Pertti Joenniemi & Alexander Sergunin

This article examines the unfolding of relations between two northern towns, Kirkenes and Nikel, as a rather recent case of city twinning. Their endeavor, launched in 2008, did not emerge in the standard bottom-up type of fashion with the cities in question defying to some extent the divisive impact of statist borders. It came instead into being as part and parcel of broader schemes of cross-border cooperation between Norway and Russia encouraged by central authorities. It might thus be assumed that twinning project is doomed to succeed. The towns might well turn into a bridge altering decades of closure and isolation, although it is also conceivable that being tied to a broader setting largely outside the control of the towns themselves hampers cooperation. The two towns do not necessarily engage in the production of familiarity and closeness in the way they are assumed and encouraged to do but pursue policies of their own premised on unfamiliarity and bordering rather than de-bordering. Our aim is thus to chart the experiences gained during the initial years of the project implementation as well as the difficulties encountered in this process. Exploring the somewhat particular case of Kirkenes-Nikel arguably adds to the insight concerning city-twinning in Northern Europe, but it also invites for a probing of the various aspects of a rather complicated relationship where interests in cooperation and the established of an in-between space premised on rather far-reaching togetherness co-exists and struggles with feelings of animosity and distrust.

Pertti Joenniemi is a Researcher at the Karelian Institute, University of Eastern Finland, Finland; and Alexander Sergunin is Professor at the St. Petersburg State University and Higher School of Economics, Russia.

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Sebastian Knecht

Conceptualising the Arctic as a political region has been done time and again in polar research, without any clear indication of how to grasp the kind and degree of circumpolar regionalism analytically. Inspired by the New Regionalism paradigm, this article provides a systematised framework for the study of political integration in the Arctic and analyses the region's identity in the respective historical context. Special emphasis is put on the marine area as a source of international governance and the way this impinges on the direction, functionality and virtue of Arctic regionalism. As intergovernmental cooperation in the North has made considerable progress over the past 25 years, the political evolution of circumpolar regionalism will be traced along three critical junctures: 1987 – 1996 – 2007. It was not before the late 1980s that regional cooperation gained momentum in Arctic affairs, because the region's strategic location as a buffer zone between the former Cold War rivals effectively prohibited any comprehensive regional initiative. This changed considerably throughout the 1990s with the establishment of the Arctic Council as a deliberative forum for scientific and political exchange. Further, it is argued that the Arctic Council today is about to become a relevant actor with independent agency in regional governance if it can successfully turn its delegated tasks and information advantage into practice.

Sebastian Knecht is a Research Associate and PhD Candidate at Dresden University of Technology, Germany.

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Frank Sowa

Established in 1979 as Home Rule and replaced in 2009 as self-government, the Greenlandic Inuit have developed the most advanced form of self-government. Concerning the status of the Greenlandic Inuit, this process of nation-state building may have an influence on being indigenous. The focus of this article is to answer the question of how indigenous peoples are affected by the existing relations of power and domination in a world polity. Taking the continued permission to hunt whales of the Greenlandic Inuit as an example, the article will demonstrate that Greenlanders adopt the projected images of otherness as their own because of the fear of losing the rights exclusively reserved for indigenous peoples. The early and later versions of a working paper by an international group of experts commissioned by the Greenlandic self-government illustrate the debate about the cultural self-images in Greenland. While the narration of the Greenlandic Inuit as indigenous peoples secures rights in international fora, a second narration of a collective identity of a small Nordic nation emerges and is discussed. The later version of the working paper emphasizes Greenland's indigenous status. The analysis shows the authority of global models since the categories of world polity dominate discourses on the cultural collective identity of the Greenlandic Inuit.

Frank Sowa is a Researcher at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg, Germany.

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Jari Koivumaa

Since the post-Cold War transition the structure of the international systems has changed. First of all, one super power (Soviet Union) disappeared from the International System in the year 1991. In addition the roles of non-governmental and regional actors in the international system have grown. The power of transnational corporations has produced a globalized international economical system aside the political system of states. In Europe the role of the regional intergovernmental organization has increased. The European Union is unequivocally the economical and political actor in world politics. In this article I examine the actors along the borders of the Barents Region. I analyze the possibilities for the speech acts that deconstruct the peripheral thinking in the Barents Region. The perspective for this deconstruction is Northern and Lappish. I examine how the peripheral position of the frontier regions of northern Finland can be deconstructed on the basis of the transition of the international system. Within the context of the "transition factors" that are changing the structure in the International System in the post-Cold War period, I examine how doors have opened for new political rhetoric and acts for the people in the northern Finnish frontier regions encompassing Lapland, the Sami Region, the Torne Valley and the Bothnian Arc. The analysis demonstrates that the global transition factors are not an abstract phenomena above the daily life of the ordinary people in different places of the world. The factors' existence in fact depends on the behavior of the people all over the world: the human behavior produces the factors. In my analysis I try to explain how the behavior in the frontier regions is producing and reproducing the existence of the structural transition factors in the European North.

Jari Koivumaa is a Lecturer at Lapland Vocational College, Finland.

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Heather N. Nicol

This article seeks to show how state-centred geopolitical rationales develop, shift and change, using a case study of media depictions of the Canadian Arctic. The author first examines popular conceptions and issues of Arctic issues as conveyed to southern Canadians through news articles in 1970-79, 1989, 1999 and 2009, and then highlights and deconstructs recurring and popular 'tropes', or literary devices, throughout the years, from security/sovereignty, to environment to economic development.

Heather N. Nicol is a Professor in the Department of Geography at Trent University, Canada.

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Marc-André Dubois, Alexander Shestakov and Clive Tesar

Evidence from earlier regime effectiveness studies and niche-oriented analysis suggests that the Arctic Council and its member-states should use the Council's work to influence and shape action in other regional and international fora. The article highlights the need for the Arctic Council and its members to move beyond knowledge-building and norm-building to actively support regulatory advances in broader institutions by the establishment of a coordinated Arctic voice enabling Arctic states to provide collective leadership in global instruments with an Arctic agenda, such as finalizing the Polar Code. Such an approach would also be consistent with the recent Ministerial declaration of the Arctic Council. The Council's Arctic Ocean Review recommendations will serve as the example to illustrate the opportunities for member states to provide collective leadership in addressing those recommendations in international fora.

Marc-André Dubois is Advisor on External Relations, Alexander Shestakov is Director, and Clive Tesar is Head of Communications for the WWF Global Arctic Programme.

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