Post-Cold War Identity Politics: Northern and Baltic Experiences

By Marko Lehti; David J.Smith | Go to book overview

11

Post-Soviet Geo-politics in the North of Europe

PAMI AALTO

This chapter introduces the notion of 'post-Soviet geo-politics' and discusses its import in depicting post-Cold War developments and processes in the north of Europe. To this end, I make a distinction between structured, formal and practical forms of geo-politics and discuss how they are manifested in relations between the Baltic states, Belarus and Russia (including its Kaliningrad exclave). In this analysis the notion of post-Soviet geo-politics emerges as a multifaceted phenomenon that is leading to the construction of new symbolic and material (territorial) boundaries in the region. The spaces marked by these boundaries are not inaccessible, since they are affected by competing phenomena and processes such as liberal politics and regionalizing initiatives. The chapter concludes by arguing that the notion of post-Soviet geo-politics is capable of opening up some interesting viewpoints on regional developments and processes. However, insofar as this notion clearly does not exhaust the diverse space of post-Soviet politics, it is best understood as a metaphor.


THE CONTEST OVER ORDER IN EUROPE

Although the term 'post-Soviet geo-politics' rarely appears in its own right in scholarly literature, it is not difficult to relate the notion to certain types of developments and processes within the post-Soviet space. Post-Soviet reality has not conformed to some purportedly harmonious project of building a Common European Home and bridging East and West in the way that many predicted back in 1992-93. Compared to the Cold War era, there is undeniably more openness and interaction and a lesser degree of tension. Even so, the enlargement processes of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) effectively work to delineate and dissociate the 'East' from the 'West'.

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