Tatarstani paradiplomacy: persistence through competitive identity
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The desire to attract foreign investment and tourism, solve transborder issues, or increase cultural ties is a crucial part of diplomacy. Solving such issues gradually filtered down to non-central governments. The term for the diplomacy of non-central governments is deemed paradiplomacy. The most widely discussed cases in paradiplomacy are often located in Western, federal democracies. However, local governments that lie outside of both categories remain active in international affairs. Thus, this single-case study focuses on paradiplomacy in a non-central government outside of Western, federal democracies. This thesis examines paradiplomacy in the Russian republic of Tatarstan. Specifically, the thesis focuses on the persistence of Tatarstani paradiplomacy after the governments shift away from the parades of sovereignties rhetoric and decentralization after the mid-2000s. This provides a crucial case to understand how non-central governments can utilize paradiplomacy despite their position outside of the traditional archetype for paradiplomatic case studies and their means of entrenching their position. Thus, this thesis asks: how does paradiplomacy persist after recentralization? The research question is explored through a media analysis of Tatarstani paradiplomacy which examines two trends: global mega-events and relations with the Turkic world. The media analysis is conducted through examining the Russian news outlets Business Online and Kommersant to understand the major narratives which show how paradiplomacy persists in the case of Tatarstan. Through branding tactics and competitive identity, it is concluded that Tatarstani paradiplomacy converges and diverges with Russian federal government policy. In the end, Tatarstani paradiplomacy is divided into three categories: culture as a resource, government tool, and promotion and protection of material interests. The categories help both the Russian government and Tatarstan, but due to less autonomy within Tatarstan, it is concluded that Tatarstan’s paradiplomacy will increasingly converge with Russian federal government positions in the future.