The Baltic Region

Current issue

International relations

Foreign lobbying as an instrument of defense cooperation between Poland and the United States

Abstract

Defence cooperation between Poland and the United States significantly affects the security agenda of Russia, the Baltic region, and Europe as a whole. On the one hand, Poland intends to become a key partner of the US in ensuring European security. On the other hand, it has ambitions to take the leading position in the security area among the Baltic States. The Polish leadership sees an additional advantage in expanding military cooperation with the United States, regarding it as a jumping board to accelerating its economic and technological development. This article examines a mechanism underlying defence cooperation between the US and Poland, i.e. lobbying Poland’s interests in another state. This allows Warsaw to actively promote its interests in the US. The research methodology employed includes the periodisation of Polish lobbying activities in the US and an empirical study of lobbying based on analysis of original documents, many of which have been analysed for the first time. It is shown that, under the existing party system, Poland will not abandon strategic partnership with the United States, primarily in security and defence. Over the study period, Poland quickly gained experience in promoting its interests in the US through direct lobbying, showing flexibility in negotiations, relying on the two-party support in the US Congress, successfully coordinating the activities of its governing bodies and various corporations which are submitted to tight state control.

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A ‘Secret alliance’ or ‘Freedom from any alliances’? NATO accession debate in Sweden and Finland, 1991—2016

Abstract

The authors analyze the policy of NATO towards Sweden and Finland, the neutral states of Northern Europe, in 1991—2016. The authors emphasize that Finland and Sweden have always been of high strategic importance for NATO and the EU defence policy. The authors investigate the main areas of cooperation between NATO and the non-aligned countries of Northern Europe. The authors describe the prerequisites, prospects and possible consequences of Sweden and Finland’s membership in NATO. Special attention is paid to the evolution of the policy of neutrality of these countries before and after their accession to the European Union. The aim of this research is to assess the evolution of political views of Sweden and Finland on the development and implementation of the policy of neutrality in 1991—2016. To achieve this goal, the authors use a comparative analysis to explore the stance of the governments of Sweden and Finland on the cooperation with NATO or membership in it. The authors reflect on the concepts of “Finlandisation”, “freedom from alliances”, “neutrality” and “secret alliance”, which are often used in academic descriptions of the evolution of the position of both countries towards NATO. The authors hold that Finland and Sweden may become NATO members only if there is a direct threat to their security. Russian politics in the region may provoke them to take such a step. A referendum on joining the bloc seems to be highly unlikely; even though after the Crimean events, the number of NATO supporters in the two countries increased, they remained a minority. The authors conclude that both countries are involved in a “creeping” integration with NATO after they have become actors of the EU defence strategy. There is a minimum probability of Sweden and Finland’s becoming full members of the Alliance. However, the traditional policy of neutrality of both countries is often compromised, particularly towards Russia.

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Social dynamics

Comparative analysis of students’ collective consciousness in the Russia-EU and Russia-China border regions: mathematical modelling

Abstract

Given the unique diversity of Russian regions, regional studies are becoming particularly important for ensuring the stability and development of Russia. There is an extensive body of literature on the economic and social characteristics of Russian regions, their types and ranking whereas the study of collective consciousness requires further attention. It is the collective consciousness that shapes human activity, the results of which largely determine the development of countries and their regions. The authors study the spiritual sphere of regions, the inner world of people, who are human capital. This study is particularly important in relation to Russian youth, who have become one of the most active social groups. The public demand for the analysis of collective consciousness has been constantly growing. The authors argue that there are regional differences in collective consciousness, which are manifested most prominently in the comparison of eastern and western regions. The growing intensity of interaction between Europe and Asia makes the comparison of the western and eastern border regions of Russia particularly important from the geopolitical point of view. The authors employ the principles of an emerging scientific direction, border regional studies, for a comparative analysis of the collective consciousness of students from two border regions located on the Russia-European Union and Russia-China borders. The authors present the results of the survey they conducted in the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (Kaliningrad) and Amur State University (Blagoveshchensk). They examine the sociological phenomenon of ‘regional consciousness’ and substantiate the criteria for selecting the objects of research. It is the first time in sociology that logistic regression models reflecting the main characteristics of regional consciousness have been built. The article aims to confirm the multiplicity of types of regional consciousness and to demonstrate that in the socially homogeneous group, Russian graduate students, there are still regional differences even in the generally similar assessments of the ongoing social processes.

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The ethnopolitical movement as a vehicle for nationalism institutionalisation in modern Latvia

Abstract

This article investigates the Popular Front of Latvia, a public ethnopolitical movement that substantially contributed to the independence of the modern Republic of Latvia. The study aims to identify how much the movement influenced the development of ethnic nationalism, which has become essential to statehood and the identification of politics. It continues to reinforce group inequality in this multiethnic country. The article describes the background and main landmarks of the movement. Content analysis of manifestos has been carried out to trace changes in the Popular Front’s ideological vision. It is shown that the shift in priorities that took place during the 1988—1991 struggle for Latvia’s political and economic independence led to a non-democratic political regime. Particular attention is paid to the movement’s proposals concerning the principles of statehood restoration and citizenship acquisition as well as to approaches to solving ethnic problems. The focus is on why and under what circumstances the Popular Front dissolved itself and the supra-ethnic opposition, its main rivals, left the political scene. It is argued that the Popular Front of Latvia created conditions both for the titular nation taking precedence over other ethnic groups and for the exclusion of one-third of the country’s resident population from political life. It is concluded that, as the movement transformed and gradually abandoned its democratic principles, it became the main vehicle for the institutionalisation of ethnic nationalism in Latvia.

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Effective risk communication as a factor in managing protests attitudes in a local community

Abstract

Contemporary research into the perception of environmental risks suffers from poor knowledge of risk communication in the local community and of how different ways of risk communication affect protest attitudes. This study aims to clarify communication strategies and practices used by members of local communities as a protest response to environmental threats. The work builds on the cultural theory developed by Douglas, Dake, Bremen, and others. This theory distinguishes between several cultural types (hierarchism, individualism, communitarianism, and egalitarianism), which differ in how environmental risks are perceived and what forms risk communication takes. The study investigates the case of the village of Nivenskoe in Russia’s Kaliningrad region where residents opposed the development of a potassium salt deposit. It is concluded that egalitarians and communitarians are more likely than hierarchists and individualists to participate in protests when a serious environmental threat arises. Respondents of all cultural types tend to trust information coming from their close social network, public figures, and environmentalists whereas people of business are trusted the least.

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Impact of external migration on changes in the Swedish religious landscape

Abstract

For most of its history, Sweden has been a country dominated by the Lutheran Church, having the status of the official state religion. Starting in mid-to-late 20th century, mass immigration to Europe had a considerable impact on the confessional structure of Sweden’s population. The growing number of refugees from the Balkan Peninsula, the Middle East, and Africa has turned Sweden into a multi-religious state. Sweden has become one of the leaders among the EU countries as far as the growth rates of adherents of Islam are concerned. Immigrants are exposed to adaptation difficulties causing their social, cultural and geographical isolation and making relatively isolated migrant communities emerge. This study aims at finding correlation between the changes in the confessional structure of Swedish population (as a result of the growing number of non-Christians) and the geographical structure of migrant flows into the country. This novel study addresses the mosaic structure of the Swedish religious landscape taking into account the cyclical dynamics of replacement of Protestantism by Islam. The methods we created make it possible to identify further trends in the Sweden’s religious landscape. This study adds to results of the complex sociological and demographic studies of the confessional structure of the Swedish population.

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Economic geography and regional economics

The theory of peripheral capitalism: on the applicability of the Latin American model to the Baltic States. An attempt at an inter-disciplinary analysis

Abstract

The relevance of this study of post-Soviet transition lies in the focus on the technically theoretical problems that are nevertheless the key to understanding regional development processes in the East of the Baltic Sea. The research aims to verify the theory of peripheral capitalism as applied to the Baltic States. The first theoretical objective is to draw a distinction between the ideas of modernisation and transformation in a regional context. The second objective is to adjust the theory of peripheral capitalism to smaller states. To study the features of the transformation of economic and political systems in the Baltics, this article conducts comparative analysis. Systemic analysis and the principles of theoretical and empirical analysis are used as well. Building on this work, the study identifies the deficiencies of the theoretical and methodological potential of transition studies. These include claims that the theoretical and methodological potential of transition as applied to post-Socialist and post-Soviet Europe has been completely fulfilled. Geographical differences between Latin America and the Baltic States are so obvious that they eclipse economic similarities between the processes and development models characteristic of the two regions of the world. An analysis of current developments in Latin America makes it possible to forecast the economic and, to a degree, political consequences of the trends that are just emerging in the Baltics. This article seeks to prove the above thesis.

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Development of electric road transport: simulation modelling

Abstract

Electric transport is rapidly gaining popularity across the world. It is an example of technological advancement that has multiple consequences for regional economies, both in terms of the adaptation of production, transport and energy systems and their spatial optimization. The experience of leading economic regions, including countries of the Baltic Sea region, shows that electric transport can potentially substitute traditional transport technologies. Based on an authentic model of system dynamics, the authors propose a new approach to simulation modelling of the dissemination of electric vehicles in a given region. The proposed model allows the authors to take into account the key systemic feedback loops between the pool of electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure. In the absence of data required for the econometric methods of demand forecasting, the proposed model can be used for the identification of policies stimulating the consumer demand for electric vehicles in regions and facilitating the development of the electric transport infrastructure. The proposed model has been tested using real and simulated data for the Kaliningrad region, which due to its specific geographical location, is a convenient test-bed for developing simulation models of a regional scale. The proposed simulation model was built via the AnyLogic software. The authors explored the capacity of the model, its assumptions, further development and application. The proposed approach to demand forecasting can be further applied for building hybrid models that include elements of agent modelling and spatial optimization.

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Development of cross-border tourist and recreational regions on the Karelian section of the Russian-Finnish border

Abstract

Despite that fact that cross-border tourism and recreation in the Baltic Sea Region have been extensively studied, there are still areas, which require further research. The aim of this article is to identify regions having active cross-border tourism and recreation in the adjacent territories of Finland and the Republic of Karelia. The authors propose to use an indicator characterizing the volume of incoming tourist flows. The number of tourists is not only indicative of the development of cross-border tourism and recreation; it is also one of the main criteria for determining the degree of the formation of cross-border regions. Using the statistics for Finland, the authors analyzed the geography of tourism in Finland’s border areas and identified the degree of intensity of cross-border tourism exchange between the neighbouring administrative units of the two countries. The article also examines other tendencies indicative of the formation and development of cross-border tourism and recreation regions along the Russian-Finnish border. The authors identified three cross-border tourism and recreation regions of different development levels: South Karelia, Middle Karelia and North Karelia. South Karelia is a mesoregion with the average annual tourist exchange of about 100 thousand people, which is the average level of tourism development. The total volume of cross-border tourist flows from and to other cross-border tourist and recreation regions is about 30 thousand people per year. Middle Karelia microregion ranks second and is followed by the North Karelian microregion. The authors conclude that these two microregions are at the initial stage of their formation and, therefore, can be regarded as parts of one microregion — Russian-Finnish Northern microregion.

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Tools for evaluating the competitiveness of innovative clusters

Abstract

Federal programmes to support regional clusters in Russia were introduced several years ago. Today, they need updating and revision. A promising starting point for effective support for hi-tech and innovative clusters may be an evaluation of cluster performance aimed to understand whether further development and financing of cluster projects are required and whether the list of supported clusters should be extended or reduced.
This article analyses the case of the Silicon Saxony innovation cluster (Germany), using the World Bank’s methodology for cluster competitiveness evaluation. Each analysis tool is provided with concrete data obtained for Germany and the Silicon Saxony cluster over the past ten years. Competitive clusters considered in the analysis are Minalogic in Grenoble (France) and Micro- and nanosystems in Catania (Italy). The results of employing the methodology are examined from the perspective of its possible use in evaluating the competitiveness of innovative clusters in the Russian Federation. Early recommendations on adapting the methodology are produced.

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Book Review