Member of the Month: E2

In October, E2 will be holding two seminars on the role of Russia in contemporary politics. Could you tell us more about what your goals are for these events?  

The relationship between the European Union and Russia is perhaps more challenging today than in decades. The crisis in Ukraine and its consequences have decreased dialogue between the EU and Russia.  Also, the situation in Syria and Turkey has its impact on the relationship.

Because of the current situation, it is extremely important to follow the development in Russia and have a knowledge-based understanding. Russia is an inseparable part of our surroundings and 80 per cent of the Russians live to the west of Ural.

The codependency of the EU and Russia is apparent in many policy sectors. Therefore, instead of focusing only on security, we have also stressed the importance of economic and environmental perspectives.     

Overall, we feel that Russia and its politics is an important topic for the whole liberal network and our goal is to organise two versatile, high-profile Russia-seminars to increase understanding on the topic.

Finland is not a member of NATO. Have recent events, such as Russia’s actions in Ukraine, changed Finland’s approach to NATO and other multilateral security organisations, such as NORDEFCO?

It was recorded to the governmental program of Juha Sipilä’s government that Finland is a militarily non-allied state which is engaged in a practical partnership with NATO and Finland maintains an option to seek NATO membership. This general view is shared also in the opposition with minor differences in emphasis.   

Majority of political parties are also committed to the idea that possible NATO membership should be decided through a referendum. According to polls, the majority of Finns are against NATO membership which is why it seems unlikely that there will be any drastic changes in Finland’s approach.  

Finland has been an active participant in NORDEFCO cooperation and is holding the chairmanship of the organisation this year. The one-year chairmanship rotates among the Nordic countries. But even though the Nordic cooperation has perhaps become more important, the big picture has not changed.  

On December 6, Finland will be celebrating its 100 years of independence. What developments do you foresee in Finland for the future?

According to many statistical metrics, Finland is doing extremely well. Finland is one of the world’s safest, most equal and least corrupt countries. Finns are the fifth happiest in the world. We also have one of the world’s steadiest democracies. These are achievements that Finland can be proud of. 

We are convinced that this gives us a good starting point for the years to come, but at the same time we acknowledge that Finland is not immune to the global trends. Megatrends such as climate change and migration as well as new security threats will produce tensions and problems that will require not only unity and wisdom within national politics, but also within the European Union.

What other activities can we expect from E2 in the coming months?

Because e2 is a research-oriented think tank, our activities in the coming months will consist of interesting research projects aimed at promoting fact-based decision making. Our biggest ongoing project deals with people’s identities. The aim of the project is to better understand the shifts in people’s political orientations that have taken place not only in Finland but in most European countries. 

Besides research, we are actively promoting ideas and solutions to every day political and policy problems. For example, e2 is working actively in a working group tackling inequality problems in different sectors of the society. The group was appointed by the Prime Minister. Moreover, our work focuses on food security and sustainable use of natural resources trying to identify solutions both for Finland and the international community. 

29. Sep 2017 by Intern

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