimulates the structuration of an organisational field. Paul DiMaggio puts forward an
interesting proposition on this topic:

‘The more centralised the resources are upon which organisations in a field depend, the greater is
the degree of interaction among organisations in that field. Centralisation of resources gives
organisations a common focus of attention and, potentially at least, a common adversary.

Coordination is also likely to prove more effective in dealing with a few organisations that pose
contingencies than in confronting a diffuse, unorganised resource base’ (DiMaggio 1983: 149).

I decided to extrapolate these two variables as important factors that are pivotal in
determining the structuration of the organisational field, especially in the context.

Fig. (….) The structuration process

                  structuration – collective definition of the organisational field

                         common interest              centralisation of resources

2. ‘Europe’ as an Organisational Field

This is for example what happened on the European continent mid-20th century.
Centralisation of resources was however not the first thing that would come to one’s
mind considering the geopolitical situation of Europe at that time. Post-war Western
Europe was not exactly the picture of unity; rather, ‘throughout its history Europe has
been characterised much more by divisions, tensions, and conflicts than it has by any
common purpose or harmony of spirit’ (Nugent 1994: 4). The most obvious differences
to be observed between the western European countries are of a linguistic, religious, or
cultural nature. The European continent accommodates more than twenty different
languages and as many national identities. Apart from that, there is also religious
diversity; some countries adhere the Orthodox Church, others Roman Catholicism
Church, and yet others Protestantism. Moreover, up until the two World Wars, this
cultural-religious diversity in Western Europe was exacerbated by political and
economic divisions (Nugent 1994: 5). Nevertheless, after the Second World War, even
though a centralisation of resources was absent and did not seem imminent, there were
some common interests in Western Europe, like the pursuit of a peaceful Europe and
economic recovery. So although initially, only one of the preconditions for structuration
was present in the post-war European landscape (common interest), the aims for peace
and economic recovery sufficed to initiate a process of structuration, which would
eventually include the other criterion of structuration (centralisation of resources).

a. Delinating the Organisational Field

         what is written here below is a rough draft  has to be rewritten, delineation of
         the field has to be stressed;
         the text is an account of what the European org field stands for and how its have
         come about, before going into
         b) the structuration of the org field, with
                       i.   The European Union and Council of Europe as Complementary
                      ii.   Common Interest & Centralisation of Resources
                     iii.   Bureaucratisation Following Centralisation

The European Union

Although divided on many political, cultural and religious topics, different countries of
Western Europe decided to cooperate on the economic level. It was the French Minister
of Foreign Affairs Robert Schumann who proposed to integrate the European coal and
steel industries and to assign the decision-making on related issues to a supranational
body, the ‘High Authority’ (‘Haute Autorité’), presided by Jean Monnet. This
centralisation of decision-making power was codified in the Treaty of Paris of 1951,
founding the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and signed by six countries;
Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Since this joint
project was a success, the signatory countries decided to integrate other parts of their
economies as well, resulting in the Treaty of Rome of 1957 that established the European
Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and the European Economic Community.
These three communities were further centralised in 1967 by merging them into one
European Community with one single institutional structure2. The European
Community appeared to be successful that a number of other European countries
decided to apply for membership. In 1973, the first enlargement from 6 to 9 countries
encompassed the accession of The United Kingdom, Denmark, and Ireland. Greece
joined in 1981, and Spain and Portugal followed suit in 1986. Almost a decade later, in
1995, Austria, Finland and Sweden joined what had by then become the European
Union. The latest enlargement was the biggest one to date: on the first of May 2004, ten
more new members were welcomed into the European Union; Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Malta and Cyprus.

2The Treaty merging the executives of the three Communities was signed on April 8, 1965. It entered into
force in 1967. The different communities already had a single parliament but from then on also had a single
Commission and a single Council.

Apart from enlargement, the European Communities also moved forward to increased
institutionalisation3. The subsequent treaties gradually developed and refined an
institutional structure; the current EU institutions were partially drawn from their ECSC
and EEC predecessors (Urwin 1995: 81). The 1951 Treaty of Paris that founded the ECSC
introduced four main institutions; 1) the High Authority, ‘to ensure that the objectives
set out in this Treaty were attained in accordance with the provisions thereof (Article 8,
ECSC Treaty, in Nugent 1994: 39-40). The High Authority could issue binding decisions
and recommendations and (non-binding) opinions. 2) the Council of Ministers, that was
mainly set up as a forum for the national governments in the framework of the ECSC
and as a control mechanism for the High Authority, which some feared would be
dominated by the French and Germans. 3) the Common Assembly, which was supposed
to provide a democratic input into the decision-making. Yet up until the 1970s the
Assembly was not directly elected but the members were chosen by the national
parliaments, thereby turning the Assembly (European Parliament) into a more effective
institution (Nugent 1994:41). 4) the Court of Justice, a last institution introduced by the
Paris Treaty, created to settle conflicts in between the states or in between the organs of
the Community, as well as between the states and the supranational organs.

The Treaty of Rome in 1957 marked further integration by means of the European
Economic Community, and Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community). Through
this treaty, the member states set up the joint task of removing trade barriers in order to
form a common market. On the institutional level, ‘the ECSC served as the institutional
model, but with certain modifications which had as their effect a tilting away from
supranationalism towards intergovernmentalism’ (Nugent 1994:47) The EEC and
Euratom both had four main institutions; 1) the Commission, which took over role of the
High Authority, yet with less power to impose binding decisions on the member states
and less scope for individual initiative than the High Authority (Urwin 1995: 81); 2) the
Council of Ministers’ powers on the other hand were increased and on top of being the
organ of the national governments, it also became the principal decision-making body.
3) The Assembly in its turn had an advisory and to a certain extent a supervisory
function. The first direct elections of the Assembly were held in 1979. 4) The 1957 Rome
Treaty retained the Court of Justice as the fourth main institution. In 1967, the Merger

3 It is not my intention to enumerate every single institution existing in the framework of the European
Communities or later the European Communities at any given time. I do not strive to analyse the complete
European institutional structure but rather to screen the institutional mechanisms set up to deal with the
peripheral third countries in the CFSP and later European neighbourhood framework – at a later stage in
chapter four. As for the delineation of the organizational field, I confine myself to summing up the key
institutions that were established since 1951 and adapted along with the new Treaties. The key institutions
are simply mentioned in order to illustrate the structuration process on the European continent.

Treaty, fusing the institutions of the three European communities, entered into force4.
An exchange of views between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission in
November 1968 confirmed the need for strengthening and widening the institutions of
the European Communities in order to keep integration at a steady pace.

Increased institutionalisation also implied that the European Community eventually
started looking well beyond the economic scope and aimed to give the Communities
more political cachet as well. It should be noted that former Belgian Foreign Minister
Paul-Henri Spaak (who was at that time Head of the Assembly of the ECSC) already had
plans for a political European Community, as early as 1953, which he presented in a
Draft Treaty. His Draft Treaty even foresaw an institutional structure: a two-chamber
Parliament, a Council of National Ministers, A Court of Justice, an Economic and Social
Committee and last but not least a European Executive Council. Spaak contemplated a
political European Community in order to guarantee security, safeguard human rights,
and coordinate the external policy of the member states. Security became and
increasingly important issue with the rise of the Soviet Union as an international power
after the Second World War, although the death of Stalin in 1953 and the subsequent
‘thaw’ (ottepel) in the USSR rendered the issue somewhat less urgent.

Some 40 years later, Altiero Spinelli presented his Draft of the European Union (1983),
which paved the way for a third major Treaty in the history of European Integration; the
1992 Maastricht Treaty5. In the run up to the Maastricht amendments, the Spinelli Draft
for a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) was presented in July 1985 and in
June 1990, an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) was called about a political Union.
The IGC was launched in December of that year, only months after the fall of the Berlin
Wall. A year later, on 9-10 December 1991, the Draft Treaty on the European Union was
agreed upon in Maastricht, marking a new stage of increased cooperation on a wider
range of issues. Almost simultaneously with the Maastricht summit, the Heads of States
of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed the Belavezha Treaty founding the
Commonwealth of Independent States in Belarus on 8 December 1991. Two weeks later,
on 25 December 1991, Secretary-General Mikhail Gorbachev resigned from his post.
Thereby the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist. This turbulent last month of 1991
turned out to be the summum of the synchronous yet very divergent tendencies in
Eastern and Western Europe; one Union further integrated, the other Union

4 In addition, the European Council was created in December 1974 when at a Summit meeting in Paris, the
Heads of State and Government decided to meet on a regular basis as the European Council of Heads of
State and Government.
5 Although according to the European Union official documents, the 1992 Maastricht Treaty was not a third

major Treaty but an important Treaty that amended the two founding Treaties. See

The Treaty on the European Union entered into force in October 1993. It created a new
organisation based on three pillars: the European Communities, a Common Foreign and
Security Policy, and Cooperation in the Field of Justice and Home Affairs. The Treaty on
the European Union also contained certain revisions to the EEC Treaty, most notably
institutional changes and policy changes. The institutional changes were ‘designed to
improve the efficiency and democratic nature of the Community’s institutional
structures and decision-making processes’ (Nugent 1994:70). However, these were no
fundamental changes in the basic institutional structures, but rather modifications in the
existing institutional configurations, e.g. extending the European Commission’s term of
office from four to five years.

Apart from the internal reforms within its own borders that came along with the new
Treaty on the European Union, the EU also needed to simultaneously reformulate its
position towards the newly independent states that emerged after the fall of the Berlin
Wall and the implosion of the Soviet Union. Just as the European Union decided to
expand beyond the economic aspects of the Union and venture into the political
direction as well, it was confronted with a completely new geopolitical landscape on its
Eastern border. A renewed form of economic and political cooperation with the
countries in this region was needed, and emerged in the form of the Partnership and
Cooperation Agreements (PCA) 6. The PCA became the prime institutional framework for
the new relations with the post-Soviet states. I will elaborate on the specific institutional
cooperation mechanisms that were created in the framework of the PCA in the next
chapter, when dealing with the specific policies of the three countries vis-à-vis the EU
and their mechanisms of cooperation. These institutional mechanisms between the EU
and respectively Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were complemented and completed by the
some new instruments of cooperation of the CFSP. Established under the third pillar in
the 1993 Treaty on the European Union, the Common Foreign and Security Policy
(CFSP) was further developed in 1997 when some changes were introduced in the
Amsterdam Treaty (art.13 of the Treaty on the European Union, came into force in 1999).
One of these novelties was the Common Strategy. The Common Strategies aimed to set
out policy guidelines for the relations with individual countries. They were decided by
the European Council on recommendation of the Council WEG?, in areas where the
Member States have interests. Each Common Strategy specified its purpose and
duration; the Council implemented it by adopting joint actions and common positions7.
This CFSP instrument was especially relevant for Europe’s Eastern neighbours; Russia

6 These PCAs were agreements between the European Union and the Newly Independent States, resorting
under Community matters (1st pillar). The Partnership and Cooperation Agreements should not be confused
with the Association Agreements which were concluded with prospective member states and originally
resorted under the DG External Trade.

and Ukraine were the first two countries to which the European Union addressed a
Common Strategy.

The most recent policy initiative launched by the EU towards the countries under study
here is the Wider Europe – New Neighbourhood Policy; a European Neighbourhood Policy
Strategy Paper was issued in the framework of the EU enlargement in May 2004,
outlining the EU’s position towards the countries along its new Eastern (among which
Russia, Ukraine and Belarus) and Southern borders. A European Neighbourhood
Instrument (ENI) is being developed in order to provide financing to support measures
on both sides of the EU’s external borders, thereby replacing the current cross-border
regional projects8. Like the Common Strategy, the European Neighbourhood Policy was
received with what can be at most called lukewarm enthusiasm. Both initiatives have a
strikingly generalist approach towards the countries under study here and are therefore
overall considered as weak initiatives. Russia went as far to demand a special treatment
from the European Union as it refused to be reduced on the same level of cooperation as
other third countries in the European Neighbourhood framework. The accumulation of
the subsequent policy instruments (PCA, Common Strategy, European Neighbourhood
policy9) as such was not successful in its aim to refine and deepen the EU’s external
policy towards Russia, Ukraine and Belarus; on the contrary, their inherent generality
and superficiality gave the impression of a weak policy towards the EU’s Eastern
neighbours and led countries like Ukraine and Russia to perceive the oldest cooperation
instrument, the PCA, still as the most important institutional basis for cooperation.

The Council of Europe

Yet there was another organisation that turned out to be a crucial actor in the renewal of
the relations with Central and Eastern Europe in the early nineties: the Council of
Europe (CoE). The Council of Europe actually preceded the ECSC as an initiative of
European integration in post-War Europe. The Treaty of London that established the
Council of Europe was signed on 5 May 194910. On 4 November 1950, the Convention for
the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was signed in Rome. It was
the first international legal instrument safeguarding human rights, five years after the
Second World War. A European Court of Human Rights was subsequently established

8 The ENI should start functioning from
2007 onwards.
9 One has to keep in mind here that the relations with Belarus are currently frozen, as a result of the 1996

referendum organised by Lukashenka that was considered illegal by the EU. The PCA was signed in March
1995 but did not enter into force and was therefore not implemented.
10 The signatory countries were Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands,

Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. From its very beginning, the Council of Europe focused on
human rights issues.

in Strasbourg in September 1959, to ensure observance of the obligations undertaken by
contracting states. In October 1961, a ‘European Social Charter’ was signed as the
economic and social counterpart of the European Convention on Human Rights11.

By the late 1980s, the Council of Europe gained even more relevance in the light of the
remarkable events in Central and Eastern Europe. As the perestroika and glasnost
movements spread in the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall started crumbling, the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe introduced in June 1989 a ‘Special
Guest Status’ in order to forge closer links with the parliaments of Central and Eastern
European states that were moving towards democracy. The events in the Soviet bloc
unfolded at such fast pace that the Council of Europe felt the need to re-examine and
redefine its mission and priorities on the European continent. On 8-9 October 1990, a
Summit of Heads of States and Government took place in Vienna, where a declaration
was adopted confirming the Council of Europe’s pan-European vocation and new political
priorities of protecting national minorities and combating all forms of racism, xenophobia
and intolerance. Hereby, the Council of Europe’s original 1949 mission of defending
human rights, parliamentary democracy and rule of law, and promoting awareness of a
European identity based on shared values across different cultures was extended with
some new goals. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Council took upon itself to
act as a ‘political anchor and Human Rights watchdog in Europe’s post-Communist
democracies; to assist the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in carrying out and
consolidating political, legal and constitutional reform in parallel with economic reform;
and to provide know-how in areas such as human rights, local democracy, education,
culture and environment’12. After the Vienna Summit, the Council of Europe perceived
its new role as the guarantor of democratic security, which was deemed an essential
complement to military security and a ‘pre-requisite for the continent’s stability and
peace’13. The Council of Europe’s new priorities were translated into an Action Plan at a
second Summit in Strasbourg in 1997, intended to strengthen the Council of Europe’s
work in four areas: democracy & human rights, social cohesion, security of citizens, and
democratic values & cultural diversity.

Many former communist countries joined the Council of Europe in the early 1990s,
among which Ukraine (November 1995), and Russia (February 1996). Belarus’s
candidature (1993) is still pending given the troublesome relationship between the CoE
and president Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The Council of Europe currently has 46 member
states; 21 of those are countries from the former communist block. It is also interesting to
know that, although the Council of Europe is a separate organisation clearly distinct

13 Ibidem.

from the European Union, not one country has ever joined the European Union without
first being a member of the Council of Europe. That implies that, even though the
organisations are separate entities with distinct goals, certain issues like a common
European identity, concern both the Council of Europe and the European Union, which
unavoidably intertwines some of their actions and institutions.

The institutional structure of the Council of Europe consists first of all of a Committee of
Ministers (composed of 46 ministers of foreign affairs or their Strasbourg – based
deputies) which functions as the CoE’s decision-making body. It functions both as a
governmental body ‘where national problems facing European society can be discussed
on an equal footing’, as well as a collective forum, ‘where Europe-wide responses to
such challenges are formulated’14. The Committee of Ministers is considered the
guardian of the Council of Europe’s fundamental values, which monitors the
compliance of its member states.
Another very important institution is the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly
(PACE), which has 630 members (315 representatives and 315 substitutes) from the 46
national parliaments. The Assembly held its first session on 10 August 1949, and
constitutes together with the Committee of Ministers the statutory organs of the Council
of Europe. It can be considered one of the best tools for promoting European
cooperation and democratic security, and respecting the fundamental criteria of
pluralistic democracy.
Thirdly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities underscores the importance
that the Council of Europe has always attached to promoting democracy at a local and a
regional level. Established in 1994 as a replacement of the former Standing Conference of
Local and Regional Authorities, it consists of a Chamber of Local Authorities and a
Chamber of Regions. The Congress serves as the voice of Europe’s regions and
municipalities in the Council of Europe, provides a forum for local and regional elected
representatives, advises the Committee of Ministers and PACE on local and regional
policy, prepares country reports on the state of local and regional democracy, and helps
new member states with the ‘practical aspects of their progress towards establishing
effective local and regional self-government’15.
The European Court of Human Rights was set up under the European Convention on
Human Rights in 1950. Together with the European Commissioner for Human Rights
and the Committee of Ministers, it constitutes a mechanism for the enforcement of the
obligations entered into by the contracting States under the Convention. Last but not
least, the 1800 people strong Council of Europe Secretariat ensures a smooth functioning
of the Council’s activities.


!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! still add OSCE!! EU refers consistently to the principles of the Helsinki
Final Act and Charter of Paris in talloze docuemtns (PCA Ukr, Russia, etc, Maastricht
Treaty) when it comes to Human Rights and Political Freedoms.
The EU automatically links everything that has to do with peace, international security,
and human rights with the OSCE (hels final act & charter Paris) (and also UN) e.g. PCA
Ukr, e.g. Maastricht Treaty of the European Union Title V on Common Foreign and
Security Policy, Article J.1.2.

b. The Structuration of the Organisational Field (Collective Definition)

The EU and CoE as Complementary Organisations

Notwithstanding the fact that they are separate organisations, the European Union and
the Council of Europe have certain values and interests in common, especially when it
comes to their policy towards the post-Communist states. In the light of the countries
under study (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) and their relations with both organisations, it is
not surprising that I opt to include both the European Union and the Council of Europe
here. Also mentioned earlier, an organisational field is an analytical construct that
consists of organisations that have similar features and objectives (in this case values
and interests). In the context of this study, the European Union and the Council of
Europe construct an organisational field. Their commonality of goals is one reason for
perceiving the EU and CoE as a field. The fact that the EU and the CoE refer to each
other’s reports and documents in their relations with third countries like Russia, Belarus
and Ukraine only adds to the perception of these two organisations constructing an
organisational field16.
A second factor that contributes to the EU and CoE constructing an organisational field
is that they are the two organisations on the European continent which undertook
concrete steps after the implosion of communism, launched countless projects and even
designed specific institutional mechanisms to promote cooperation with the newly
independent states.
A third reason to consider the EU and CoE as an organisational field is their
complementarity. Whereas the European Union started out as an Economic Community
to meet the urgent need for economic recovery and gradually aimed to also develop a
political Union and Common Foreign and Security Policy, the Council of Europe came
into existence after WWII out of the urgent need for peace, with the more specific goals to
safeguard human rights and democratic freedoms on the European continent and later

16For example, the references to resolutions of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in the
European Commission Country Report on Ukraine in the framework of the European Neighbourhood
Policy, 12 May 2004 (COM (2004) 373 final, p.8).

developed the concept of democratic security. Their priorities - idealistic-humanitarian
and economic-political cooperation - are therefore not only convergent but also
complementary. The relations between the centre of the European organisational field
(EU and CoE institutions) and its periphery (institutions of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus)
will therefore be analysed in order to assess the presence of isomorphic tendencies
between centre and periphery. The study of the Council of Europe’s institutional
relations17 however is seen here as secondary to the study of the institutional relations
between the Slavic Core of the CIS and the European Union18. The prime focus on the
European Union will preponderate also in the choice of case studies, which intends to
concentrate on the institutional cooperation mechanisms between the European Union
and Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

Common Interest & Centralisation of Resources

In short, both the European Union and the Council of Europe were founded in the
aftermath of the Second World War for similar yet not identical reasons. Their priorities
and goals varied between economic recovery and peaceful cooperation, and both
organisations developed an elaborate institutional structure over the years. Out of
common interest in economic recovery and streamlining certain economic transactions
within Western Europe, the ECSC was founded in 1951. A further centralisation of
resources followed in 1957 by founding the European Communities. The further
institutionalisation after the Treaty of Rome illustrates the centralisation of resources that
contributed to the structuration of an organisational field very well. The tasks and
priorities of the High Authority, a Council of Ministers, Common Assembly and Court
of Justice described in the Treaty of Paris in 1951 were somewhat altered and specified in
1957; resulting in a Commission that had less power than its predecessor, the High
Authority, a Council of Ministers with more decision-making power, a Parliamentary
Assembly with a primarily advisory and supervisory function, and the Court of Justice.
In 1967, the Merger Treaty compounded the institutions of the three Communities,
which significantly streamlined the institutional structure. A year later, the Council,
Parliament and Commission had an exchange of views and confirmed in November
1968 the need for widening and strengthening the institutions of the EC in order to keep

17Nevertheless, I still opt to include the Council of Europe because of its special importance in relations with
the post-Soviet countries, the many local and regional projects, as well as constant support of
democratisation, civil society and human rights in the NIS.
18 ‘Second, institutional theory pays particular attention to organisations like government agencies and

trade associations that stand outside an industry per se, but within a sector or field, and influence or
constrain the goods- or service-producing organisations within it.’ (DiMaggio 1991: 267).  dit voor Raad
van Europa!!!! Dit is hét argument om de Raad van Europa er ook bij te betrekken.  DOE NOG IETS MET
DEZE VOETNOOT – bvb in contrast met EU die enkel economisch perspectief behandelt, kan ik hier
benadrukken dat de CoE daarbuiten staat en eerder het sociaal-ideologische perspectief benadrukt!!

European integration progressing. A new addition to the European institutions was
created in 1974, when at a summit meeting in Paris, the Heads of State and Government
decided to meet on a more regular basis as ‘The European Council of Heads of State and
The Council of Europe established its institutional structure at an early stage, with the
Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as its
statutory organs and the European Court of Human Rights, the Commissioner for
Human Rights and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities as its main

In the early 1990s, both organisations felt the need to reframe their activities and goals,
which they did at the Maastricht Summit (EU, 1991) and the Vienna Summit (CoE, 1993).
The changes that were introduced after these summits were especially relevant for the
relations between the European organisational field and the Slavic Core of the CIS. On
the EU-level, the introduction of the CFSP third pillar provided concrete institutional
cooperation mechanisms in the form of the PCAs and Common Strategies (introduced
after the Amsterdam summit) and most recently the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The Council of Europe in its turn cited new priorities and a pan-European vocation in
the light of the altered geopolitical situation of the early nineties; the Standing
Conference of Local and Regional Authorities was renamed the Congress of Local and
Regional Authorities and took on some new goals; like promoting effective local and
regional government structures in the new democracies, representing the interests of
local and regional government in the shaping of European policy, encouraging the
setting up of Euroregions, observing local and regional elections.

This whole process of creation, development, restructuring and reform of the EU and
CoE clearly illustrates the structuration of an organisational field. I delineated the field as
consisting of these two organisations that are complementary in their goals, common
interests and values, and organisational structures. Apart from their common interests,
structuration was also characterised by a centralisation of resources. This should not be
understood uniquely in terms of enhanced economic cooperation, but also as increased
institutionalisation of these organisations. Although economy is one of the incentives for
the formation of an organisational field (DiMaggio 1983), other important factors are
centralisation and bureaucratisation on an institutional level that also contribute to
moulding the organisational field.

Bureaucratisation following centralisation

Bureaucratisation is a logical consequence of centralisation of resources, and takes place
synchronously with the structuration of organisational fields, thus rendering it a part of

the process. In the case of the European Union and the Council of Europe, the increased
institutionalisation of these organisations went hand in hand with far-reaching
bureaucratisation and the rise of an elaborate institutional structure. DiMaggio remarks:

‘The parallels between the structuring of organisational fields and bureaucratisation, which, as
Weber noted, was also promoted by the centralisation of resources (1968: part 2 ch11: 956-1005),
are notable: Bureaucratisation led to a formalisation and centralisation of intra-organisational life
as a response, in large part, to pressures from the environment. Currently, we are seeing an
analogous formalisation and centralisation of inter-organisational structures as a consequence of
similar environmental factors. As the bureaucratisation of organisations was stimulated by the
growth of modern economy, so the ‘structuration’ of relations among organisations is promoted
by the expansion of the modern state’ (DiMaggio 1983: 149-150).

DiMaggio’s remark can easily be applied to the European organisational field. The
growth of modern economy first of all triggered organisational cooperation. Yet the
specific post-War situation soon gave inter-state cooperation a wider scope and another
dimension; the common will to join forces in working towards a peaceful and
geopolitically stable continent led to inter-state relations that encompassed more than
economic cooperation; geopolitical, ideological and social issues arose with equal
importance. The European organisational field as perceived in this study was therefore a
consequence of these tendencies inherent to the expansion of the modern state, marked
by not only bureaucratisation but also extensive institutionalisation. Other elements that
illustrate the gradual shift in emphasis over the years are the increased interaction
among the organisations in the field, which naturally led to an institutionalisation of
these relations. The question is whether this structuration process of the organisational
field and the values and interests that come along with it also prevails in the periphery
of the organisational field, in this case the Slavic core of the CIS. This can be determined
by analysing the countries’ institutional definition towards the organisational field.
Before going into the detailed analysis of institutional definition, I will first give an
overview of the institutional developments in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus since 1990,
paying special attention to possible obstacles that hampered the process of post-
communist transition that in a later stage might even prove to turn out stumbling blocks
in the countries’ relations with the European organisational field.

Fig. (….) structuration of the European organisational field


European Union                            Council of Europe

                   common interest:
                  economic progress

                    centralisation of
                    centralisation of
                 resources: cooperation
                 resources: cooperation

          Increased institutionalisation

           European organisational

3. The Commonwealth of Independent States as an Organisational Field

A second institutional area under study here is the Commonwealth of Independent
States. In the last part of chapter 3, I will assess the composition, delineation and
collective definition of this ‘eastern’ organisational field on the European continent,
before going into the institutional definition of the three selected countries in the next

Compared to the recurring tidal waves of literature and discussion on the European
Union and the European organisational field in general, relatively little has been said or
written about the CIS. There is a general tendency to see the Commonwealth as a non-
subject. The importance and success of the CIS is often minimised, and its chance for
survival is generally deemed very low. Nevertheless, there are several reasons why a
minimalist perception of the CIS should/can be considered ‘superficial’19.

A very often-heard remark is that the Commonwealth of Independent States is too loose
an organisation to be taken seriously and that it only exists on paper, which makes its
subsistence rather useless. Yet Artem Malgin puts such criticism on a par with the so-
called ‘uselessness’ of other ‘loose’ organisations like the OSCE or United Nations and
labels such statements a ‘nonprofessional and hence erroneous approach to international
relations’. Indeed, if the CIS is criticised as a ‘too loose organisation’, quite some other
organsations might qualify.

Another recurring criticism is that the CIS is merely a ‘talking shop’ for presidents and
heads of state at the bi-annual summits (CHECK). Yet is this not common to most
summits? Isn’t the bi-annual EU summit also a meeting place for the EU countries’
leaders? And aren’t high-level meetings between political leaders one the most efficient
forms of diplomacy? Naturally, EU summits are supported by a far more elaborate
institutional structure than the CIS summits. Yet this does not reduce the value of the
CIS to being a mere talking shop, since the summits can just as well be interpreted as a
forum for high-level diplomacy.

Other critics label the CIS as a ‘copycat’-organisation that attempts to transplant the EU
institutional structures to the post-Soviet area. It is true that attempts of institutional
mirroring have been made in the 15-year existence of the Commonwealth of
Independent States. However these attempts should be placed into context. The
mirroring of institutions should not pre se be seen as copycat behaviour, but can just as
well be interpreted as the continuation of a long tradition that already persisted in the

 Refer to Artem Malgin’s ‘superficial’- reproach Malgin A. (2002) SNG: Itogi Desyatiletiya. In: Svobodnaya

Mysl 22 (1), pp. 62-71.

times of the Russian Empire. As K. Malfliet pointedly remarks, ‘ … one of the specific
features of Russian history is that to Russia, catching up with modernity always meant:
following the example of Europe, but doing this in its own, distorted, way. Is this story
repeating itself in the development of the CIS, so contradictory in its subsequent steps
but clearly along modern European lines and definitely guided by Russia? Russian
politicians and officials are the first to admit that they mirrored themselves in the
successful integration concept of the EU, when building the CIS’ (Malfliet 1998: 91-92).
The perception of quasi ‘path dependent copying’ is crucial in the framework of this
research and will be looked at more in detail further on in the final chapters.

We can conclude from these recurring arguments on the one hand and refutations/
rebuttals on the other that the importance of the CIS as a regional organisation really
depends a lot on the way you look at it/ of viewing things. Staunch critics will certainly
find a lot of reasons why the CIS should not be taken seriously as a regional
organisation, whereas tenacious defenders of the CIS will continue to counter this
criticism by arguing in favour of the Commonwealth.

It is indeed true that some of the minimalist’s arguments are superficial, as Malgin
claims. This whole pro/contra discussion takes place on a two-dimensional level and
consequently, the whole discourse meets its limits relatively quickly. I therefore think it
is better to look profoundly into the process of structuration and institutionalisation of
the CIS in order to thoroughly establish whether it qualifies as an organisational field
and to uncover the flaws in this institutional area – that are undoubtedly present – in an
analytical manner. Rather than to get stuck in a shallow yes or no - discussion, the many
dimensions will surface through an analytical approach of the process of structuration
and increasing institutionalisation – by applying the same criteria as I did for the
European organisational field.

a. Delineating the Organisational Field

The CIS and Subregional Organisations: Subversiveness or Complementarity?

Amid all the disintegration, declarations of sovereignty and independence and coups
that were taking place in the years 1990-1991, one integration effort emerged at the end
of 1991. On 8 December 1991, Boris Yeltsin of Russia, Stanislau Shushkevich of Belarus,
and Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine met in a government villa in Viskuli in the
Belavezhskaya Pushcha, a woodland reserve in the northwest of Belarus, and signed the
Agreement establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States (Soglashenie o Sozdanii

Sodruzhestva Nezavisimykh Gosudarstv), in which it noted in the preamble that the USSR
ceased to exist as a geopolitical reality and subject of international law and that they
founded the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (art.1). The fact that the
original signatories were the leaders of the three Slavic states of the former Soviet Union
gave the newly founded CIS a distinct Slavic vibe: ‘they declared that they considered
the Soviet Federation to be dissolved and formed a new Slavic nucleus’ (Malfliet 1998:
92). Moreover, one of the reasons mentioned in the preamble was the historical
commonality ( istorichesk… obshchnost) of the peoples and the links between them.
Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were however not too over-credited in being the ‘founding
fathers of the CIS’ and this did not give them specific privileges at the start of this joint
venture, especially because other states soon joined the CIS as well (cfr. infra). Yet the
fact that these three Slavic states gave the impetus for a new integration effort in the
post-Soviet space gave proponents of a Slavic Union and Panslavist groupings in these
countries in general the chance to profess their ideas with renewed zeal.

The original Belavezha Treaty (as this agreement became known) enumerated the initial
goals of the newborn CIS as the following (art. 7)20:

     -   the coordination of foreign policy activities;
     -   cooperation in the formation and development of a common economic space, a
         common European and Eurasian Markets, in the sphere of customs policy;
     -   cooperation in developing communication and transport systems;
     -   cooperation in the sphere of protecting the environment, participation in creating
         an all-encompassing international system for environmental protection;
     -   migration policy issues;
     -   combating of organized crime

Apart from its goals, to other aspects of this treaty are noteworthy; one fait divers, being
the fact that the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian states paid special attention to the
Chernobyl disaster, and one last but important remark; that the CIS is open for all other
states of the former Soviet Union, as well as other to other states who share the goals
and principles of the Agreement (art. 13).

These other states joined barely three weeks later on December 21st. The Alma-Ata
Declaration was signed by the founding members and new members Azerbaijan,
Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Georgia joined two years later in December 1993. This effected a new organization on
the post-Soviet territory with all former USSR member states minus the Baltic States. The

20The main CIS Treaties and agreements can be found on

Alma-Ata Declaration was considered a ’sostavnaya chast’ (integral part)21 of the 8
December Belavezha agreement protocol (Malfliet 1998: 92); the entry of the new
members was thus incorporated in the Belavezhe protocol that founded the CIS.

Not only did the Alma Ata Declaration admit new members to the CIS, it also procured
two other important issues. First of all, it ‘smoothed out the legal awkwardness of the
Belavezha agreement’; by declaring the end of the USSR as a geopolitical reality and
subject of international law without consulting the other USSR republics and asked their
formal consent, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus ‘exceeded their power, and this could have
been legally challenged’ (Voitovich 1993: 404), had they not had the opportunity to
rectify this legal stumble in the Alma Ata Declaration and simultaneously to ‘discharge,
in accordance with their constitutional producers, the international obligations deriving
from treaties and agreements concluded by the former USSR’22. Secondly, the Alma Ata
Declaration also contributed to the legal contours of the CIS, which nevertheless still
remained rather vague, by introducing a hint of an institutional framework: the
signatories agreed to establish coordinating institutions (koordiniruyushchie instituty)23,
repeated their intention to work towards the formation and development of a common
economic space and also agreed on joint measures and obligations on non-proliferation
of nuclear weapons.

Yet from the very start, there was little clarity about the actual status of the CIS. The
Belavezha Agreement was vague, and the Alma-Ata Declaration added little clarity to
the issue by stating that the Commonwealth of Independent States is ‘neither a state nor
a supranational entity’ (… ne yavlyaetsya ni gusudarstvom, ni nadgosudarstvennym
obrzaovaniem). Article 1 of the CIS Charter (Ustav), adopted on 22 January 1993 at a
session of the Council of the Heads of States confirmed this: ‘the Commonwealth is not a
state and does not hold supranational powers’. It is clear that the Newly Independent
States were more anxious to declare what the CIS was definitely not than to actively
define the status of the new organization. One of the reasons for this could be the fact
that ‘the CIS States had too much experience of excessive ‘supranationalism’ within the
former Soviet Union to be willing to reanimate it’ (Voitovich 1993: 407).

It seems like the CIS member states initially perceived the CIS as an international union
of individual states, that mainly ‘[kept] the post-Soviet space (…) together, be it in a

21 See ‘Alma-Atinskaya Deklaratsiya’, For an
unofficial English translation, see
22 For the English Translation of the Alma from Alma-Ata Declaration, I opted for Voitovich’s translations

23 ‘Cooperation between the parties in the Commonwealth shall be conducted in accordance with the principle of

equality through coordinating bodies constituted on a basis of parity and operating under a procedure to be determined
by agreements between the parties in the Commonwealth’, quoted from the Alma-Ata Declaration, 21 December

loose way, during the transitional period in which the former Union republics were
establishing their own state systems and were gradually becoming aware of their own
interests related to their status as New Independent States’ (Malfliet 1998: 92). At that
moment, the CIS was most certainly not considered to be (nor intended to be) a separate
legal entity. Although the CIS Ustav is considered one of the CIS’s constituent
instruments and brought institutional clarity, it lacked ‘explicit provisions on the Treaty-
making competence of the Commonwealth, on its privileges and immunities, which
might have been considered direct indicators of an international legal personality’.
Moreover, examples of independent international legal actions have been scarce
(Voitovich 1993: 407), and the 1993 Ustav is purposefully vague in mentioning that the
‘principal legal basis for interstate relations under the framework of the Commonwealth
shall be multilateral and bilateral in various spheres of relations of the member states’
(art.5). Therefore, even in the post-Charter stage of the CIS, most observers prefer to call
the organization a loose inter-state formation or international organization instead of an
integrative union (which would presume the delegation of sovereignty, even on a
minimum level, Malgin 2002). This perception and the –maybe purposeful- legal
amorphy (Malfliet 2002: 107) is most in line with the CIS actions that have over the years
not particularly stood out because of its integrative efforts.

More relevant in the context of this study however is that the CIS Charter delineated the
institutional structure of the Commonwealth of Independent States. If one wouldn’t
know better, you could think that the institutional mechanisms were designed by the
‘minimalist’ critics of the CIS themselves. However, considering the initial perception of
the CIS, the institutional structure of the organization was actually developed

Section VI of the CIS Charter specifies the institutional setup of the organization. The
Supreme Body of the CIS is the Council of the Heads of States (Sovet Glav Gosudarstv), in
which all members states are represented at the highest levels. The Council would
discusses and decides fundamental questions ‘connected with the activity of member
states in the sphere of their common interests’, and is supposed to convene in sessions
twice a year (art. 21).
The Council of the Heads of Governments (Sovet Glav Pravitelstv) coordinates the
cooperation of bodies of executive power of the member states in economic, social and
other spheres of common interests. This Council meets in session four times per year
(art. 22). Decisions of both Council are to be adopted with general agreement –
consensus. Any given member state may declare not to be interested in a certain issue,
and this should not be considered an obstacle for the adoption of a decision. The
Councils could also conduct joint sessions (art. 23). All sessions take place in Minsk (art.
24). Working and auxiliary bodies both on a temporary and permanent basis can be

created, as well as conferences for the decision of questions concerning cooperation in
specific spheres or for development or recommendations for the Councils can be
convened (art. 25-26).
The intention of coordinating foreign policy (as mentioned in the Belavezha Treaty) is
repeated in the Charter (art. 4). The coordination of foreign policy, as well as the
member states’ activity in international organizations, would be supervised by the
Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Sovet Ministrov Inostrannykh Del).
The Coordinating-Consultative Committee (Koordinatsionno-Konsultativnyi Komitet) is the
permanently functioning executive and coordinating body of the CIS that executes the
decisions of the Council of Heads of States and Council of Heads of Governments. This
Committee consists of 2 permanent representatives from each CIS state and the
coordinator of the Committee, appointed by the Council of the Head sof States. A
Secretariat was also established in Minsk for the organizational and technical support of
the work of the Councils and other bodies of the CIS (art.28-29).
The CIS Charter also foresaw an Interparliamentary Assembly (Mezhparlamentskaya
Assambleya) which would conduct interparliamentary consultations, discuss questions
concerning cooperation under the Commonwealth, and develop joint proposals in the
sphere of activity of national parliaments. The Assembly would consist of parliamentary
delegations and its organization would be carried out by the Council of the Assembly,
consisting of the leaders of the delegations. The Assembly would be located in Saint
Petersburg (art. 37).
Other organs that were established by the CIS Ustav include the Council of Ministers of
Defense, the Chief Command of United Armed Forces, the Council of Commanding
Border Troops, the Economic Court, the Commission for Human Rights, and Bodies of
Sectoral Cooperation (art. 30-34).

Despite the institutional underpinnings that were presented in the Charter, the CIS still
gave an impression of ‘institutional incompleteness’. In 1993, the CIS could therefore
from an institutional viewpoint be considered an ‘intergovernmental organisation which
may act as an international legal person in the field of its competence on the basis of
appropriate decisions of the supreme organ’. Moreover, ‘the past experience of
intergovernmental organizations provides every reason to suggest that at least certain
attributes of international legal personality will be indispensable for the CIS if it is to
properly discharge its basic functions (Voitovich 1993: 408).

Perhaps it is normal that at this stage, the CIS was purposefully defined as a non-
supranational, intergovernmental organization; in 1993, most member states were in full
transition and on the brink of deep economic crisis. Moreover, most states first had to
deal with the institutional transformation in their newly independent country, and
logically dealt with this outside the CIS framework. In view of all this crisis

management, it makes perfect sense that the CIS member states did not from the very
start embark on the road to integration. What is more exceptional however is that they
left this integrational option open and did not immediately discard possible later
enhanced cooperation or deeper integration initiatives, which would turn out to be an
important sign for the future of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Moreover, although the institutional structures of the CIS organization were
intentionally loose, the 1992 Tashkent Treaty and 1992 Economic Union signaled the
need – in times of disintegration - for cooperation structures in the economic and
military field.

After these initial treaties and general documents that laid the institutional basis
(osnovopologayushchie dokumenty) for the Commonwealth of Independent States, a wave
of subregional treaties and agreements followed however. These diverse initiatives
scattered the integration efforts all over the CIS territory. The main focus of this study
does not permit me to elaborate in detail on all these subregional structures. They will
nevertheless be briefly mentioned here since they also form an integral part of the CIS-
construction. One of the most far going sub-integration initiatives is the Union State
(Soyuznoe Gosudarstvo) between Russia and Belarus, on which a final agreement was
signed in December 199924. The Russia-Belarus Union state can be considered the
pinnacle of post-Soviet integration, or in other words, how CIS-integration should
eventually evolve. The GUUAM organization however represents the opposite end of the
specter. Founded originally in 1996 by Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova as a
political, economic, and strategic alliance designed to strengthen the independence and
sovereignty of these former Soviet republics, it was later joined by Uzbekistan in 1999.
The GUUAM profiled itself as a loose organization which unofficial main aim is to form
a counterbalance against Russia’s hegemony in the post-Soviet region. This initiative
never completely took off however.
Another subregional initiative that developed in the second half of the nineties in the
Eurasian Economic Community (Evrazicheskoe Ekonomicheskoe Soobshchestvo; EvrAzES).
Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan initially formed a customs union in 1995. In
1996, they signed a treaty signaling deeper integration in different spheres, ranging from
culture, education, and economics to coordination of foreign policy. A new treaty was
signed in 1999 that renewed the countries’ striving to form a Customs Union and a
Common Economic Space. A year later, in October 2000, the same countries signed a
treaty forming the Eurasian Economic Community. They all ratified the treaty 2001.

24The previous steps and agreements between Russia took place in 1995, when a Friendshand cooperation
was signed; in April 1996, when an agreement on the formation of a Community (Soobshchestvo) was
signed, and in April 1997, when an agreement on the formation of a Union (Soyuz) was signed by Yeltsin
and Lukashenka.

Since the formation of the EvrAzES in 2000, Tadjikistan has joined the community and
Ukraine, Armenia and Moldova have procured observer status.
The Single Economic Space (Edinoe Ekonomicheskoe Prostranstvo, EEP) in its turn was
formed in September 2003 by Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan25 at a CIS
summit in Yalta. The Single Economic Space was supposed to develop along three
stages: first, the creation of a free trade regime among the four states; in a second stage,
the creation of a customs union with single tariffs, and in a third and final stage, the
abolition of customs control and a total freedom of movement for services, capital and
workforce in the third stage. The EEP initiative was not that well received even among
the signatory countries. Especially in Ukraine, this initiative has encountered a lot of
opposition in parliament and among the wider public. Especially after the Orange
Revolution in Ukraine in the autumn of 2004, the position of the new Ukrainian
government has become ambiguous and hesitant, and most importantly depending on
which side was addressed: the EU or the CIS/ Russia.
A last subregional integration effort worth mentioning is the Central Asian Cooperation
(Tsentralno Aziaticheskoe Sotrudnichestvo, TsAS)26. This organization was originally
founded as the Central Asian Economic Community (Tsentralno Aziaticheskoe
Ekonomicheskoe Soobshchestvo, TsAES) by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyszstan and Uzbekistan in
199427: Tajikistan joined in 1998; Russia obtained observer status in 1996, Ukraine,
Georgia and Turkey followed in 1999. Since this Community mainly existed on paper, a
new integration effort was needed to bring to back to life. The TsAES was reformed to
the ‘more universal’28 Organisation of Central Asian Cooperation (TsAS) in 2002, when
agreement was signed in February by the presidents of the four countries in Alma-Ata.
The new organization is claimed to have a more extensive/wider range and broader
goals, and is cited to be in line with the general aims of the CIS29, thereby being a real,
non-oppositional subregional initiative in the framework of the Commonwealth of
Independent States (unlike e.g. the GUUAM).

b. The Structuration of the Organisational Field (Collective Definition)

25 Soglashenie o Formirovanii Edinogo Ekonomicheskogo Prostranstva, 19 September 2003,
26 This initiative is widely known as the Central Asian Cooperation (Tsentralno-Aziaticheskoe Sotrudnichestvo),

yet the Russia MFA (MID) refers to it as the Central Asian Community (Tsentralno-Aziaticheskoe
Soobshchestvo). See
27 To be more precise, an ‘economic union’ (ekonomicheskii soyuz) was founded in 1993 by the three countries,

followed by a ‘Single Economic Space’ (edinoe ekonomicheskoe prostranstvo) in 1994. See Spravochnaya
Informatsiya MID-a, Departament Informatsii i Pechati, 17 Apr. 2001,
28 Spravochnaya Informatsiya MID-a, Departament Infomatsii i Pechati, 6 Oct. 2003,

Common Values & Interests

As mentioned in my analysis of the structuration of the European organisational field,
the collective definition of different components of the organization field is what
‘structurates’ the field. Two important aspects of this collective definition are common
values and interests and the centralization of resources. Can these tendencies be
detected in the post-Soviet territory, and more specifically, in the framework of the CIS?

Common Interest

The previous section illustrated the initial institutionalization of the CIS in 1991-1993, as
well as several initiatives of subregional integration in the late nineties. USSR
disintegration was instantly followed by CIS integration. Most critical observers
maintain that CIS integration mainly exists on paper, and that real integration is limited.
Yet integration is undeniably taking place and the interpretations of the CIS and its
subregional initiatives depend once again on a minimalist or maximalist approach, as
well on the expectations one holds concerning the speed and level of CIS integration.

A pessimistic minimalist approach would eagerly support the idea of the CIS as a
‘civilized divorce’, a loose structure that keeps integration at a minimum and makes it
easier for all parties involved to eventually part ways. In their view, the subregional
organizations are indicatory of the eventual disintegration of the CIS. They see the
geopolitical future of the post-Soviet territory as scattered among different vectors; the
political vector that might lead different countries seeking rapprochement with the
West, especially after the Rose Revolution and the Orange Revolution (the Baltics are
already part of the EU, Ukraine seeks membership, Georgia’s Saakashvili is a
westerniser as well, …). Another important feature is the economic - and more
specifically energy – vector; especially in Central Asia. Russia has major stakes here as
well and will try to retain its control over the pipelines – although many signs and deals
illustrate that this might not last forever. Even so, there is also the historical (‘path
dependent’) vector which remains important as well; from the cultural – historical
perspective, some countries (Belarus, Kazakhstan, …) continue to focus on Russia, the
former Empire that so long controlled their lands and not only colonized them, but also
brought them civilization and education (as well as it drained many a country’s
resources, but on the people’s as on the material level). Minimalists gladly use the ‘paper
organisation’ argument to illustrate that the CIS is a hollow concept. Add to this what
they think is an increasing fragmentation of geopolitical interests, and the CIS as an
intergovernmental organization has no future whatsoever.

Optimistic maximalists however do not share the fatalism of the minimalists. Although
they have the realism not to perceive the CIS as thé ultimate instrument for successful
and swift integration that would benefit all parties involved, they do see more to it than
a hollow concept. True, compared to the European Union, the CIS is nowhere near its
level of integration. But maximalists reckon that the CIS have no reason to be at the level
of EU integration, given the fact that the Commonwealth has existed for barely 15 years,
whereas the current EU has been developing since after the Second World War. What is
more; according to maximalists, the level of integration and of institutionalization is
actually rather high, or at least as high as it can be for such a ‘young’ organization.

Compared to the CIS, both the EU and the Council of Europe were definitely not more
‘evolved’ at such an initial stage of their development. Reason enough for the optimistic
observers of the CIS not to worry about the future of the CIS, but instead to stress the
increasing institutionalization of integration of the Commonwealth of Independent
States. Even the subregional initiatives within the CIS territory are viewed in a positive
light. Rather than ‘undermining’ the CIS structures, they are perceived as a whole range
of initiatives that represent ‘enhanced cooperation’ on several aspects of integration,
thereby fortifying the CIS enterprise on the economic, political and cultural level.

As we can see, optimistic maximalists use the comparison with the EU in a different
manner. First of all, they downplay the importance of comparing the CIS to the
standards of EU integration. Secondly, when comparisons are nevertheless made, they
put the all-or-nothing approach in which the CIS does not measure up to the EU into
perspective and focus on the relativity of EU integration. The political aspects of
integration however, which are most important in the framework of this study, have not
reached a very high level in both the European organizational field and the CIS.
Whereas political integration in the CIS has been mostly bilateral (Malfliet 2002: 119), the
political integration in the EU has been at a very different speed than the economic
integration. The recent commotion about the European Constitution shows that political
integration is in crisis. So both the EU and the CIS member have not gotten quite far in
the sphere of political integration; both their member states still cautiously cling to their
own state sovereignty. Therefore, the EU and the CIS do not differ that much in their
level of success of political integration, and certainly do make a case for comparison in
this sense.

Common Values

The presence of common values and shared interests is one of the most important
factors contributing to the structuration of an organizational field. Were common values
and interests also one of the main reasons for founding the Commonwealth of

Independent States? The CIS ‘founding fathers’ definitely had common interests in mind
when signing the Belavezha Treaty. Yet these interests might have initially been more of
a military-economic nature. The main motives for founding the CIS were surely not as
idealistic as the European post-war atmosphere that led to the birth of the ECSC and the
Council of Europe.
In the face of the implosion of the USSR and subsequent deep economic (and in some
countries, political) crisis, the post-Soviet countries’ motivation for CIS integration can
be better labeled as damage control. The military, economic and institutional structures of
the former Soviet states were moreover so intertwined that an abrupt ending after the
downfall of the Soviet Union would only complicate matters further. Common interests
were therefore to be interpreted not only as idealistic (the Belavezha Treaty is idealistic
in its wordings) but simply a matter of survival in the face of possible severe crisis.

The presence of common values that contributes to CIS integration should also not be
interpreted as being primarily idealistic. The CIS integration was more of a pragmatic
solution than a mere meeting of minds on the Eurasian continent. If one contrasts the
motives for CIS integration with the motives of the structuration of the European
organizational field, one can say that CIS integration was a ‘negative’ choice prompted
by damage control. This pragmatism however - that is frequently labeled typical for the
region and because of which the CIS is more often than not commented on in a
derogatory manner - does not imply a complete absence of common values.

The CIS members share common values that stem from hundreds of years of common
history – albeit not always voluntary. Most CIS member states (and the Baltics) share a
history that goes back to the late 17th Century when the Russians branched out to
colonize the more remote outskirts of their Empire. Although the Southern Republics
(what is now Central Asia) have always put up a bloody fight, some levels of their
society were influenced by the Russians, which created common ground that actually
facilitates relations and cooperation now. Other countries are credited for being the
origins of the Russian Empire (Kiev Rus’) or being part of the Slavic brotherhood
(Belarus (White Russians), and Ukraine (the Little Russians – Malorossye)). The 19th
century brought protests and even nationalist uprisings, but the Russian Empire
remained strong and imposing. After the collapse of the Russia Empire, the Soviet
Union emerged in the 20th Century as a new empire-structure that kept these countries
together - and was again dominated by the Russians. It would be unfair to label the CIS
purely a successor of the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union, but the fact that these
previous state constellations existed adds greatly to the common history, culture and
interests that binds the CIS member states today. Moreover, the CIS states have more
common history than the EU organizational field as an analytical construct ever had.

Centralisation of Resources

The other important factor that leads to increased institutionalization of the
organizational field is centralization of resources. In the context of the CIS, the issue of
centralization of resources can be linked with the issue of supranationalism. As
mentioned before, the CIS was purposefully perceived as an intergovernmental
organization. All the cooperation mechanisms that were enumerated in the 1991
Belavezha Treaty and the 1993 CIS Charter were not given any supranational authority.
The intergovernmental cooperation mechanisms that were established by these treaties
nevertheless led to a centralization of resources. The bi-annual meetings of the Council
of the Heads of State, and the trimesterial/ quarterly meetings of Council of the Heads
of Government, as well as the activities of the Coordinating-Consultative Body, and the
Interparliamentary Assembly are all part of the centralized CIS institutional structure.

The CIS however finds itself in a continuous process of institutional reorganisation. The
original treaties were amended on several occasions and the original institutions
reformed. Although this resulted in little institutional transparency, it could also imply a
gradual shift towards supranationality (Malfliet 2002). Katlijn Malfliet wrote an
interesting essay about this, in which she draws parallels with the EU. Although the
above-mentioned CIS institutional structures were all clearly intergovernmental, ‘their
powers were continuously elaborated and increased through additional regulations’.
The Interstate Economic Committee (Mezhgosudarstvennyi Ekonomicheskii Komitet, MEK)
for example, that was created as permanent executive organ of the Interstate Economic
Union on 21 October 1994 was the first supranational organ of the CIS (Malfliet 2002:
129). This institution did not last long however. In 1999, an Executive Committee
(Ispolnitelnyi Komitet, Ispolkom) of the CIS was created at the Council of Heads of
Governments meeting. The Executive Committee replaced both the CIS Executive
Secretariat and the Interstate Economic Committee. The Ispolkom is perceived as the one
and only executive, administrative and coordinating organ of the CIS, as stipulated by
the Council of Heads of States in their Polozhenie of 21 June 200030. The Ispolkom is
responsible for the organization of the meetings of the Council of Heads of States,
Council of Heads of Government, Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and other CIS
institutions, as well as the issuing of the basic documents and treaties that are concluded
between the member states on the different levels (Heads of States, MFAs, …). The
current chairman of the Ispolkom is Vladimir B. Rushailo.
Apart from these major institutional reforms, other smaller institutions and initiatives
were added on to the CIS structures over the years: ‘a group of semi-independent


associations and institutions emerged on a case-by-case basis under the umbrella of the
basic CIS institutions: the Inter-State Aviation Committee, the Eurasian Patent
Organisation based on the Eurasian Patent Convention, the Inter-State Eurasian
Community of Coal and Metal, and many other CIS based organizations. Many of them
in their composition, status and decision-making procedures have more similarities with
the supra-national bodies of the EU that statutory institutions of the CIS. But at the same
time, some of them remain to a large extent still-born associations’ (Malfliet 2002: 140).

This chapter may not include the analysis of all institutional mechanisms present in the
CIS, but the focus lies not on institutions that deal with economic, legal or military
issues, but on the main institutions that deal with political issues as well as
organizational integration of the CIS. These institutional mechanisms have procured
some level of integration, which enables us to perceive the Commonwealth of
Independent States as an organizational field. VOEG hier nog de voorwaarden van
structuration and collective definition en zo aan toe RECAP!! Eerst heel hoofstuk

The subregional initiatives in the CIS region are also part of the organizational field,
since most of these initiatives represent a certain form of integration that involves CIS
member states. They should therefore be considered a part of CIS integration ‘at
different speeds’. Subregional initiatives can moreover be compared to subregional
initiatives in the European organizational field like the EU’s Northern Dimension
Initiative, or cross-border inter-regional programmes (Interreg)(hm, not entirely so).

Fig … Structuration of the CIS Organisational Field


    Commonwealth of
    Independent States

     common interest:
     economic survival

      centralisation of
   resources: cooperation
      centralisation of
   resources: cooperation

Increased institutionalisation


  CIS organisational field

4. Conclusion

Do not forget!!!!!!!! One very important argument and difference with the European
organizational field: the role of Russia; the fact that one country can play such a big role
in a region - completely differs from Western Europe. (but, two field are not to be
compared; it’s the country’s houding tav the two fields that is to be compared)

Noem argumenten contra op en weerleg ze
  - Een tegenargument dat uit het vorige volgt: CIS and EU are uncomparable  not
     true, only in a different stage of development. by the way, this study is a
     comparison of three states and their policy towards EU/CIS


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