The Baltic Region

2016 Issue №4

Geopolitics

Eurasian Future of Russia: Alternating Integration and Disintegration Cycles

Abstract

Russia needs to fit into the international geopolitical and geo-economic landscape. The formation of this landscape is largely determined by alternating integration and disintegration cycles in the development of the world economy. The second global disintegration cycle that started in 2008 is expected to last 15—20 years. It will be followed by a new integration cycle, largely dependent on China (Pax Sinensis instead of Pax Americana). This change necessitates a number of steps: a significant strengthening of the Eastern vector in the development of Russia, the formation of the Moscow-Beijing-New Delhi triangle (Evgeny Primakov's idea) as well as providing access of energy-intensive and water-intensive goods from East Siberia by railway to the Chinese and Indian markets. Russia has expressed its interest in the construction of a railway from China to India. It will allow Russia to reduce transportation costs and use a potentially heavy transit traffic for the modernization of the Transsibirian railway. These steps could radically change the role of the Baltic exclave of Russia: from being a ‘window to Europe’ the region is to turn into the westernmost point of a infrastructure axis extending from east to west. The creation of such an axis, combined with a sharp fall in transportation costs will facilitate the access of energy-intensive and water-intensive goods from the Urals and Siberia to the Asian and European markets. The Kaliningrad region is increasingly taking on business facilitating functions, which used to be performed by the Soviet Baltic republics in the past. The region can play a more important role in the formation of Eurasia stretching from Shanghai to St. Petersburg (according to Dmitry Trenin), instead of the Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

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Geopolitical and Geo-economic Changes in the Baltic Sea Region at the Turn of the XX—XXI centuries

Abstract

The article describes the process and results of the geopolitical and geoeconomic changes in the Baltic Sea region at the turn of the XX and XXI centuries. The authors assess the political, economic and military potential of individual countries and groups of countries. Ranking the selected countries and grouping them according to the similarity of their characteristics requires a variety of methods — the economic, statistical, cartographic, graphic-analytical methods, to name just a few. In the late 1980s — early 1990s, there were three socialist countries in the Baltic Sea region. They were signatories of the Warsaw Pact and members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (the Soviet Union, Poland and East Germany). The Baltic Sea region housed four market economies (Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Germany). Only two of them were members of NATO and the EU (Germany and Denmark). At present, there are eight EU countries in the region; six of them are NATO members (Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia), and the same two countries, Sweden and Finland, remain outside the bloc. Russia, the legal successor of the USSR, is neither a NATO, nor an EU member. The authors explore similarities and differences between countries of the Baltic Sea region in terms of their territory, population, GDP, foreign trade turnover and the number of regular armed forces. The article stresses the importance of international cooperation in increasing the growth rates of economic development of all countries of the Baltic Sea region.

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Economics and Social Economic Geography

Socially efficient entry barriers?

Abstract

Stagnation of the Russian economy lends a new urgency to the question of whether reserves of competition incentives can be used to overcome the current negative economic tendencies. The lowering of entry barriers is traditionally considered a universal instrument of promoting competition. However, lower entry barriers can be mistakenly associated with bringing the market closer to the state of the so-called ‘perfect’ competition. The authors aim to show that the absence of entry barriers does not improve competition in certain markets. On the contrary, it may result in a decrease in social welfare. This is particularly true of capital-intensive goods, for instance, large diameter pipes for gas pipelines. Lack of proper competition in such sectors of the market necessitates entry barriers, for they help to achieve a separating equilibrium at the market. Since there are costs associated with creating a separating equilibrium, it is necessary to assess both costs and benefits of the pooling and separating equilibria.

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Changes in the Population Distribution and Transport Network of Saint Petersburg

Abstract

The authors explores the interdependence between demographic changes and transport network centrality, using Saint Petersburg as an example. The article describes the demographic data for the period 2002—2015 and the transportation network data of 2006. The authors employ several methods of demographic research; they identified the centre of gravity of the population, produce the standard deviational ellipsis and use the kernel density estimation. The street network centrality of Saint Petersburg was analyzed using the Multiple Centrality Assessment Model (MCA) and the Urban Network Analysis Tool for ArcGIS. The analysis of the population distribution in Saint Petersburg shows that each area of the city has seen their population grow over the last thirteen years. However, it is the population of suburban areas that increased the most. The core area of the city has the tendency of outward diffusion, and the population gravity centre has been moving northwards. Spatial characteristics of the population growth, changes in the population gravity centre, the standard deviational ellipse and characteristics of the street network centrality show that Saint Petersburg is at the final stage of urbanization and its development pattern is similar to that of other major cities.

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Geography of Electoral Volatility in the Warmia and Mazury Voivodeship of Poland

Abstract

The authors describe the impact of administrative reforms on the electoral volatility in the Warmia and Mazury voivodeship of Poland. The administrative reforms resulted in the formation of a new territorial organization of power. Using three large administrative units of Poland as an example, the authors analyse the experience of the formation of a geographic region by merging several politically diverse territories. The merger took place in a changing political environment. It inevitably affected the strategy and tactics of the development of local self-governance. The formation of the region has been going on in such a manner that differences in the electoral preferences and political behaviour of the urban population (the regional metropolis) and the periphery remain unchanged. Having performed the index analysis and a comparative analysis of the electoral data, the authors conclude that the consistency of administrative decisions on the formation of the region and the electoral performance have been weakening over time. During the initial phase, the electoral volatility was mainly due to the sluggishness and inertia of the previous territorial organization. After the phase of stabilization, the electoral volatility indices in different geographical areas changed due to a combination of social and political factors. The authors show that the ‘looseness’ of the Polish party system affect the electoral volatility in the region more than institutional decisions of the administrative reforms.

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International Cooperation and International Relations

The Policy of Regional Convergence in Russia-Belarus integration: Prospects for Development

Abstract

In a number of cases, integration of a large international region or an interstate union can only be promoted by political means. The policy of regional economic convergence prevails in many sectors. The single economic market and membership in economic and monetary unions give a new impetus to consolidation. The study aims to identify and explore the problems of political governance, which the Union State of Russia-Belarus faces due to their asymmetric and not completely compatible economies. The author analyzes the process of interstate convergence, considering it as an essential part of integration and explores a number of specific characteristics underlying the Russian-Belarusian economic integration. The author offers a set of criteria of convergence/not convergence of the states, describes the principles of their economic and political rapprochement and offers models of convergence as well as prerequisites for them. The article examines the principles that determine the participation of a country in international integration as well as prospects for the further development of the regional economic and political mechanisms, which are being formed

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Baltic Factor in Russia-France Relations

Abstract

The article aims to identify the role of the Baltic factor in Russia-France relations. Despite the fact that the Baltic Sea region (BSR) no longer plays an important role in Russia-France bilateral relations, the authors attach significance to analysing the dynamics and changes of the BSR role in European politics in the post- Napoleonic period. The authors compare the Russian and the July Monarchies (1830—1848) in the context of the current Vienna system of international relations. The article describes the role of the 1830—1831 uprising in Poland, which was an event of particular importance. The monarchies of the two countries had to take into account new social phenomena, which were more pronounced in France. After the suppression of the uprising in the Polish part of the Russian Empire, Polish emigrants residing in France became the stumbling block for the development of Russia- France relations. The article explores the role of P. de Barante, Ambassador of France to Russia and describes France and Russia’s trade and economic interests in the Baltic Sea region. The authors conclude that the specificity of Russia-France bilateral relations became more apparent during the First and Second World Wars. However, the Baltic factor has lost its relevance over time.

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Forms of International Cooperation in Environmental Education: the Experience of Saint Petersburg State University

Abstract

The authors analyse different forms of environmental education projects and programmes implemented in the Baltic Sea region. The first one is “The Baltic University” programme taught in English. The “Baltic University” is a network of more than 200 universities from 14 counties of the Baltic Sea region. This education programme offers an opportunity for students to enroll on bachelor and master degree programmes related to environmental and social problems of the Baltic Sea region. The Polar and Marine Sciences, POMOR master programme, represents the second form of international environmental education. Russian and German researchers from six universities and four research centres have developed the programme. The target group of the programme are Russian and international students, studying together during the whole duration of the programme. It is the first internationally accredited MA programme taught in English. International accreditation proves the compliance of the programme with international education standards. The same cooperation model is used in a new international master programme — Cold Regions Environmental Landscapes Integrated Science (CORELIS). The programme started in 2016. It is implemented jointly by Hamburg university (the lead partner of the project), and university professors from Helsinki (Finland) and Lisbon (Portugal). Researchers from the Austrian National Institute of Polar Research (Austria, and Lund University (Sweden) will join the programme at a later stage. Such an approach will help achieve the synergy of the European and Russian approaches to environmental education. The Russian-Norwegian master programme “Geoecological monitoring and rational use of natural resources in the Northern oil and gas production regions” is a good example of the third form of international environmental education. The programme similar to POMOR and CORELIS. However, it has one distinctive feature — Russian and foreign students study together from the second term only. The authors describe the ways of achieving the learning objectives of these master programmes depending on the students’ language skills and their basic knowledge of ecology and nature management.

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Ecology

Geosituational Modelling of Coastal Marine Systems

Abstract

The article summarizes years of experience of geosituational modelling of coastal marine systems in the Baltic Sea region and adjacent territories. Kaliningrad universities and academic institutions have done extensive research on the diversity of approaches and models of the regional geosituations as well as on identifying the most promising coastal marine areas. Some of the models presented in the present paper are qualitative, while others are empirical and statistical ones. However, the majority of the models can be referred to as forms of graphic and image mapping. The significance of the regional models lies in their specificity, a more detailed character (compared to the generalist ones) and the possibility of using them to back up managerial decisions in critical and emergency situations in order to minimize the negative effects of natural (storms, floods, earthquakes, etc.) and anthropogenic emergency situations. The authors developed a matrix classification attributable to a particular class of models for the situations leading to uncertain outcomes. The authors suggest using numerical methods combined with the empirical and statistical models for the assessment of the impact of industrial fishing on marine environment, minimizing the consequences of storms, floods and others factors. Special attention is paid to the modelling of climate change and geo-ecological consequences, as well as to atlas mapping and landscape planning. As a result of the geosituational analysis the authors got new insights into the solar-terrestrial links, marine-terrestrial ecosystems, global and regional processes related to climate change, oceanization, the vulnerability of natural systems under the increasing pressure of anthropogenic activities, and continuously increasing risks presented by industrial agriculture and other types of land use.

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Regional Geographic Information Systems of Health and Environmental Monitoring

Abstract

The article describes a new scientific and methodological approach to designing geographic information systems of health and environmental monitoring for urban areas. Geographic information systems (GIS) are analytical tools of the regional health and environmental monitoring; they are used for an integrated assessment of the environmental status of a large industrial centre or a part of it. The authors analyse the environmental situation in Voronezh, a major industrial city, located in the Central Black Earth Region with a population of more than 1 million people. The proposed research methodology is based on modern approaches to the assessment of health risks caused by adverse environmental conditions. The research work was implemented using a GIS and multicriteria probabilistic and statistical evaluation to identify cause-and-effect links, a combination of action and reaction, in the dichotomy ‘environmental factors — public health’. The analysis of the obtained statistical data confirmed an increase in childhood diseases in some areas of the city. Environmentally induced diseases include congenital malformations, tumors, endocrine and urogenital pathologies. The main factors having an adverse impact on health are emissions of carcinogens into the atmosphere and the negative impact of transport on the environment. The authors identify and characterize environmentally vulnerable parts of the city and developed principles of creating an automated system of health monitoring and control of environmental risks. The article offers a number of measures aimed at the reduction of environmental risks, better protection of public health and a more efficient environmental monitoring.

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