Материалы для чтения the four freedoms as part of europeanization process: conditions and effectiveness of the eu impact

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Материалы для чтения the four freedoms as part of europeanization process: conditions and effectiveness of the eu impact

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1.4. Contrasting Combinations

It is interesting that geo-cultural images and strategies may interfuse not only with their analogs along the lines elucidated above, but are also interrelated with contrasting images and strategies, those located at the opposite sides of their corresponding spectrums. These complex intercommunications result from an exogenous nature of geo-cultural discourses, since their unfolding is unfeasible without strong impact from the part of adjacent discourses571.

Among the spatial intermixtures one may discover rather simple – though not very much important for this study - combinations of Heartland and Periphery, as well as Heartland and Province. This is the case of those inland territories that may be simultaneously qualified as culturally distinct (Province) and/or politically subordinated to the federal authorities (Periphery). More interesting, in my opinion, are two interconnections involving Capital. Thus, Capital may interflow with Rimland/Borderland, as evidenced by the example of St.Petersburg with its reputation of “ex-centric capital”, one which is both “central” and “edgy”.

Not less worthy of attention is a discursive conflation of Capital and Province. Provincial discourse, as I have noted at some earlier juncture, may modify ideational constructs in such a way that leaves sufficient room for reproducing some traits of centrality in the provincial terrains. Thus, Russian geographer Ivan Mitin calls a small city of Olonets not only “the capital of Southern Karelia” but, in a wider sense, a “provincial capital”, or “a capital-in-province”. Belomorsk, in the same vein, is called by him “the Northern capital of Karelia”572.

Yet the most indicative linkage of this sort may be found in the proliferation of the so called “secondary capitals” that reflects a tendency of many of Russia’s largest cities to reserve their own spatial niches in their capacity as “sub-centers”. The “secondary capitals” bobs up as a product of provincial/non-central discourses merged with the longing for centrality. The main cities of Russia’s domestic republics may officially promote themselves as “capitals” (like, for example, deeply peripheral Petrozavodsk). By and large, Russian version of the “secondary capital” resonates with the French concept of “metropole regionale”. Yet in Russia the entire idea is loaded with greater dynamics, since there are quite a number of projects aimed at transferring certain political and administrative functions from Moscow to other large cities eager to develop their “strategies of centrality”. One of most debated in 2004 was a proposal of Duma’s member Valerii Gal’chenko to “disperse” the basic political institutions (the government, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Federal Assembly, and the Central Bank) to such cities as Vladivostok, Novosibirsk, etc. In the meantime, there is a grass-roots activism in favour of implementing the strategies of “secondary capital-ness”, especially in the cities like St.Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod that appear to have asserted themselves, metaphorically speaking, as the second and the third “capitals of Russia”. Some politicians (like Liudmila Narusova) prefer to negatively label these endeavors “capital-mania” or even “epidemics of capital cities’ proliferation”573. Of course, in each individual case the reasons behind these bids for centrality are different, to include search for an idea that would be politically consolidating and appealing to different social groups, a desperate need to get additional funds from budgetary sources and investments from the private capital, a desire to distinguish the region from the bulk of its neighbors, or merely political ambitions of local elites. It is indicative that politically the “regional capitals” in their relations with neighboring territories tend to imitate and reproduce the highly centralized model implemented by Moscow in its relations with the rest of Russia (the pumping out of resources from “non-central” areas and, as a result, the growing polarization of wealth distribution)574. Regional capitals turned themselves into duplicates of the federal center, that ones operating in the way Moscow deals with themselves.


Two main conclusions may be drawn from this section. For the first, Russia appears to develop its system of governance incorporating multiple centralities to potentially challenge the political predominance of Moscow. The proliferation of various “strategies of centrality” might eventually entail a number of consequences for Russia as a whole, including the de-concentration of financial flows, the growing mobility of resources within the country, and the formation of a number of new “growth poles”.

Secondly, the majority of manifestations of the “alternative centrality” discourse, including the idea of “secondary capitals”, stand out within the discursive field of the strategies pertaining to modernist territoriality. This is so because the contest of signification it is embedded in is chiefly about redefinition of centrality as a hierarchical power hub.


The distinctions between diverse patterns of spatial representations sketched earlier make sense within purely domestic context. The introduction of an external subject (or subjects) significantly complicates the entire picture of spatial discourses and makes it much more multiplex.

At least two new concepts have to be introduced at this point, both being related with the appearance of an outside pole of gravitation. These are secession and marginality.

2.1. Secession

Secession discourse (mainly pertaining to St. Petersburg's and Kaliningrad’s separatists) is based on a set of identity-related assumptions. The political philosophy of secession is grounded in the principle of self-sufficiency («St. Petersburg is the whole Universe where one can find everything») while all federal institutions are treated as being «occupational» and «anti-popular». Secessionists negate geopolitical determinants (like war with the Taliban or the issue of the Kuril Islands) and opt for more accentuated geo-economic orientations, and therefore they oppose Russia’s war in Chechnya and Russia’s reunification with Belarus. They wish to conclude a special «divorce» treaty with Russia and to institute regional citizenship, and advocate the transformation from federation to confederation as a step towards the further decentralization of Russia and the emancipation of its constituent territories. For borders territories, secession may become a tool for blackmailing the center. The discourse of secession, on the one hand, repudiates the domestic center (Moscow), and on the other hand, welcomes the involvement of the outside center (i.e. Brussels).

Despite rather modest political off-springs (vitalized, in particular, by “The Movement for St.Petersburg’s Autonomy” and the Kaliningrad-based Baltic Republican Party that advocate the estrangement of these two regions from Russia), the secessionist discourse is in one form or another part of Russian political debates. Many Russian analysts deem that Russia is going through a period of “self-decomposition”, assuming that in case of radical opening of the borders the majority of Russian regions would in one way or another have fused with the neighboring countries575. Predictions of demise of Russia and a comeback of medieval compartmentalization are not rare among Russian commentators576. Paradoxically, some forms of secession discourse are promoted by partisans of Russian geopolitical grandeur (it was Alexander Dugin, a leading theorist of Russia’s geopolitics, who advocated the handover of the KO to Germany).
2.2. Marginality

The concept of marginality as developed by Noel Parker focuses on the questions the trans-border relations raise for the understanding of political space in general and the construction of Europe in particular. Conceptually, peripheries are presented as underdeveloped, inconveniently positioned, exposed to external dangers, and subordinated territories. Alternatively, margins as rather autonomous spaces are existentially able to develop the strategies of their own. Marginality, in Parker’s vision, is equated with new opportunities and openings for regional actors. Thus, territories located at the intersection of different polities and identities (“cross-roads actors”) are capable of comprehending how to make better use of their marginality resources through inclusive cooperation with adjacent territories. Margins are important components of different policy constellations because they usually have a room to maneuver and a meaningful degree of freedom in exploiting their location. Politically, margins are reluctant to accept that the center speaks for them; moreover, they may define the nature of the core itself577. A marginal territory may enjoy greater freedom because the mere possibility that it might exist outside the center’s sphere of influence is an argument to be exploited. Tensions between centers and margins are inevitable, but what is most important is that marginal position might turn into advantage through a variety of ways, including rent-seeking, charging the center in return for remaining inside, and so on. Due to external connections (“vaccination from the outside”578), margins try to insure against political abatements and falling-off of economic conjuncture in their own countries. Margins always have a choice to make, and centers are not rare to compete with each other to gain their loyalties. The discursive strategy of marginality, ideally, envisions not only comparable but also compatible powers of both center involved, and even a certain division of roles between them.

The “stories of marginality” are premised upon the conceptualization of a region’s location at the interface of two competing cultures and political entities. The search for positive «in-between» solutions is underway as an intrinsic part of a set of “marginality strategies” that some of the border regions endeavor to implement. A strategy of marginality implies going beyond the over-dependence on the centers, and contains a great deal of border-breaking potential.

The concept of margins may serve a good theoretical platform to study the trans-national roles played by non-central actors, since in order to qualify for a “margin”, a region has to exist in two-way relations with at least two centers. It is a zone of “binary identification” that might lead to either “double belongingness” (exemplified in the concept of “overlapping near abroads” in the EU – Russian neighborhood) or “double non-belongingness” (a situation that not only envisages maneuvering of margins between the two centers and finding a balance between them, but also leaves an ample room for margins’ autonomy and subjectivity)579.

The story of marginality is a part of post-structuralist and – to a certain extent anti-Wallersteinian – set of conceptualizations of territoriality. Being on the margin underwrites some specific potential of having an impact upon neighboring areas. Tensions between center and margins are inevitable, but what is most important is that a marginal position might turn into an advantage in a variety of ways. A territory premised on marginality may enjoy greater freedom because of the mere possibility that it might exist outside of the centers’ spheres of influence.

My assumption is that a strategy of marginality becomes conceivable whenever a region starts to treat the outside world as a source of opportunities instead of being fearful or suspicious of its neighbours. In particular, Kaliningrad’s prospective in-between position implies that it wishes to present itself as “an European region of Russia”, presuming that it can’t be separated from the EU.


In this chapter I shall chart the possible ways of utilizing the discourse of marginality - as interlocked with other discourses - for the purposes of studying the border-related spatial strategies.

The discourses on marginality are differently shaped. An interesting manifestation of the variety of marginalities could be found in a series of anniversaries, celebrated recently and/or to be celebrated soon. The 300 years of St.Petersburg were jubilated as a holiday of imperial Russia (while exactly the same anniversary of Petrozavodsk was almost ignored on a nation-wide level). On the contrary, the festivities honoring 1100th anniversary of Pskov were about jubilating Russia’s provinciality and maintaining this region’s cultural peculiarity vis-à-vis the rest of Russia, including St.Petersburg. As for forthcoming 750th anniversary of Koenigsberg/Kaliningrad, the fact that certain policy makers in the presidential administration were rather skeptical about the idea of decently celebrating this event, proves that politically Moscow still has some problems with tackling the historical heritage of this renamed city. The attempts of restoring the historical name of Kaliningrad were blamed as «a betrayal» by many of patriotically-minded pundits. A number of conciliatory yet nevertheless clumsy proposals were announced like “Kantograd” or even “Putingrad”. What came out of this discourse is an awkward and somehow ironic celebration of «750 years of the city of Kaliningrad». Having approved this formula, Kremlin not only has obviously put itself in a self-defeating position, but, what is even more important, has lost a chance to offer - through recovering and jubilating the historical name of the city – a new compromise-ridden mixture of different conceptualizations of Russia's relations with Europe. Indeed, a semiotic comeback of Koenigsberg might have been differently yet potentially quite positively interpreted by both «Westernizers» (presumably aspiring for a new impulse for Russian – EU relationship) and «Slavophiles» (who might eventually concede that having a city with the German name as a part of Russia is a good remembrance of the old days of Russian/Soviet military glory).

3.1. Marginality plus Alternative Centrality: the St.Petersburg Discursive Composition

The formula defined in terms of “marginality plus alternative centrality” could be better disentangled based on the experience of St.Petersburg. Undoubtedly, it contains a great challenge to Moscow that emanates from the only Russian city able to repeatedly and continuously pursue the two strategies simultaneously.

Centers – in a wider sense - by the virtue of their essential functions are almost inevitably contact zones placed on the economic and political boundaries, and therefore closely intersect with the concept of margins. Like margins, centers might have a sort of “in-between” functionality of an intermediary. Center is due to exist in a close association with: a) other centers (Moscow – Brussels), and b) center-dependent territories. To put it differently, center represents the whole country in its external relations with outside actors, in the meantime projecting the foreign/international environment in country’s inland territories580.

Paradoxically enough, St.Petersburg in its lust for centrality ought to be typified as an “ex-centric city”, one geographically located at the edge/outskirts. This ‘ex-centricity” makes St.Petersburg irreducible to “Russia’s average” and, in a certain sense, dissimilar to other Russian territories581. According to one interpretation, being located in “off-center position”, St.Petersburg became a kind of “internal analog of an external center”582. In some narratives, St.Petersburg is presented as almost a foreign land, or an outsider in comparison with the adjacent provinces583. The name with Dutch or German rather than Russian connotations gives “some degree of mental openness”584 to the city’s discourses.

This is exactly at this point that a strategy of marginality comes into force to complement the bid for “alternative centrality”. The notion of marginality is largely premised upon St.Petersburg’s leaning towards Europe. St. Petersburg has multiple images, including those meant for «export purposes». They are reinforced by outward-oriented and predominantly retrospective discourses aimed at taking advantage of the city’s European pedigree. Local authorities widely use symbols to further corroborate their international credentials. On the eve of the city’s «birthday celebration» the local authorities have launched a robust campaign aimed at converting the symbolic capital of St. Petersburg into a tangible asset. The result is that St. Petersburg has surrounded itself with multiple myths, each of which, in a sense, is quite consonant with the city’s ambitions for designing its own version of marginality fused with the search for “alternative centrality”.

First, St. Petersburg is baptized as being «Russia’s window to Europe», which initially symbolized the empire’s foreign policy priorities. It is remarkable that while some other cities interpret the identity of St.Petersburg as historically being of ostensibly imperial background, the local discourse in St.Petersburg itself makes a stronger accent on city’s European heritage.

Second, St. Petersburg proudly bears the images of «Northern Palmyra» or «Northern Venice», a depository of world-class masterpieces of art and architecture. Reviving the cultural capital and selling/exporting it to the West has been by and large a rather successful enterprise. St. Petersburg is one of the few Russian cities deeply embedded in the international milieu.

In the meantime, a great many of the current practices of St. Petersburg are quite detached from the cultural symbols of the city’s Europeanness. Suffice is to recall that Dmitrii Likhachov, the most reputed humanitarian academician in Russia, on the eve of his death issued an open letter to the city authorities in which he expressed his deep regret and a sense of shame for the way the media operates in his native city, having definitely in mind negative political campaigning and servility to the government in power.

Some important components of the local milieu indeed seem to be incompatible with Europeanization. For example, it is known that a group of foreign diplomats working in St.Petersburg has officially complained against unlawful inspections practiced by the local police which sometime is indistinguishable from the robbers585. This leads us to a discursive track pointing to St.Petersburg as «Russia’s crime capital», evidenced by the practice of contract killing, rampant crime and corruption. «We do have a bad reputation», - admitted Mikhail Amosov, an influential local legislator586. In 2000, for example, four deputy governors were indicted on charges of bribery and the misuse of administrative resources587. The Russian media has widely commented on gross mismanagement of the 1997 project funded by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and that aimed at the renovation of the city's downtown. In March 2002 the city legislature refused to accept the budgetary report submitted by the city administration, and filed the case to the prosecutor’s office. Legislators have had good reasons to be suspicious of financial mismanagement, particularly in regard to the city administration’s dealing with a number of «proxy banks», and in the construction of the Ice Palace for the 2000 World Hockey Championship588. Policy experts openly predicted that the St. Petersburg authorities would inevitably steal a significant part of the federal grants allotted for the city’s 300-year anniversary celebrations589. Likewise, well informed observers have called elections in St. Petersburg «a tournament of provocateurs» and a humiliating farce590.

Those trying to counter the «criminal capital» image by referring to statistics – showing that in some respects the crime rate in St. Petersburg does not differ much from the Russian average – seem to underestimate the very nature of regional symbolism. Images are not about figures and/or numbers at all, but overwhelmingly about human stories and narratives. In this respect, the negative image of St. Petersburg associated with crime is due to the symbolic importance of those people that have either been indicted (four vice governors) or killed (like Galina Starovoitova, a Duma member and former advisor to President Yeltsin).

3.2. Marginality and Peripherality: the Kaliningrad Concatenation

Peripherality, certainly, is not a static concept. Its dynamism is nested in the fact that Periphery may try to capitalize exactly on what constitutes its discursive gist – a distance from the power centers, and relative avoidance of and escape from the negative externalities related to the center. Periphery is praised for being “empty”, “under-explored”, “untouchable”, and even “unknown”. It is exactly at this point that the discourse of peripherality merges with that one of marginality, producing a number of note-worthy combinations. In particular, in Kaliningrad one may discern, apart from pessimistic articulations of its peripherality, some indications of formulating its identity in more optimistic terms related to the idea of marginality.

The Kaliningrad conflict from the very beginning has been developed under the dominating subjectivity of the two «centers» - Russia and the EU. Many people used to think that the Kaliningrad problems will be resolved only via an EU – Russia dialogue. It is not rare to read in Russian academic papers that this is the federal center that is capable of finding the way of the Kaliningrad dead-end via communicating with Brussels.

This line of reasoning is explained by referring to Russia’s self-perception of not belonging to the periphery of EU-led integration. It claims to be another world center, a self-sufficient one and capable of conducting a full-fledged foreign policy of its own. This worldview is a good match to the “Europe of Two Empires” concept developed by Michael Emerson, Alexander Rahr and other experts.

Yet the binary / bipolar model of solving the KO puzzle faces some constrains. Both parties have serious limitations in fulfilling the roles of effective conflict managers. There is a feeling widely shared by experts that both the federal center and Brussels deny the necessity of a specific approach to the KO, which makes the region «a pawn in the game» between Russia and the EU.

It is true that in the aftermath of the USSR dissolution most Kaliningraders were unable to differentiate themselves from the rest of Russia. Yet nevertheless a new sense of self-support is being formed nowadays, which is not one of making a choice between Europe and Russia, but of the KO carving out its own space as an «in-between» and overlapping margin that is in a possession of dual heritage – Prussian and Soviet/Russian.

A discourse of marginality, as being developed in the Kaliningrad oblast, is facilitated by the fact that Russia's relations with Poland and Lithuania are a bit ahead of its relationship with other “new” European nations. To some extent, Lithuania serves for Russia as a model Baltic country to deal with on the plethora of border-related matters (suffice is to say that the border and the readmission treaties were concluded with Lithuania, but not with two other Baltic republics).

The major question to be addressed within this context is related to the KO’s influence upon Russia and the EU. I will single out those spheres in which the KO has moved the Russian and European policies in a different direction thus displaying encouraging “border-breaking qualities”.

3.2.1. Kaliningrad’s Impact Upon Russia

The KO’s “marginality” is a product of two competing vectors. The first one consists of growing estrangement of both Russia (the Kremlin is blamed for offering such conditions for Special Economic Zone that are favorable to Moscow-controlled big business) and the EU (which appears to be guilty in imposing more costly and time consuming rules of border crossing). The distancing from both Moscow and Brussels is an element in Kaliningrad’s bid for its own subjectivity, yet this drive won’t bring any palpable result unless the second element is added - that one of influencing these two centers and pushing them to change some of their previous assumptions in a way beneficial for all Baltic community and even beyond.

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