What is the greatest achievement of Finland for 100 years of independence? The fact that she survived.
The fact that most Western countries seem very distant threat to Finland is a matter of life and death. This member of the EU, located in the North-East corner, there is a common border with Russia with a length of 1,300 kilometers, and therefore, the protection of national sovereignty remains a priority for the political leadership even after 100 years after the Grand Duchy of Finland declared independence.
“Russia is a constant dilemma for Finland. This is a problem that has no solution, but you still have to decide, ‘ said a retired diplomat Rene Nyberg (Rene Nyberg), who worked as Ambassador in Moscow and Berlin. And for us this is not theory, as, say, Belgium or Portugal.”
In the worst of hands, the 100-year history of Finland today could be repeated. How she managed all this time to maintain its independence, could serve as a valuable lesson. The annexation of Crimea by Russia heightened tensions on the continent, raising it to the highest level since the cold war. But the election in the United States for the presidency of Donald trump cast doubt on the strength of the political order established after the Second world war.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who many today consider the informal leader of Europe, this week stressed the urgency of the situation, saying that the continent now have to stand up for yourself. Trump has alarmed members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, refused to publicly reiterate its commitment to article 5 of the NATO Charter, which refers to collective defense. He repeatedly complained that the majority of NATO members are not fulfilling pledge on defense at least two percent of its GDP.
This complaint resonates in Finland. Officially it is not part of NATO, out of respect for Russia, however, is one of the few European countries who are planning to raise its military expenditures above this bar. Finland replaces its obsolete aircraft F/A-18 Hornet on the machine of a new generation of F/X, intending to spend for this purpose from five to 10 billion euros.
The concern of the Finns has deep roots because of the bloody modern history of this country, which is unprecedented for Scandinavia.
During the civil war of 1918 between the socialist red and anti-socialist white killed nearly 40 thousand people. And during the two wars against the Soviet Union in the period from 1939 to 1945, the losses of the Finns was more than 93 thousand people. This data is the National archives. In the result, signed in 1947 of the peace agreement, Finland ceded Eastern neighbor about 10% of its territory and pay huge reparations of the USSR, supplying costly industrial products.
In the following decades Finland was struggling with trying to avoid joining the Warsaw Pact, and whenever possible closer to the West without angering the Soviet Union. A respectful attitude toward the Soviet Union reflected in the policy of “Finlandization”, became the country’s pragmatic survival strategy. “Special relationship” with the Soviet Union was manifested, for example, that Moscow influenced the appointments in the Finnish Cabinet of Ministers, and politicians and media Finland practiced self-censorship.
A forced deference explains why Finland didn’t join NATO and the EU began only in 1995, together with Austria and Sweden.
“Security interests deeply embedded in the Finnish consciousness, and not without reason,’ said Nyberg. — If for Sweden’s membership in the EU is mainly a question of Economics, Finland is first and foremost a safety issue. Thanks to the accession to the EU it was in the Western sphere of solidarity. Until then our position could at any moment challenge.”
After the illegal annexation of Crimea Finland has intensified its relations with other Western States, said Martin Kragh (Kragh Martin), who heads the Russia and Eurasia program at the Swedish Institute of international relations (Swedish Institute of International Affairs).
Army of Finland is fully consistent with NATO standards, the Prime Minister Juha Sipilä confirmed Wednesday that Helsinki reserves the right for membership in the Alliance. However, Finland is unlikely to join the organization.
The relationship of Finland and NATO is similar to the “Smoking is not inhaling,” said Nyberg.
The next step is to expand cooperation with the West, especially Sweden and other Nordic countries. The heads of state — kings and Queens of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, as well as the President of Iceland — Thursday will arrive in Helsinki to celebrate and socialize.
“Bilateral relations of Finland with Russia remain an important asset, said Krag. — Finland is well aware of its neighbor to the East”.