The Baltic Region

2013 Issue №4(18)

Russia and the European Union in the Baltic region: a treacherous path to partnership

Abstract

This article examines policies of Moscow and Brussels in the Baltics since the launch of the European Union’s Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in June 2009. An increase in the efficiency of Russia’s policy in the region requires not only the development of bilateral relations with the region’s countries but also a dialogue with the European Union, the key player in the Baltic. The author identifies Russian economic, military, political, and humanitarian interests in the region, and describes the structure, content, and main areas of the implementation of the EU Baltic strategy in 2009—2013. The article examines the evolution of the Strategy, which initially ignored Russian national interests in the region, yet eventually resulted in cooperative efforts in the areas of common interest such as energy, transport infrastructure, environment, research, education and culture. The results of the Russian presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (2012—2013) are evaluated. It is noted that, despite an appealing presidency strategy and certain achievements in its implementation, Russia was unable to draw up a regional agenda and use the CBSS as an efficient platform for harmonizing its Baltic strategy with that of the EU. The causes of the current deadlock in EU — Russian relations regarding the Baltic are analyzed. The author formulates policy recommendations on fostering Russian-European cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. These recommendations range from the suggestion of joint revisions of mutual conceptual perceptions and strategic goals pursued by the EU and Russia in the Baltic Sea region to more practical measures in the institutional, administrative, and financial fields.

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Cooperation between Russia and the EU in the field of innovative development of tourism: the case of the Lithuania — Poland — Russia cross-border cooperation programme

Abstract

To study the key instruments of international cooperation between Russia and the European Union aimed at stimulating innovative development of tourism co-financed by the EU and Russia. The author describes specific projects implemented in the framework of the Lithuania-Poland-Russia cross-border cooperation programme for 2009—2013 in the field of tourism. Special attention is paid to analysing tourism innovations that have emerged as a result of the projects aimed at cooperation and tourism development in the border regions of Russia and the EU countries. A number of projects have been implemented under the supervision and with the participation of the author. The article focuses on the role of innovative types of tourism in the regional development of territories in the case of the Kaliningrad region. The current approaches to defining tourism innovations in Russian and international studies are not comprehensive and do not reflect the essence of innovative processes. Innovative development is often reduced to the introduction of new information technologies, i. e. informatization replaces innovative development. However, it is important to take into account other innovative tools: for instance, interactive network museums in developing innovative tourist attraction objects, e-marketing in introducing innovations in tourist product promotion, programmes of private- public partnership in the field of public regulation and tourism stimulation, etc. These technologies contribute to the transition fr om a certain economic agent, the industry as a whole, or a tourist destination to a fundamentally new level in terms of tourist product presentation and increase of competitiveness. The sources for innovations in tourism are both the providers and consumers of tourist services. In those regions wh ere tourism is considered an economic priority, local authorities and even super-governmental organisations, such as the European Commission (through different co-financing programmes), can also become innovators.

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The potential for expanding inter-cluster cooperation between the ship-building industries of Estonia, Finland, and North-West Russia

Abstract

The shipbuilding industry clusters in the Eastern Baltic Sea region, i. e. Estonia, Finland and North-West Russia, may benefit significantly from increased mutual cooperation; however, the international networks between the clusters are still poorly developed. The aim of this article is to analyse the preconditions for cluster internationalization between these clusters, which are rather different but complementary in terms of skills. The research material for this desk study was collected from various sources, including journal articles, media, research reports, and other publications. The results of the study indicate that the increasing cooperation within the triangle of these clusters has a significant potential in terms of combining different areas of expertise and creating a multidimensional maritime industry hub in the region. However, differences in the cluster structure and development stages lead to certain difficulties in achieving these objectives. In conclusion, the authors identify the factors both facilitating and inhibiting networking between the three clusters. This study provides a platform for further research focusing on the factors identified and gives ideas for public discussion on increased inter-cluster cooperation.

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Competitive effects of low trade barriers: evaluations for the Kaliningrad region

Abstract

International trade is an important factor affecting competition in domestic markets. Considering the vastness of Russian territory, one can expect the pro-competitive effect to vary from region to region. This analysis tests the hypothesis that the unique geographical position and economic status of the Kaliningrad region contribute to the rapid development of international trade, which, in turn, exerts competitive pressure on regional prices. The study incorporates two major lines of analysis: a) a comparison of the international trade growth rates of different Russian regions; b) an assessment of the influence of Russian and European prices on the consumer price index as well as prices for particular tradable goods in the Kaliningrad region. Rosstat and Eurostat serve as the main data sources. To test their hypothesis, the authors use the methods of statistical and econometric analysis. The status of the free economic zone and unique geographic position of the Kaliningrad region do not result in high growth rates of international trade in the region, but rather lead to a structural shift towards import thus exerting additional competitive pressure on domestic prices. The analysis did not confirm the hypothesis about the considerable influence of European prices on the short run dynamics of the regional consumer prices index or prices for certain imported goods. Nevertheless, indirect evidence of competitive effects of foreign trade was found in the course of a comparative analysis of price levels in the regions of the Northwest Federal district: the cost of the standard set of consumer goods and services in the Kaliningrad region is lower than the level defined by the regional per capita income.

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Geography and economy of the Kaliningrad region: limitations and prospects of development

Abstract

With its exclave status, the Kaliningrad region has been drawing attention of many researchers in different fields. Yet the prospects for cooperation between the region and neighbouring communities in Poland and Lithuania, which once constituted an integrated social, economic and political space, remain unclear. Media analysts and scholars alike tend to view the Kaliningrad region as “double periphery”, since it is excluded from major modernisation processes both in the European integration zone and in the Russian Federation. However, a detailed study involving polyscale socioeconomic indices, expert interviews, and surveys run contrary to this viewpoint. A look at the key indices of the Kaliningrad region and the neighbouring communities of Poland and Lithuania showed that both socioeconomic situation and standards of living are comparable in these areas, which indicates the prerequisites for mutually beneficial interregional cooperation. We have analysed factual information on socioeconomic development of cross-border regions and surveyed the students from the leading universities of Gdansk, Kaliningrad and Klaipeda. We were thus able to conclude that the reasons behind the delapidated cross-border relations are rather subjective and lie in the field of geopolitical orientation, information and institutional policy, as well as persistent stereotypes that shape public opinion. In this light, integration between the Kaliningrad region and mainland Russia is seen not only as an economic, but also as a sociocultural objective. An analysis of the stages of the region’s exclavisation, and policies of social support stemming from the uniqueness of the economic and geographical position of the region substantiate this conclusion.

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