Disobedience of Suomi
New evidence of the traditional good-neighborly relations between Moscow and Helsinki was the refusal of the Government of Finland to join the anti-Russian sanctions announced by the United States and their European partners. Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said that the US sanctions would affect neither ordinary people nor companies of his country, as the legislation of the United States is illegitimate in Finland. Former Finnish Prime Minister (now EU Finance Commissioner) Jyrki Katainen lobbied for exceptional special conditions for Helsinki in Brussels to develop relations with Russia.
Thus, Finland has again demonstrated the unique model of pragmatic relations with Russia in the Baltic region, which advantageously differs from the policy of the former Soviet Baltic republics. "We are neighbors, unlike the other neighbors of Russia we are not members of NATO, and our relations with Russia are based on the bilateral relations," said the President of Finland Sauli Niinist?, adding that the Russian-Finnish bilateral relations remain good, and they did not change by the Ukrainian crisis. By the way, the government of Finland considers that the economic sanctions against Russia can only lead to an escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, and the only way to break the deadlock is the path of negotiations.
Pragmatism and sanity for the last six decades are at the heart of relations between Moscow and Helsinki. In Finland, there is no anti-Russian sentiment, no matter how hard the United States and its allies in the country tried. According to opinion polls three quarters of Finns do not consider Russia is a threat to the security of Finland. And 60% of respondents said that Finland is not necessary to support anti-Russian sanctions as Russia's importance for the Finnish economy is very large, and there is no reason to take any hostile moves toward Moscow. It is a sober, realistic approach to the post-war era which defined pragmatic cooperation in Finland with its powerful neighbor in the east, and it's always possible to find a common language and understanding, even in spite of the difference of ideologies and political systems that existed during the Soviet era.
"Our role as a bridge is more important than as a springboard," answered to the critics of this policy one of its chief designers, the President of Finland Urho Kaleva Kekkonen, the only capitalist leader in history awarded the Order of Lenin - the highest award of the Soviet Union - in 1964. And Finland has been coping with its role as a bridge between Russia and the West for 60 years. But the history of Russian-Finnish relations saw many other things. There was Finland's being a part of Imperial Russia, leaving it after the collapse of the empire, the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939-1940, followed by Finnish participation in World War II on the side of Nazi Germany. But the main thing is that the right conclusions were taken from the history, the only correct strategy of mutually good-neighborly relations has been worked out, which the leadership of the two countries has consistently adhered to. And it clearly showed negative attitude of Helsinki about anti-Russian hysteria in the West in connection with the events in Ukraine, unwillingness to be led by Washington or join the notorious policy of sanctions to the detriment of their own economic interests.
Finland is not alone in its opposition to the sanctions. Nine EU countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Greece and Cyprus express their negative attitude towards the sanctions... Polish Minister of agriculture Marek Sawicki expressed serious concern that poorly estimated anti-Russian sanctions caused a backlash from Moscow, which imposed a ban on the import of almost all Polish fruit and vegetables to Russia. The association of Polish farmers is going to appeal to the European Commission with a claim for recovery of damages caused to the country's agriculture by the imposition of sanctions. In 2013, Poland exported over 800 thousand tons of fruit and vegetables to Russia totaling 336 million euros. According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Poland, the loss of the country's fruit and vegetable sector from the Russian embargo, introduced as a response to Western sanctions, will amount up to 500 million euros. The farmers of other European countries will suffer comparable losses, being forced to interrupt favorable economic ties with Russia at the whim of Washington. The entire European businesses will suffer as well, including large ones, that is already causing concern among the industrialists in Germany, France and Italy.
The White House is obviously the only one to be pleased. "Punishing" Russia, the oversea strategists are deliberately harming their European competitors, which they, however, call allies and partners. But Obama and the American bosses of business and politics do not care of their interests. The United States are used to follow only their selfish interests, hiding behind the hypocritical "allied" rhetoric. Will the old Europe, playing the tune of the owners of the White House for many years, understand or will it remain obedient performer of their will and continue to make political pas to the music ordered overseas? The example of Finland shows how to behave as a sovereign European country, performing only the will of its people and being a guardian of its own national interests.