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New Neighbourhood and Cross-Border Region-Building: Identity Politics of CBC on the Finnish-Russian Border

Ilkka Liikanen


This paper examines European cross-border region-building from the perspective of identity politics. How is cross-border regionalization conceptualized in the documents outlining EU policies of cross-border cooperation? How do these definitions meet, challenge and clash with the understandings of territoriality and identity on the regional level? The analysis is built on three case studies that examine the conceptualizations of supra-national, national, and regional territoriality in the case of Karelia, the historical region situated on the Finnish-Russian border. According to the results, the perceptions of local actors do not bear witness to the birth of a strong regional cross-border identity. In the Russian and Finnish border areas, more intensive cross-border co-operation can hardly be seen as proof of new European cross-border regionalism. As a conclusion, it is suggested, that instead of promoting above-given Europeanness, EU policies of CBC should be more open to the many European ways of combining regional, national and supranational perspectives, and avoid rhetoric equating cross-border regionalization and Europeanization.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229