The Baltic Region

2022 Vol. 14 №1

The development of border regions7

Towards a classification of transboundary tourist and recreation mesoregions in the Baltic region

Abstract

In the wake of the Covid-10 pandemic, the Baltic region saw a dramatic reduction in tourist flows in 2000—2021; the decrease was as much as tenfold in some destinations. This study aims to classify the 16 transboundary tourist and recreational mesoregions of the Baltic region according to 2019 tourist flows. The research evaluates, for the first time, the 2020—2021 decline in tourist flows across these regions. The main outcome of this study is grouping the mesoregions into three orders according to the size of 2019 tourist flows. Four mesoregions were assigned to the first order (with over 500,000 arrivals), three of them located in the southwest Baltic region; nine, the second order (from 100,000 to 500,000 arrivals); three, the third order (from 50,000 to 100,000 arrivals). The most substantial fall in tourist flows occurred in 2020—2021 in the mesoregins including Sweden and Russia and the least marked in those involving Denmark, Germany, Finland, Estonia and Latvia. The findings may help track the future restoration of transboundary tourist flows in the countries of the Baltic region.

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Cross-border digitalization of the western border of Russia: potential and prospects

Abstract

Border regions are significant geostrategic territories, which long-term sustainable development is one of the priorities of Russia’s national security. The specificity of their economic-geographical position necessitates the development and implementation by the authorities of special governance approaches aimed at finding a balance between the openness and barrier function of the state border. One of the most common tools for the spatial development of border areas is the sustainable cross-border cooperation with the regions of neighboring countries using various froms of cross-border cooperation, incl. focused on the generation and diffusion of innovations. The covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, having become a truly global challenge of our time, has made significant changes not only in the policies of many countries regarding the border, but also in the functioning of already established cross-border regions. The impossibility of fully implementing the previous formats of interethnic and interregional interaction has necessitated the search for new forms of cooperation, primarily based on the use of rapidly developing digital technologies. This led to the growth of academic and practical interest in substantiating the mutual effects of digitalization, innovation and internationalization for the regions. This article is devoted to assessing the potential and prospects of cross-border digitalization of the Western borderland of Russia. The objectives of the study were to identify the gap between border regions in the level of accessibility and penetration of digital technologies, as a significant condition for the formation of cross-border digital connections. The object of study is 15 subjects of the Russian Federation and 17 regions of NUTS 2 neighboring states. Using geoinformation and statistical methods of analysis, a typology of regions by the value of the digitalization index is proposed, with the allocation of leaders, moderate and lagging regions, and an assessment of their spatial location relative to the state border. Possible reasons for the current digital inequality, primarily of a socio-economic nature, are discussed. The determining role of the institutional factor in realizing the potential of cross-border digitalization has been substantiated. It is concluded that political efforts for digital convergence in the western direction are being undertaken only between Russia and Belarus, although further intensification is required.

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New opportunities for the Russian Baltic exclave in the context of changes in the country’s geopolitical situation

Abstract

Current geopolitical and geoeconomic changes require a reconsideration of the role of the Kaliningrad region in the Baltic region. This study aims to demonstrate the possible effect of some trends in the development of the neighbouring countries on the future of the Kaliningrad region and make recommendations on the territory’s macrospecialisation. Amid the erosion of the world order, Sergey A. Karaganov calls for moderate isolationism. The Kaliningrad region is an incredibly interesting historical experiment bound to produce unexpected results. The strengthening of Russia, which coincided with the termination of 300 years of attempts to become part of Europe in some capacity, radically affects the functions of the Kaliningrad region. Its unique geographical position and caring attitude to the historical heritage make it a likely outpost of Russia’s soft power. Developing the region as a laboratory of the future, which builds models for the domestic market and exports, will allow the country to benefit from scale, taking advantage of its larger and smaller territories. Higher education may play a leading part in the process. In particular, as conservatism revives, it is time to take another look at the ideas and approaches used when creating Akademgorodok in Novosibirsk.

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