January 20, 2010

English summary

The October issue of Diplomaatia focuses on the Baltic Sea region.

The October issue of Diplomaatia focuses on the Baltic Sea region.

English summary

The October issue of Diplomaatia focuses on the Baltic Sea region.
In the opening article, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves analyses the Baltic Sea Strategy, which is close to the hearts of many, as it represents a new and a genuinely positive development in EU policy formation.
According to Ilves, the Baltic Sea Strategy has two apparent objectives: first, to improve the quality of the Baltic Sea itself, i.e.
the quality of the body of water; second, to utilise to the maximum the four freedoms – free movement of people, labour, capital and services in the region – and to eliminate all kinds of bureaucratic and administrative obstacles that still hinder the improvement of the lives of people.
In addition to environmental and administrative issues, Ilves urges us to explore what he thinks is the most promising and exciting aspect of the possibilities offered by the Baltic Sea Strategy: to create new synergies and forms of cooperation that would allow us to overcome the smallness of scale we encounter in much of the region.
“Let’s face it! Most of the EU countries around the Baltic Sea are small. /…/ we are small entities located around our common sea. If we wish for our universities, scientists and SMEs to survive and indeed thrive in a globalised world, in which we are in competition with China, India and the United States, we must cooperate more effectively.”
The model of cooperation, which Ilves has in mind, can be found in the beginnings of the EU itself, in the original Coal and Steel Community. “The Community initially was planned precisely as a solution to unnecessary duplication and unhealthy, politically dangerous competition and protectionism in a post-war Europe still struggling with reconstruction. Today, we need not fear that coal and steel production competition might lead to a new war. But we do need to fear that our innovation and science, especially in our small countries, will not keep pace with developments elsewhere.”
Alyson Bailes and Kristmundur Thí³r Ólafsson from the University of Iceland analyse the Stoltenberg Report – an independent report written by former Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg on ideas for strengthening Nordic cooperation. Bailes and Ólafsson conclude: “If fully implemented, the report would mean a step-change, not just in the level and range of Nordic cooperation, but also in the active and assertive nature of the Nordics’ posture vis-í -vis the larger processes of European integration and security. It would be a bid for the region to take its future more fully in its own hands than at any time since the late 1940s, when the idea of a formal Nordic defence pact was raised and rejected.”
Robert Aps, a researcher at the Estonian Marine Institute of the University of Tartu, assesses the risks related to oil pollution in the Baltic Sea. He claims that the risks are high due to increased ship traffic and that it is impossible to prevent all ship accidents that could cause oil spills. “In this situation, the best strategy would be to enhance international cooperation to downgrade oil spill risks related to ship traffic and, if necessary, to make joint efforts for crisis management.”
Edward Lucas, the Eastern Europe correspondent for The Economist, analyses the hard security risks in the Baltic Sea region. He admits that many are puzzled by the idea of anything so old-fashioned as worrying about hard security, yet the risks have not disappeared and the re-emergence of an aggressive Russia is not a completely utopian fantasy. Lucas proposes the creation of a regional security system around the Baltic Sea. “Between them, the countries of the Baltic Sea region have the money, men and firepower to create an effective regional security system that will deter even the wiliest and wildest Kremlin schemers,” claims Lucas. “If the countries of the southern and eastern Baltic seaboard could not cooperate when money was plentiful and times were good, why will they do so now? Because they have to, is the blunt answer. Nobody else is coming to the rescue.”
In addition, Vladimir Jushkin, Director of the Baltic Centre for Russian Studies, examines the root causes of Finlandisierung, an aspect of Finnish-Russian relations, of which we now know more than we used to thanks to Russian archives.
George Schöpflin, a member of the European Parliament, uses hindsight to look back at the fall of Communism, at myth-based misperceptions that surrounded people back then and at mistakes, to which these misperceptions led in interpreting social processes.
Last but not least, Tomas Jermalavicius, a researcher at the International Centre for Defence Studies, reviews George Friedman’s book, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century.

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