December 19, 2017

One Hundred Years of Independent Finland


On 6 December, the Republic of Finland celebrated its 100th anniversary.

This was preceded by a year full of various celebrations and commemorations—even a small state’s centenary is a noteworthy event. Diplomaatia wishes to help celebrate Finland’s independence with a special issue dedicated to the country. Our December issue is a collection of Finnish and Estonian writing on Finland and, naturally, relations between the two countries.
In the opening article, Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini states that, even though Finland must follow the rules of international politics, this can be done forcefully so as not to disappear from the playing field. “We are not observers in the international political arena—we’re on the ice, wielding a hockey stick. One can play forcefully while following the rules,” says Soini.
Historian Seppo Zetterberg, who has studied Finnish-Estonian relations for decades, looks at the relationship over the past hundred years. “The connection over the Gulf of Finland is a normal and everyday phenomenon. People cross the Gulf to work or as tourists. The Finnish bridge has transformed into a plan to build a tunnel, while Helsinki and Tallinn increasingly resemble twin cities,” states Zetterberg.
Diplomaatia publishes former Finnish president Tarja Halonen’s talk delivered at this year’s Paide Opinion Festival. “Never underestimate the people. We should listen to them very carefully. Responsible politics should be capable of showing the way and gaining people’s trust by communicating information to them,” says Halonen.
Valdar Liive, an expert on Estonian-Finnish relations, thinks that Estonians don’t know Finland as well as they could. “The global reach of the Finnish economy is impressive, but something is stopping Estonians from noticing, accepting it and moving along. We do call today’s economic cooperation ‘strategic’, but it’s an illusion,” says Liive.
Editor-in-chief of the journal Ulkopoliitikka Teija Tiilikainen writes about Finland’s membership of the European Union. “Most of the concerns Finland had about EU membership disappeared after accession. Still, the economic, fiscal and refugee crises caused new problems and public opinion has never before been so polarised about the European Union,” says Tiilikainen.
Away from Finland, Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission with responsibility for the Digital Single Market, writes about the digital future. Hakan Özoğlu, Professor of History and Director of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Central Florida, and freelance journalist Hille Hanso write about the history of Kurdistan. “The lack of unity in the Kurdish national movement has always been among the most decisive factors that have prevented the establishment of an independent Kurdistan,” they state.


This article was published in ICDS Diplomaatia magazine.

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