Ein gläserner Globus auf einem Schachbrett mit Schachfiguren.

The "Neighbours of the Neighbours"

The (power) interests of the governments of Russia, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia are increasingly contradicting the EU’s transformation agenda and are partly aimed at destabilizing neighbouring countries as well as the EU itself. Fresh ideas are needed for how to deal with Moscow, Ankara, Tehran and Riyadh.

Contact Persons

Foto Christian Hanelt
Christian Hanelt
Senior Expert Europe, Neighbourhood and the Middle East
Foto Miriam Kosmehl
Miriam Kosmehl
Senior Expert Eastern Europe and EU Neighbourhood

The main issue under scrutiny is how the stabilization of transformations in the neighbourhood can be achieved without compromising the reform agenda for democracy and a market economy. Supporting authoritarian regimes for the sake of stability has frequently proved to be a boomerang. Stagnation has been confused with (purported) stability.

Identify values and interests, and strategically align interdependencies

The governments of the “neighbours of the neighbours” are increasingly pursuing strategic interests that contradict those of the EU. They act as “troublemakers” in order to undermine their neighbours’ transformation efforts and to hinder the EU’s efforts to create a ring of friendly and stable states. In order to achieve at least a policy of damage limitation, conflicts of interest must be identified and contained.

If the EU wants to succeed with its value-based foreign policy in the medium and long term, it must understand the regional hegemonic states in their complex bilateral and regional context. The prerequisites for this are a sober analysis of the respective interests and values of these “neighbours of the neighbours” and their place in the overall global picture.

In addition, the EU must safeguard its own values and interests. The often-mentioned contradiction of values and interests is false. The EU can only be a power in its own right if it clearly formulates its values and interests and acts accordingly.

Formative power for Europe vis-à-vis Moscow, Ankara, Tehran and Riyadh

Especially given the background of an increasingly unstable international system, it is in Europe’s interest to strategically align its foreign, security and defense policies vis-à-visthe above-mentioned regional hegemonic states and to help shape international developments in keeping with its own values.

Strategy group develops new ideas

Which strategic goals are the “neighbours of the neighbours” pursuing, and on the basis of which interests and values? How are they acting in the common neighbourhood, toward the EU and among themselves? What is “stability” from their perspective, and what is it from the EU’s perspective? What are their timelines, and what are those of the EU? What does the EU need in order to find ways leading out of crises that these hegemonic states are provoking? How is EU foreign policy developing in relation to the interests of its Member States?

A strategy group of independent experts with a wide range of country expertise will work together with decision-makers, multipliers and representatives from civil society and business to explore new approaches and to develop new ideas given the contradictory tenets of “realpolitik” and “value-based foreign policy.”

Geographic depiction of the influence of Russia, Saudi-Arabia, Turkey and Iran in the EU's neighbourhood.