Carmen Gebhard, Is ‘Nordic’ Plus ‘Baltic’ Equal to Inclusive ‘Balticness’? in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 61 - 75

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

Bibliographic information
61 F. Mental Geography – The Constitution of the BSR as a Spatial Concept The notion of a region generally implies the existence of a spatial unit, which is at least to some extent self-contained and thereby evidently recognisable and delimitable as an entity. In fact, after the end of the Cold War, part of the European North has developed into some sort of regional unit: the BSR. Numerous regional initiatives, associations and networks carrying the Baltic label give us a ‘proof’ that in fact, there must be some sort of regional entity in Northern Europe that is gathering around the Baltic Sea. Still, ascribing a cohesive image to an area as ample and diverse as the BSR seems to be a bold venture. Jasper von Altenbockum chose a quite provocative way to put it: There is nothing, which doesn’t exist at [sic!] the Baltic. A politician would however struggle if asked: is there a Baltic? Because he would have to say: Oh yes, there are Baltic programs, Baltic concepts, Baltic sub-regions, Baltic councils and Baltic conferences. [As] said: there is nothing, which doesn’t exist at the Baltic Sea. Something for everyone and nothing for all.177 In fact, is there any supportive evidence for ‘Baltic togetherness’ besides the mere existence of ‘Baltic’ associations? The BSR is a uniquely diverse geographical area, on the political as well as on the economic, cultural and ideological level. What actually accounts for comprehensive Balticness besides the plain fact of physical vicinity? These are questions raised in the context of “mental geography”.178 In contrast to physical geography, mental geography is widely determined by normative factors, such as identity, values and cultural connotations. Identity markers always involve a choice (what we wish to belong to?), because the social world is defined not just by physical constraints but also in spiritual and normative categories.179 After the end of the Cold War, the spatial framework in Northern Europe has considerably altered and diversified, a development that Jukarainen labelled the “growth of spatial complexity”.180 Today, the region features a variety of virtually constructed sub-spaces, such as the ‘Nordic’ or the ‘Baltic sphere’. The following chapters deal with the consistencies of the ‘Baltic Sea Region’ as a spatial concept, questioning and analysing the various sub-spaces that have emerged in the course of the recent international developments. I. Is ‘Nordic’ Plus ‘Baltic’ Equal to Inclusive ‘Balticness’? The demise of the unnatural Cold War division and the national independence of the three Baltic States paved the way for different forms of regional cohesion in the BSR, and thus, for the development of an inclusive ‘Balticness’. Formerly isolated sub-spaces 177 VON ALTENBOCKUM Jasper, cited by Tassinari. See TASSINARI Fabrizio: Mare Europaeum. Baltic Sea Region Security and Cooperation from Post-Wall to post-Enlargement Europe. Copenhagen 2004, pp.157-158. 178 See chapter “The Discursive Construction of Regions”, p. 170-. 179 MAKARYCHEV Andrey S.: Where the North Meets the East. Europe’s ‘Dimensionalism’ and Poland’s ‘Marginality Strategy’. In: Cooperation and Conflict No. 3/2004, pp. 299-315, here p. 301. 180 See JUKARAINEN Pirjo: Norden is Dead. Long Live the Eastwards Faced Euro-North. Geopolitical Re-making of Norden in a Nordic Journal. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 12/1999, pp. 355-382, here p. 364. 62 could now be drawn together on various levels of action and in different policy areas. In order to grasp the nature of the ‘Balticness’ resulting from these opportunities, one could ask for its constitutive elements and examine their respective potential for cohesion across geographical, political and functional borders. The main two regionalist entities that met in the course of Baltic Sea Regionalism are the well-established ‘Nordic sphere’ on the one hand, and the ‘Baltic sphere’ on the other. This dichotomy also reflects the former Cold War divide, which in Northern Europe and particularly in the BSR was a matter of the East facing the North rather than the ‘West’. At first glance, it is the diversity between these two sub-spaces that seems to be striking, while for themselves, they appear rather uniform and inherently cohesive.181 What degree and quality of togetherness did the three Baltic States really bring in? To what extent did they close ranks to encounter their Baltic Sea neighbours? On what ideational basis did the Nordic core group interfere with the new regionalist formations emerging in the BSR? By what terms and to what extent did the Nordic five and the Baltic three add up to a comprehensive Baltic i.e. Nordic-Baltic community? Before addressing these questions, it seems helpful to identify the ideological background of both the Nordic and the Baltic sphere, and most importantly, to track the development that these two spatial entities have experienced in recent years. How did the end of the Cold War affect the ideological self-determination of the Nordic sphere, and to what extent did Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania actually strive for ‘Baltic unity’? 1. Nordic Togetherness – The Changing Role of Nordic Cooperation The fall of the Iron Curtain opened new possibilities for regional and sub-regional cooperation in the BSR. However, also the bipolar constellation of the Cold War period had not been entirely divisive but left some leeway for structural tendencies that deviated from the prevailing ideological block pattern. One of the most substantial 181 See JAANSON Kaido: The Baltic States and Norden. In: The Baltic Review, Vol. 19. Online Edition. Website of the Journal ‘The Baltic Review’ [12 August 2007]. Baltic Sea Region Baltic sphere Nordic sphere Figure 3: Mental Sub-Spaces Meeting in the BSR 63 examples is probably ‘Nordic Cooperation’, a largely informal community for coordination and cooperation established between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, i.e. conglomerating the group of five Nordic States. This cooperative formation never fully adhered to the global logic of the Cold War, which was for most European states in those times, to deliberately toe the line of either of the confronting blocks.182 However, Nordic Cooperation was not only invented in the wake of East- West-Polarisation; it is rather based on deep historical, cultural and linguistic links, and most importantly, a shared understanding of certain moral values. As early as in the 1880s, the Nordic Countries already started to harmonise their legislation and to elaborate a common set of legal principles.183 In 1907, they established a Nordic Interparliamentary Union. The system of Nordic Cooperation reached its first zenith in the course of World War I. During World War I, Nordic co-operation extended into new areas resulting in a greater public awareness of the situation. In many instances, the Nordic area appeared as a single socio-political and economic unit to many observers in Europe and Northern America.184 In the early post-war years, Nordic Cooperation was strengthened even further. The Nordic countries established a high-level network that incorporated their governments, officials, national assemblies and to some extent also their respective political parties and trade organisations. The most prominent indication for the growing Nordic ‘weness’ was certainly the practice of retaining a joint Nordic seat in the Council of the League of Nations, filling it on rotation.185 In 1919, they founded the ‘Norden’ community, whose activities at popular level such as sister-town projects remarkably increased mutual understanding, solidarity and togetherness as well as the international visibility of the promoted Nordic unity. Today, ‘Norden’ has representations all around Scandinavia and the BSR.186 From the early 1930s onwards, the Nordic heads of government and ministers held occasional meetings and consulted each other on an informal basis.187 However, the fact that the five states went through very different experiences in World War II temporarily weakened the role of the Nordic Cooperation system as far as concrete cooperative action and international awareness were concerned.188 The five countries faced widely differing external security constellations, with Germany occupying Norway and Denmark, Great Britain the Faroe Islands and Iceland, and Sweden retaining a neutral position. Between 1941 and 1944, Finland allied itself with Germany against the Soviet threat. Some point out that despite the dividing nature of this Second World War experience, the ideological 182 See JOENNIEMI Pertti/LEHTI Marko: On the encounter between the Nordic and the northern. Torn Apart but Meeting Again? Copenhagen Peace Research Institute (COPRI): Working Paper, 11/2001, p. 4. 183 See WENDT Frantz: Co-operation in the Nordic Countries. Achievements and Obstacles. Stockholm 1981, pp. 11-12. 184 BONNÉN Preben/SØSTED Michael: The Origin, Development and Perspectives of Nordic Cooperation in a New and Enlarged European Union. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Nr. 1/2003, pp. 19-32, here p. 22. 185 See ibd., here p. 22. 186 See Official website of the Norden Association. [5 March 2008]. 187 See REBAS Hain: Baltic Co-operation. Problem or Opportunity? In: Perspectives, No. 9/1997-1998, pp. 64-76, here p. 69. 188 See BONNÉN Preben/SØSTED Michael: The Origin, Development and Perspectives of Nordic Cooperation. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Nr. 1/2003, pp. 19-32, here p. 20. 64 ties of solidarity continued to grow. This created a fertile soil for the new rise of Nordic Cooperation after 1945.189 In the course of the Cold War, the links were again considerably strengthened through both stronger isolation, and as a consequence thereof, gradual institutionalisation. At first, the Nordic States seemed to fail to keep out of the logic of global polarisation: Denmark and Norway joined NATO in 1949, while Sweden chose to pursue a policy of permanent neutrality.190 From 1948 onwards, Finland was bound with the Soviet Union by way of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (TFCMA). However, the Nordic group managed to develop a unique political and security identity that helped to create a virtual entity, later called the system of ‘Nordic Balance’.191 They all sought to pursue a policy of modification, essentially by limiting Soviet involvement in Finland and US involvement in Norway, and thus eventually found a way to circumvent total Nordic entrapment in either of the two blocks.192 In 1952, the Nordic Countries established the Nordic Council as a forum for interparliamentary cooperation and discourse.193 Even though the Council decisions were not binding, the individual Nordic governments often chose to follow its recommendations. The Nordic countries created a Nordic passport union, a common labour market, and a Nordic social insurance convention to serve all Nordic citizens. In 1971, these important steps were followed by the establishment of the Nordic Council of Ministers as a platform for coordination and consultation between corresponding Nordic ministries that produced binding decisions on the basis of unanimity.194 The Cold War surrounding literally furthered the consolidation of Nordic Cooperation. Laursen and Olsen identified the aim of avoiding entrapment in bipolarity as the main factor that encouraged Nordic Cooperation during the Cold War. The Nordic ‘we’ feeling was strongly determined by their common definition of the respective ‘them’, i.e. American Capitalism on the one side, and Soviet Bolshevism on the other.195 Similar conditions applied to the regional self-perception of the Nordic five. Over the last fifty years the Scandinavian countries […] have tended to downplay the Baltic component of their national identifications. At the same time, they have downplayed the 189 See ibd., here p. 22. 190 Iceland had already determined its security political position by permitting the presence of British troops on its territory in 1940. See ibd., p. 30 (note 4). 191 See LODGAARD Sverre: Redefining Norden. In: ØBERG Jan (ed.): Nordic Security in the 1990s. Options in the Changing Europe. London 1992, pp. 281-300, here p. 283. 192 See WIBERG Håkan/WÆVER Ole: Norden in the Cold War Reality. In: ØBERG Jan (ed.): Nordic Security in the 1990s. Options in the Changing Europe. London 1992, pp. 13-34, here p. 23. 193 Finland entered the Council only in 1956, after the situation with the Soviet Union had been stabilised. In order to allow this important step, Finland had to join under reserve. The Finnish government declared that the Nordic Council would mostly deal with administrative, social and economic questions. Should the Council nevertheless happen to debate military questions Finland would not participate. See ANDRÉN Nils: Säkerhetspolitikens återkomst. Om säkerhetspolitikens plats i rådsdialogen. In: SUNDELIUS Bengt/WIKLUND Claes (eds): Norden i sicksack. Tre spårbyten inom nordiskt samarbete. Stockholm 2000, pp. 275-303, here p. 281. 194 See TUNANDER Ola: Nordic Cooperation. Oslo 1999. Available online [23 December 2007]. 195 See LAURSEN Johnny N./OLSEN Thorsten B.: A Nordic Alternative to Europe? The Interdependence of Denmark’s Nordic and European policies, 1945–1998. CORE Working Paper, 2/1998. Copenhagen 1998, pp. 10-11. 65 general European character of their historical experiences and gradually replaced Northern Europe with ‘Norden’ when talking of their collective identities. Still today, for many Scandinavians, the secret to economic and political success in this remote and sparsely populated part of Europe lies precisely in keeping distance to all the neighbouring powers, Germany and Russia in particular.196 According to Connolly, this ‘negative’ way of defining the ‘self’ against the ‘other’ is part of any process of identity construction. Identity requires difference in order to be, and it converts difference into otherness in order to secure its own self-certainty [...].197 However, in the Nordic case, this effect became particularly important for the consolidation and institutionalisation of that regionalist formation. On the other hand, the bipolar setting certainly also posed a rather rigid framework to Nordic cooperation, hindering any sort of deep-going political collaboration between the five: From the 1950s onwards, Nordic Cooperation was roughly restricted to soft and low policies, and most importantly, it was to exclude external security or defence related policy areas.198 Anyway, these negative effects of the Cold War constellation should not be overestimated as history has shown that the Nordic Countries have always been very reluctant in these policy fields.199 The Nordic Countries made several attempts to deepen their economic cooperation. However, these intentions were roughly opposed by Norwegian industry and its unwillingness to establish a customs union. In 1960, the countries that were unable or unwilling to join the newly established European Economic Community (EEC) founded the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). EFTA had a strong stimulating effect on intra-Nordic trade.200 Internationally, the EFTA was often perceived as some sort of reluctant and reserved alternative to full EC membership. In fact, the commitments of EFTA-members exclusively remained on the intergovernmental level. Progressive supranationalization as provided in the framework of the overall European integration process was not intended. 196 ØSTERGÅRD Uffe: The Nordic Countries in the Baltic Sea Region. In: JOENNIEMI Pertti (ed.): Neo-Nationalism or Regionality. The Restructuring of Political Space Around the Baltic Rim. Stockholm 1997, pp. 26-53, here p. 26. 197 CONNOLLY William: Identity/Difference. Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox. Minnesota 1991, p. 64. 198 In 1948, Sweden had initiated negotiations on the establishment of a state-oriented Nordic security and defence union. However, these efforts eventually failed because of the diverging foreign policy traditions as well as the different post-war threat perceptions. See RUHALA Kalevi: Alliance and Non-Alignment at the Onset of the 21st Century. In: RIES Thomas/HULDT Bo/MÖRTBERG Jan/DAVIDSON Elisabeth (ed.): The New Northern Security Agenda. Perspectives from Finland and Sweden. Strategic Yearbook 2004, pp. 103-118, here p. 114. An exception was the co-operation of the Nordic countries in the United Nations where they attempted to co-ordinate their voting behaviour in the General Assembly, and thus, to pool their power with regard to common Nordic interests. For more details, see WIKLUND Lena: Nordisk samling i FN. In: SUNDELIUS Bengt/WIKLUND Claes (eds): Norden i sicksack. Tre spårbyten inom nordiskt samarbete. Stockholm 2000, pp. 253-274, here p. 281. 199 See BONNÉN Preben/SØSTED Michael: The Origin, Development and Perspectives of Nordic Cooperation in a New and Enlarged European Union. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Nr. 1/2003, pp. 19-32, here p. 20. 200 See ibd., here p. 25. 66 The development of the European project, and more generally, of Western and transatlantic integration, has had remarkable impact on the traditional meaning of the concept of Nordic togetherness.201 Each of the five Nordic States made very different choices in the context of European (and transatlantic) integration. The Danish accession to the (then) EC in 1973 has already altered the balance of togetherness within the Nordic group. One of the Nordic partners became a full EC member, while Norway voted against the accession and remained – as part of some sort of ‘reluctant alternative’, within EFTA, together with Sweden, Iceland and (then associated) Finland. Moreover, only two out of the five, namely Iceland and Norway, were among the founding states of NATO in 1949. Sweden and Finland entered the EU at the same time, in 1995. However, it was only Finland that eventually joined the ‘Euroland’ in 2004. The membership applications and subsequent accessions to the EU had repercussions on Nordic institutions. At a special session of the Nordic Council in November 1991, it was decided that Nordic countries should try to actively influence the developments in Europe. In 1995, a thorough reform of the Nordic Council was initiated. Nordic co-operation was regarded as a ‘bridge’ between the Nordic EU members and outsiders. ‘Norden’ would not be an alternative to ‘Europe’, but a part of European co-operation.202 Anyway, in political practice there was little evidence to be found for Swedish, Danish or Finnish ambitions to create some kind of ‘Nordic Bloc’ within the Union.203 Henrik Wilén, Director of the Nordic Institute in Finland (NIFIN), found very charming words to counter this type of assessment. In terms of their attitudes to the historic process of integration, which is in progress in Europe, the Nordic countries are marching out of step. [...] That is the clichéd view, which admittedly has some basis in fact.204 In fact, despite an indisputable range of shared interests, Sweden has always tried to avoid the establishment of permanent alliances of interest both as a self-standing 201 The Europeanisation of Nordic Cooperation has been subject to many academic studies. The excellent findings of e.g. Vincent Simoulin should be mentioned at this point. See SIMOULIN Vincent: La Coopération nordique. L’organisation régionale de l’Europe du Nord depuis la tentative autonome jusqu’à l’adaptation à l’Europe. Paris 1999. 202 BONNÉN Preben/SØSTED Michael: The Origin, Development and Perspectives of Nordic Cooperation in a New and Enlarged European Union. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Nr. 1/2003, pp. 19-32, here p. 25. 203 One of the few examples for active Nordic Cooperation in European affairs was the concerted approach towards the Schengen Convention on free movement of persons. In May 1994, Denmark happened to be the first Nordic State to apply for the Schengen observer status. At a session of the Nordic Council in Reykjavik in February 1995, the Nordic prime ministers decided that all Nordic states should participate in the Schengen regime in order to maintain the Nordic Passport Union. In December 1996, Finland, Sweden and Denmark signed the Accession Treaties, while Iceland and Norway adopted Cooperation Agreements. This intra-Nordic arrangement eventually helped to preserve the Nordic Passport Regime. See SCHARF Jakob: Schengen and the Nordic Countries. Recent Developments. In: DEN BOER Monika (ed.): Schengen Still Going Strong. Evaluation and Update. European Institute of Public Administration. Maastricht 2000, pp. 37-41, here p. 38. 204 WILÉN Henrik: Will EU enlargement diminish Nordic cooperation? October 2002. Website of Virtual Finland [25 January 2008]. 67 regional actor, and later, as an EU member state.205 Sweden has also applied for EU membership without ever consulting its Nordic partners. They in turn regarded the abrupt announcement of membership application as a signpost for Sweden’s lacking and potentially decreasing Nordic solidarity. Even though eventually, Finland joined the EU at the same time, the Finnish public was among the most polemic in this regard.206 Also the Swedish ‘no’ against an accession to the European Monetary Union (EMU) was a strong setback for Nordic integration since it cemented the intra-Nordic constellation for many years to come instead of eliminating existing boundaries towards Finland and, in the long term, towards Denmark. Just as in the EMU context, the three Nordic EU Member States often have different opinions about European key issues, and Nordic politicians openly refuse the idea a ‘Nordic bloc’ within the EU. The Prime Ministers do meet up prior to every EU summit. However, there seem to be no plans or prospects for a joint Nordic strategy within the EU. On selected occasions, there actually appeared to be some sort of Nordic unity on certain EU issues. One important and also very popular example is the alleged ‘joint’ performance at the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) leading to the Amsterdam Treaty in 1996. Indeed, Denmark, Sweden and Finland did all seem to have very similar interests: they all claimed institutional openness and transparency, highlighted the importance of environmental policies and strove for a proper administrative and political preparation of enlargement. However, in spite of actively coordinating each other’s positions and presenting themselves as a united bloc, they all decided to act as individual member states emphasizing similar but still different aspects in the course of the following IGC sessions.207 This pattern of behaviour, i.e. of taking different ways on the basis of similar interests, is symptomatic for Nordic EU membership. The different and sometimes diverging attitudes towards integration support the argument that as for the EU context the supposed ‘togetherness’ of the Nordic member states, i.e. Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, is more of a cliché than a reality. To put it differently, in most cases, it is more of a coincidence than a rule. The Nordic EU countries seem to pursue similar agendas, but based on different perceptions of interest, and most importantly for the EU context, without any reference to their common Nordic heritage and togetherness. Turning to the more Nordic specific reasons as to why permanent co-ordination has not materialized, it is of primary importance to note that the Nordic region is not fully represented in the EU. This means that Nordic countries are split as a bloc, each with its own interests and approaches towards the EU.208 205 See VON SYDOW Emily: Den Baltiska dimensionen. Stockholms geopolitiska roll i EU. In: EHRLING Guy (ed.): Stockholm international. En antologi om Stockholm i en regionaliserad och globaliserad värld. Stockholm 2000, pp. 23-36, here 24. 206 See LUIF Paul: On the Road to Brussels. The Political Dimension of Austria’s, Finland’s and Sweden’s Accession to the European Union. Vienna 1995, p. 216. 207 See TALLBERG Jonas: First Pillar. The Domestic Politics of Treaty Reform in Environment and Employment. In: LAURSEN Finn (ed.): The Amsterdam Treaty. National Preference Formation, Interstate Bargaining and Outcome. Odense University Studies History and Social Sciences, Vol. 245. Odense 2002, pp. 453-471, here p. 460. 208 BONNÉN Preben/SØSTED Michael: The Origin, Development and Perspectives of Nordic Cooperation in a New and Enlarged European Union. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Nr. 1/2003, pp. 19-32, here p. 27. 68 Thus, assuming something like a Scandinavian or Nordic position within the EU-25 or 27 would probably find little empirical evidence in most policy areas. Some argue that the advance of political and economic integration, most importantly, after the end of the Cold War, has strengthened the ties between the Nordic States. Hilary Barnes emphasises the case of Finland and the positive effects of its comprehensive integration on the Nordic ‘link’. Just as Ireland has used EU membership as an instrument to lift it from the shadow of its long and troubled relationship with Britain, so Finland is using the EU as a platform for establishing its liberation from the Soviet influence [...]. Finland’s new position in Europe has an important Nordic dimension. The evolution of Finnish self-confidence in the Post- Cold War world has worked a positive influence on Finland’s relationship with Sweden, its larger, more powerful and richer neighbour. Today, the two can meet on terms of equality.209 However, Finland’s liberation from past dependencies did not only boost its selfconfidence in geo-political terms, it certainly also enhanced the competition with old storebror (Swed. for “big brother”) Sweden.210 Presumably, this rather widened the gap between the two countries than it deepened their Nordic tie of virtual togetherness. Generally, the post Cold War situation has offered Finland a large range of new opportunities for cooperation and integration, rendering the ‘Nordic way’ one out of many options for its orientation in foreign affairs. Economy and financial services do form an exception in this regard, as cooperation in these fields among the Nordic states and most importantly, between Finland and Sweden, has veritably increased since 1995.211 Anyway, this is likely to be a general result of progressive globalisation and can hardly be ascribed to growing Nordic togetherness. There are a few occasions where Finland and Sweden seemed to walk the way of Nordic unity, suggesting joint solutions for certain EU topics. However, practice has shown that also in those cases, other more coincidental factors like good personal relations on the negotiating level had played a more important role than the factor of an alleged Nordic “we-feeling” and togetherness.212 Bonnén and Søsted are right in emphasizing that Nordic Cooperation 209 BARNES Hilary: Nordic Togetherness. Let us count the ways. In: Scandinavian Review, Autumn 1998. 210 The image of Sweden being the “big brother” within the Nordic group and, most importantly, in regard to Norway and Finland dates back to the times of Swedish rule 1150 – 1809. The expression is still very common in both political and academic discourse about inter-Nordic relations. Se e.g. ERIKSEN Knut Einar: Norge og Norden. Samarbeid og kollisjon. In: Atlanterhavskomitéen (ed.): NATO 50 år. Norsk sikkerhetspolitikk med NATO gjennom 50 år. Oslo 1999. 211 See BARNES Hilary: Nordic togetherness. Let us count the ways. In: Scandinavian Review, Autumn 1998. 212 The so-called “Petersberg initiative”, i.e. the joint Swedish and Finnish initiative suggesting the inclusion of the so-called “Petersberg Tasks” into the EU Common Security and Defence Policy, has often been interpreted as a showcase for Nordic togetherness in the EU context. See e.g. OJANEN Hanna: Participation and Influence. Sweden, Finland and the Post-Amsterdam Development of the CFSP. European Institute for Security Studies (EU-ISS), Occasional Papers, No. 11. Paris 2000, p. 8. However, Bonnén and Søsted point at the supportive effect of the close personal relation between the (then) Swedish and Finnish foreign ministers and their “uniting social democratic background”. See BONNÉN Preben/SØSTED Michael: The Origin, Development and Perspectives of Nordic Cooperation in a New and Enlarged European Union. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Nr. 1/2003, pp. 19-32, here p. 26. 69 has traditionally functioned best within a broader international or global framework, and less within a specific Norden-centric scale.213 There is no consensus as to the overall picture of the EU and this makes it difficult to coordinate policies. Adding to this situation is the fact that there are significant differences between Nordic countries themselves. Having some basic common heritage does not mean that the countries have developed alike in all aspects. […] The consequence of these disparities is their perception of European cooperation. This is amplified by differences in national attitudes towards European integration as such. […] Yet another reason why Nordic countries have not reached a higher degree of co-operation has to do with another fact, namely that Norden has become a vehicle for co-operation vis-à-vis the external world. Having previously been almost exclusively focused on internal questions, Norden has not been transformed into a centralised, political and state-governed entity.214 Intra-Nordic activity still has no parallel in the rest of Europe, with civil servants, lobby groups and businessmen meeting on a regular basis, and sheer countless Nordic cultural organisations and initiatives of every kind maintaining a tight network of cooperation and proactive involvement all around the Nordic sphere. However, the Nordic schemes are restricted to uncontroversial policy fields with ‘low impact’, such as mobility, education, employment, gender equality, environmental protection, culture and research. The mere fact of being ‘Nordic’ has not had any clear impact on the major politico-strategic choices in EU and foreign policy matters of the respective countries. This is closely linkes to the question whether Nordic Cooperation can still be considered to have an integrative impact on the wider BSR.215 2. The Baltic States and Baltic Unity – Imposition or Expedient? In the EU context, and more generally, in world politics it is common to denominate Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania collectively as the ‘Baltic States’. However, this geopolitical label has not always been appreciated by the concerning countries themselves as indeed, it has only little to do with their historical background, and most importantly, their individual cultural identity. In the 1990s, the West has comfortably lumped Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into one geopolitical entity, imposing the ‘Baltic unity’ on the three historically and culturally diverse nations. [...] The years under the Russian empire in the 19th century and the Soviet empire between 1945 and 1991 are the only truly common experiences of the Baltic states.216 213 See ibd., here p. 29. 214 Ibd., here p. 27. 215 See chapter “The ‘Nordic Bloc’ – Driving Core for Baltic Sea Regionalism?”, p. 73-. 216 PAULAUSKAS K?stutis: The Baltic States: Picking Regions, Shedding Myths, Decoding Acronyms. In: Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review, 1-2/2005, pp. 51-65, here p. 52-53. 70 establishment of statehood language dominant religion geographical self-identification cultural influences Estonia 1918 Finno-ugric German Danish Swedish Finnish Latvia 1918 Lutheran Northern and Northeastern Europe German Swedish Lithuania 13th century Baltic Roman catholic Central Europe217 Polish Table 7: Historical and Cultural Diversity of the Baltic States218 Paulauskas argues that in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the term itself is partly associated with the historical experience of Soviet rule and that this is the reason why it often has a fairly negative connotation among the respective societies. Hence, from time to time, the expression has been regarded by the Balts as an attempt of marginalizing and easternizing them in both a geo-political and an ideological sense.219 In contrast thereto, others claim that during the Soviet era, it even evoked some sort of pride among some Balts of being labelled as ‘Baltic’ (Russ. Pribaltika) since that was implicitly related to the notion of being ‘western’, or at least, different from the rest of the Soviet Empire. In fact, after gaining independence, it was also very popular and common for the three states to openly label themselves as ‘Baltic States’.220 To some extent, this even seemed to be part of their transition strategy. In fact, right after they had gained their independence, they signed a large number of agreements for mutual cooperation.221 In 1990, they founded the highly emblematic Baltic Assembly (BA), and in 1994, the Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM) in order to promote intra-Baltic cooperation. One could also argue that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania did show some sort of ‘Baltic unity’ when it came to prepare their accession to NATO and EU. In the post-Cold War period, the Baltic States have had much to gain by adopting a positive attitude to regional cooperation, not least because it has been seen as enhancing their prospects of EU and NATO membership. In a sense, regional cooperation in the North 217 Lang identified the distinct Lithuanian affiliation to Central Europe and the West as some sort of geo-strategic long-term pattern based on the Lithuanian post World War I fear of East Central Europe being split into a German and a Russian sphere. Alluding to the 1922 German-Russian Treaty of Rapallo he called it the Lithuanian “Rapallo-complex”. See LANG Kai-Olaf: Die Neuen in der GASP. Störenfriede oder Ideengeber? In: Osteuropa, No. 5-6, pp. 443-458, here p. 445. 218 Table based on PAULAUSKAS K?stutis: The Baltics. From Nation States to Member States. European Institute for Security Studies (EU-ISS), Occasional Papers, No. 62. Paris 2006, p. 21. 219 See LEHTI Marko: Eastern or Western, New or False? Classifying the Balts in the Post-Cold War Era. In: TASSINARI Fabrizio/JOENNIEMI Pertti/JAKOBSEN Uffe (eds): Wider Europe. Nordic and Baltic Lessons to Post-Enlargement Europe. Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). Copenhagen 2006, pp. 69-88, here p. 69. 220 See comment by MOLIS Ar?nas, Head of the Eastern Countries Monitoring Division at the Centre for Strategic Studies/Strategini? studij? centras, Vilnius (LT). Unpublished personal correspondence. November 2006. 221 See OZOLINA Zaneta: The Impact of the European Union on Baltic Co-operation. Riga 1999, p. 7. 71 could be conceptualised as having been something of a training ground where they could prove they were responsible international citizens worthy of EU and NATO membership.222 According to Paulauskas, they had two good reasons to do this despite their dislike of the ‘Baltic’ unity imposed by their Western partners (i.e. NATO and EU member states), just as by the Soviet rule in the decades before: – to give proof of their socio-economic maturity and show their willingness to strive for continuous Europeanization and progressive integration; – to counter the doubts about their ‘defensibility’ and to present themselves as dignified future Western countries. However, this approach of pooling their interests through the label of global ‘Balticness’ on the European scene has never really complied with each country’s selfperception. When looking at the three ‘Baltic’ perspectives more closely, it becomes clear that their sense of diversity has “re-emerged” at some point during the political transition process. Medijainen argues that the deconstruction of the Baltic image first started in the late 1990s.223 It seems that these countries [note: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania] are returning to the pattern of the 1920s and the 1930s, when they were able to co-operate only to a very limited extent, something which contributed to the weakness of their resistance to Germany and the Soviet Union. This observation was confirmed at a meeting between the Baltic prime ministers in September 1992 when no specific results could be achieved. On the contrary, a certain rivalry between these states could be observed concerning the policies towards Russia. These problems have by no means ceased to exist.224 The gradual diversification among the Baltic group was generally reflected in the three countries’ relations with Russia. Estonia and Latvia, for example, were roughly disdained for their migration policy that was said to affect the legal status of the Russian-speaking minority living in either of the two countries.225 Lithuania, on the other hand, succeeded in retaining good relations with the Russian Federation. In the EU context, this specific relationship enabled Lithuania to portray itself as a potential negotiating partner for the West in dealings with Russia and Belarus.226 222 BROWNING Christopher S.: Introduction. In: Id. (ed.): Remaking Europe in the Margins. Northern Europe after the Enlargements. Aldershot 2005, pp. 1-10, here p. 3. 223 See MEDIJAINEN Eero: The Baltic Question in the Twentieth Century. Historiographic Aspects. In: AMELANG James S./BEER Siegfried (eds): Public Power in Europe. Studies in Historical Transformations. Pisa 2006, pp. 109-124, here p. 114. 224 See DELLENBRANT Jan Åke: The Baltic Sea Co-operation. Visions and Realities. In: BALDERSHEIM Harald/STÅHLBERG Krister (eds): Nordic Region-Building in a European Perspective. Aldershot 1999, pp. 83-97, here p. 94. 225 The question of compatriots in the former Soviet Republics emerged already in the early 1990s. From Moscow’s perspective, Russia has still a legal responsibility to look after the interests of all Russians within the former Soviet Union. In the course of the 1990s the issue received considerable publicity even though the legal position of Russian-speaking people living in the Central Asian Republics had always been much more contested. See LEHTI Marko: Eastern or Western, New or False? Classifying the Balts in the Post-Cold War Era. In: TASSINARI Fabrizio/JOENNIEMI Pertti/JAKOBSEN Uffe (eds): Wider Europe. Nordic and Baltic Lessons to Post-Enlargement Europe. Danish Institute for International Studies. Copenhagen 2006, pp. 69-88, here p. 77-78. 226 See CAVE Andrew: Finding a Role in an Enlarged EU. In: Central Europe Review, Nr. 20/2000. Online publication [26 November 2007]. 72 In the course of the 1990s, the three states have largely taken different developments, with each having a different regional partner for the course of their transatlantic and European integration process: for Lithuania it was Poland, for Latvia – Sweden, and for Estonia, it was Finland.227 In the last stages of the accession process to both NATO and the EU, the three neighbours also started to point out their individual qualities, with e.g. Lithuania claiming its comparative advantage in defence matters, and Estonia alleged stressing its economic pre-eminence.228 In terms of their regional orientation towards their regional surrounding, the three countries underwent a similar development. After a first phase of apparent unity right after they had gained independence, each of the three started to diversify its political position towards the regional neighbourhood. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, then Estonian minister for foreign affairs, delivered some of the most striking public statements in this context. He repeatedly claimed that his country should no longer be considered as part of the ‘Baltic group’ but rather be allocated to the sphere of ‘Nordic’ culture and identity. He also fought against the common assumption that there existed something like a ‘Baltic entity’ that could be treated as a culturally and politically homogenous collective. I think it is time to do away with poorly fitting, externally imposed categories. It is time that we recognise that we are dealing with three very different countries in the Baltic area, with completely different affinities. There is no Baltic identity with a common culture, language group, religious tradition. [...] What the three Baltic States have in common derives almost entirely from shared unhappy experiences imposed upon them from outside: occupations, deportations, annexation, sovietization, collectivization, russification. What these countries do not share is a common identity.229 Since the end of the 1990s, Estonia has been actively trying to reinvent its own position in the region and in Europe by recasting itself as one of the Nordic Countries.230 The most obvious reason behind this proactive Estonian attitude lay in the fact that the association with the other two Baltic countries was largely seen as a ballast impeding Estonia’s Western integration.231 Lehti claims that during Ilves’ second period as foreign minister (1999-2002), this specific policy of ‘Nordicisation’ reached its 227 See HUDALLA Anneke/PRADETTO August: Desintegration durch Integration? Dilemmata der Osterweiterung der Europäischen Union und die Europapolitik der neuen Bundesregierung. In: Institut für Internationale Politik/Universität der Bundeswehr Hamburg (ed.): Studien zur Internationalen Politik. Heft 2/1999. Hamburg 1999, p. 26. 228 See comment by MOLIS Ar?nas, Head of the Eastern Countries Monitoring Division at the Centre for Strategic Studies/Strategini? studij? centras, Vilnius (LT). Unpublished personal correspondence. November 2006. 229 ILVES Toomas Hendrik: “Estonia as a Nordic country”, speech given at the Swedish Institute of Foreign Affairs, 14 December 1999. Official Website of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs [25 November 2007]. 230 By placing Estonia into the category of the Nordic sphere, some political leaders aimed to ensure a comparative edge for their country, or even to achieve advanced admittance to the EU. See CAVE Andrew: Finding a Role in an Enlarged EU. In: Central Europe Review, Nr. 20/2000. Online publication [26 November 2007]. 231 See LAGERSPETZ Mikko: How Many Nordic Countries? Possibilities and Limits of Geopolitical Identity Construction. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 1/2003, pp. 49-61, here p. 53. 73 culmination.232 Some analysts support the claim that there are aspects that link Estonia more to Northern Europe, or at least, that make it different from the ‘other two’ Baltics. Estonian society is more akin to societies in the Northern states such as Sweden and Finland than to the Catholic persuasions of Lithuania. Its economy is more liberal and technologically advanced than that of any other Baltic state, and corruption in Estonia is lower than in some existing member states.233 Lithuania, on the other hand, has made considerable effort to position itself on the other, Catholic and Central European side, particularly emphasizing its historical and ideological links to Poland, and the other Visegrád countries.234 This ideological process of Baltic diversification has passed various phases: right after their independence, the three chose to rally behind the Baltic label as it helped them to distance from the Soviet past. In the course of the 1990s, however, the desire to stand out as individual nation states grew stronger, and eventually reached its height between 1999 and 2002, before it perked up again in the wake of enlargement. After 9/11, the Balts have taken a more active role. They [were] no longer automatically accepting external labels as such and instead increasingly defined themselves as something special. Such a move can provide the Balts with increased discursive power in order for them to contribute to the European configuration and in particular to the notion of the EU’s Eastern border.235 As for today, it may generally be assumed that the three countries do definitely prefer to be treated individually rather than in the context of a “Baltic pot”.236 As Ozolina claimed at an earlier stage of the process, the Baltic States might have started to emphasise their differences at some point. However, whether and to what extent they accepted the rationale of Baltic unity or not, the stereotype remained and was eventually reinforced in the enlargement context, with the three of them being simultaneously “redrawn” into Europe.237 This is all not to say that the background of Baltic togetherness is all about externally imposed unity or mere strategic calculation from Estonia’s, Latvia’s or Lithuania’s side. It should not be neglected that in fact, their efforts taken on the long road towards full integration and more generally, in the course of their Post Soviet transition did produce some sort of common historical experience that tightened the link between them and 232 See LEHTI Marko: Eastern or Western, New or False? Classifying the Balts in the Post-Cold War Era. In: TASSINARI Fabrizio/JOENNIEMI Pertti/JAKOBSEN Uffe (eds): Wider Europe. Nordic and Baltic Lessons to Post-Enlargement Europe. Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). Copenhagen 2006, pp. 69-88, here p. 73. In September 2006, Toomas Hendrik Ilves was elected President of the Republic of Estonia. 233 CAVE Andrew: Finding a Role in an Enlarged EU. In: Central Europe Review, Nr. 20/2000. Online publication [26 November 2007]. 234 Ibd. 235 LEHTI Marko: Eastern or Western, New or False? Classifying the Balts in the Post-Cold War Era. In: TASSINARI Fabrizio/JOENNIEMI Pertti/JAKOBSEN Uffe (eds): Wider Europe. Nordic and Baltic Lessons to Post-Enlargement Europe. Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). Copenhagen 2006, pp. 69-88, here p. 70. 236 See comment by MOLIS Ar?nas, Head of the Eastern Countries Monitoring Division at the Centre for Strategic Studies/Strategini? studij? centras, Vilnius (LT). Unpublished personal correspondence. November 2006. 237 See OZOLINA Zaneta: The Impact of the EU on Baltic Cooperation. Riga 1999, p. 7-9. 74 produced a certain ‘we’ feeling. What is Baltic unity about and to what extent does its quality and substance matter in the context of Baltic Sea Regionalism? It seems as if the answer to these questions has to remain uncertain and largely ambiguous. The political transformation has been considerably fuelled by the immediate post Soviet reaction of the Baltic States, whose first and foremost aim it was to get rid of past dependencies, by whatever means. In this situation, sub-regional cooperation offered a good opportunity to anticipatedly (re-)enter the European sphere, make inroads to the West and thus, to distance from Russia. As Ozolina argued, the unity of the Baltic States has always been more dependent on external factors than on internal need. The more threatened the Baltic Republics were in their efforts for sovereignty while they were still in the USSR, the more unified were their activities and the more powerful was their understanding of self-identity.238 The same certainly applies to their joint strive for sub-regional integration as some sort of pre-stage to anticipate their full EU membership. This is not to say that the three Baltic States featured identical geo-strategic orientations in this context. Estonia and Latvia certainly felt closer associated with their northern Baltic Sea neighbours than e.g. Lithuania did. Especially in regard to their geo-political long-term prospects, they were certainly not strictly striving northwards as a homogenous group of three. However, in the first years of their national independence, Baltic Sea Regionalism offered a very good opportunity for them to consolidate their ‘Europeanness’, and eventually, prepare for their accession to the EU. In fact, in the eve of EU-accession, the concept of a ‘Nordic Europe’ was a very popular idea among the aspiring candidate countries. 3. Nordic-Baltic Co-operation Baltic Sea Cooperation is a manifold and complex phenomenon. Integration between the Baltic Sea littoral states takes place at various levels of action, and thus, includes both official and non-official actors. The most obvious link that has been installed between the two subspaces, the Nordic and the Baltic sphere, is “Nordic-Baltic Cooperation.” This intraregional format has traditionally been referred to as the “5+3- Cooperation.” In summer 2000, at the Conference of the Baltic Sea Foreign Ministers in Middelfart/Denmark, another more illustrative term was introduced to denominate this formation, the “Nordic-Baltic-Eight” (NB8).239 Cooperation in the NB8 format is primarily conducted in the form of annual meetings of the Baltic Sea Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers, and Cooperation Ministers. However, also representatives from other departments, secretary-generals and political directors meet on a regular basis. The origins of the NB8 date back to a meeting of the Nordic Ministers for Cooperation held on 31 January 1990, where Sweden initiated a proposal under ‘other business’ worded as follows: “It was agreed to investigate the possibilities of establishing Nordic Information- and Culture Centres in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.” The greatest restriction on the scope of activities at that time was that the three Baltic countries were still part of the Soviet Union. After verbose negotiations with Moscow, the first step could be taken: in April 1991, a Nordic Information Office was launched in the Latvian Capital of Riga. 238 Ibd., pp. 6-7. 239 Press Release 31/08/2000, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs [5 December 2007]. 75 In 1992, the ‘5+3’ meetings started on the prime ministerial level. The Prime Ministers now meet annually to discuss common foreign policy and regional issues. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs meet annually since 1993, the Ministers of Defence since 1994, and the Ministers for Regional Cooperation (Baltic States are represented by Ministers of Foreign Affairs) since 1996. Cooperation according to formula 5+3 also got a new impetus through frequent consultations on the level of Political Directors. Ad hoc meetings with the participation of one guest country are also common. On important example was the presence of the EU High Commissioner Javier Solana at the abovementioned meeting in Middelfart/Denmark in summer 2000. At the given meeting Ministers have come to a consensus that forthcoming meetings are to be called Nordic Baltic 8. The NB8 cooperation system heavily relies on the coordination between the Nordic Council of Ministers, on the one hand, and the Baltic Council of Ministers, on the other. Since 2005, the NB8 also engages in the development of support programmes for the Russian and Belarus NGOs in the BSR in order to further strengthen the civic society development and democracy in the region.240 II. The ‘Nordic Bloc’ – Driving Core for Baltic Sea Regionalism? Given their experiences in the context of Nordic Cooperation, the Nordic States have a certain tradition in the field of cooperation across borders. This might lead to the assumption that Nordic Cooperation could have provided for some sort of “driving core” or “source of inspiration” for Baltic Sea Regionalism after 1989.241 Indeed, over the years, the Nordic States have established a tight network of cooperation on both state and non-state level. Networking between nongovernmental actors, including organised interest groups and political parties as well as daily informal contacts among civil servants have always been a significant basis of the Nordic Cooperation.242 Intra- Nordic collaboration and togetherness is a structural phenomenon that has not only shaped the external policies of the respective states, it has also led to the generation of a certain Nordic image in international politics.243 ‘Nordic-ness’ or ‘Nordicity’ was, and still is, often seen as some sort of third way, as a political choice in itself, materialised in the institutional framework of Nordic Cooperation. The ‘Nordic Model’ is still widely perceived to embody a set of morally superior political visions, e.g. the pre-eminence of the welfare-state model, a strict approach to democracy and human rights, strong socio-democratic traditions, all adding up with the substance of shared historical heritage as well as a common cultural and ideological background.244 For many Nordic officials, even today, ‘Nordic togetherness’ 240 See PABRIKS Artis/UNCKEL Per: The Baltic Sea Region - the Most Stable and Dynamic. Statement by the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary General of the Nordic Council, 6 November 2006. Official Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. . [8 December 2007]. 241 See BONNÉN Preben/SØSTED Michael: The Origin, Development and Perspectives of Nordic Cooperation in a New and Enlarged European Union. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Nr. 1/2003, pp. 19-32, here p. 27. 242 See SUNDELIUS Bengt/WIKLUND Claes: Nordisk samverkan vid femtio. Visst finns det en framtid! In: Idd. (ed.): Norden i sicksack. Tre spårbyten inom nordiskt samarbete. Stockholm 2000, pp. 325-350, here p. 327. 243 See SUNDBERG Jan: Partier og interessorganisationer i Norden. Copenhagen 2001, p. 3. 244 For more details about issues like Nordic superiority and exclusiveness, see chapter “Old North vs. New Regionalism. Visions Competing for the Same Space?”, p. 76-.

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Seit 1989 ist es im Ostseeraum zu einer explosionsartigen Entstehung einer Vielzahl von regionalen Initiativen und Zusammenschlüssen gekommen. Der Ostseeraum weist bis heute eine europaweit einzigartig hohe Konzentration an kooperativen regionalen Strukturen auf. Diese bilden gemeinsam ein enges Netzwerk von Vereinigungen, die unter dem Überbegriff der "Ostseezusammenarbeit’ interagieren.

Diese Studie analysiert die Hintergründe dieses regionalen Phänomens oder so genannten „Ostsee-Rätsels“ auf Basis eines Vergleichs zwischen den Regionalpolitiken zweier staatlicher Schlüsselakteure, Schweden und Finnland, wobei der europäische Integrationsprozess als übergeordneter Bezugsrahmen für die Untersuchung dient.