The report was prepared by StrategEast in collaboration with the experts of New Europe Center
The StrategEast Westernization Index 2018, by focusing on all post-Soviet countries except Russia, is intended to help generate a more balanced and multi-faceted attention to the region. By excluding Russia, we do not assume that Russia is more or less Westernized than other post-Soviet states and societies. Rather, the objective is to draw attention to all other former Soviet countries and to the development they have undergone since the collapse of the USSR.
The Index is based on a series of elements and benchmarks that helped us to assess the adoption and implementation of the Western model by looking at five key areas:
- Political Westernization.
- Economic Westernization,
- Legal Westernization.
- Language and cultural Westernization.
- Westernization of lifestyle.
Anatoly Motkin, founder and president of the StrategEast, explains the goal of this research product: “We seek to help the nations of the PSNR better address the shared challenges they face in the process of re-building their states and institutions since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Second, we seek to draw attention to an important but geopolitically fragile region in a way that helps the international community better support its development”
Ukraine is on the 6th place among 14 former Soviet republics by its level of integration into the western political, economic and cultural space. Ukraine lags behind the Baltic States (Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia), Georgia and Moldova. Armenia is on the 7th place, Kazakhstan – on 8th, Azerbaijan – on 9th, Kyrgyzstan – on 10th, Belarus – on 11th, Uzbekistan – on 12th, Tajikistan – on 13th and the most closed country in the region, Turkmenistan is on the 14th place.
“The index groups countries into four categories based on their scores: Genuine Pro-Westerners, Pro-Western Facades, Balancing Pragmatists, and “Fortress” States. The scores show that the countries are very different in their ambition to adopt western elements of governance in the researched areas. Some countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been consistent with their pro-Western policy and implemented reforms which allowed them to be considered westernized. Others, like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have been very vocal on their westernization path; however, their progress is still insufficient and unsystematic. The rest of the countries prefer to balance their policy or to distance themselves for either policy”, – Leonid Litra, senior research fellow at the New Europe Center, one of the authors of the report.
Ukraine got the highest scores for political and economic westernization – respectively 16 and 14 points out of 25 possible. Ukraine’s lowest scores for legal westernization (independence of the courts, human rights protection, compliance with the Venice Commission, the number of acquittals) – 11 points out of 25 possible and for lifestyle (share of the population who travelled to the West, presence of Western fast–food chains, brands, and supermarket chains, mobile internet coverage, smartphones) – 5 points out of 10 possible.
“Most countries have ratified major international conventions and have passed laws protecting human rights and freedoms. In practice, however, enforcement of these laws is weak, and many countries explain this by stating that they have to take into consideration local traditions (e.g. historical experience or religious dogmas). Moreover, closeness to Europe is not always a guarantee of legal protection. For example, Kyrgyzstan scores relatively high despite being geographically farther away from Europe, while Belarus is close to Central Asian countries in its legal Westernization level”, – Sergiy Solodkyy, first deputy director of the New Europe Center, one of the authors of the report.
“Russia maintains a significant cultural influence in the vast majority of the PSNR, although today it has to compete not only with Western products, but also Turkish ones. Russian TV and social networks are the primary instruments of this influence. Still, individual countries’ desire to reduce the amount of Russian-language content does not necessarily lead to the corresponding increase of Western content. More often, countries try to expand broadcasting of locally-produced movies, TV series, and programs”, – Daria Gaidai, research fellow at the New Europe Center.
Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of Poland in 1995-2005, noted that this Index sheds new light on the future of the post-Soviet region: «By looking at the post-Soviet, non-Russia region through one lens, this index fills a critical gap, helping us to consider how a shared past can lead to so many variations of the present”.