The Baltic Region

2014 Issue №1(19)

Major infrastructure projects and the foreign policy of the Baltic states in 2010—2014

Abstract

At the current stage of social development, particular attention is drawn to studies that assess major infrastructure — and thus political — projects aimed at a qualitative breakthrough in the socio-economic development of the countries under investigation. The scheduled multi-billion investments into energy sector are of political rather than economic nature. The projects to develop alternative power grids and high-speed railways can result in large-scale economic downturns diminishing the prospects of balanced social development. The author addresses the classical concepts of the theory of regional economy and new economic geography and their interpretation of the interconnection between political and economic factors. The article aims to demonstrate the inconsistency between political and economic objectives of the development of the Baltics. The study contributes to a broader set of research into the issues of post-Soviet economic and political development. The Baltic States follow their own political and economic ways. The study proves the hypothesis of low efficiency of large infrastructure project and their political motivation. It is concluded that the disregard of the factor of mutually beneficial economic cooperation with Russia destabilizes the development of national economic of the Baltic States. The author believes that modern infrastructure projects in the Baltic Sea region should be integrated into both western and eastern dimensions.

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Russia-EU energy efficiency cooperation in the Baltic region: the untapped potential

Abstract

A stereotypical understanding of EU-Russia energy relations is often reduced to trade in oil and natural gas, which downplays the importance of energy efficiency cooperation. Such cooperation is promoted within the Energy Charter and its Treaty, Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, Energy Dialogue, Common Economic Space, Partnership for Modernisation. However, it lacks practical development, which relates to the instability of the legal environment in Russia, insufficient mechanisms of financial support for energy conservation projects and poor political support. Nevertheless, energy efficiency cooperation is capable of changing Russia-EU energy cooperation qualitatively: it offers a cheaper way to meet the needs of the EU, redefines interdependence between the parties, and introduces new elements of equality between them. Energy efficiency cooperation also transforms the patterns of the EU-Russia legal harmonization, creates new conditions for the convergence of regulations and the development of the middle class in Russia. Due to its specific features, cooperation in the Baltic Sea region becomes a locomotive of the Russia-EU energy efficiency cooperation, and, as a result, is capable of changing the quality of relations between the partners.

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Russian-Estonian relations: a medium-term forecast

Abstract

This article shows why the non-existent political dialogue between Russia and Estonia will hardly develop in the next five years and why Estonia can lose its significance for the Russian foreign policy rhetoric and Russian mass media. This conclusion is drawn from a medium-term forecast about the changing role of Estonia in Russian foreign policy. The forecast is based on the scenario methodology, which suggests that the modern means of political forecasting make it possible to make conclusions not about the future states of political phenomena, but rather about the trends of current states, which are called scenarios. The article describes the four possible scenarios of changes in the role of Estonia in Russian foreign policy that are evaluated from the perspective of the development of Russian-Estonian relations and factors affecting the probability of each scenario. It is shown that any change in the role of Estonia in Russian foreign policy depends not only on the specific actions of the Estonian elite, for example their readiness to change their position on the participation of Russian-speaking population in the democratic decision-making process or the evaluation of controversial events of the past, but also on the meaning that will be attached to these actions by the Russian elite.

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