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Continuity and change in north European nordpolitikk in the wake of the cold war: the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (B.E.A.R.)

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Mitcham, Paul 


This thesis aims to look at how the the northern policies (Nordpolitikk) of governments in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia have been affected by processes of continuity and change, with regard to the development of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (BEAR) as a new entity. In studying, also, the forces shaping this region's emergence and political direction, the Nordpolitikk, especially of Norway, is assessed. The paper begins by examining the region geographically, and by explaining the changes which Russo-Nordic relations underwent in the final years of the Cold War. The effects that changes in the international political climate since have had upon the national policies of Northern Europe are also considered, and the reasoning behind the Barents cooperation scheme is explained both implicitly and explicitly within this context. The implications of the nascent 'region' are then discussed, both in terms of economic practicalities and political potentialities. From this theoretical basis, aspects of continuity and change inherent in the BEAR are subsequently investigated. Key areas (such as economics and the environment, their significance for regional confidence and stability, and the interaction between the BEAR and wider European and pan-Arctic processes) are analysed. The commentary of various contemporary players and interpreters is reassessed, in the light of three years of the scheme's operation, changing national and foreign policies, and new internal and external threats to the region's future. The role of the Barents Region as a bridge-builder between Russia and Wes tern Europe is then reviewed, as is the BEAR' s ( co-)operative potential. The concluding section aims to reflect upon whether or not the Barents co.:operation structure genuinely responds to changing needs. The division between military/security and civilian goals is considered, as the question is posed whether the BEAR can ultimately become anything more than a mere puppet for the continuation of national policies, and what chance it has for wider recognition. Finally, the remaining implications of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region are debated, as its role is assessed between North, South, East and West.






Master of Philosophy (Mphil)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Digitisation of this thesis was sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin