To Be or to Become ‘European’? ‘Westernizing’ Narratives in Post-Cold War Finland

Elena Dragomir

University of Helsinki, E-mail: elenadragomir78@yahoo.com

Abstract:

The Finnish ‘westernizing’ narrative emphasizes Finland’s ‘westernness’, i.e. the idea that Finland and Finns have always been western and part of the ‘European family’. The recent past is not seen as an obstacle for this interpretation. Thus, according to this type of discourse, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and ‘liberated’ from the constraints of the Cold War, Finland could finally ‘return’ to the West, to Europe, to its ‘natural’ origins. This article examines in short what might be called the post-Cold War narrative of Finnish westernness as it appears in the English language sources. It argues that the westernizing narrative is very important in justifying Finland’s post-Cold War position in the international politics, especially its position in the European politics.  The article is divided in two parts. The first one examines the narrative of the westernness of Finland, Finns or Finnish ‘identity’ as it appears in some scientific writings, press materials and political texts. Within this narrative an important element is the re-evaluation of Finland’s international position during the Cold War. Therefore, the Finnish security ‘solution’ – by some called ‘Nordic and neutral identity’[1] – is either criticized, attacked and characterized as an aberration and betrayal of the ‘Finnish western identity’, or accepted as the only possible ‘instrument for pursuing national security interests’ in those times. The second part of the article advances some explanations for this narrative and addresses questions such as: why was it developed, by whom, and how successful was it? The article shows how highly political is the (re)presentation of Finnish history and how much its ‘western character’ is related to Finland’s current political situation and goals in Europe. It also reveals how important the ideology is in backing a political choice.

Rezumat:

Discursul întoarcerii către Occident în Finlanda, subliniază ideea că Finlanda şi finlandezii au fost dintotdeauna occidentali şi parte a “familiei europene”. Conform acestei interpretări, după colapsul Uniunii Sovietice şi “eliberată” de constrângerile impuse de realităţile Războiului Rece, Finlanda a putut în sfârşit să se întoarcă spre vest, către Europa, către originile sale “naturale”. Acest articol tratează pe scurt ceea ce s-ar putea numi discursul post-Război Rece al întoarcerii Finlandei către Occident, aşa cum apare el în sursele de limbă engleză. Se susţine ideea că acest discurs este un element foarte important în justificarea politicii internaţionale pe care a dus-o Finlanda mai ales pe plan european după sfârşitul Războiului Rece. Articolul este structurat în două părţi. Cea dintâi prezintă acest discurs aşa cum apare el în texte ştiinţifice, declaraţii politice sau materiale de presă, arătând cum este (re)prezentată istoria Finlandei în acest proces. Iar cea de-a doua propune o serie de explicaţii privind cauzele dezvoltarii acestui tip de discurs. Articolul arată cât de puternic sunt influenţate de factorul politic scrierea şi interpretarea istoriei finlandeze.

Keywords: Finland, European Union, westernizing narratives, finlandization debate


[1] Sami Moisio and Vilho Harle argue thatthe Finnish neutrality policy ‘represents not identity or identity politics per se but rather a realistic foreignpolicy’. Sami Moisio and Vilho Harle,‘The Limits of Geopolitical Remote Sensing’ Eurasian Geography andEconomics, 47, No. 2 (2006):208

https://balticnordic.hypotheses.org/files/2018/12/05.Dragomir-1.pdf