The Baltic Region

2016 Issue №1

International relations

The Baltic Sea region and increasing international tension

Abstract

For many years, the Baltic Sea region stood out for its remarkable stability. The dramatic changes following the end of the Cold War did not have a profound effect on the territory. However, Russia's cooperation with other states in the Baltic Sea region began to lose momentum. This paper discusses the negative effects of the Ukrainian and Syrian crises and the increasing tension between Russia and other countries in the Baltic Sea region. In the short term, these trends are unlikely to re¬verse. Of the two possible scenarios — suspending relations until a solution to the political and military problems is found or trying to make use of every opportunity in economy, culture, science, education, etc., — the latter is preferable. A breakdown in regional cooperation will weaken Russia’s position. However, gaining positive momentum may prove instrumental in overcoming the confrontation between Russia and the West in the future.

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Eastern Europe. On the centenary of the political project

Abstract

This article describes the characteristics of Eastern Europe as a political pro-ject. The author considers the genesis of Eastern Europe as a political region and identifies several periods in its history. The author analyses key features of sover-eignization- desovereignization of the region and examines geopolitical projects of Intermarium. It is shown that Eastern Europe as such is an objective reality, whose history has not ended. At the same time, the author advances and proves the thesis that various ‘Baltic/Black Sea’ cooperation models aimed at isolating Russia act against the interests of all participants of the political process. A number of meth¬ods, including the historical and structural functional analyses and the system ap¬proach are used in the study. The central hypothesis is that, as a political project, Intermarium reflects an important part of the systemic features of Eastern Europe as a political region. However, it is not identical to the region in terms of its geography or political regionalism. The anti-Russian sentiment of the Intermarium project is dominant. Yet, it is not immanent in this group of concepts. Reformatting the Inter¬marium concept in line with the new Moscow-Warsaw-Berlin cooperation model can be considered a feasible political task, which requires an adequate scientific solution. Moreover, Eastern Europe has reached the point of bifurcation. The region may become another new source of instability in Europe. Intermarium projects — a traditional object of research – have to be re-evaluated in the new political and eco¬nomic conditions. This article is a step in this direction.

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The US ballistic missile defence policy in the Baltic and Nordic regions

Abstract

This article examines the implications of the deployment of the US ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in the Baltic and Nordic regions. These implications are to be considered to ensure Russia’s military security. Using the structural-functional method, the authors analyse the internal structure of the US BMD in Europe, stages of its implementation, and its influence on the military equilibrium in the region. Being similar to other regional missile defence systems of the Pentagon, BMD in Europe increases the offensive capabilities of the US armed forces and its allies and in doing so, it stops performing a purely defensive mission declared by Washington. It is stressed that the deployment of mobile sea- and land-based BMD elements in the Baltic Sea region and Nordic countries will inevitably destabilize the strategic situation and may lead to a new round of arms race in the region. The efficacy of BMD in Europe is evaluated from the perspective of military technology. The system’s potential threats to Russia’s military security and its armed forces are assessed. The article considers measures to enhance national security that could be taken by Russia provided the US plans to deploy BMD in Europe are fully implemented.

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Key actors of German ‘soft power’ in the Baltics

Abstract

This article focuses on Germany’s key ‘soft power’ actors promoting the country’s interests in the Baltics. The authors analyse the policies of ‘soft power’ aimed to create a positive image of Germany in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The article examines the activity of German political foundations, research institutions, communities, language centres, and scientific and cultural organisations. It is stressed that Germany makes use of the Baltics’ historical familiarity with German traditions in implementing its policy in these countries. The study suggests that German political and educational foundations are major actors of German soft power. It is shown that the development of a multilevel German language learning system incorporating various courses and scholarship programmes is one of the central strategies of German foundations. This strategy uses ‘High German’ as a means to integrate the Baltic audience into the German information space. The German language serves as a basis for popularisation of the German educational system and educational standards, on the one hand, and partnership institutionalisation, cooperation, and integration on the other. It is concluded that, alongside Sweden and Russia, Germany is a major foreign policy player in the Baltics.

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The Baltic policy of Germany and current international relations

Abstract

This article analyses the Baltic policy of united Germany from the 1990s until today. The authors set out to identify the significance of German-Baltic relations and the role of the Eastern policy in Russian-German relations. The method of dynamic comparison between the political and economic narrative in intergovernmental relations makes it possible to identify distinctive features of Germany’s Baltic policy in the context of current international relations. In particular, it is noted that Germany was most active in the Baltic region in the 1990s, when the country was establishing political, economic, and cultural ties with the new independent states. In the second half of the 1990s, Germany’s foreign policy became less intense. After the accession of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to the EU and NATO in 2004, certain disagreements started to arise between Germany and the Baltics. It explains the lukewarm relations between them. The Ukraine events brought about a change in Germany’s regional policy. Despite Russia remaining one of the key economic and political counteractors, Germany, being a partner of the Baltics in the EU and NATO, cannot adopt a neutral position in the conflict of interests between the Baltics and Russia.

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International cooperation

Local border traffic as an efficient tool for developing cross-border cooperation

Abstract

Local border traffic (LBT) is a tool for cooperation between the EU member states and neighbouring countries. It emerged as a measure to mitigate the barrier effect of the EU’s external border. In 2006, the European Parliament authorised the EU member states to conclude bilateral agreements on a simplified border crossing regime in border areas. This article analyses local border traffic as a cross-border cooperation tool. The territory described in the study includes the external borders of the EU (and Norway) with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus. The article will be of interest to specialists in international and, particularly, in cross-border cooperation. The authors analyse the mechanism of local border traffic and identify possible trends based on the general socioeconomic situation and foreign policy background in Russia, Belarus, and the EU (Norway). The article employs the cartographic method to enhance the visual component of the study. It is concluded that the LBT mechanism is effective and it has a positive effect on the development of border contacts between countries. There is a need to continue the dialogue between Russia, Belarus and the EU countries on both expanding the geographical scope of the LBT mechanism and ensuring its qualitative development.

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Society

Social conflicts as seen by residents of Saint Petersburg: An empirical study

Abstract

This article describes the attitudes of Saint Petersburg residents to social conflicts. The author analyses their assessments of danger associated with social tension in the Russian society. This tension becomes particularly pronounced during the time of economic, social, and political turbulence. The research aims to examine the existing threats and identify opportunities for reducing social tension. The article makes a practical contribution to the development of social policy and civil society. The author describes the attitudes of Saint Petersburg residents to various social conflicts. They believe that religious and ethnic conflicts are the most dangerous ones and consider ‘conflicts over property and status’ a minor threat. Residents, associating themselves with the middle class, are more inclined to stress the danger of religious conflicts compared to those who associate themselves with the lower class, which is corroborated by a comparison of real incomes. The intensity of personal anxiety, experienced in the presence of people differing from the respondents, can be described in the following way: the most acute anxiety is caused by people of a different nationality, followed by nationals of other countries and members of other religions, then people with differing political views, and compatriots from other Russian regions. These data make it possible to identify hidden connections and patterns in the socio-demographic structure of these attitudes, which can be instrumental in obtaining a comprehensive picture of threats and emerging social conflicts and, hence, in preventing them.

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Kaliningrad region

Changes in the cultural landscape of the Kaliningrad region’s periphery in the 19th/20th centuries

Abstract

This article considers the development of cultural landscapes on the agricultural periphery of the Kaliningrad region. These territories are analysed in view of historical, geographical, social, economic, and political factors. Owing to its history, the Kaliningrad region boasts a unique combination of cultural landscape elements. Thus, the genesis and development conditions of the region’s cultural landscape are important aspects for the identification of its components — settlement pattern, settlement hierarchy, land use type, transport system, economic ties, etc. It is well known that the key role in the formation of a cultural landscape is played by the level of socioeconomic relations, which affects the landscape type and composition. Historiography and the study of maps made it possible to identify certain stages of cultural landscape evolution, analyse the course of its historical development, and assess its transformations in different periods. The following types of transformations of cultural landscape elements were identified — settlement planning, changes in the number of settlements, settlement patterns, land use planning and management, amelioration, natural landscape preservation, industrial development, and the development of transport infrastructure.

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