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  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Among the most signifcant events in Russia in 2020 were the Covid-19 pandemic, reactions to the protests in Belarus, and the poisoning of top opposition politician Aleksey Navalny. Te frst two were clearly events of international signifcance, but so was the medical treatment given to Navalny, frst in Omsk and then in Berlin, after he suffered from symptoms of poisoning dur- ing a flight from Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow in August. In December, a joint study by the investigative journalist groups Bellingcat and The Insider, along with CNN, Der Spiegel and Naval- ny’s FBK Foundation, showed that it was difficult to find more con- clusive evidence of the Kremlin’s involvement in the assassination attempt by a chemical weapons- related poisoning group under the FSB that had been following Na- valny for years. This kind of op- eration would hardly have been possible without the blessing of high-level intelligence. Te ques- tion of whether the FSB leader- ship was proactive in resolving the “Navalny problem” or whether the order came from the Kremlin is irrelevant. Te revealed pattern confrms the long-standing trend of the strengthened role of the se- curity services, especially the FSB, in Russian politics. It is consistent with Putin’s approach to political processes being increasingly seen as issues of national security. Navalny’s self-confidence and style in the revelation videos related to the investigation, receiving ap- proximately 45 million views in less than a month, underscore the extent to which the FSB failed. The target did not die or become paralyzed, but recovered relatively quickly and bounced back, playing for higher and more radical stakes than before. Navalny’s role and reputation as the Kremlin’s most prominent critic has been based on the political pressure on the Kremlin generated by expos- ing elite corruption. While the will- ingness of citizens to see Navalny as an alternative to Putin varies consid- erably – with the majority indifer- ent to politics as a whole – Navalny’s numerous revelations have created an alternative to Russia’s ofcial re- ality, the political potential of which the regime obviously fears.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Conflict, Regionalism, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Mika Aaltola, Johanna Ketola, Aada Peltonen, Karoliina Vaakanainen
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although their timing and nature is unexpected and disrupts normality, pandemics are not black swans, but rather an expected feature of a feverishly con- nected and globalizing world. Since the end of the Cold War, there have been several serious cases of and close calls with pandemics, including SARS in 2003, H1N1 infuenza (“swine fu”) in 2009 and Ebola in 2014. By now, we know the usual features of pandemics, how they emerge and the shape of their temporal context: rapid onset leading to a politically compelling impact followed by decreasing attention and lessening restric- tive policies resulting, in some cases, in the return of the disease. Te most serious pandemics, like the 1918 infuenza pandemic (“Spanish fu”), come in waves. Te less restrictive policies are followed by subsequent waves, partially propelled by diminishing attention and wishful policies until a cure or vaccination is found, or immunity achieved. Despite the growing awareness, pandemic diseases nevertheless often catch us of guard and bring about human misery. Te latest form of Severe Acute Res- piratory Syndrome caused by a novel coronavirus, Covid-19, which spread like wildfre around the globe in 2020, came as a surprise even though the point of origin and secrecy surrounding its emergence were similar to that of its predecessor, SARS, in 2003. In other words, pandemics continue to include “un- known” aspects, which have to do with their specifc characteristics, perhaps most notably their timing, but also other features such as infection and fatality rates, patterns of spread, and the outbreak location zone(s). Our starting point in this Working Paper is that se- rious contagious diseases are political as their cascad- ing and nonlinear efects impact people’s livelihoods and disrupt normality. Tis applies to the most recent coronavirus pandemic, as highlighted in this paper. Te key research question concerns how the European Union (EU) and its member states, illustrated through the case of Finland, became aware of the prevailing health crisis, and the kind of political ramifications that the response had, and could have had. Te focus of this paper is on the frst two and a half months of the coronavirus pandemic, from January to mid-March 2020, by which time the pandemic had replaced the prevailing agendas in the EU and in its member states and saturated the public debate, reach- ing a tipping point. Te onset entails a build-up to a clear situational policy necessity, a sentiment that drastic, exceptional actions need to be taken to con- tain or at least to slow down the pandemic outbreak, as well as a remorseful debate and fnger-pointing at actions that should have been taken sooner. Te paper studies this build-up phase while recognizing that the next phase of political reaction to a pandemic tends to include the sentiment that enough has been done or even that the actions that were taken earlier were somewhat excessive and overblown.1 Tis phase may be followed by – and is an important constituent of – yet another phase, the second wave of the pandemic. The timeframe for the Working Paper extends to mid-March 2020 when Covid-19 became the prevail- ing topic of public concern in Europe. We refer to this prevalence as the tipping point. Te term tipping point is used to identify the critical juncture, both nation- ally as well as in the EU, when sudden changes to be- haviour took place at the public and political levels. At such moments, public attention becomes heightened, single-issue focused, and rushed. Te pressure for po- litical action becomes paramount. Te mobilization of resources as well as the introduction of diferent states of emergency suddenly seem possible. Te emergent, situational requirements become the context for pol- icymaking, instead of the requirements of the then prevailing normality; namely, exceptional political acts can prevail when urgency seems to necessitate them. Te situated characteristics of a pandemic include a heightened sense of exceptionality, particularly if there is a sense that prior preparations at national, regional, and global levels were inadequate and the contingency planning insufcient. Any delays and hesitations are easily seen as weaknesses although, in normal times, they are often the keys to stable and rational political deliberation. Tis was the scenario that actualized with Covid-19, as the preparedness planning for pandem- ic security was largely perceived as defcient and the global as well as the European regional coordination in short supply.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland
  • Author: Sergey Utkin
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU is determined to maintain the transatlantic bond, while Russia tends to interpret the EU’s strategic autonomy precisely as autonomy from the US. The Western unity effort is significantly strengthened by the poor state of the EU’s relations with Russia. Russia is ready to pay lip service to the idea of a more capable EU, but instead it sees opportunities in areas where bilateral cooperation with member states is possible. The EU-wide consensus is doomed to remain critical vis-à-vis Russia for the foreseeable future. The EU will increasingly focus on gaining autonomy from Russia, primarily in the energy field and in terms of hard security deterrence. The EU-Russia geopolitical tension, centred on the common neighbourhood, is long-term and might cause as yet unseen damage to the relationship if it is not handled carefully.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Conflict, Regionalism, Autonomy, Rivalry, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Bart Gaens
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Myanmar’s generals cited election fraud as the motive behind their coup. However, as the country’s transition during the past decade has been rooted in military-orchestrated “disciplined democracy”, the real drivers behind the coup are likely different.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Elections, Democracy, Coup, Military Government
  • Political Geography: Asia, Burma, Myanmar
  • Author: Saila Heinikoski
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Finnish EU policy line has traditionally been adaptable and compromise-seeking, but recent examples related to the rule-bending of EU law reveal some new tendencies. Finland has stood out from the European mainstream in several cases that relate to the rule-bending of EU law in three different ways: rule-bending by others, collective rule-bending, and its own rule-bending. First, intervening in rule-bending by others has found support in Finnish EU policy. Finland prioritized the rule of law in its 2019 Council presidency, as well as in the Government Report on EU policy published on 28 January 2021. Second, alleged collective rule-bending seems to be linked to the threat of federalism. In negotiations on the recovery and resilience facility in 2020, there was a wide domestic debate on whether the result was consistent with the traditional interpretation of EU treaties. Third, Finland’s own rule-bending of the Schengen Border Code’s six-month limit for internal border controls during the Covid-19 crisis seems to have been quietly accepted, with the Interior Minister acknowledging the existence of an “illegal state of affairs”.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, European Union, Rule of Law, Regionalism, Federalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland
  • Author: Maria Annala
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2020, President of the United States Donald Trump launched an unprecedented electoral manipulation campaign in an attempt to secure himself a second term in office regardless of what voters decided. This Working Paper seeks to answer three questions: What electoral manipulation methods did Trump use? In what ways were his methods similar to those used previously by other incumbents to interfere with elections in their respective countries? And in what ways did his methods resemble those of election meddling by foreign state actors? To answer the aforesaid questions, this paper seeks to develop a model to describe Trump’s electoral manipulation campaign. The paper finds that Trump used seven different methods: Disinformation, voter suppression, intimidation and violence, intraparty pressure, attacking government institutions, breaking democratic norms, and attempted collusion with one or more foreign states. While most of the methods were not new, their combination was unique. That was to be expected, as Trump was the first 21st century incumbent in a well-established Western democracy to undertake such a massive electoral manipulation campaign.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Violence, Voting, Misinformation , Election Interference
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ville Sinkkonen, Garret Martin
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The relief in Europe following Joe Biden’s election has been tempered by uncertainty as to how the new administration might approach transatlantic relations. This paper lays out three paths that the US could take. The benign neglect model assumes that Washington will be consumed by domestic challenges and competition with Beijing, de facto downgrading Europe as a priority. In the primacy model, the US sees its leadership as indispensable for sustaining the international order and battling authoritarianism. The US would expect Europe to follow its lead, while old reservations about European strategic autonomy would resurface. The major reform model would see a humbler US foreign policy, understanding that it cannot repair the fragile international liberal order alone. Supporting European strategic autonomy would be key in devising a new transatlantic division of labor. Domestic challenges and ingrained policy habits mean that the US will likely gravitate toward neglect or primacy in its dealings with Europe. A major reform of the transatlantic relationship, while desirable, would require significant political will and investment on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Leadership, Transatlantic Relations, Autonomy, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Toni Alaranta
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: For several decades, the Eastern Mediterranean confict consisted of a three-part struggle over territorial wa- ters, sovereignty and exclusionary national narratives between Turkey, Greece, and the Republic of Cyprus. Its origins can be traced as far back as the Greek War of Independence in the 1830s, the Lausanne Peace Trea- ty determining the current borders of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, and the failed bicommunal federal state established in Cyprus in 1960. Regarding the Cyprus confict, the best – but ultimately lost – opportunity to resolve the issue was the 2004 Annan Plan for a bicom- munal federal state. Today, the Eastern Mediterranean confict is a multi-level and multi-actor power strug- gle that is unlikely to wane any time soon. In addition to Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus, it also includes actors such as France, Italy, Libya, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. Tis Briefng Paper frst identifes the main actors involved, and then proceeds to analyze the key de- terminants of the confict. Te paper concludes that tension in the Eastern Mediterranean will continue in the foreseeable future. A full military confrontation is unlikely, however, as NATO can provide a necessary platform for a Greece-Turkey de-escalation. Tis is likely to prevent an actual war, but will not be enough to produce any lasting solution in the increasingly confict-ridden Eastern Mediterranean regional power struggle.
  • Topic: Security, Conflict, Regionalism, Rivalry
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Greece
  • Author: Jussi Lassila, Marco Siddi
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia’s role in international climate policy is central. Russia is the fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide and has vast potential for developing renewable energy. However, its fossil fuel-based economy and the legitimacy it creates for the Kremlin make climate action inherently difficult. Thanks to the growing politicization of environmental issues, the relevance of climate change may increase in the Russian public debate. The effects of climate change, such as melting permafrost and the Siberian forest fires, could catalyze this process. Climate-sceptical populism may sometimes feature in the rhetoric of the political elite, but its proliferation in society is unlikely. Most Russians are concerned about climate change, even if less so than Western Europeans. However, Russia’s decision-making on climate policy is highly centralized, with little or no input from civil society actors. The energy transition in Europe can eventually deprive Russia of its main market for fossil fuel exports, but it also creates new prospects for cooperation in green energy development.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Climate Change, Environment, Carbon Emissions, Decarbonization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Lauri Tahtinen
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: “What worries me most, however, is the fact that the rules-based international order is being challenged. Quite surprisingly, not by the usual suspects, but by its main architect and guarantor: the US.” Tus spoke Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council in advance of the G7 Summit of 2018.1 In doing so, he was echoing the sentiments of many others. Sabre-rattling at friends and foes alike defned the Trump administration’s approach to trade policy, not unlike in many other policy felds. It also demonstrated Donald Trump’s preference for bilateral agreements, the most prominent of which was the so-called Phase One deal with China. Trade policy was a defnite pri- ority for the Trump administration, but it took some self-contradictory forms. Often Trump wanted to wreak havoc for its own sake, which both held back part of his “negative agenda”, such as confronting Chi- na, and the “positive” one of bilateral mini deals, as in the late 2020 trade-smoothing with Brazil. By contrast, trade has not been a priority for either the Biden administration or the 117th Congress thus far.2 Tere is little sign that President Biden would ei- ther immediately roll back Trump-era tarifs and re- classifcations – much less sanctions – or initiate his own positive trade agenda. Tis lack of initiative stands in contrast to rapid executive action on climate, Cov- id-19, US manufacturing and other policy priorities. Congress, too, has been conspicuously silent on trade. With organized labour a resurgent force within Dem- ocratic Party politics, any talk of new trade deals over assistance for the deindustrialized homeland will face some headwind. Te silence around trade suggests that while Biden will attempt to smooth over the worst rows over com- merce, the easiest course for his administration is, by and large, to underwrite a policy shift on trade. Te rest of the world must come to terms with this change, but also formulate cogent responses to it. Te stakes are high because a functioning and fex- ible trading system is essential for tackling the great- est challenges of our time, including the fght against climate change and the production of vaccines against COVID-19. Instead of turning against internation- al cooperation, these and many other priorities need to be integrated into the global trading system. First and foremost, the world needs a proudly pragmatic approach, in place of a “summit for democracy” or any such high-minded initiative which runs the risk of preventing partnerships and ringing hollow. An al- liance of democracies may be the outcome of cooper- ation but should not be positioned as its prerequisite. At the end of World War I, the United States fa- thered the Covenant of the League of Nations but rejected it at birth; Washington withheld its rec- ognition of the child, never joining the League. The United States received a second chance at the end of the World War, founding the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, and a third one at the end of the Cold War when the World Trade Organization came to supersede the General Agreement on Tarifs and Trade (GATT). Now, America is edging closer to rejection, again. Te main argument of this Briefng Paper is that not only has US governmental policy on trade shifted, but also that the environment in which it is developed has altered radically – not least due to US policy itself. Tis means that, one, rules-based trading will need new champions and, two, others must coax the United States to come along when they can fnd shared rea- sons for doing so. The paper looks at both the worlds that the US chose to mould and the ones that it rejected: the US- MCA and the TPP. It also asks how Europeans might orient themselves in the direction of the United States, examines what trade without deals may mean and, f- nally, situates current policy in the longer trajectory of the US role on trade.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Trade Wars, Trans-Pacific Partnership, USMCA
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Olli Ruohomäki
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Africa is an enormous continent composed of several regions and 54 states, populated with more than 1.3 bil- lion people. Tere are more than 1,500 languages and diverse cultures. Both low-income and high-income countries and disparate levels of development are found on the continent. There is both concern and hope in the air regard- ing the trajectory that Africa’s development will take. Dwelling solely on negative news about confict, polit- ical turmoil, hunger and refugees is not constructive. Neither is seeing Africa through ‘rose-tinted glasses’ as a continent full of promise for trade and investment prospects. Rather, a balanced and realistic vision that looks over the horizon into the future is required. Talking about the diverse and vast continent as a whole is fraught with potential accusations of sweeping generalizations and even arrogance. Nonetheless, this is exactly what the business of forecasting is all about. To put it another way, predicting the future is essentially about painting the canvas with broad strokes and seeing the big picture. It is then up to area studies, sociology, anthropology, political science and similar disciplines to dwell on the more nuanced and detailed case studies. Hence, despite the complexity that forecasting the future of Africa entails, it is possible to outline the main contours of the trajectory of change that in- forms the course of developments on the continent.1 It is with this in mind that this Briefng Paper exam- ines seven megatrends that are shaping the future of Africa
  • Topic: Climate Change, Democratization, Environment, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Urbanization, Conflict, Regionalism, Population Growth
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Timo R. Stewart
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Israel’s two-year government crisis was not conclusively resolved in the 23 March election. Netanyahu has led the country to the right, but the prime minister remains a divisive figure also within the right. The stalemate might give Israeli Arab parties slightly greater heft than before.
  • Topic: Elections, Political Parties, Partisanship, Electoral Systems
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Saila Turtiainen
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The ratification process for the EU’s new investment agreement with China is expected to be very difficult. Although the aim is to improve EU-China relations, the process of getting the agreement approved in the EU will end up causing further tensions with China as the EU tries to strike a balance between promoting its values and economic interests.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, European Union, Conflict, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Arkady Moshes, Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Comprehensive internal reforms, along with security cooperation, are a key pillar of West-Ukraine interaction. Thus far, however, the Western effort has not sufficed to overcome the resistance of the local elites and make the reforms irreversible. High hopes raised by Volodymyr Zelensky’s election as Ukraine’s president in 2019 were short-lived. In three priority areas – anti-corruption, the judiciary and the economy – reforms have stalled. Instead, Zelensky has started to adapt the same socio-political system that the West aims to transform to his own political purposes. Western support – or even leadership – is once again becoming crucial in keeping Ukraine on the reform track. Ongoing domestic developments seriously challenge Zelensky’s administration, creating a window of opportunity for a more successful application of reform conditionality. In turn, a new US administration may be much more capable of using this emerging opportunity than its predecessor. If they are to promote reforms more efficiently, Western actors should go beyond the technocratic approach and recognize their own “ownership” of the process. Progress with reforms requires direct and high-level political engagement to enforce the implementation of agreements and to empower pro-reform forces inside the country.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Reform, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Matti Pesu, Henri Vanhanen
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In his recent op-ed, President Sauli Niinistö reintroduced the idea of an Arctic summit. The timing of the meeting could be favourable. As the 50th anniversary of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act is approaching, Niinistö also hoped for a revitalization of the “Spirit of Helsinki”. The aim is hampered by global tensions, however.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Arctic
  • Author: Jyri Lavikainen
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Te concept of strategic stability has traditionally been associated with a stable nuclear relationship between leading nuclear powers, the US and USSR/Russia. Teir last commonly agreed defnition of the concept in 1990 formed the basis of the START negotiations, defning strategic stability as a nuclear relationship, where neither side has an incentive to attempt a disarming strike. In 2016, Russia and China suggested replacing the concept of strategic stability with ‘global strategic stability’ by arguing that the conventional defnition of strategic stability as a military category concerning only nuclear weapons was outdated.1 Instead, they seek to redefne strategic stability as a concept con- cerning the state of great-power relations, with both political and military categories, the military category being the focus of analysis in this paper.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Conflict, Strategic Stability, Rivalry, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Niklas Helwig
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU is caught up in a debate over whether to increase its autonomy with regard to the wider world. International developments and crises of recent years have raised the question of whether Europeans should be more capable of managing the risks stemming from their exposure to global trade and possible over-reliance on allies for their security. This report analyses how the pursuit of strategic autonomy transforms EU policies in the field of security, diplomacy, trade, and technology. The report makes recommendations on how the EU can advance strategic autonomy, while striking a balance between protectionist tendencies and the need to stay open to international engagement and cooperation. Instead of focusing on the divisive question of strategic autonomy from others, member states should pay attention to more constructive approaches and concrete actions to strengthen strategic autonomy. In each of the policy fields, the right mix of protection of European assets, provision of the economic and political basis, and the projection of European interests and values abroad will be vital.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Science and Technology, European Union, Regionalism, Autonomy, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Mika Aaltola, Johanna Ketola, Karoliina Vaakanainen, Aada Peltonen
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Solidarity has become a global and regional buzzword in the fght against Covid-19. As a result of the unequal and shifting disease burden and resource scarcity among countries, solidarity has manifested itself in various forms depending on the national and regional contexts and disease situations. Politicians worldwide have called for solidarity, which has taken many shapes and forms. At the nation- al and sub-national level, Covid-19 has prompted calls for communal solidarity. Solidarity, at the EU level, has often been used as a synonym for intra-EU coordination and assistance between member states as well as safe- guarding the welfare of EU citizens. In the global arena, UN and WHO leadership has been pushing for global sol- idarity to highlight the global nature and scope of the crisis, simultaneously alluding to the uneven distribu- tion of vaccines and the embedded systemic injustices in global health governance. Tis mosaic of solidarities difers from the normative ideal. In this Briefng Paper, we explore the diferent types of pandemic solidarities to understand the political dis- course during the frst year of the Covid-19 pandemic. We analyze the solidarity rhetoric of the high political leadership as well as key solidarity initiatives at three diferent governance levels: global (UN), regional (EU), and national (case Finland) to see how solidarity has been defned, in which context, and to what ends. Compared to other types of emergencies, pandemics are in a league of their own. One key characteristic of a pandemic emergency is the anxiety connected to the processes of contagion, infection, and spread. As the term ‘pandemic’ signifes, the frst line of defence at the local level has failed, as happened in the initial stage of Covid-19. Whereas natural catastrophes are usually lo- cally contained without additional concerns stemming from the fear of spread, pandemics are, to a degree, an- ti-humanitarian by their very nature. Tey usually lead to a knee-jerk reaction to step back and bufer oneself to prevent the harm from spreading.1 From this per- spective, pandemic solidarity is far more limited and qualitatively diferent. Instead of compassion for distant. others, a nearest-and-dearest approach can ensue. Tis Briefng Paper argues that lower levels of soli- darity should act as enablers for better pandemic gov- ernance at the global level. Until now, the impact of na- tional and regional solidarity has been relatively bleak. Calls for solidarity can act as empty signifers or merely as political rhetoric that is not tied to any concrete efort or action. To shed light on the meanings of solidarity, it is important to identify and distinguish the operative nature of solidarity, or lack thereof, in various contexts.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Governance, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Okko-Pekka Salmimies, Saila Turtiainen
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU’s new trade strategy instrumentalizes trade policy more forcefully in order to promote EU values such as democracy and human rights. A value-based and more defensive trade policy can lead to conflicts spirals, especially with China. The EU also needs to be prepared for potential setbacks in developing the transatlantic relations.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Regionalism, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Bart Gaens
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Countries with geostrategic stakes in Myanmar have reacted in different ways to the military coup of 1 February 2021 and its aftermath, which have resulted in over 750 casualties thus far. China benefits from stability in Myanmar but, given its vast geoeconomic and geopolitical interests as Myanmar is a vital part of the BRI, will not criticize the military. Thailand, itself a military-dominated pseudo-democracy, is certainly reluctant to exert pressure. India focuses on its own national interest and prioritizes the partnership with its strategically important neighbour. Japan applies quiet diplomacy and aims to function as mediator, while at the same time protecting its business interests. The EU and US have sanctions in place, but history shows these do not have much effect on the junta. Russia’s presence is not significant, but Moscow uses arms sales to establish a foothold in the Indo-Pacific. ASEAN aims to mediate with Indonesia in the lead, and even achieved a broad consensus on the situation in Myanmar, but likely remains too divided to deliver lasting change on the ground. Given the divergent geostrategic interests of external actors in Myanmar, a concerted effort to achieve change in the country is unlikely. Hence, sustained change has to come from within the country.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy, Coup, Military Government, Strategic Interests , Influence
  • Political Geography: Asia, Burma, Myanmar