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The Finnish mediocrity in EU
by Thanos Kalamidas
2014-06-28 12:07:51
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Sometimes myths created about a country or for a country, veil every other judgment or choice and it takes long time to separate the myth from reality. Olli Rehn is just an example of these misjudgements based on myths.

Olli Rehn was always a mediocrity in Finnish politics who survived due to his connections inside the Finnish Centre Party (Keskusta) and his principal, always keep away from trouble. Never really take a stand or a side and in the case of a conflict wait and the last minute in the name of the Party’s unity go with the winner.

When it comes to international economics, geopolitics, diplomacy and defence, Olli Rehn is exactly what the average honourable conservative Finn is, "we are neutral to everybody and we do what the Germans say." This has been a dogma in Finnish politics since the foundations of the Finnish state. To return to Olli Rehn, a man with foggy ideology and ideas, with a grey career and some very dark moments cleverly covered by the Finnish establishment. And in Finland when they talk about establishment, media are included. Actually the Finnish media have often played the big cover-up role even to issues that would have overthrown governments in other places.

However, when it came to EU, Rehn was the right man to serve Solana and Merkel’s euro-plan and from commissioner of the European enlargement he became the commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro. A key position for the future of the Union with great demands. However, apart from some early warnings to the Finnish government which of course the Finnish government failed to understand, his service for the office was a colossal failure.

He failed to predict the economic crisis when it was obviously coming, he failed to take political measures when the crisis came and in the end he followed a policy that even the IMF found wrong, leading the continent in a long recession and some countries in the edge of bankruptcy. And of course when the time came to ask the how and why, Olli Rehn did exactly what mediocrities of his magnitude do, he blamed the others. He blamed the Greeks, he blamed the Portuguese, and he blamed the Irish and the Spaniards, the weather, the cold water.

And of course, acknowledging how small he is for the position, he run to Wolfgang Schäuble for help ending up serving the new German agenda, creating the Europe of the German euro. But his term in the commission soon ends with the end of the Barroso administration. Finishing his term, Olli Rehn hops that with the right marketing he can return to Finland and try for the president’s position, after all Sauli Niinistö isn’t any better, just another grey character in Finnish politics.

But the important thing in Olli Rehn's move from the commission, due to the new administration - most likely under Jean-Claude Juncker - is the person who is going to replace him. Another Finn, another example of the brilliance of nothingness and another champion of mediocrity; Jyrki Katainen. And if Olli Rehn is the mediocrity of the Finnish politics, Jyrki Katainen is the dwarf of the Finnish political spectrum. Leader of the Finnish Conservative Party (Kokoomus) and Prime Minister of Finland for nearly four years. Following the example of the last decades' PMs tradition in Finland, he resigned his office before the end of his term to be replaced by the Finnish Berlusconi, Alexander Stubb, master of self-centered PR, self-spinning and occasionaly clwoning.  

Jyrki Katainen is one more example of the contemporary Finnish school for politicians. Scentless, savourless, unsubstantial. A man who believed that Finland can work in automatic pilot and the only thing he needed to do was to keep warm the seat of the Prime Minister. Gutless when political decisions where necessary, without any vision and knowledge. He is the person who marked the beginning of the end of the Finnish economic miracle with his timidity and inability to prevent matters and covering them under a carpet of accounting tricks. Alexander Stubb most likely is going soon to find out how bad things are. Not that the self cantered Stubb is any better. Nevertherless the hurtful truth for Europe is, that after ineffectual Olli Rehn, the inefficient Jyrki Katainen becomes responsible for the future of the European economy.

While the myths might veil at least temporary the true identity of the ones who hide behind them, in this case the myths about the efficient, champion of democracy Finland; when the time comes and the Europeans realize who Katainen is the damage Olli Rehn started will have finish and Europe will look for her lost identity in economic ruins.


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Emanuel Paparella2014-06-28 14:45:00
Indeed Thanos, William Butler Yeats saw it coming even before the second great conflagration began in Europe and expressed it superbly in his poem “The Second Coming” when he pointed out before the beginning of the second great European conflagration that: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,…/The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.” It is hard to find words that better express the current situation in the EU: a polity sadly stuck on the reefs of “real politik” unable to see new horizons and new visions, having lost the original vision of its founding fathers and now led by pragmatic political mediocrities merely concerned with the economic and political power, usually downgraded to mere personal ambition, unable to distinguish unprincipled neutrality from wise prudence. The only ones who have passionate intensity are the right wing fascist leaning ultranationalist individuals who couldn't care less for solidarity and the common good of the EU.

At the centenary of the 20th century which begins with World War I in 1914 we in the West find ourselves at the crossroads having to choose between a disastrous future mirroring a disastrous 20th century and a new Humanism and Renaissance. Time is running out and, alas, we have no genuine visionary leaders. What a pity!

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