Keep your head cool on border issues

When the eastern border is concerned and the opposition demands action, a cold calculation is important

The recently aroused interest in Finland’s long eastern border is tragicomic. On the one hand, there is a long historical and deep emotional reserve on the border, and on the other hand, the hair must be lifted that the border is suddenly turned into a hot domestic political issue that quickly polarizes opinions.

Of course you have to worry Alexander Lukashenkon hybrid action and the model it provides to create chaos in neighboring country. But should this lead to Finland also urgently building a (very long) defensive wall on the eastern border? Would it really protect us if Russia opened its borders to a major migrant attack?

If that happens, then much more has gone wrong in our Russia policy and in Russia’s Finland policy. Then Russia’s unrest is over and the threshold for NATO membership disappears quickly from Finland. It is unlikely that the heir of the Soviet Union, Russia, would relentlessly and temporarily abandon the century-old border doctrine unless motivated by a major political change of wind.

It is easy to agree on that René Nybergaccording to the analysis, such a long border can never be made tight enough without the involvement of both border states (HBL Box 13.11). While you basically don’t like boundaries, they can be quite important. Finland’s eastern border is not just a national border, it is a border between two completely different political systems and a cultural and linguistic border. The “value limit” is higher than the physical boundary wall can ever be.

In this period of horror and opposition calls for action, a cold calculation is important: Is it worth the price to build border walls that still won’t last if a neighbor decides to break contracts? – When our border started leaking in the north in 2015, it quickly ended when Russia noticed that the border of the experiment was being met.

It was a useful warning when the political leadership was surprised. If it happens again, it’s no longer a surprise, and we get an experience that is now being questioned. The unfortunate thing is that there is a public shout that there are gaps in preparedness and that the government is being asked to make clear what the shortcomings are! New legislation is needed immediately: At the bottom, there is strong opposition from basic Finns to the asylum agreement, which is now supported by three other opposition parties.

Mikael Wigell The Institute for Foreign Policy emphasizes the need to understand what hybrid instigators are looking for: sowing division and panic in the EU. Should we reveal how concerned we are about their methods and allow such fear to divide and polarize us? Security issues should preferably be dealt with unanimously, not in front of an open curtain, with provocateurs smiling.

Remaining in our stomachs, succumbing to old Russian fear and cheap political demagoguery, Finland will surely survive this anxiety attack. This is best accomplished by inventorying existing toolboxes, perhaps placing a few miles of barbed wire to comfort those who want to believe the walls will protect. The right forum to coordinate needs and the right path is the Foreign and Security Policy Committee (UTVA), chaired by the President, after which the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs is consulted.

Pär Stenbäck
Minister of Honor


Pär Stenbäck is a former Finnish politician who has served as a Member of Parliament, Minister of Education and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the years before 1985. For 20 years, he held senior positions in the Red Cross, including the Secretary General of the Red Cross. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Geneva). He is a founding member of the ICG and the ECP of the European Parliament of Culture. He was awarded the title of Minister in 1999. Today, he has been the chairman of the Finnish Society for New Foreign Policy (NUPS) since 2017. He regularly participates in the media.

Source: The Nordic Page


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