How do you avoid get punched on the nose? Well, you do not enter shady backstreets of a big city in the poor parts of town and call the pimps or the drunks “dumbheads”. That is asking for trouble…
… and how do you avoid getting stabbed or shot? You do not visit Syria, Afghanistan or parts of Ukraine and pull out a plastic automatic gun or big knife in the streets.
Common sense is humanity’s biggest asset that we have and that stops unnecessary aggression for most of the time. We all know what happens when leaders lack common sense… you only have to read the daily news stories from the US and North Korea to see what happens when it is in short supply…
Finland has always been Russia’s neighbour and we have had plenty of experience in dealing with them and co-existing relatively peacefully for many decades and centuries. In the old days we just fought them back and tried to keep them out. In any case, who would possibly want to meddle with several millions of stubborn Finns who value their independence? Why bother?
Then after the Winter War, the Finns kept their independence by creating a smart trading relationship with Moscow and by remaining “neutral” – in other words we did not join Nato. The Russians appreciated this pragmatic agreement and left the Finns in peace to thrive and develop economically many times faster than the Russians.
Finnish democracy is second to none in the western world, with high levels of transparency, low levels of corruption, a great welfare system, fine education and a strong diversified economy. We have a strong, stable and safe society ready to take up the challenges of the open, global and digital markets.
Since the fall of Iron Wall we have moved forward to become part of Europe and, many now say here, why should we belong to a US-led Nato when there are other alternatives?
Many also say that we are too dependent on Russia as a source of energy, but the EU is also overly-dependent on Russia for energy supplies and that too is disturbing. However, we can counter these arguments by saying that Russia needs Europe to be a big buyer of these fossil fuels to finance its weak and poorly managed economy. You only have to travel for 5 minutes across the border by train to see what Russia is really like for ordinary folk there – it is no dream destination!
So Finnish politicians try hard to keep our relations with the Russian leadership on a smooth footing with regular meetings and straight talk, but we do not demand sanctions and we do not strive to interfere in their politics.
We let Merkel, Macron and other leaders of the big countries say what has to be said, and we follow their initiatives to maintain European unity. This resolves our Catch 22 position – if we are overly critical we may get bashed around, and if we are overly praiseworthy then we will get abused no matter what, because Russians, like Trump, do not like weaklings….
So we may understand that the NordStream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea is another part of Russia’s political energy planning to keep the EU hooked on their fossil fuels, but it is unnecessary to say anything because the big nations in the EU will probably come round to that opinion in good time. They do not have to worry about their neighbours!