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  • Author: Glenn R. Gassen
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since Paavo Lipponen left the Prime Minister's Office in 2003, Finland's relationship with Germany seems to have grown more distant. While Lipponen had a markedly pro-German attitude, the present government has adopted a more sober and pragmatic approach. But does this change in rhetoric indicate a different approach? A decade ago, it seemed self-evident that for Finland, Germany was considered “as an important – if not the most important – partner in Europe.”1But what importance does Germany hold for Finland today?
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Germany
  • Author: Henrikki Heikka
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In recent months, several prominent Finnish politicians have criticized the Finnish government for lack of vision in its foreign policy. Liisa Jaakonsaari, Chairman of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee and a prominent social democrat), has argued that the government “lacks one thing, and with it, everything: a vision”. Member of the European Parliament Alexander Stubb (the Conservative party's vote puller in the last EP elections) has publicly called contemporary Finnish foreign policy as “pitiful tinkering” (säälittävää näpertelyä). Editorial writers have begun to recycle the old the term “driwftwood” (ajopuu), a term originally coined to describe Finland's flip-flopping during World War II, in their attempts to find an appropriate label for the present government's foreign policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Diplomacy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Finland, Asia
  • Author: Tuomas Forsberg
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Finland is often seen as a country whose view of Germany has traditionally been more positive than that of the average of the European countries. According to an opinion poll that was conducted in 1996, 42 % of the Finns have a positive view, 47 % a neutral and only 6 % a negative view of Germany and Germans. This positive attitude is not only a result of the large amount of cultural and trade contacts or societal similarities, shared Lutheran religion and German roots of Finnish political thinking but derives also from the historical experience that Germany has been willing to help Finland in bad times. Although this view is not necessarily correct when judged against the historical record and although it is not unanimously shared by all Finns, it provides the necessary starting point when assessing Finland's view of Germany in today's Europe.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Germany
  • Author: Chris Browning
  • Publication Date: 01-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since the end of the Cold War it is widely accepted that Finnish foreign policy has oriented increasingly towards the 'West', the most pertinent and concrete example of which, to date, has been accession to the EU. Implicit in many commentaries is the assumption that this orientation is a natural phenomenon, the natural culmination of an effervescent Finnish 'Western' cultural identity. Whilst the rhetorical style perhaps differs espousers of this view draw on Herderian and Hegelian assumptions, essentially arguing that after the unfortunate interruption and deviation from its true path occasioned by the Cold War the Finnish 'national spirit' is now back on its rightful historical and linear course to national fulfilment and blossoming. Looking into the nation's history such discourses see Finland's cultural and political roots as lying in the West and hence posit that with the break-up of the Soviet Union Finland is returning to these organic origins in Western civilisation, with all the effects for foreign policy such a 'Western' identity will entail. This is what we may term the 'Westernising' narrative of current debates about Finnish identity and Finnish foreign policy. On this basis the Finnish Cold War foreign policy of neutrality is characterised, either as having been a total aberration and betrayal of the Finnish 'Western' Self, or, and perhaps more commonly, as having been the best possible option available to the Finnish elite at the time: constrained by the dictates of power, agile Finnish political leaders were able to manoeuvre the Finnish ship of state through the various pitfalls and traps waiting to beguile them in the stormy waters of great power Cold War politics. Now free of such power dictates these current 'Westernising' discourses are attempting to push Finnish foreign policy towards the West, legitimising such a move to the Finnish public and the wider international audience on the grounds of Finland's claimed historical Western identity. To note the title of this panel discussion, “Defining New Identities Between East and West', for Westernising discourses there is no between about it. As an organically Western state why would Finland want to be between East and West any longer? On this basis the Finnish neutrality of the Cold War period merely disguised the true Finnish identity, a ruse so that Finland could in the future once more live as its true self when conditions once again permitted.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Political Economy, Nationalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland