The European North_ Historical Geopolitics and International

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					Europe’s North: Historical Geopolitics and International
             Institutional Dynamics, 2-5 ECTS
            1. Historical geopolitics in Europe’s north: is it still relevant?
                                     Autumn 2011

                                    Pami Aalto
    Jean Monnet Professor/Director, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on
         European Politics and European-Russian Relations, University of
                    Course objectives

u   To provide conceptual and
    theoretical tools that shed
    light on how the interaction of
    great and small powers has
    historically shaped the
    Northern European region;

u   To apply the conceptual and
    theoretical tools to the
    contemporary context where
    supranational integration and
    regionalization both at the
    interstate and substate level
    challenge traditional great and
    small power dynamics;

u   To provide necessary
    prerequisites for the students    Map source: "Septrionales region", a Dutch map of
    for assessing and examining       Northern Europe (1601).Author: Johannes Vrients,
    international dynamics in         Netherlands;
    Europe’s north independently      <>
                      Course structure
1. Mon 31.10 10-12, Linna 4013
Historical geopolitics in Europe’s north: is it still relevant?

2. Mon 31.10 14-16, Linna 4013
Regionalization since the 1990s: How important?

3. Tue 1.11.2011, 10-12 Linna K109
European integration in the North: is the EU the leading power?

4. Tue 1.11 14-16, Linna 5026: Russian and Atlantic influence: limits of

-Further programme
5. Thu 3.11.2011 9-14 Linna K113
Student workshop, CBU-ERS students only

6. Fri 4.11 12-15, Pinni B1096
Public seminar, with Ambassador Anttonen and visiting speakers
What multilateral institutions, and how much, does Northern Europe need?

-Attendance requirement min. 80%
u   ERS2/KVPO A3
u   1) 2 ECTS: lectures (8hrs); and participation in a public seminar on ‘What multilateral
    institutions, and how much, does Northern Europe need? (Fri 4.11, 3 hrs); plus a
    learning diary (8-10pp).

u   1b) If ‘regular’ or visiting UTA students (not part of the CBU-ERS programme) wish to
    take the course in the 5 ECTS format, they also write an essay of 8-9pp. on a topic
    chosen by themselves and approved by the course teacher, by using relevant
    academic literature compiled independently

u   2) 5 ECTS (CBU-ERS students only) lectures (8hrs); workshop based on group work
    during the duration of the course (workshop on 3.11, 9-14); and participation in a
    public seminar on ‘What multilateral institutions, and how much, does Northern
    Europe need?’ (Fri 4.11); plus a learning diary (8-10pp).

u   In the learning diary the students summarise their learning process during the
    lectures and show good understanding of the main concepts, theories and themes
    used therein and in course literature to analyse northern Europe’s historical and
    contemporary developments (1-1.5pp./lecture); and use the concepts, theories and
    themes discussed in the lectures and course literature to discuss and analyse
    independently the phenomena and problems taken up by one or more of the
    speakers in the public seminar (3-4pp.)

u   Lecture diaries to be sent in to by Fri 18.11.2011, in one MS Word
    file AND in printed format to postbox outside Aalto’s office Linna 5. floor. Essays in by
    Fri 25.11, same method. For students normally outside UTA electronic submission is
         ‘Historical Geopolitics’: what do we mean by it?

u    Traditional or formal geopolitics     3. In the popular sense, the term
     studies how geography                    geopolitics is often equated with
     determines politics                      superpower or great power rivalry,
     -Location, size and resources            and realist approaches to
     -Kjellen, Haushofer, Schmitt,            international politics
     Mackinder, Spykman, today
     Kissinger, Brzezinsky, Karaganov,     4. Critical geopolitics was introduced
     Dugin, Zyuganov, etc.                    by IR scholars and political
     -Key authors mainly represent            geographers in the early 1990s to
     great powers                             examine critically the production of
     -Not as linked with Nazi power as        geopolitical knowledge that its
     it is often thought of!                  producers often think is “objective”
                                              and “true”
                                              -Draws upon the Frankfurt School
2.   New geopolitics continues the old        and critical theory in trying to
     geopolitical tradition                   argue that “the production of
     -In addition to ‘pure’ geographical      geopolitical knowledge is an
     factors, economic, cultural and          essentially contested political
     environmental factors                    activity” (Ó Tuathail 1998)
     determining politics                     -Ideas of political space; territorial
     -Influenced by the liberal IR            and symbolic boundaries
     ‘interdependence’ literature of          -Key authors include Toal, Dalby,
     1970s                                    Paasi, Newman; Identities, Borders
     -Key authors include e.g. Luttwak        and Orders –network (Lapid,
     (environment), Agnew (economy,           Albert); in the north and east
     world systems analysis,                  Aalto, Browning, Joenniemi, Berg,
     dependency theory), Tuomi                Kolossov
        Historical great powers in northern Europe
u   The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (not very
    active within the whole region; oriented
    towards the Black Sea, present UKR, BLR area)
u   Denmark (in Napoleonic wars against Sweden;
    colonial power in ICE, NOR and Greenland;
    history in the present Baltic states’ territory)
u   Sweden (one of Europe’s great powers
    throughout much of past millennium; in decline
    vis-à-vis RUS/SU since early 18th century with
    Russia’s conscious expansion into this region)
u   Germany (e.g. Teutonic Order during 13-15th
    centuries; Baltic German nobility ruling
    Estonian, Latvian territories for centuries until
    the Russian revolution; Nazi occupation of the      The Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth
    Baltics in WWII; revived GER as a key power in      (1569-1795), pictured 1648 before its
    the EU; some, not major NE ambitions)               gradual waning after the thirty years’
                                                        war; Map source:
u   Russia (defeat of Sweden and takeover of the        <
    Baltic lands, FIN-SU relations during the CW,       :Polish-
    RUS ‘near abroad’ –policy during the post-          Lithuanian_Commonwealth_in_1648.PNG
    Soviet era, Russia-EU relations, Russia as a
    nuclear, major military and energy power)
u   UK, US (NE involvement subjected to wider
    considerations, e.g. major wars originating in
    other regions; NATO during and after CW; US
    has been more prominent within the region
    during the post-Cold War era)
Russian rivalry
§ German—Russian historical rivalry
classical example of great power
relations shaping up northern Europe’s
geopolitics and changing borders
      § Several separate occupations of
                                          Above: MRP 1939-40; below: Northern Europe overlaid by
      the Baltic states during WWII
                                          great power rivalry during the interwar era (1918-1945)
      § Finland deliberating over a
      German Prince to govern the
      country after its secession from
      the Russian empire in around
      1917, and to tie the country into
      Germany in order to counter
      Russian and Swedish influence
      § The Kaliningrad question).
§ The German—Russian rivalry was the
determining factor for northern
Europe’s geopolitical arrangements
early in the twentieth century and
between the world wars, and all other
geopolitical ideas and arrangements
were made and proposed against that
background factor
      Baltic League as a response to
       German—Russian rivalry (I)
u   Several ideas for an alternative geopolitical arrangements were proposed and worked
    on by policy makers of the time, mainly to create a counter-weight to the intense
    German-Russian rivalry within and influence on the region
u   The idea of a Baltic league:
      • Was made possible by the collapse of the Russian empire and the opening up of
         new political space
      • Was first put forth by the influential Estonian politician Jaan Tõnisson, former PM
         of the country, who argued in 1917 for the unification of Estonia, Latvia,
         Lithuania, Finland, and the Scandinavian countries into a federation
      • 1918 the idea was picked up by the Latvians, Lithuanians and even the British
      • Two representatives of the Estonian foreign delegation in the negotiations
         leading to the end of WWI presented a plan to the British Foreign Office
         portraying a unity of these ‘Baltic’ countries based on different political, military
         and economic ties. This proposal was quite different from traditional inter-state
         alliances: to secure Estonian independence by creating a wider territorial unit of
         which it would be part! Not the usual insistence on the institution of national
         sovereignty in the early stages of state-building
u   In the Baltics, usually the term ‘Baltic League’ or ‘Baltic cooperation’; ‘Baltic Sea
    Union’, ‘border-state alliance’ in the Finnish debate (the geopolitical implication of
    being located in-between greater powers); ‘diagonal alliance’.
u   Debates in newspapers, journals and political elite especially in Estonia, Latvia and
u   Lithuania tried to take the lead in this discussion, but preferred a narrow idea of
    limited co-operation between the three Baltic states or a Lithuanian-Latvian union,
    and were at odds with Poland due to their territorial dispute on the Vilnius area.
          Baltic League as a response to
           German—Russian rivalry (II)
u   The Poles did not see
    themselves as a Baltic nation
    primarily but rather as a great
    power, thus unreceptive to the
    idea although they would have Figure 2: Ideas of a Baltic League overcoming Russo-
    been needed them to properly German rivalry and securing the independence of the
    realise the idea                  Baltic states within a larger territorial framework
u   During 1919-1926, some 40 big
    conferences arranged between
    foreign ministers of the thus
    constructed region, state bank
    leaders, railway officials, etc.
      • “Therefore, the law of
         history is the following: if
         the nations inhabiting the
         shores of the Baltic Sea are
         not able to create between
         themselves a stronger
         organisation, they are
         doomed to inevitably
         submit to a stronger
         European power of the
         respective period” (Ants
         Piip, Estonian foreign
         minister, 1934, in Lehti
         1999, 11)
    The Cold War era ’Nordic balance’ (I)
u   Operated on the basis of the balance of power institution
u   Compared to interwar era, diminished number of state actors and the whole setting
    is again overlaid by greater powers, as it was during the interwar era; but this time
    the rivalry is between the superpowers US and Soviet Union
u   Not much room for alternative geopolitical ideas, although Sweden and Finland tried
    to practice neutrality; mixed record and results
u   However, relatively low tension in the Nordic area compared to the very direct
    east/west confrontation in mainland Europe
u   Denmark and Norway kept a low profile in NATO, not allowing the stationing of
    foreign troops or nuclear weapons on their mainland territories, or the arranging of
    military exercises in the vicinity of Bornholm island or the Norwegian-Russian border
u   Sweden stayed mostly neutral in its publicly presented policies, although later on the
    fairly close, covert military-political ties of Sweden with the west and NATO have
    been made public
u   Finland tried to maintain its independence by declaring neutrality + Friendship, Co-
    operation and Mutual assistance (FCMA) treaty with the Soviet Union
u   The Soviet Union abstained from invoking the military consultation paragraphs in the
    FCMA Treaty
u   The strictly security political nature of the Nordic balance at the same time connoted
    a north European region mostly lacking the involvement of the EU, which at the time
    lacked an explicit security policy, with its overall foreign policy also being at its early
    stages of development
The Cold War era ’Nordic balance’ (II)

 Figure 3: The Cold War era ‘Nordic balance’

Finland is depicted as partly falling into the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence
due to the FCMA treaty that limited its external sovereignty.
           The end of the Cold War
u   Tremendously important consequences for northern Europe’s geopolitical
    arrangements: from great power overlay and balance of power the region moved into
    a new phase and was looking for a new direction.
u   Critical juncture (constructivism): new political space opened up for other regional
    level actors to shape the region’s development from the inside, not from the outside
    as was historically the dominant pattern!
u   Baltic sates as new actors after the resistance to Soviets had faded in the 1950s and
    autonomy/independence movements started in embryonic form in the 1970s
u   End of Cold War both an interest evolvement and identity question
u   Why the Cold war ended? (Reuveny & Prakash 1999):
      • inefficient central planning and consequent economic and technological gap
      • Fukuyama (1992): inherent superiority of Western democracy and market
      • Soviet economy could not meet consumers’ demands, result legitimacy crisis
      • perestroika as a Frankenstein (false saviour)
      • too extensive Cold War militarisation unsustainable for the Soviet Union (% of
      • Soviet empire overstreched in relation to resources (third world, Eastern Europe)
      • ethnic tensions in the Soviet Union (still rather popular explanation among
         ordinary Russians ‘the Balts started this misery’)
      • Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost policy, and his GRIT tactics (leadership
         based explanation)
      • Reagan’s arms race attack on the weak and stagnant Soviet economy
         (conservative/right-wing explanation)
      • Afghanistan
 Contemporary ’Great power geopolitics’ in
northern Europe: room of manouvre for small
u     The 1990s vision of ’post-international politics’ (e.g. Rosenau)
    §     vs. return to traditional geopolitics (post-911, Afganistan, Iraq)
u     1 + 4 (+ BRICs) –structure:
    §     1 superpower and 2 great powers in northern Europe (EU, RUS);
    §     the rest middle/small/minor powers; superpower and great power
u     Changes in the international structure that influence northern Europe
      affect the opportunities opening up for other actors whose material
      resources only allow them to exercise a decisive impact at regional
      level, not in global geopolitics
    §     For example, with the end of the Cold War superpower ‘overlay’ on
          northern Europe, there opened up a new opportunity to develop new
          institutions like Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), and Barents
          Euro-Arctic Council, which were both created in the early 1990s.
          Finland’s Northern Dimension (ND) initiative was conceived in 1997,
          accepted by the EU in 1998, and renewed in 2006
u     ‘Marginality’: some constructivist researchers argues in the 2000s that
      margins are more important in northern Europe than elsewhere, and
      that the centres of power also need margins in order to establish
      themselves as centres in relation to something else
u     Historical geopolitics: both change and continuity
 From northern to wider Europe and beyond: geopolitics on
 different levels and constellations

                         Europe’: energy,
                         conflicts, borders            competing
USA                                                    empire?
         EU ’empire’                transit, open
                                    and frozen                                        China
                                    conflicts         Uzbekistan

                            Turkey:                                Central Asia:
                            Cyprus, energy                         energy,
                            transit                                ’matrioshka’
                                                                   nationalisms and
                                 Middle East: Mashrek,
                                 Israeli-Palestinian conflict

        North Africa: Maghreb,                                        USA
        energy, immigration,

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