The Baltic Region

Current issue

Political Studies

The evolution of US political priorities in the Baltic sea region in the 2010s

Abstract

The fundamental geopolitical changes in the Baltic Sea region after the end of the Cold War caused the United States to revise its priorities in that part of the world. The process became especially apparent in the second decade of the 21st century when the Ukraine crisis brought to light the consequences of NATO and EU enlargement to the former Warsaw Treaty allies and the Baltic States. This article shows how the US, motivated by the need to ‘contain’ Russia, was developing its overall approaches to ensuring its political leadership in the Baltic region. It demonstrates how Washington is planning to reduce the vulnerability of certain nations of the region to Russia’s military and non-military influence and what steps the US and its NATO allies have taken in this direction. It is argued that, although the Western military buildup in the Baltic Sea region and the US attempts to neutralise Russian ‘hybrid’ instruments are unable to increase substantially the defence capabilities of NATO allies in the Baltic, the security dynamics in the region are likely to turn it into an arena for a struggle between Russia and the West. Russia will benefit from seeing the Baltic region nations not as tools in the Russian-US confrontation, but as partners in regional cooperation aware of their own interests.

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The transformation of the Baltic countries’ political elites: general and specific features

Abstract

This research focuses on the features and transformations of power groups and their role in the political life of the societies of the Baltic countries. This article aims to analyse structural and functional changes in the composition of the Baltic political elites after these countries gained independence in the 1990s. The main objective of this research is to reveal the general and the specific in the transformations of Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian elites. Changes in the structure of power groups are considered on a sub-regional scale in view of the current Russian-Baltic political interaction. The common and distinctive features in the transformations of Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian elites are identified. Quantitative methods of analysis are used to detect trends in the selection of channels and mechanisms of elite recruitment. The study of power groups concentrated on both large-scale socio-political transformations and individual practices. A comprehensive examination of elite transformation in small states such as the Baltics requires the consideration of both domestic and foreign policy aspects. The thesis is put forward that despite some differences between the Baltic States their political elites have undergone very similar transformations since the 1990s. At the time, Baltic elites asserted continuity with pre-war Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia and detachment from the Soviet past. The 1990s elite struggle for power led to sharp ethnic, linguistic and political divides in Baltic societies. These rifts limit competition between power groups and reduce the ability of political systems to renew themselves. Having reached the ‘back to the West’ goal, Baltic elites replaced it with the idea of ‘Russian threat’. Bridging internal divides, which may weaken the power of the elites, was postponed as a result.

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Social and Economic Studies

On the economic security of Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave

Abstract

An exclave position makes the economic security problems of the Kaliningrad region more complex as compared with other Russian territories. Deteriorating relations between Russia and the West compound the situation. This has been especially so since 2014 when economic sanctions were imposed against Russia, and the country retaliated. Global geopolitical instability adds to the conundrum. This study aims to assess the economic security of the Kaliningrad region. Its objectives include defining the concept of regional economic security and measuring its level in the Russian Baltic exclave. Possible ways to improve the economic security of the region are considered as well. Official statistics on the dynamics of industrial production and GRP and 28 other socio-economic indicators are used to assess the level of economic security. The region performs well on nine indicators and much worse on 19. Proposals for economic restructuring aimed at more intensive exploitation of regional natural and labour resources are examined along with the region’s prospects as part of the Great Eurasia (Bolshaya Eurasia) project and as an ‘international development corridor’.

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Ethno-confessional immigrant ghettos as a national security problem in Denmark’s social and political discourse

Abstract

The ghettoisation of immigrant areas in Denmark is a lengthy and objective process of the emergence of ethno-religious ‘parallel societies’ in the state. Cultural and religious principles that are often at odds with the democratic values of Danish society guide the actions of ghetto residents. Danish social and political discourse pictures this ideological difference between the host society and Muslim immigrant minorities as a potential threat to Denmark’s national security caused by a combination of political, social, and economic factors. The ensuing social disunity and violation of the country’s territorial integrity take the problem to a regional and international level. Through analysing public speeches of Danish social and political actors, this article reconstructs key stages in the development of parallel societies in Denmark. Another focus is official government strategies to prevent isolated immigrant areas from turning into ghettoes: the Government’s Strategy against Ghettoisation (2004), Return of the Ghetto to Society: Confronting Parallel Societies in Denmark (2010), and One Denmark without Parallel Societies: No Ghettos in 2030 (2018). The escalation of the social conflict calls for the Danish authorities to take decisive action against the enclavisation of segregated immigrant communities. This study employs discourse analysis to evaluate the efficiency and identify the shortcomings of government action to integrate ethno-confessional minorities into society. Particular attention is paid to analysing public reaction to the criteria for identifying ghettoes as well as to annual publications of official ghetto lists.

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Multidimensional poverty in the Baltic States in the EU context: theoretical and practical aspects

Abstract

There are several approaches to assessing poverty, namely, the absolute, relative, and subjective ones. They are widely used in studying income dynamics and differentiation at a national level. Yet a new research approach to the study and assessment of ‘multidimensional’ poverty is gaining popularity in developed states. Central to it is the notion of ‘risk of poverty and/or social exclusion’ (AROPE). This approach measures both income level and such non-monetary component as access to social services. Despite the versatility and severity of multidimensional poverty in some European countries, this phenomenon has not been sufficiently explored in socio-economic studies carried out in the Baltic countries of the EU — Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. This article aims to identify the characteristics of multidimensional poverty in the Baltic countries and the EU. Its objective is to examine the spread of multidimensional poverty in the Baltic countries and compare it to the situation on a European scale. The work uses Eurostat data. Various indicators suggest that the risk of multidimensional poverty in the Baltic States is above the EU average.

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Coastal Studies

The strongholds of Russian coastal borderlands: economic dynamics amid geopolitical turbulence

Abstract

In the 21st century, the World Ocean is becoming a key factor in global socio-economic dynamics and a geoeconomic and geopolitical priority of many countries. The Russian Federation, whose economy, infrastructure, and settlement system have been gravitating towards the sea since the late 1990s, is no exception. This article aims to identify and provide a conceptual framework for the phenomenon of Russia’s coastal borderlands and their constituent ‘strongholds’. It also explores the factors and features of the economic dynamics of the coastal borderlands amid the post-2014 geopolitical turbulence. Economic and statistical methods are used to highlight the irregularity of the economic and settlement patterns across Russia’s coastal borderlands, in their water and land areas. It is shown that Russian economic and military activities have clustered there to create 14 ‘strongholds’, including two emerging ones. The current confrontation between Russia and the West is accompanied by the country’s growing maritime presence, particularly in its western borderlands, the revitalisation and expansion of its ‘strongholds’, and economic diversification. The economic systems of the country’s leading coastal region have proven to be highly resistant to geopolitical turbulence; this is partly explained by government support.

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Innovative development of Russian coastal regions: north–south divergence

Abstract

Coastal regions are territorial social systems whose socio-economic and innovative development is strongly influenced by the factor of coastalisation. The effect of movement to the sea determines the dynamics of settlement systems as well as their economic and infrastructure development. This holds for transport, logistics, information and communications, industrial, and other infrastructure. Coastal regions are so diverse that it is impossible to construct a development model that will fit all of them. One can speak only of general trends. This study focuses on identifying differences between the innovation systems of northern and southern coastal regions within the same country. The geographical scope of the study is four Russian coastal territories: Murmansk and Arkhangelsk in the Baltic Sea region and Rostov and Krasnodar in the Azov-Black Sea region. Methodologically, this study carries out a comparative assessment of heterogeneity of innovative development at municipal and interregional levels, using four groups of indicators: human capital, economic growth and clustering, innovation and digitalisation, and quality and standards of living. All these components are vital for regional innovative development. A statistical assessment is supplemented by a qualitative analysis of spatial patterns of innovation capital accumulation; the agglomeration factor is taken into account. It is shown that northern and southern coastal regions perform very differently on innovative development, the latter doing better than the former. Three main models of innovation generation, implementation, and accumulation of coastal regions are described. Each is associated with a different way to benefit from proximity to the sea. These are maritime activities, maritime transport, and the economic use of recreational, natural and climatic resources.

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Tourism

Transnational tourist destination management: a case study of the Baltic sea region

Abstract

The issue of tourist destination management has been widely reflected in scientific literature. However, transnational destinations, i.e. those that are located on the territory of several countries, have not been given enough attention. The development of transnational destinations can occur provided there is close cooperation among key stakeholders. In the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) conditions for effective cooperation were created at the end of the 20th century when integration processes intensified. Currently, the BSR is the first macro-region of the European Union to implement a transnational strategy, in which tourism is recognised as a development priority. Creating an effective tourist destination management system has become a key challenge in this process. This article aims to identify and critically analyse the concept of transnational tourist destination management. Another goal is to identify the changing determinants of tourism management in the BSR and to explore relations between key stakeholders. To this end, we conducted a review of literature on destination management. We carried out a critical analysis of secondary sources (documents, information materials, the Internet resources) and supplemented the review with our insights from participatory observation. We also obtained additional information from interviews. Three models of destination management were identified: marketing-oriented, planning-oriented, and governance-oriented. Our research shows that the evolution of destination management is characterised by a gradual increase in the participation of public entities. This is related to the marginalisation of the tourism industry, which resulted in a systematic decrease in state funding for maintaining destination management structures. Acquiring the European Union funds from the European Territorial Cooperation Programs has become a partial but not entirely effective solution to this problem.

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Assessing competitiveness of the Baltic states in tourism

Abstract

Tourism competitiveness is a basic requirement for a country’s presence in the international tourism market. A comprehensive and systematic assessment of tourism competitiveness and comparisons with other states make it possible to identify its structure, strengths and weaknesses. Assessing competitiveness is a live issue in the Baltic region, where tourism is an important part of the economy and a factor in improving living standards. This study advances the hypothesis that the methodology developed by the author will aid in assessing the tourism competitiveness of the Baltic region states. The research aims to assess the competitiveness of the Baltic tourism industries. It reviews methodologies for assessing the competitiveness of tourism industries and presents an original nine-step methodology for comprehensive assessment thereof. The aggregate index comprises four sub-indices (conditions, infrastructure, accessibility, and attractiveness), 22 components, and over 100 indicators. The calculations use a wide range of data sources. The results are displayed in charts and graphs. The Baltic region states are seen to have a high (Germany) or relatively high level of competitiveness. All the countries perform well on tourism infrastructure development and conditions for doing business in tourism. The Baltic reign states rank differently on the affordability of tourism. Germany is the regional leader in terms of attractiveness, followed by the Russian Federation, Poland, Norway, and Sweden. The analysis showed that Russia lagged behind its competitors in travel formalities, the climate for small and medium businesses, and travel safety; infrastructure, statistical monitoring, and promotion required attention as well. In the conclusion, the proposed methodology and the results of its testing are analysed.

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