German ,,peace researchers"want ,,transnational civil society"for Kaliningrad

KIEL | | russische-foederation

KIEL An academic project of the state of Schleswig Holstein established that there was a ,,tendency to estrangement from Russia"in the Russian Oblast of Kaliningrad and investigated the possibilities of introducing a ,,cross-border civil society"there. There exists a ,,considerable appeareance"that separatist opinion is gaining popularity and that a ,,spiral of escalation"is setting in.

The ,,Field research for a study of the developmental situation of a civil society in Kaliningrad"was conducted on the instructions of the Schleswig Holstein Parliament by the Schleswig Holstein Institute for Peace studies (SCHIFF). SCHIFF is financed from the budget of the state of Schleswig Holstein and directs its attention specially to ,,the Baltic Region of the New Europe"and here on ,,Beginning the development of cross-border regions", a particular priority of German foreign policy. It co-operates with the ,,Centre for Minority Questions (EZM)", based in Flensburg, which is a leading organisation in the ,,ethnic"parcelling out of Europe and is also active in Kaliningrad.

,,Weak Links to the Territory"

SCHIFF says that there is presently a chance within the framework of European policy ,,to find constructive solutions for the difficult situation of Kaliningrad". In view of the circumstance that the future EU frontier will also be a cultural frontier (with the Latin alphabet on one side and the Cyrillic on the other) and in view of ,,actual minority conflicts"there could be a ,,horizontal and vertical dynamic of escalation on the EU border with Kaliningrad."Optimistically considered this could, at least, not be excluded. Unresolved problems of migration and policy on minorities developed a ,,life of their own"and promoted an ,,internal Russian destabilisation".

SCHIFF maintains that the make-up of the whole, adult population of Kaliningrad by immigrants and descendants of first generation immigrants meant that they had ,,only weak links with the territory"(i.e. attachment to the land) whose original culture was hardly visible or experienced because of the destruction of the Seccond World War and neglect of reconstruction. It was hard to develop a stable identity under these conditions.

There was a ,,general lack of attachment to the territory and its history"and a tendency to ,,estrangement from Russia". Large sections of the politically active population of Kaliningrad felt themselves to belong to ,,Europe"and wished to take part in its development. All soundings of opinion among the people of Kaliningrad made it clear that there was a strong wish for change in the present status. If such an aspiration was not satisfied, there existed ,,a considerable possibility that the separatist current would gain in popularity". Four to six per cent of the supporters of a ,,stable weak"separatist tendency is no negligible quantity but ,,a solid point of departure for the politicisation of the conflict".

,,To overcome a territorially based concept of Sovereignty"

To advance European (and thereby German) influence in the ,,Spiral of Escalation"SCHIFF recommends support for a ,,Cross-Border Civil Society"in Kaliningrad. With 900 registered non governmental organisations (NGOs) the initial conditions were ,,extraordinarily favourable". Additionally many of the NGOs wanted to intensify their connections with foreign partner organisations. The ,,Transnational Civil Society"of Kaliningrad will involve itself further as the future first line in the ,,ongoing debate about internal Russian developments". International organisations and other governments and parliaments could help. This would lead ,,to nothing less than the abolition of the concepts of 'internal' and 'foreign' and of clear borders. It would overcome the territorially based concept of sovereignty". Such an ,,overlapping"would be ,,an innovative form of the organisation of political space"(Raum).

The memorandum, signed by the Duma of Kaliningrad and the Parliament of Schleswig Holstein on 31 January 2000 is an outstanding example. In it, both sides declare their intention to intensify co-operation with NGOs and to promote the development of civil society. Above all it is remarkable that the Russian side had returned to its mistrust of the concept of civil society as an instrument to increase Western influence. Much remains to be done if a ,,decidedly anti-reform politician like the Duma President, Valerii Ustjogov", could declare ,,For instance, whilst visitors in the German-Russian house listen to Chopin and drink vodka, the conversation may get tangled in discussion of supranational values. But the Germans will not succeed in this way to regermanise Kaliningrad."

,,Pilot Region Kaliningrad?".
Hanne Margret Birckenbach/Christian Wellmann : The Dilemma of EU Eastern Enlargement Perspective of European Policy in the case of the North West Frontier of Russia and its Exclave of Kaliningrad;
Christian Wellmann: Historical Miscellany. The Russian Exclave of Kaliningrad as Conflict Syndrome;
Hanne-Marget Birckenbach: People of Kaliningrad seek World Citizens.
Hanne Margret Birckenbach/Christian Wellmann with collaboration of Leonid Karabeshkin: Civil Society in Kaliningrad. An exploratory study of the promotion of co-operation and partnership, drawn up at the instructions of the Parliament of Scleswig Holstein, Kiel 2000