Carmen Gebhard, ‘Old North’ vs. ‘New Regionalism’ – Competing for the Same Space? in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 78 - 84

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
78 with each of the five applying different strategies in order to avoid geopolitical marginalisation.256 III. ‘Old North’ vs. ‘New Regionalism’ – Competing for the Same Space? The post-Cold War boom of cooperative regionalism in the BSR has often been referred to as the rise of the ‘New North’, or the dawn of ‘New Regionalism’. In fact, the epochal events of the late 1990s have not only changed the political and geo-strategic framework of Northern European affairs, they have also altered the nature of what is generally perceived to account for ‘Northern Europe’ and the ‘North’. Up until the late 1980s, the notion of a ‘Nordic sphere’ was a very strong marker in terms of mental geography. Until the breakdown of the Communist block the model of the Nordic welfare state represented a third way between the two dominant superpowers and their attendant ideologies.257 During the Cold War, the Nordic block actually constituted a clearly delimitable entity whose politico-strategic substance was hardly ever questioned from the bi-polarised outside world. Nordic unity had largely been fostered by relative isolation in both the political and the geographical sense.258 The Nordic States are, as Joenniemi put it, “not to be held responsible for the emergence and success of Norden.”259 The Cold War setting had been ideal in the sense that the notion of this “third way” justified a certain reluctance towards the “embattled international arena”.260 However, in the course of post-Soviet transition, the well-established image of a ‘Nordic North’ happened to be considerably challenged. 256 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. For a Swedish-Finnish comparison in this respect, see chapter “Excursus: Mare Europaeum – Whose Mare Nostrum?”, p. 111-. 257 ØSTERGÅRD Uffe: The Nordic Countries in the Baltic 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. 28. 258 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]. 259 JOENNIEMI Pertti: Norden as a Post-Nationalist Construction. In: Id. (ed.): Neo-Nationalism or Regionality: The Restructuring of Political Space around the Baltic Rim. Stockholm 1997, pp. 181- 234, here p. 214. 260 See TASSINARI Fabrizio: Mare Europaeum. Baltic Sea Region Security and Cooperation from Post-Wall to post-Enlargement Europe. Copenhagen 2004, p. 117. 79 There emerges a ‘new Northernness’, facing both east and south and expanding from its previous territorial boundaries. The new ‘North’ is not purely of European, Russian or Baltic influence, but instead should be viewed as a complex geographical mixture of all these spatial elements, stirred together with a touch of spice (i.e. the former Nordic legacy) for added piquancy. [...] In general it appears to be the case that little demand remains for what we can label as Cold War ‘Nordicity’.261 The newly emerging and comprehensive ‘North’ that, at first, cropped up in the form of progressive Baltic Sea Regionalism directly interfered with the traditional Nordic formation. Joenniemi and Lehti called it the “clash between Nordism and Baltism”262 or the “encounter of old Nordicity with new Northernness”, i.e. of two regional formations that “coin a rather different ‘we’-feeling but” however, are not strictly opposite.263 The wave of cooperative ‘Baltic Sea’ ventures that emerged after the end of the Cold War for the first time seemed to open the compact system of Nordic political and ideological insularity.264 The newly gained independence of the three Baltic States enabled them to strive for regional and sub-regional integration, aspirations that were naturally focussed on the near neighbourhood, i.e. the Northern and Western Baltic Rim. As from the Nordic perspective, this process of regional re-orientation of the 261 JUKARAINEN Pirjo: Norden is Dead. Long Live the Eastwards Faced Euro-North. Geopolitical Remaking of Norden in a Nordic Journal. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 12/1999, pp. 355-382, here p. 364. 262 WÆVER Ole: From Nordism to Baltism. In: JERVELL Sverre/KUKK Mare/JOENNIEMI Pertti (eds): The Baltic Sea Area. A Region in the Making. Oslo 1992. 263 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. 6. 264 The “EC membership factor” first entered the Nordic scene in 1973, when Denmark chose to become a full EC-member. Thorough observations of the development of Nordic Cooperation have shown that Danish membership has not had any remarkable impact on the “Nordic Club”. This is mainly because Denmark had never been reluctant to emphasize its Nordic links. Denmark’s dual affiliation was widely accepted by the other EC partners as well as by its Nordic fellow countries. For a critical discussion on this aspect see LAURSEN Johnny N./OLESEN Thorsten B.: A Nordic Alternative to Europe? The Interdependence of Denmark’s Nordic and European policies, 1945– 1998. In: Contemporary European History 9/2000, pp. 59-92. Nordic sphere limited to the Nordic Five Old North exclusive Northern Europe centring on the Baltic Sea New North comprehensive/inclusive MENTAL SUBSPACE Figure 4: Mental Sub-Spaces in the European North 80 Baltic States added a new ‘Eastern’ dimension to ‘Nordicity’/’Nordicness’ and thus, potentially challenged this traditional regionalist formation. By way of this development, Norden got literally ‘balticised’ and as a result, ‘Nordic Cooperation’ itself had to face up to the political and mental impact of New ‘Baltic Cooperation’. In the course of the 1990s, the Baltic Sea became the major point of reference for regionalism in Northern Europe. Thus, the Northern European centre of gravity had shifted southwards, and thereby actually away from the Nordic Norden. The Nordic formation itself never had a core or centre in terms of a positive and explicit geographical reference. As Østergård points out, the Nordic group has rather defined itself alongside a negative pattern, in the sense of being distinct from the “southern rest”, and thus, clearly “non-European, non-Catholic, anti-Rome, anti-imperialist, noncolonial, non-exploitative, peaceful, small and social democratic.”265 Stråth found a similar way to put it, claiming that the democratic, Protestant and egalitarian Norden traditionally functioned as a demarcation from Catholic, conservative and capitalistic Europe.”266 While Nordic togetherness had always been based on the logic of being different and of distancing oneself from an ideologically remote and different ‘other’, Baltic Sea Regionalism now claimed for a border-crossing and to some extent pan- European togetherness, that does not act on the ground of exclusion but rather on the ground of inclusion and comprehensive ‘Northernness’. Thus, when in the course of the 1990s Nordic Norden gained a Baltic dimension, it was not equally welcomed on both sides of the Baltic Sea. The events that caused so much enthusiasm in Northern Europe, and particularly in the countries of the former Soviet bloc, were treated by the North with much more scepticism. The Northern part of the New Europe, previously characterized by the low military pressure, moral superiority and socio-economic particularity (the so called ‘third way’) was about to lose its unique status. In spite of the ‘absence’ of the European Communities in Northern Europe, a turning point was reached after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Unlike to the Scandinavian states, EU membership could not be granted to the Baltic States in transition, but processes of regional integration and co-operation have arisen in the Baltic Sea region, even before their independence, to create a kind a Baltic identity.267 For the Baltic States, the newly emerging opportunity for regional and most importantly, westbound integration offered a good way to distance themselves from the unloved East and to aspire towards Europeanness, or at least, virtual Northernness. In the first years of independence, the abilities of the Baltic States to implement foreign and security policies were fairly limited. [...] For that reason, the first partners in the international environment were found among each country’s neighbours, and the initial operations of the Baltic States in terms of launching joint projects was a reaction to the fact that international communications channels at that time were somewhat limited.268 265 ØSTERGÅRD Uffe: The Geopolitics of Nordic Identity from Composite States to Nation-States. Copenhagen 1997, p. 1. 266 STRÅTH Bo: Nordiska Rådet och nordiskt samarbete. In: Den jyske Historiker, Nr. 69-70/1994, pp. 201-229, here p. 208. 267 DUBOIS Jeroen: The Northern Dimension as Prototype of the Wider Europe Framework Policy. University of Liverpool, Working Paper. Liverpool 2004, p. 2. 268 OZOLINA Zaneta: The Impact of the European Union on Baltic Co-operation. Riga 1999, p. 1. 81 For the Baltic States, this idea of becoming part of the Northern sphere, of shifting ‘northwards’ on the mental map of Europe, was less an end in itself than a means to get rid of the ideological dependencies and burdens of the past. For the Northwestern Baltic, i.e. the old Nordic group, in contrast, the idea of Northernness was not to be subjected to any sort of Easternization whatsoever. The Nordic perspective on Baltic Sea Regionalism largely differed from the Baltic point of view. Whilst the Balts felt uncomfortable with the Baltic label, the Western Baltics – Sweden, Danes and northern Germans – defined their ‘Balticness’ in a very different manner compared to the other side of the Baltic Sea. This is so as the Western Baltic understanding concentrates on focussing on the whole Baltic Sea area [...].269 Thus, New Baltic Regionalism generally founded on very different understandings on either sides of what this ‘new region’ should be about and on what premises it should be constructed. It could be seen as some sort of ‘battlefield’ where different and partly diverging interpretations about the essence of single regionalist initiatives virtually collided but still managed to uphold the cohesive image of inclusiveness.270 Lehti has a point when emphasising that despite the Baltic enthusiastic visions and their struggle to become a perceived part of the North, the ‘Nordic core’ has always remained exclusive. In the 1990s it seemed that the North and ‘Northernness’ would constitute something new and receive new political importance whereas the old Norden would loose its exclusiveness. Norden has, however, remained resilient and even if it has opened up eastwards, the Nordic core has remained exclusive.271 In fact, the links between the southeastern and the northwestern Baltic have measurably tightened, but still, as from a Nordic point of view the Baltic States continue to be considered as partners instead of Nordic fellows. One important reason for Nordicness to remain exclusive in ideological terms probably lies in the fact that the construct of a ‘New North’ or comprehensive ‘Baltic North’ did not imply any sort of structural and normative similarity between its constituents, meaning democratic traditions or socioeconomic characteristics. The present common identity of people in the Nordic countries is based not only on an awareness of cultural and historical commonalities, but also on several concrete characteristics of their present-day societies that are distinctive of the region in international comparison (i.e. legal and administrative traditions including municipal self-determination, rule of law, gender equality and a social democratic tradition).272 269 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. 270 See WILLIAMS Leena-Kaarina: Post-modern and intergovernmental paradigms of Baltic Sea cooperation between 1988 and 1992. The Genesis of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) as a historical case study. In: NORDEUROPA Forum 1/2005, pp. 3-20, here p. 5. 271 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. 272 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. 55. 82 Considering the functionalist and pragmatic foundation that inclusive Baltic Sea Regionalism was build upon, these newly emerging spatial visions could actually not be seen as a true competitor of the traditional Nordic system of cooperation. The new regional formations did no longer invoke any common model of society or a societal sense of belonging together; this very characteristic could be seen as both a blessing and a curse. The ideological openness and inclusiveness of the new regionalism enabled the newly emerging networks to span across old dividing lines. On the other hand, this ‘open frame’ approach also proved to be rather weak and superficial in the sense that old established ‘mental spaces’ were not sufficiently challenged. There was no pressure or incentive for traditional formations like the Nordic system of cooperation to unclose for new ideological or political inspirations coming from the outside, or rather, from the East. The Nordic core proved to be consistent enough to leave these influences outside. Lagerspetz tried to identify the basis and consistency of inclusive Balticness in the sense that the traditional Nordic system could be opening up for new inspirations, and in a next step, for new Nordic fellows. He assessed the three Baltic States’ potential to qualify for such an ‘enlarging’ Nordicness, coming to the general conclusion that the cohesive substance of such a spatial construction remains low. Estonia Latvia Lithuania Geographical location + + (+) Historical ties + + - Linguistic affinity (+) - - Lutheran faith (+) - - Social development (the Nordic Model) - - - Nordic cooperative organs (+) (+) (+) Legal and administrative tradition (+) (+) ? Gender equality - - - Table 8: Assessing the Nordic Potential of the Baltic States273 Nordic uniqueness as a notion traditionally associated to the longstanding continuity in the five countries’ foreign policy making and thinking, as well as to the immanent nexus between the state and society has often been said to be based on a “societal but largely illusory proximity.”274 However, whether one is willing to question the normative grounds of Nordicness or not, in the Baltic Sea discourse it has proved to be a strong and lasting marker. As pointed out above, the global changes following the end of the Cold War did have remarkable repercussions on Nordicness and the substance of Nordic 273 Table generated on the basis of 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. 57. Obvious elements of conformity are indicated by ‘+’, relative conformities by ‘(+)’ and ‘?’ marks relationships where the conformity is not clear. 274 Simoulin claimed this heritage to be illusory because it “basically meant that each Nordic country shared with one or two others a social feature, but that it was closer to others for other particular features. See SIMOULIN Vincent: The State of Nordic Cooperation in a Changing Europe. Toulouse 2000, pp. 3-4. 83 togetherness in both the regional and the broader European context, since each of the five states appeared to pursue a different strategy for managing the global systemic changes. Most interestingly, this impact rather concerned the inside-out dimension of Nordicness, meaning that the internal coherence and togetherness of the Nordic system lost in substance. As for the outside-in dimension, the Nordic system has largely remained impervious and compact. The alleged “superiority of Nordic Norden”275 has also been present in the intra-Nordic dialogue about Baltic Sea Regionalism; it was noticeable in the way the Nordic countries addressed their newly independent neighbours in political discourse. Browning has a point when noting that “the political discourse about and in favour of the so-called New North” widely founded on the “missionary narratives of Western identity.” Post Cold War region-building in the European North is frequently depicted highly positively as representative of a new, original, post-modern and humanistic approach to regional cooperation. Central to such notions has been the idea that all participants, but particularly Russia, in the regional partnership can be treated as equals in a mutually beneficial dialogue. [...] The key thing to note here is that in many discourses this is not simply the New North we are talking about, but Europe’s [original emphasis] New North and the prefix of Europe is important because in Western discourse Europe is a highly loaded term. [...] Only those ‘like us’ will receive this northern passport into the European Club. Those not like us will remain outside to remind us who we are.276 The Nordic five obviously perceived themselves (and still do) to be the ‘more European’ North, the North that could potentially bring some more Europeanness to the Easterners. The intra-Nordic discourse about new forms of regionalism across the whole Baltic area was generally strongly exclusive to the extent that they appealed to a Nordicisation of the ‘un-Nordic rest’ instead of the creation of a new inclusive concept. Even this aim of ‘nordicising’ the BSR did not imply any inclusive togetherness of the Nordic Baltic and what could be called the ‘Baltic Baltic.’ By avoiding any sort of Easternisation, Nordicness has been kept exclusive and as for the BSR context superior. It appears that some Nordic state actors have recognized the potential of Regionalism as a means to “keep the Nordic profile alive”.277 The idea of trying to keep the Nordic profile alive also seems to be reflected in the Nordic countries’ self-perception, and equally, their way of presenting themselves as actors and partners on the international scene. In fact, the notion of Nordic uniqueness is still a very common argument; many Nordic officials try to employ the old clichés of the ‘third way’ in order to position their country’s attitude on the mental map of Europe. Among the Nordic countries, it is still very common to appeal to their own alleged weakness and the resulting unobtrusiveness, to the notion of being “small, peace-loving 275 See WÆVER Ole: Balts, Books and Brussels. Copenhagen Peace Research Institute (COPRI) Working Papers, No. 11. Copenhagen 1994, p. 3. 276 BROWNING Christopher S.: The Region-Building Approach Revisited: The Continued Othering of Russia in Discourses of Region-Building in the European North. In: Geopolitics, No. 1/2003, pp. 45- 71, here p. 69. 277 See WÆVER Ole: The Baltic Sea: A Region after Post-Modernity? In: JOENNIEMI Pertti (ed.): Neo-Nationalism or Regionality. The Restructuring of political space around the Baltic Rim. Stockholm 1997, pp. 293-342, here p. 324. 84 and democratic countries.” 278 This tendency can be observed in the Swedish foreign policy discourse whenever it comes to the question of strategic interests and power related bargaining on the international or global scene. This aspect is also closely related to what could be seen as the most ironic similarity between Sweden and Finland. Even though in recent years they have made very different politico-strategic choices, some kind of strong and intrinsic belief that within the EU and Europe they are politically ‘different’, if not superior to the average res, is common to both of them.279 G. Councils, Associations, Unions, Leagues There is a great bulk of studies dealing with the topic of ‘New’ Baltic Sea Regionalism in various different contexts. Scholars from both inside and outside the region have found very flowery descriptions for this phenomenon, pointing at the “myriads”280 of cooperative undertakings that have “mushroomed”281 “in the name of the Baltic world”.282 To various extents, they have highlighted the pivotal role of identity or the newly emerging “we-feeling”, and tried to find explanations for the inherent dynamics of the regional activism around the Baltic Sea. I. Networks and Clusters Given the complexity and amount of cooperative structures in the BSR, it is difficult to overlook the variety of actors and contents that they build upon. Many exponents in this tight network have very similar, if not identical, working agendas. When looking at the objectives of the various associations and cooperative ventures it seems as if there was a high potential of institutional and functional overlap. However, they differ in their way of approaching a certain issue, and most often, they deploy different means for similar objectives. Most importantly, they operate on diverse levels of action and thus, involve different types of actors. This is what Hubel and Gänzle called “positive overlap”. i.e. constructive division of labour in both functional and organisational terms instead of mere duplication of efforts and working structures.283 278 ØSTERGÅRD Uffe: The Nordic Countries in the Baltic 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. 28. 279 For an extensive comparison between Sweden an Finland, including this aspect, see chapter “Excursus: Mare Europaeum – Whose Mare Nostrum?”, p. 111-. 280 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 23. Von Sydow defined the proliferation of regionalist undertakings in the BSR as svindlande (Swed. vertigious) and added the humorous comment that sometimes it appears as if not even the ministers responsible for these regional agendas “were in the know” of what they are all about. See ibd. 26. 281 SCOTT James Wesley: Cross-border Governance in the Baltic Sea Region. In: ANDERSON James/O’DOWD Liam/WILSON Thomas M. (eds): New Borders for a Changing Europe. Crossborder Cooperation and Governance. London 2002, pp. 135-153, here p. 135. 282 LEHTI Marko: Competing or Complementary Images. The North and the Baltic World from the Historical Perspective. In: HAUKKALA Hiski (ed.): Dynamic Aspects of the Northern Dimension. Turku 1999, pp. 1-28, here p. 23. 283 See HUBEL Helmut/GÄNZLE Stefan: The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) as a Sub- Regional Organisation for ‘soft security risk management’ in the North-East of Europe. Report to the Presidency of the CBSS, 18 May 2001, p. 18.

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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.