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Lost chance in Lappeenranta
by Thanos Kalamidas
2006-09-05 10:35:25
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I have mentioned before that the Finnish presidency of the EU, despite what everybody was expecting, is going to be an example of how a small country like Finland can force its opinions and necessities. The timing was strange as well. The Middle East was set alight, once more finding all the traditional European powers speechlessly watching the destruction of Lebanon, primarily France who was once a dominate power in the area a few decades ago.

Lebanon was one issue and it seems that even though the Finnish president Mrs. Tarja Halonen will have many chances in the future to remind them how badly and how late they reacted, the UN and the Security Council finally reached a decision and things, if not getting better, are definitely getting calmer, at least for Lebanon. However, there are other issues that kept the meeting of the foreign ministers busy in Lappeenranta in East Finland.

This is not a conspiracy theory, but a well known secret that the US administration was more than happy with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and would be even happier if they had managed to do their work well and give them the excuse for cleaning up Syria and further more Iran. However, the almighty Israeli military power showed signs of…weakness and disorientation; it didn’t even manage to succeed in its obvious targets.

Following the result, the Syrian government, Hezbollah and the Iranian puppet president talked about a ‘victory’, sadly forgetting that this was a bitter victory over the dead bodies of dozens of innocent children. Europe has often tried to be a peaceful negotiator between the Iranian dictatorship and the American administration, but even this is reaching its limits.

Javier Solana, the EU foreign and security policy chief, has tried hard to find a way to stop the Iranian nuclear plans and satisfy the Americans over the last two-three years, but even that has reached its limits. September 1st was the final day for Iran to accept the EU proposal or…what! And that’s what the Finnish presidency has to find out, or what!

The Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja left the meeting in Lappeenranta and explained to the waiting reporters from all around the world that the time is not right to force an extreme solution despite the Iranian disregard to the UN proposals and deadlines. He added that the EU president will stress talks with Teheran to find a solution but the question remains: To stress what?

Why put a deadline if you are going to stress it and why do it again and again? Europe is in the middle of a blind American president and a crazy Iranian president. Tuomioja finished by saying that crisis always open new opportunities. I doubt if the Lebanese children are looking forward for more crisis and that was very naïve to say. Further more, when this is includes the Middle East it shows ignorance to the problems.

Again the main issue for Finland was Russia. The good old love/hate feeling, only this time the conversation was about strategies to develop relations with Russia. Once more the Finnish presidency excused a reputation that much despises the Finlandization relationship with Russia. Following the tradition, Finland is worried about the cooperation agreement that ends in 2007 and Tuomioja emphasized that this agreement will be useful for the countries bordering Russia and for the rest of Europe. So that was it. The most important meeting for the EU in the first two months of Finland’s presidency was to sweet-talk Finland’s worries for the big bear neighbor!

As I said at the beginning of this article, the Finnish presidency of the EU will try to force its opinions and necessities, but it will be a great pity if this chance is wasted on petty games with Russia and Finland’s fear of its neighbor.

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Asa2006-09-04 18:22:09
Isn't that just politics though? All that money spent on a meeting that had no outcome, how many businesses would do the same?

Thanos2006-09-04 21:31:57
Perhaps, but still it was a good chance for Finalnd to promote a series of issues apart from Russia, like the agriculture issues or the fishermen.

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