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A Vision of a Twin City: Exploring the Only Case of Adjacent Urban Settlements at the Finnish-Russian Border

Heikki Eskelinen, Juha Kotilainen


The article aims to illustrate through a case study the contingencies, complexities and paradoxes which characterize the external borders of the European Union. The study focuses on the only cross-border urban area along the Finnish-Russian border region, that of Imatra and Svetogorsk. Firstly, the peculiarities of this region are described by comparing it to other cooperating border communities in the EU. Next, the twin-town initiative by the local governments is analyzed, the development potential of the cross-border region is evaluated, and the motives for and obstacles to cooperation are examined for assessing the prospects of cooperation in a wider European context. It is concluded that the distinctive features of this highly asymmetric case have been taken into account by the local actors when they have defined the aim and scope of their cooperation strategy. Due to these contextual factors, it is also understandable that the concrete results of the twin city initiative have remained limited thus far. Although integrated cross-border structures are nearly nonexistent, the local cooperation activities provide an interesting laboratory for observing and assessing the objectives and practices of a "Wider Europe" at a local scale.

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