“It is better to cooperate than to hope that Russia is going to disappear”

Finland is an Eastern neighbor with realism, Sweden sometimes were too optimistic. Now his eyes were opened, says the Ambassador of Finland in Sweden Anttonen Matti (Matti Anttonen).

Matti Anttonen became the Ambassador of Finland in Sweden in early 2017. Anttonen, whose long diplomatic career, including Ambassador of Finland in Moscow in 2008-20012 year, intrudes on his post in Sweden in a situation when the talks about Russia and security policy is very active.

The tone of the reasoning, however, differs from that prevailing in Finland.

“Some time ago Sweden refused military duty in the absence of a military threat in the region. Finland refused military duty and not going to abandon it”.

The attitude of Finns to Russia, according to Anttonen, more relaxed.

“We have a neighbor, what he is, and he is unlikely to change quickly. In Sweden, probably, believed that this neighbor has varied, first in one direction and now in another, the worst. We have always had a very realistic approach to relations with Russia, and it is unlikely he will ever change.”

Criticism in Sweden

Swedish politicians had previously criticized Finland for close relations with Russia. Last spring, former defense Minister Karin Enstrom (Karin Enström) criticized the meeting of President of Finland Sauli Niinistö (Sauli Niinistö) with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russia seized Crimea. In her opinion, it was a “sad tale”.

Anttonen has a different opinion.

“For Finland, Russia is a neighbour who is near every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. We cooperate a lot with Russia, both sides committed investment, the only high-speed movement of trains from Russia in a foreign country runs between Helsinki and St. Petersburg,” he says.

Anttonen said the current hot discussion of Russia and the possible military threat from Russia due to the fact that the development of the country surprised the Swedes.

“Of course, when you think that the world is different, and then open your eyes and realize that the world is the way it is, I feel a little differently. In Finland this calmly, because Russia is not going anywhere, and it is better to cooperate rather than first, hope that it somewhere will disappear, and then it to be afraid.”

Sweden is close to the line of Finland

Now in Sweden the visible signs of change. At a conference on security issues in Selene Prime Minister Stefan löfven (Stefan Löfven) called for constructive cooperation with Russia.

“And in many ways this is the political line, which Finland has adhered to all the time,” says Anttonen.