Finland, Russia and the Expanding European Union

Author: Rene Nuberg

126 INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Finland, Russia and the Expanding European Union

Rene Nuberg

CONTACTS BETWEEN FINLAND AND RUSSIA are close and diverse, embracing all vital spheres: economy, politics, culture, science, tourism, and more. The intercourse is not limited to official relations alone, with contacts taking place throughout society. Their amount grows steadily. For example, nearly one and a half million Russian tourists come to Finland every year. Finnish tourists for their part are rediscovering Russia, particularly St. Petersburg and its environs, but also, increasingly often, Moscow. St. Petersburg attracts one by its huge choice of cultural events and the traces of our common history, Moscow, by its dynamism. For example, the young people view St. Petersburg and Moscow with their numerous clubs and special life as the most fashionable places in the world. Finland Week held within the framework of celebrations devoted to the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg in early September provided a concrete outline of many-sided centuries-old relations between the Finns and the Russians.

The coming into being of new Russia and the opening of our long border, which had remained closed for 70 years, was the motive force of an animated and growing relationship. The common historical experience and interconnections between our two countries are also setting the stage for closer contacts.

Six hundred years of Swedish domination were of much importance for Finland's future development, laying the basis of a Scandinavian-type public system and rule-of-law state. This circumstance helped Finland avoid feudalism. The Lutheran Church inculcated literacy among the common people. Historians believe that Finland's transference, in 1809, from Swedish to Russian sovereignty as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire was a beneficial development. The multi-cultural capital of Russia gave the Finns a new outlook on Europe; turn-of-the-century St. Petersburg afforded Finns splendid opportunities. The 100-odd years of autonomy was also a significant period in terms of our national awakening, ...

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