Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Mark Amen


Constructivism, Foreign Policy, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine


Since the Treaty of the European Union in 1993, the EU has embraced institutional reforms with the stated purpose of achieving greater unity in foreign affairs. Despite the EU's leading role in the political and economic reforms of former Soviet satellites in Central and Eastern Europe, the EU has been less consistent and cohesive in former Soviet space further east--in regions fraught with undemocratic qualities and places where the EU enjoys fewer credible incentives and less leverage. While scholars point to divergent national interests as obstacles for unity abroad, few have unraveled how the institutions of the EU itself pose challenges as well. This research asks whether the institutions of the EU--particularly the Commission, the Council, and the Parliament--promote or hinder the EU's ability to act as a global unitary actor. It analyzes EU institutional democratic discourse in three cases of color revolutions in former Soviet space from 2003 to 2011: Georgia, Ukraine, and the Kyrgyz Republic. The research is based on a qualitative database of official institutional documents from the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Parliament to identify patterns of discourse in the construction of democracy. The study finds that, across the institutions, democratic discourse is only consistent in the minimal requisites of democracy--particularly elections and rule of law--but the institutions diverge substantially on whether these elements are necessary and sufficient, versus necessary but insufficient. Even if member-states find common ground at the national level, the institutional dynamics of the EU continue to undermine its ability to assert itself as a unitary actor in foreign affairs. The findings of this study have implications for theories on international relations, democracy, and states. It demonstrates that there are limits to mainstream liberal institutionalist approaches best captured by constructivism, and that the EU as a whole, the institutions of the EU, and the constituent member-states can all become actors with competing interests in a given issue area. The study concludes with potential avenues of future research.