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Abstract

This article investigates how regional supply chains support the Western Balkans’ economic growth. It first identifies the role of the cefta free trade agreement in expanding the size of the local market and opening up regional trading opportunities. It recounts how the larger market and specific industrial policies have attracted foreign direct investment (fdi) to the region in recent years. It analyses how these two factors have combined to generate export-led growth in the region and have brought about substantial structural changes within these economies. The article argues that to take continued advantage of the success in trade liberalisation and fdi attraction, policymakers should pay special attention to promoting backward spillovers by promoting linkages between local small and middle sized enterprise (sme) supplier firms and the newly arrived multi national corporations embedded into global value chains. Policies should be adopted which build the capacity of local sme suppliers within regional supply chains, both in terms of labour force skills and technological upgrades. The EU’s recently launched Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans and the activities of the Western Balkan Six Chamber Investment Forum may support such policies.

Open Access
In: Southeastern Europe
Author:

Abstract

Almost all minority ethnic groups in Kazakhstan are immigrants. This means that in addition to their current place of residence, Kazakhstan (their “Second Homeland”), they also have a place of origin (their “Historical Homeland”). The leadership of the country has approached this situation, which offers opportunities as well as dangers, by explicitly exhorting the official ethnic representations of minorities to nurture contacts with their Historical Homelands. In this article the examples of the Chechens and Kurds will be used to show how the representations of both ethnicities actively and politically pursued this task. For both groups, representing a nation without an independent state, a fourth actor must be added to the “triangle nexus” familiar from diaspora studies, respectively Russia and Turkey, whose positions the Kazakhstani government cannot simply disregard. What emerges from the study is the strong emotional link of both minorities’ representatives with Kazakhstan as their Second Homeland.

Open Access
In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

This article compares two national shrines, the Cross of Dagmar (Denmark) and the Cross of St. Euphrosyne (Belarus), providing novel evidence that both crosses could have been made by the same master. It has long been contended that the Cross of Dagmar allegedly belonged to Queen Dagmar from Bohemia, the first wife of the Danish king Valdemar II, son of Sophia of Minsk and Valdemar the Great. A former director of the Danish National Museum, Fritze Lindahl, was the first to propose a hypothesis that the Cross of Dagmar could have come to Denmark together with Sophia via Minsk, Belarus. The purpose of this article is to verify Lindahl’s hypothesis, combining the Belarusian and Danish sources for the first time. The paper also contributes to queenship studies, taking out of oblivion Queen Sophia—a “forgotten queen” of Danish politics and the Baltic Sea region in the 12th century.

Open Access
In: Journal of Belarusian Studies
Author:

Abstract

The degree of institutionalized cooperation on security among three or more of the five Central Asian states remains moderate. Currently, regional security is nurtured in part via frameworks provided by external state and nonstate partners. A rational institutionalist perspective has been invoked, suggesting demand for regional security cooperation. This view also insinuates that it would be reasonable for these five states, because of their limited resources, to rely largely on external cooperation partners instead of being self-organized. This article discusses additional causal factors possibly responsible for the low degree of regionalism. Given varying foreign policy preferences and Kazakhstan’s consistent backing of far-reaching security regionalism, the argument that autocracies generally refrain from deep security cooperation cannot be sustained, nor does the sea change in Uzbekistan’s foreign policy in 2016, which could serve to nurture security regionalism in the future, align well with this argument.

Open Access
In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

In July 2020, Russian voters gave strong support to a package of constitutional reforms that reconfigured the Russian political system and enshrined social guarantees and conservative identity values, consolidating the regime that has been built over a 20-year period. This was achieved through an alteration that ‘zeroed’ presidential terms that commenced before the constitutional change, potentially allowing President Vladimir Putin to overcome term limits and continue in office beyond 2024. The article explains how such a far-reaching and important change was successfully endorsed by the Russian electorate. The analysis shows that the main explanation rests with variations in voting patterns across the regions, a pattern that has been evident in previous Russian elections and resulted in strong pro-Putin support. The article also evaluates questions raised about the legitimacy of the result, and its long-term significance for the Russian political system.

Open Access
In: Russian Politics

Abstract

This article reflects on how the concept of regionalism has been used to explain and interpret Central Asian politics since independence. It argues that regionalism, often a norm-laden analytical category based on Eurocentric assumptions, tends to paint the region as “failed” and regional states as incapable of institutionalizing multilateral relations. In its place, the article suggests the concept of order, which is more neutral and—through its focus on the operation of sovereignty, diplomacy, international law, authoritarianism, and great power management—is able to incorporate elements of both the conflict and cooperation that have marked the region’s politics since 1991.

Open Access
In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

This paper studies the signing of bilateral treaties between the federal and regional governments of Russia in the period of 1994–1998. Fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis of 64 cases suggests that by signing bilateral treaties in exchange for political support President Yeltsin built a broad coalition with subnational leaders. This strategy allowed Yeltsin to win the 1996 presidential election but, in the long run, contributed to the preservation of authoritarian enclaves in Russia. The results are in line with the argument that authoritarian consolidation in Russia during the 2000s was deeply embedded in the center-region relations of the 1990s.

Open Access
In: Russian Politics
Authors: and

Abstract

Although 4 July 2020 saw the coming into force of constitutional changes in Russia, this was far from the end of the story. Most clearly, these changes to the 1993 constitution required implementation, including through amendments to, and the writing of new pieces of, federal legislation. In part, this process was the mundane work of legal bureaucrats, tweaking and creating many pieces of legislation to reflect the new constitutional text. But the implementation process also reveals much more about the broader constitutional reform project. This article reviews the implementation process, discussing its complexity, the improvisation shown when fleshing out certain new constitutional details, its relationship with other political developments, and the chasm laid bare between Putin’s promise of the rebalancing of power in his 15 January 2020 Address to the Federal Assembly versus the reality of reform in practice.

Open Access
In: Russian Politics
Author:

Abstract

The many-sided work of Michaś Skobla (b. 1966) takes a variety of forms, including that of prose writer, critic, editor, anthologist, parodist, translator, radio correspondent and lyric poet. The article aims to outline the main features of his writing, with particular emphasis on his parodies and lyric poetry, in this way showing his central role in the Belarusian literary process of today.

Open Access
In: Journal of Belarusian Studies

Abstract

In January 2020, Russian President Putin proposed a number of potentially very significant amendments to the constitution of the Russian Federation. In March 2020, these were formally approved by parliament and signed by the president. In a nationwide vote held on 25 June – 1 July, just under 78 percent of those who voted did so in favour of the amendments, 21 percent voted against, while turnout was just under 68 percent. The amendments, which entered into force on 4 July, strengthened the powers of the Russian president, increased the powers of the center over regional and local governments, and reduced the independence of the courts. They asserted that the Russian constitution should take precedence over decisions reached by international institutions. Not least, they opened the possibility for Putin to remain in office following the expiry of his current presidential term in 2024. To be more precise, they enabled Putin to avoid becoming a lame duck and to keep the elite in suspense over what he would eventually decide to do in 2024. They also provided him with security should he decide to leave office.

Open Access
In: Russian Politics