Sunday, March 21, 2010
There were some protests today across Russia, including in Kaliningrad, the area formerly known as Königsberg that has been cut off from the rest of Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union, now an exclave bordering the Baltic Sea.
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Getting away from today's protests though, the thought occurred to me today that (though unlikely to the extreme) it might be to Russia's benefit to have an independent Kaliningrad (perhaps renamed to Königsberg, but that's another matter) that would then join the EU. Right now it's a tiny piece of land with a million people somewhat cut off both from their own country and the rest of Europe, but as an EU member it would mark the first time Russian were to become an official language of the Union (the second to use the Cyrillic script after Bulgaria), and would act as a kind of independent extension and place of expertise in a similar fashion to the way Hong Kong and Macau contribute to China's presence, both in business (Hong Kong) and a gateway to the Portuguese-speaking world (Macau). Since Kaliningrad is so small it shouldn't be that hard to begin a huge investment in infrastructure, then greater and greater autonomy, and finally independence and then membership in the EU thanks in large part to the generosity of investment from Russia. After that Russian companies wanting to expand into the EU would set up branches in Kaliningrad, which would be not only easy due to using the same language but would also be well placed to reach all of Scandinavia, but just about everywhere else in the Union.
Silly idea? Perhaps. But being at the centre of the eastern part of the world's largest economic bloc and most successful union:
seems like a much better deal than being an isolated and largely ignored blip off to the west.
Russia is not my specialty, however, so feel free to trash the idea in the comments section below. It really does seem like it would be in Russia's interest to do so though. Kaliningrad seems to be the easiest way for Russia to take a real part in the EU.