Relations with Russia are bad. Is it possible for them to get better? And, even more importantly, who to look to for guidance?
During the Winter War, the Soviet Union seized one-tenth of Finland. The very port that Russia plans to start exporting gas to Germany through via Nord Stream is Vyborg -- Viipuri -- at one time an important Finnish city. One half of Karelia, the cradle of Finnish national identity, has been repopulated by Russians. And yet, when the Russian and Finnish foreign ministers get together it's all smiles, vodka, and kippis.
Not to mention, Finland has nearly five times the amount of people Estonia has; Finland has a GDP of $163 billion compared to Estonia's $27 billion; and as inspiring as Markko Märtin and Kristina Šmigun are, Finland has Kimi Raikkonen and Virpi Kuitunen. That is to say that in every way, Estonia's northern neighbor is stronger, richer, and more well known. It also has some serious historical baggage with its eastern neighbor. And yet, when it comes time to pucker up to Vladimir or Sergei, the Finns are ready with moistened lips.
Perhaps this is the secret that Edgar Savisaar knows and has kept his dacha, er, suvila busy with guests from Russia who have stakes in the transport business. That only by kissing Russia's ass can a nordic country -- once it has secured its independence -- ever truly be free. I hope it isn't really true, but those photos of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and former Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja make me wonder.