The Baltic Region

2013 Issue №3(17)

The Baltic region in the context of European development

EU — Russia energy cooperation: major development trends and the present state

Abstract

The article analyzes the development of EU — Russia energy relations through the lens of the evolution of three parameters: the political agenda (the Energy Dialogue), the institutional structure, and the legal modalities. The identification of these three aspects for assessing the evolution of EU — Russia energy relations is the novelty in the author’s approach. This study aims to identify the previous stages and assess the current state of EU — Russia energy dialogue, since they set out conditions for energy cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. This research is based on a political and legal analysis of various documents and employs various international relations theories (including integration theories). The article demonstrates that the EU nd Russia have made a transition to the integration agenda manifested in the Energy Dialogue (its current goal is the creation of a common European energy market). The author describes the process of gradual consolidation of transgovernmental and transnational  institutions, which leads to depoliticization of cooperation and mutual socialization of the partners. Finally, legal discussions on the development of common rules have become more constructive. In sum, the current situation in EU — Russia energy relations is favourable and positively affects cooperation in the Baltic Sea region.

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Problems and prospects of EU — Russia dialogue on visa-free travel

Abstract

This article deals with the issues pertinent to the EU — Russia visa dialogue — one of the major areas of cooperation between the two partners. The article aims to identify the main problems of this dialogue, as well as prospects for the introduction of a visa-free regime between the EU and Russia. The authors provide a historical overview of cooperation in this area and consider problems and prospects of visa liberalization from the economic, legal, and political perspectives. The analysis draws on primary sources such as the EU and Russia’s legislation, EU — Russia agreements on visa facilitation and readmission, visa statistics, expert interviews, as well as analytical reports and research works on the topic. Particular attention is paid to the “Common steps towards visa-free short-term travel of the citizens of the EU and Russia”, which is currently the main document in the visa dialogue. Having assessed the implementation of the provisions contained in the four blocks of the “Common Steps”, the authors draw conclusions about the political nature of major obstacles to a visa-free regime. This article is based on the proceedings of the “Russia and European Union: the dynamics of interrelations” international conference organized by the EU center of the I. Kant Baltic Federal University (the EU4U project).

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Civil protection in the EU and its effect on the safety of the Baltic region

Abstract

This article describes civil protection activities of the EU in the framework of the Community Civil Protection Mechanism — a system for coordinating civil protection resources and in-kind assistance to countries stricken by natural and manmade disasters. By analyzing the legislation and actual activation of the Mechanism, the authors present the functioning of this system as well as the ongoing changes towards a more planned approach to providing civil protection. The authors address the issue of extending the current civil protection system by introducing preventive measures. The project, co-financed by the by the Civil Protection Financial Instrument, is used as an example of the introduction of preventive measures in the Baltic Sea region.

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Regional studies

The regional approach in the policy of the Russian Federation towards the Republic of Estonia

Abstract

This author uses regionalism as a theoretical framework for analyzing the foreign policy of the Russian Federation towards the Republic of Estonia. Regionalism is interpreted as a situation, when a political leader’s beliefs change depending on what region of the world is considered. Leaders of great powers often assume that, for example, small European countries are subject to a treatment different from that of small Middle Eastern countries. The method of operational coding is employed to identify the impact of the regional approach on the beliefs of political leaders. The author comes to the conclusion that Russia’s policy towards Estonia largely depends on Russia’s policy towards the regions which the Russian elite relate Estonia to — the Baltic States, Northern Europe, and Europe as a whole. The results of the study can further the understanding of Russia’s policy towards Estonia both in Russia and abroad. Lack of understanding sometimes results in sharing the views of radical Estonian politicians who claim that Russia’s policy towards Estonia is unpredictable and thus poses a threat to security and stability in Europe.

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Processes of convergence and divergence in the regions of the European Union: features and qualimetry

Abstract

A higher level of unity and cohesion across the European Union member states is an important aspect of European integration though it has a rather ambiguous nature. The Law on the Common Market, which aims to increase the economic efficiency of the EU, became a subject of extensive discussions among researchers suggesting that its viability at the political and socio-economic levels depends on a fair distribution of gains among the countries and regions of the Community. These discussions resulted in a considerable increase in funding allocated for the development of the EU regions from the EU Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund aiming to reduce regional disparities. The present analysis and the assessment of convergence processes (GDP per capita at purchasing power parity) in the EU regions of NUTS-1, -2, -3 levels in 1995 -2009/2010 help demonstrate the efficiency of these efforts.

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Intergenerational transmission of poverty: a challenge for Poland

Abstract

This article argues that urban poverty pockets emerged in Poland in the course of the system transformation towards capitalism. The main poverty drivers were the three overlapping processes: de-industrialization, ‘dewelfarization’ and de-institutionalization of the family accompanied by the devolution of social care management from the central to the local government. The enclaves of poverty emerged as a result of better-off residents leaving dilapidated blocks of flats and both spontaneous and deliberate accommodation of poorer citizens in these houses as social housing residents. In these areas, poverty tends to take root and reproduce in subsequent generations. The article is based on a 20-year study carried out in the city of Łódź under the author’s supervision. The article summarizes the findings obtained from three sources: 1) narrative interviews held twice — in 1998 and 2008 — among 90 adults belonging to the subsequent generations of a certain extended family residing in a poverty enclave; 2) 73 in-depth interviews with teenage mothers residing in poverty enclaves, 3) a quantitative survey of 500 13-year-old pupils attending schools located in poverty enclaves. The author arrives at the conclusion that poverty enclaves in Łódź resemble neighbourhoods of relegation as conceptualized by Loic Wacquant.

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International cooperation in the Baltic region

Current problems in Russian-Latvian relations

Abstract

Current relations between Russia and Latvia are still influenced by a series of mutual claims that appeared after the demise of the USSR. Latvia — as well as Estonia and Lithuania — is both an EU and NATO member state. However, unlike the above mentioned countries, its relations with Russia are developing at a more pragmatic level. Numerous political differences often result in economic losses both for Latvia and Russia. Despite the fact that Latvia has been an independent state for more than 20 years, there are still some unresolved issues in its relations with Russia. Today, relations between the two countries are often viewed through the prism of EU — Russia relations. Nonetheless, they often do not fit this context. Settling differences between Latvia and Russia will contribute to trade relations, which are increasingly important for both parties. In order to prevent and localise emerging conflicts, diplomats, politicians, and experts should interpret Russian-Latvian relations in view of the national features without referring to theoretical models based on the mythological “unity” of the three Baltic States.

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Cross-border cooperation in tourism between the Warmian-Masurian voivodeship and the Kaliningrad region

Abstract

The border location of the Warmian-Masurian voivodeship and the Kaliningrad region is a prerequisite for active cooperation at different institutional levels. The development of cross-border cooperation between the Kaliningrad region and the Warmian-Masurian voivodeship was launched in 1992, when the first agreements on international cooperation were signed. As of today, a high emphasis is placed on cross-border cooperation between the Warmian-Masurian voivodeship and the Kaliningrad region, which is manifested in a series of partner agreements and contracts. The local border traffic agreement between the Kaliningrad region and selected areas of the Republic of Poland should give an additional impetus for the developmentof the economies, services sectors, and tourism industries of the border territories and facilitate the development of these regions. The article makes an attempt to identify the determinants of cross-border cooperation between the Kaliningrad region and the Warmian-Masurian voivodeship that contribute to the development of tourism between the regions, as well as to outline the barriers to their cooperation. The results of the survey presented in the article indicate that the current activities aimed at the development of cross-border cooperation between the Kaliningrad region and the border regions of Poland are not sufficient. On the basis of the survey the authors identify the major barriers to cross-border cooperation as seen by the regions’ residents and authorities. The removal of these barriers can form the basis for developmental measures to improve the situation.

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Historical aspects of international cooperation in the Baltic Sea region

Political reconsideration of the Soviet past: attitudes and actions of the Lithuanian elites

Abstract

Different political elite groups of post-communist Lithuania offer different accounts of the Soviet past. Even twenty years later, after the collapse of communism Lithuanian politicians (with the exception of certain conservative anti-nostalgic leaders allied with some populists) still do not have a unified and coherent view on the Soviet political and social practices, truths, and methods. However, conservatives are very consistent in their restrictive views about the past and are willing to engage in propagating decision-making that prevents them from repeating the actions of the past. Social democrats, liberals, and populists are much more internally divided and tend to display lukewarm attitudes towards the Soviet past and its political reconsideration. Yet, the present analysis of the adopted laws and public policies, alongside a study on the attitudes of political elites make it possible to conclude that anti-nostalgia, the negative assessment of the Soviet life-style, criticism of it and attempts to keep the former Soviet decision makers out of Lithuania’s public administration are key ways of treating the past in Lithuania. All efforts to accommodate a more permissive attitude towards the Soviet past and civil servants whose career began under the Soviets do not find much support within the Lithuanian elite.

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The “Polish question” in Soviet-German relations in the second half of the 1920s (based on the materials of the USSR consulate in Königsberg)

Abstract

On the basis of earlier unknown documents of the Soviet consulate in Königsberg retrieved from the Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, the author analyses relations between the USSR and Germany in 1925—1930. The author focuses on the role of the “Polish question”, which largely affected the nature of bilateral relations. The consulate documents indicate that Soviet diplomacy aspired to exploit the differences between Poland and Germany over a wide range of issues (the geopolitical situation of East Prussia, the position of national minorities, the problem of transit through the Polish corridor, the status of the Free city of Danzig, etc.). Soviet consuls carefully observed political life in Königsberg and the province. On the one hand, they paid attention to an increase in the nationalist and fascist attitudes. On the other hand, they emphasized the aspirations of the local political and business elite to develop economic cooperation with the Soviet Union. The People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs tried to transform East Prussia into a Soviet lobby in the German government. These plans were not implemented at that time, but the 1920s ideas of cooperation between the two states on the anti-Polish basis were put into practice on the eve of World War II.

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The transformation of the Swedish political party system in the late 20th/early 21st century

Abstract

This article studies the process of transformation of the Swedish political party system in the 1980s. The study aims to develop a typology of the Swedish political party system before and after the transformation processes commenced. The article identifies the key prerequisites for such transformation: the crisis of social democracy and an increase in the nationalist attitudes in the society caused by the negative repercussions of the system of integration of migrants into the society based on the multiculturalism principles. The interethnic tension manifested itself in the wide support for the Swedish Democrats Party in the 2010 parliamentary election. From a political party system dominated by social democrats, the Swedish political party system turned into one with two leading parties – the centre-left Swedish Social Democratic Labour Party and the centre-right Moderate Party. The Swedish Democrats position themselves as an alternative to the two party blocs headed by the dominating parties (the Alliance and the Red-Green). The study employs an interdisciplinary approach in the framework of science synthesis. Its results can be of practical significance for politicians, social activists, and academicians.

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