This talk will discuss the modern application of neutrality policies in Europe, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia after 1991. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the wars in Yugoslavia radically changed the security environment on the Eurasian continent, leading to policy shifts and questions about identity in both the East and the West.
While some policy observers predicted that the “victory” of the West would make neutrality policies a thing of the past, the last thirty years have shown that not all states in Europe and the Asian parts of the former Soviet orbit are willing to integrate neatly into the new security environments that the EU, NATO, and Russia have been building.
While some traditional Cold War neutrals like Finland or Sweden have adapted their foreign policies toward a more NATO-leaning stance, others like Austria, Ireland, Switzerland, and Malta have not followed the same trajectory. The events after 1991 have led to the surprising emergence of a new neutralism among some of the post-communist states (Serbia, Belarus, Moldova, Turkmenistan, and Mongolia) and left open neutral options for others like Ukraine, Georgia, and even Afghanistan. Although the latter have been playing with neutralism only on the margins of their political discourse, there are still valid reasons to contemplate a neutral future for these “in-between” states.
Even in the Pacific region renewed tendencies towards neutralist foreign policies are building up, among them are Sri Lanka, the ASEAN nations, and even Taiwan has a small but vocal neutrality movement that reimagines what a sovereign foreign policy of the island could look like in the near future.
Dr Pascal Lottaz (Assistant Professor for Neutrality Studies at the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study, Waseda University,Tokyo). Lottaz leads the research network “Neutrality Studies” (neutralitystudies.com).
Dr Marianna Charountaki (University of Lincoln)