The Baltic Region

2012 Issue №1(11)

Back to the list Download an article

Twin cities: a new form of cross-border cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region?



The paper demonstrates the first attempt in Russian political studies to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the “twin city” movement as a form of cross-border cooperation in the Baltic region. This phenomenon emerged as a result of a global tendency towards more active involvement of municipal units in international cooperation, on the one hand, and aspirations of frontier cities and towns in the Baltic region to solve common problems together, on the other hand. This work is based on a comparative analysis method and a case study methodology. The authors consider four examples (city pairs): Tornio — Haparanda, Valga — Valka, Narva — Ivangorod and Imatra — Svetogorsk. The article specifies the terminological framework used in this field of research. The authors analyse achievements and failures of this type of international inter-municipal cooperation and emphasise that for twin cities it served not only as a means of survival in the difficult situation of the 1990s, but also as an experimental ground for new forms of crossborder cooperation. The authors arrive at the conclusion that this model proves to be promising for further development of integration processes in the Baltic region. This practice can be applied by Russian municipal, regional and federal authorities in promotion of cross-border cooperation not only in the Baltic region, but also in other regions of the country. Thus, influenced by the successful experience of Baltic frontier cities and towns, the Russian city of Nikel and the Norwegian city of Kirkenes decided to adopt this model for further development of their cooperation.


1. Goroda-sputniki [Satellite towns], 1961, Moscow.
2. Davidov, D. M., Chekalina, T. N. 2009, Cross-border Cooperation as a Mechanism of Regional Marketing in the Baltic Region, Balt. Region, no. 2 (2), p. 57—64. doi: 10.5922/2079—8555—2009—2—6.
3. Korneevets, V. S. 2010, Mezhdunarodnaja regionalizacija na Baltike [International regionalization in the Baltic Sea], Saint Petersburg.
4. Svetogorsk-Imatra: «dvojnoj gorod» [Svetogorsk-Imatra: «dual city»], Official internet site of the Leningrad Region, available at: http://www. (accessed 10 July 2011).
5. Self, P. Goroda vyhodjat iz svoih granic [City out of its borders], 1962, Moscow.
6. Sergunin, A. A. 2003, Vneshnie faktory rossijskoj regionalizacii [External factors Russian regionalization], Politicheskaja nauka, no. 3, p. 121—141.
7. Sergunin, A. A. 1999, Regionalizacija Rossii: rol' mezhdunarodnyh faktorov [Regionalization of Russia: the role of international factors], Polis, no. 3, p. 76—88.

8. Smirnova, S. 2008, Sovmestnye proekty pogranich'ja: zadumano, znachit sdelano [Joint projects Borderlands: conceived, is to make], Pechenga, 19 April, available at: http://pechenha-gazeta. ru?i=2020 (accessed 26 January 2011).
9. Hauke, M. O. 1960, Prigorodnaja zona bol'shogo goroda [Suburban area of the city], Moscow.
10. Fedorov, G. M., Korneevets, V. S. 2010, Transborder regionalisation in the conditions of globalization, Balt. Region, no. 4 (6), p. 103—115. doi: 10.5922/2079—8555—2010—4—10.
11. Buursink, J. 1994, Dubbelsteden, Acta Geographica Lovaniensia, no. 34, p. 175—80.
12. City Twin Association Strategy 2010—2020, 2009, Narva, available at:http://www. citytwins. org/en/page/5/ (accessed 27 May 2011).
13. Hurskainen, S. 2005, Case Imatra-Svetogorsk: An example from the field. In: Kulmala, M., Päiviö, L. (eds.). Northern Dimension, Poland and the New Neighbours, Helsinki, The Finnish Commission for European Security (STETE), p. 132—136.
14. Joenniemi, P., Sergunin, A. 2011, Another Face of Integration: City Twinning in Europe, Research Journal of International Studies, no. 22, p. 120—131.
15. Joenniemi, P., Sergunin, A. 2011, City-Twinning in Northern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities, Saarbrücken, Lambert Academic Publishing.
16. Jussila, H. 1997, Building of a Region and of a European Transnational City — Some Lessons from Haparanda-Tornio. In: Lyck, L., Berg, P. O. The Øresund Region Building. Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, p. 53—65.
17. Lundén, T. 2007, Border agglomerations in the Baltic area: obstacles and possibilities for local interactions, Geographica Helvetica, Vol. 62, no. 1, p. 22—32.
18. Lundén, T. 2009, Valka-Valga, Narva-Ivangorod. Estonia’s Divided Border Cities. In: Janczak, J. (ed.). Conflict and Cooperation in Divided Cities, Berlin, Logos Verlag, p. 133—149.
19. Pikner, T. 2008, Evolving cross-border urban networks. Case studies in the Baltic Sea area, Nordia Geographical Publications, Vol. 37, no. 4, p. 9—13.
20. Schultz, H., Jajeśniak-Quast, D. and Stokłosa, K. 2002, Twin Towns on the Border as Laboratories of European Integration, Twin Towns on the Border as Laboratories of European Integration, Frankfurt (Oder), Frankfurter Institut für Transformationsstudien. (Arbeitsberichte 4/02), available at: http://www. europa-uni. de/ de/forschung/institut/institut_fit/publikationen/discussion_papers/2002/04- 02-Schultz. pdf
(accessed 16 August 2011).
21. Tüür, K., Maximova, T. and Kudrin, S. 1999, About the political background of the water conflict between Ivangorod and Narva, Tartu, The Center of Transboundary Cooperation.
22. Van der Pluijm, R. 2007, City diplomacy: the expanding role of cities in international
politics, The Hague, Netherlands Institute of International Relations «Clingendael», no. 10, 45 p.
23. Wellmann, Chr. (ed.), 1998, From town to town. Local actors as transnational actors, Hamburg, LIT Verlag.
24. Zalamans, D. 2008, Mental and Physical Borderlines in the Baltic Sea Region, St. Petersburg, available at: http://www. indepsocres. spb. ru/zalam_e. htm (accessed 19 July 2011).
25. Zalamans, D. 2001, Transboundary regionalization — the case of Haparanda and Tornio. In: Bucken-Knapp, G., Schack, M. (eds.). Borders matter: transboundary regions in contemporary Europe, Copenhagen, Danish Institute of Border Region Studies, p. 59—72.