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Halonen's secret oath Halonen's secret oath
by Thanos Kalamidas
2006-10-21 11:03:09
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I have started to believe that there is something going on with politicians in Finland. Everything is well and fine until they give their secret oath. This must work especially with presidents and must be some kind of Kekkonen heritage. Just after or just before they give their official oath, they go to some kind of secret room and they promise to the joined spirits of Kekkonen and Paasikivi that they are going to keep Finlandization alive despite whatever difficulty they might encounter.

Naturally, Halonen is a very good and loyal student, so after carefully choosing the worst timing she invited Putin to the informal EU meeting in Lahti during the Finnish presidency. She ignored all the advice from the Finnish government and the obvious dislike from the European partners. Finlandization is alive! And, of course, the Russian president wanted nothing less than to be there.

The position of the Russian president is pretty weird at the moment. Half of the European countries, with Germany leading and Italy following, are doing business with them, especially in the energy sector, and this is something that doesn't make the other half feel too comfortable. At the very same time, Russia shows once more how strong they are through controlling the energy resources into Georgia.

Chechnya continues to be an open wound where Russia and, personally, President Putin meets their nemesis with the human rights issue. Following the murder of Anna Politkovskaya was another murder, this time from another agency with the name Anatoli Varonin, while added to that are the two murdered bankers, which has really made Putin's life complicated.

The good old days when Big Brother Vladimir and Big Brother George were playing the cowboys against terrorism in Texas have long gone and now the former spy has transformed into something shadowy - something between a KGB spy, a modern emperor and an old style Czar. There are secrets again all around the Kremlin; it has started to smell like death and some fondly remember the bad old days.

So, Halonen invited him as an honored guest to share Finnish vodka and, instead of him apologizing to the Europeans, the Europeans will be trying hard not to make any remarks that will lead to an internal disagreement in EU. Halonen's invitation to Putin came as a surprise, even to the Finnish government, and highlights the problems the Finnish constitution has with the extended responsibilities of the Finnish president on foreign policy.

Let's hope that during the next parliamentary elections the Finnish parliament will seize the opportunity to leave Kekkonen and Paasikivi to rest in peace and Finland can move forward and stop embarrassing its partners.

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Get it off your chest
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Asa2006-10-20 14:01:42
From Russia, with love...

Ergotelina2006-10-20 22:37:58
A Feminist woman with a sexist
macho Man...................

Did you hear that?..
``Greetings to your president. What a powerful man he turns out to be! He raped 10 women,'' Putin was reported as saying yesterday by Russian newspaper Kommersant. ``I would never have expected this from him. He surprised us all. We all envy him.''


Ergotelina2006-10-20 22:39:58

Putin 'should be stripped of Legion of Honour'

The French government was today urged to strip the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of one of France's highest awards, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour.


Ergotelina2006-10-20 22:51:10
Prime Minister Tony Blair has called on Russia to play by the rules with Europe over the trade of oil and gas supplies.

But Russia is not willing to yield to European demands and remains wary of foreign companies tapping into the country's energy sources -- as the Russian ambassador in Brussels, Vladimir Chizhov, said ahead of the Friday meeting in Lahti. It is very likely that Putin will not sign the proposed treaty that would also open up the European market for Russian state-owned companies like Gazprom a bit more.

Any alternative energy source?

eva2006-10-21 04:37:24
Thanos, normally I agree with everything you write, but this?
Sorry, no.
A couple of points:
I wouldn't believe all I read in the press.
I'm a journalist myself.
Do you think Halonen is blind, deaf and stupid? (let me clarify I'm no particular "follower" of hers, I "like" her but I really know nothing about her)
But WHY do you think Putin should apologize to the Europeans????
HE - and the Russians have their own things going on out there. What’s wrong with that? Like any other nation. I personally have no knowledge about this so I cannot contest your knowledge, nor object to your say about it.

But, Thanos you wrote ”She (Halonen) ignored all the advice from the Finnish government and the obvious dislike from the European partners.”
Christ, Thanos, what did you want/expect her to do – ask them to stone him on the on the Senate Square in Helsinki??

Politics is a game as far as I know.


To me, this was the case before I was born and it will be after. SO WHY THE BIG FUSS??
Tarja Halonen is a brief President in the history of Finland, and to me is a person who’s wanting to bring people together. It’s a Catch22 situation with no right answers, so what the f*ck?

Please answer me: what did the others do?

Personally, I’d like to go out for a drink with Tarja Halonen!

Let’s discuss? Greece/English/World politics?

Thanos2006-10-22 00:35:13
Wow!!! To start with, thank for your good words!!! :)

Coming to Halonen now, I never believed that she’s deaf or stupid on the contrary I believe that she’s very experience and she has ‘hold’ the government occasionally with her actions or better with her ‘words’ from actions they would regret.

But what’s going on at this point with Russia. There is the dislike from Germany for their own reasons regarding first the Georgia events and the involvement of the former Chancellor to the Russian oil company, the same time there is another agreement in the south with the Russian natural gas that involves Italy and Greece and the pipe lines that will cross from Turkey. There is a primary deal but lately the governments ‘discover’ that Russia was gaining everything from that deal, (that’s always according to the local governments) for example Russia will be the owner even though Greece and Italy had to pay for the contraction with Russia’s promise that will participate in some energy plans.

Russia is not in happy terms with Holland due to his ‘light’ involvement in the Balkans and he has his issues with the east European countries. Please remember I don’t judge here if he’s right or wrong, just reporting why a lot of Europeans didn’t really want to see him.

Putin has his own agenda and well done, Halonen’s mistake was inviting him in a meeting were he’s not welcome at the moment and endangering a disagreement between the partners during that meeting. You see in the case of Italy and Greece, Germany and UK have objections since these two countries are going to fund the construction with EU money. In the case of Georgia, UK and France are screaming under the instructions of USA, in the case of the Balkans all of them.

That was very brief and perhaps too much put together, but I hope you can see that what made everybody worry. Apparently, inviting him would start a conversation inside EU that everybody wanted to avoid and they have already a couple of other things they try to avoid anyway! ;)

Finland has every right to have her own agreements with Russia aside to the ones formed by EU, the point is that Finland can do that without getting involved to that and inviting Putin into the conference was something. And please, don’t worry I’m not going to ask anybody to stone Putin, after all I’m against the death penalty.

One last thing, two days after and a series of meetings Putin’s coming to Finland proved to be useful since it kept the media busy while the partners had to get over another dead lock with Turkey.

Thanos2006-10-22 00:55:22
And please don’t forget one more thing, is already scheduled from last June, for the 24th of November the meeting between Russia and EU to discuss energy issues and cooperation between the two sides.

eva2006-10-22 01:17:07
Thanks for your reply, Thanos :) Your viewpoint makes much sense, as always!
Sorry if I got a bit out of hand there, when I read my post again today I thought I sounded quite harsh! Not my intention :)
But I like a good discussion, so let's keep it going..
I haven't had much time to read OVI lately, so I'll have to go back and see what you've been discussing...
I'll be back with more comments soon :-)

Thanos2006-10-22 11:02:28
I owe you a 'thank you', seen my answer I didn't feel exactly happy, so I had to write an article as well... http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/943

Eero Nevalainen2006-11-11 00:10:10
Man, I love it when all these foreigners come here to play besserwissers about Finland without understanding a single bit about the country they have come to...

First, let's make clear I am not completely comfortable with Halonen's choice either, but I can try to see the wisdom in it, as formulated by Matti Vanhanen. Talking to Putin certainly does not harm unless you're in the wrong yourself. Also, as Paasikivi wisely put it, Russia will always be there behind the border. So it will be for Europe. So you might just as well deal with it the best you can.

I very much prefer Putin to, say, Zhirinovsky. Putin isn't great, but he's better than Russia has had for a while. And Thanos.. Greece is NOT the immediate neighbour, is it?

If I remember correctly, the Greek WW2 heroics were not particularly memorable, while Finland at least managed to maintain independence. Paasikivi and Kekkonen were realists, and Kekkonen was even a rather shrewd politician who kept Finland running at full tilt economically even right next to the USSR... he did become perhaps a bit senile in his old years, but his achievements as a statesman, let alone a patriot, should not be questioned regardless of one's own political alignment. Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20.

Keeping contact with Putin is potentially beneficial in any case. You don't have to go along with anything he says. Most importantly, you will keep the ultranationalist forces in Russia at bay -- they will have their underwear in a knot if they feel Russia is being isolated.

Seriously, it makes me so sick when people just waltz in and start throwing crap around about Finlandization, while obviously being from another country that would NOT have been the first WW3 war zone should one have happened.

It is always easy to demand that someone else is the sacrificial lamb, damnit.

Thanos2006-11-12 01:17:28
Eero Nevalainen, after so many years in this country I’m still impressed that some people don’t understand that the center of the world in not Finland and that is not a lottery to born a Finn.

First, Finland has to learn to deal with a new word where foreign policy is not a case of the Finnish president’s sauna and decisions are not taken here, especially when they involve another 24 partners. I would suggest you to read some of the international agencies including BBC, CNN, le Monde and find out how happy the partners were.

Regarding the Finnish ‘independence’ and ‘neutrality’ during the WWII, I would suggest you again to read international history for the role of Greece. First of all because of the battle of Crete, Hitler delayed his invasion to Russia and cost him the war in the end. Using Hitler’s words the moment he announced the invasion to Russia and the beginning of the operation Barbarosa, he mentioned that he did so with the help of his ‘bothers in arms, the Finns,’ if you call that ‘independence’ and ‘neutrality’ then you have a very strange sense of the words. You can ask the Jews and the reds that started the long travel from Finland as well about the Finnish neutrality.

Furthermore Finland was allied to Nazis just like Italy, Bulgaria and Japan as part of the Axis, so this independence doesn’t make much sense, in the same sense Italy and Bulgaria were always independent and never seen occupation. And of course we need to mention that when Finland saw her Nazi allies losing the war they did what? They changed side. In the rest of the world there are other words to characterize this attitude and ‘independence’ or ‘neutrality’ is not one of them! Forget that nobody makes a big thing out of it because the cold war started straight after and Finland had become the battlefield between west and east and it was a good pawn in that game. Next time when you refer to WWII, I would suggest you to read some European history starting from Winston Churchill and you can have a look at the works of professor Jukka Nevakini.

Returning to Finnish politicians, their relationship to Russia and especially Kekonen I will remind you something you wrote as a comment to your article, did you read the article?

As far the word Finlandization that seems to bother you and the role of Finland during the cold war I would suggest you to read the books written from some of the former American ambassadors in Finland, you can find them in the library easily. I would suggest you also to read the works of Seppo Hentilä.

And by the way I always felt pity for nations that create historic identity over myths. And the respect to history and not blind propaganda doesn’t make somebody your opposition, nationalistic attitude and historic ignorance creates enemies.

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