Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

“Zeitenwende”: Sudden Change or Tipping Point of a Long-term Trend of Changing Perceptions?

Fri31  Mar12:30pm(15 mins)
James Watt South Room 355


Florence Ertel1; Julian Plottka1
1 University of Passau, Germany


The Russian war on Ukraine and its consequences for foreign policy are associated with the term “Zeitenwende”. It describes European actors’ changing perception of Russia. More precisely, a rejection of the concept of cooperation and a shift towards considering Russia a competitor or antagonist.

The paper examines whether this change began with the Russian attack against Ukraine in February 2022 or whether it can be considered a long-term development. As the Russian aggression is also affecting the EU’s relations with most states in the post-Soviet region, the paper does not exclusively focus on EU-Russia relations, but includes an analysis of the EU’s relations with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and its member states. 

The conceptual framework of the analysis is the “role theory” approach (Kirste/Maull), especially the conceptual division of “alter part” and “ego part” for the constitution of role understandings of foreign policy actors. Therefore, the paper will apply blended reading by combining distant reading (quantitative algorithm-based analysis) with close reading ( qualitative content analysis) to examine to what degree the EU’s self-perception in its relations with the EEU has changed during the decade before 2/24 and to what extend the perception of the EEU and its member states has changed during the same period. The corpus of documents includes all official EU documents containing the term “Eurasian” between 2011 and 2021.