The Baltic Region

2015 Issue №2(24)

International Relations

Russia and the Baltic States: Some Results and a Few Perspectives

Abstract

Russia has a vested political interest in the Eastern Baltics; yet acting upon this interest is made either difficult or altogether impossible when it comes to the Baltic States. For 20 years, the Russian Federation has been actively promoting a model of mutually beneficial co-operation. The anti-Russian discourse of the Baltic States' political elites — driven by their own wish to maintain their political monopoly — halts most of co-operation efforts. It is time to accept that the previous model of co-operation with the Baltic States is now irrelevant, since these states now form the avant-garde of anti-Russian movement; whether they will — or, indeed, shall — be held accountable for that is another question that bears answering. for which they should certainly be held accountable. The author of this article believes that the current model is unprecedented and failing, so it is unwise to speak of its continuing long-term application. The aim of this study is to draw some conclusions on the 25 years of interg overnmental relations between Russia and the Baltic States. The author uses a number of cross-disciplinary methods and relies heavily on the method of historical analysis. It is concluded that there are reasons rendering mutual co-operation impossible — however beneficial such co-operation may seem. Conservation of the current political system will inevitably lead to economic stagnation in the Baltic States. If external pressures continue to rise and the relations with Russia continue to deteriorate, the destruction of economic and political systems of the neighboring states may become a reality.

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Lithuania's Lonely Leadership 2.0.

Abstract

The article scrutinizes Lithuanian foreign policy within the framework of the regional leadership concept first introduced in the early 2000s. The reasons of failure of the first leadership attempt in 2004—2008 are analyzed, as are the reasons behind the revival of the concept in 2010 and onwards. While the overall economy seems to be on the mend and the relationships with the adjacent countries (Poland, mostly) are improving, Lithuanian leadership, argues the author, is still very much a subcontract one: it follows the model of “export democracy”, has a narrow agenda and is implicitly geared towards curtailing the influence of its eastern neighbor. The escalation of violence and further development of social and economic crisis in Ukrane make a European-style reform (where Lithuania is a selfproclaimed expert) even less relevant, and confrontational rhetoric towards Russia may lead to economic losses and contribute to rising political tension in the region.

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International Co-operation

On Russian/Nordic Investment Competition in the Baltic States

Abstract

The researchers often overlook the relationships between Russian and Nordic investment capital; and even less attention is paid to studying the competition between the two. Yet this subject can be of particular relevance to the areas that are geographically, historically and culturally close to both Russia and the Nordic countries. Thus, the aim of this article is to understand how the competition between Russian and Nordic capital investment is played out in the Baltic States. The study discusses the principles of Russian and Nordic investment in the Baltic, and suggests ways to regulate these relations. To this end, we compare the investment conditions created in the Baltic States for both Russian and Nordic investors. The analysis shows that most of the Baltic market is controlled by the Nordic capital, which blocks the arrival of Russian investment to the Baltic States. With a nod to a number of previous studies, the authors of this article suggest some adjustments to the theory of foreign direct investment. The study will be also of practical interest to those Russian investors who are seeking entry points to the Baltic markets.

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Russian-Estonian Economic and Investment Cooperation During the Crisis: Dynamics and Possibilities

Abstract

The article deals with the development in Russian-Estonian relations during the crises of 2007 and 2014, taking into consideration the balance between political and economic factors in the decision-making by Estonian government. A number of special aspects, trends and problems in trade and investment ties are detected. The aim of the study is to uncover key motivation behind the actions of both Russia and Estonia, to identify the drivers for economic and political development in the region, and to work out recommendations to adjust them. The questions put forward by the authors of this article could not be more topical at the time, when Russian economic situation is obviously getting worse and capital flight (to the neighboring EU Member States) is likely to increase. The method of the study is comparative analysis of the impact on economic ties made by Russian-Estonian crisis of 2007 and the current international tension around Ukraine. The regional fossil fuel market and the possibilities of Gazprom involvement in its development are also analyzed. It is concluded that political motives are still important for Estonian decisionmaking, though they are balanced out by measures of business support (despite some of these measures being taken by the EU bodies). The role of political factor for the Russian side is increasing. It is acknowledged that there is a growing number of missed economic opportunities in the Russian Northwest.

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Domestic Policies

Estonian Political Parties in the mid-2010s

Abstract

The article provides an analysis of political party system of the Republic of Estonia in the mid-2010s. The analysis is based on the works of Moris Duverger. As one might expect, the establishment of proportionate electoral system in Estonia has resulted in the formation of a multi-party system, in which no single party dominates in the parliament even in a short run. The article demonstrates that though Estonian political party system develops in line with the tendencies typical to political party systems of most European countries, some of its elements are more common to postcommunist countries. It indicates that the political party system in Estonia has stabilized throughout the past decade. Today, five sixths of voters support one of the four main political parties. A minority of voters does not consider any of the four dominant parties as a representative of their interests; thus, they vote for parties that had not been previously represented in the parliament. This allowed for two minor political parties to pass into the parliament at 2015 elections: the Estonian Conservative People’s Party, and Free Party. In the long run the minor parties will be able to keep parliamentary seats depending on their ability to build coalitions, either with the three governing parties — Reform Party, Pro Patria and Republic Union, and Social-Democratic Party, or with opposition Centre Party. The article considers the impact of the split in the Estonian society between ethnic Estonians and Russophonic people on political party system. It demonstrates that the majority of Russophonic voters in Estonia support the Centre Party, every major political party in the country has its Russophonic voters, while Estonian United Left Party, which promotes itself as a particular representative of the country’s Russophonic minority, remains a marginal political force.

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The Role of Political Elites in the Development of Politics of Memory in the Baltic States

Abstract

The article focuses on multiple cases of the politicization of history by the Baltic political elites. Three states of development of politics of memory in the Baltic States are identified. Problems of political exploitation of the past are scrutinized in the context of political life and international relations. It is concluded that the narratives of the past where nazi and Soviet legacies are equated are actively promoted on the pan-European level. Elites of the Baltic States play a salient role in this process and enhance ties with the elites of the Eastern Europe, expert and political communities of the Western Europe and USA. The dominant trends in the development of the historical politics in the Baltic countries are the administrative and legislative instruments for approval of the preferred narratives of the past, as well as an active political work at the international level aimed at the inclusion of the Baltic narratives of the past into the European politics of memory. Historical politics of the Baltic States shows the Baltic countries as the victims of "two totalitarianisms" ("Nazi and Soviet occupation"), and this point of view is widely used as a foreign policy tool. The politicization of the "anti-totalitarianism" issue is now a popular foreign policy tool that not only serves the interests of the Baltic and Eastern European politicians, but also finds ideological supporters in Western Europe and the United States.

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Polish Accession to the European Union: Participating Institutions

Abstract

In May 2014 it was aready ten years since Poland’s accession to the European Union. The accession was preceded by a long period of political action and negotiations between the Polish and the EU institutions. The process of integration was extremely complex. It covered almost all areas of economic, legal and civil aspects of the aspiring country’s economy, in which all necessary requirements had to be met. The aim of the article was to present the institutional framework created for efficient implementation of the process of accession. The considerations involved especially an institutional method. The research resulted in poining out both the actually efficient and less efficient bodies participating in the process of integration.

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Discussion

Russian Socio-Economic Geography: Status, Challenges, Perspectives

Abstract

The socio-economic geography studies the processes, characteristics and patterns of spatial development. In the recent decades, however, this area of scientific investigation has failed its promise, which happened for a number of external and internal reasons. The main external reason is the development of "consumer society", which does not require the search of new space and therefore ignores the "spatial" science, geography. Internal reason is the blurring of socio-economic geography along the variety of new lines of research. The discipline was, in many ways, redundant, and unselective in the application of theoretical and methodological tools liberally borrowed from other branches of both geography and economics. The only way this discipline can return to its former glory is by going all the way back to doing proper spatial research.

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The Development of Russian Social Geography: Challenges, Trends, Priorities

Abstract

Promoting the development of social geography (one of the most important components of present-day social sciences) is especially important for contemporary Russia. In the last 25 years Russian social geography has seen dramatic disciplinary changes. On the one hand, it has widened its scope. On the other hand, it has suffered from a growing contradiction between the popularization of the social geographic knowledge, the need to have a clear understanding of the factors and results of a multi-scale territorial social and economic dynamics, and the limits of the field (with its organizational structure, possibilities and practitioners desperately falling behind the times). The aim of this article is to analyze the post-soviet period of the development of social geography to identify the strengths and weaknesses that the discipline has demonstrated, the challenges it still has to overcome and the priorities it has yet to formulate. It is shown how the traditional dimensions of social geography (with their focus on humanities, culture, economics, geography or environment, respectively) not only keep their value but acquire new meanings. The author concludes about the importance and the strategies of further integration within the community of social geography researchers, and points out the directions of future research: fundamental issues of Russian spatial planning, Russian positioning in both global and local (Eurasian) contexts.

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