INSOR Russia: Institute of Contemporary Development
Updated April 18, 2019

Igor Yurgens Attends 15th Baltic Development Forum

May 30, 2013

Chairman of the Management Board of the Institute of Contemporary Development Igor Yurgens took part in the 15th Baltic Development Forum in Riga on May 29-30.

Speaking during the plenary session Role Models and Realities in the Baltic Sea Region, Igor Yurgens summed up the results of the Russia’s outgoing presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (ending June 30, 2013).

Over the past year Russia has initiated progress in multilateral cooperation: a European law department is opening at Immanual Kant Baltic University in Kaliningrad; a partnership for financing innovative SME in Northwest Russia has been created with $110 in seed money; partnership in environmental protection in the Baltic region has been strengthen (Conference of the Heads of the Baltic Sea States on Environmental Protection held in St. Petersburg, April 5-6, 2013); and more.

Commenting on Russia’s outlook for the future, Igor Yurgens pointed out two trends:

1.    Relations with Northern Baltic countries are consistently progressing at a high level.

2.    Relations with former Soviet republics continue to uneven due to political tensions, in part, the problem of non-citizens complicates relations with Estonia and Latvia. While politics on this issue create obstacles, in the area of economics there are signs of improving relations in banking and commerce as well as infrastructure, logistics, energy transit, etc.

On the whole, Yurgens noted that it should be understood that Russia’s strategy for this region will depend on its general geopolitical stance. At present Russia has taken a strategic time out due to a number of factors:

- the uncertainty of the situation in the Eurozone: the recession; acute problems facing Brussels in relations with Great Britain and EU member-states of Southern Europe; the stability of the euro, etc.

- Euro-Atlantic integration with the United States, where there are also tensions and the divided nation syndrome;

- On the other side there is the Russia-Asia vector, which has been declared but has yet to see substantial content;

- Russia’s massive efforts to create a Eurasian integration zone with Belarus and Kazakhstan and potential Kyrgyzstan and perhaps even Ukraine.

All of these processes influence the determination of Russia’s long-term strategy in the Baltic Sea region.

Participants of the discussion included the ministers of foreign affairs of Latvia and Denmark, the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers as well as leading academics from Germany and Poland.