Author: Urpo Kivikari
The Legacy of the Hansa: The Baltic Economic Region, by Urpo Kivikari, begins with a quick historical survey of the collapse of socialism and the economic effect of this event on the economies and trading practices of the Baltic states. Kivikari maintains that the beginning of the New Era has been characterised by the ending of East / West opposition. He concludes, perhaps as a warning, that the glamour of the new East / West relationship from the Eastern perspective has faded somewhat, and that the West has begun to understand that the transformation of old enemies into new friends will be expensive and accompanied by serious problems of adjustment.
Kivikariís analysis of the region focuses on the mid 1990ís, and tackles such issues as energy resources, production, education and research, emphasising the differences that exist between the former socialist states on the one hand, and the non-socialist states on the other. For instance, Kivikari points out a notable difference in infant mortality between Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (where the infant mortality rates are quite high), and Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland (where the rates are low). (p. 44). Fortunately, Kivikari finds basic education, vocational training and university education to be very competitive throughout the Baltic region. (p. 50). However, his concern at the low level of capital available to Russia for reinvestment remains a cause for concern.
The main goal of Kivikariís research is to provide a clear understanding of the economic status of the Baltic region overall, chiefly through a comparison of the Baltic states on the above mentioned themes. This is achieved through a scrupulous statistical study of trade figures and other economic indicators. Kivikari wants to determine whether the Baltic region will develop into a meso-region or if trade will be based on geographical proximity and natural logistics. His conclusion is that though at the moment the Baltic countries do not co-operate closely enough for the Baltic area to be considered a meso-region, there remains the possibility it will become so in the future, especially as the EU has proved so willing to expand northward. (p. 125). After analysing a number of possible scenarios for European economic growth and Russian-style capitalism, Kivikariís concluding statement is very telling; "The Baltic economic region is not complete yet, but it is a real chance for the future."
This book provides the reader with a detailed and statistically impressive analysis of the Baltic economic region. What exactly to make of all this data is a challenging problem, but Kivikari argues his case for a future discrete Baltic economic entity well. Kivikariís work is an essential guide to the economic realities of the Baltic, and provides some interesting predictions for the future.