Halonen told YLE, in regards to Finland's position on the Georgian conflict in the context of Baltic foreign policies, the following:
"It is to the benefit of the European Union as well to have countries that are free of those sort of post-traumatic situations and a country that is relatively cool-headed, matter-of-fact and constructive.
I concur with the assessments saying that Finland positioned itself on the middle ground and perhaps slightly closer to Russia. Finland is not the northernmost Baltic country but the easternmost Nordic country."
It would be justifiable to accuse the Finnish president of a strategy of appeasement towards its large, wealthy, violence-prone eastern neighbor, the Russian Federation. But there is truth in the words of this social democrat, who is decades older than many Estonian policy makers; truth that most people would prefer not to discuss in Estonian political circles.
One truth is that Estonia absolutely does have post-Soviet baggage. How could it not? The second truth is that Finland is looking out for Finland. That is what, as president of Finland, Halonen is charged to do.
There is also a larger truth in Halonen's words. That truth is that Finland creates security for Estonia. The presence of Finnish banks, Finnish industry, Finnish tourists and, overall, Finnish investment, gives the Estonians a sense of security that they might not have otherwise. And so Estonian parliamentarians can raise all the hell they want in relations with Russia, because the blanket of Nordic normalcy keeps Estonia warm and dry.
A lot of people were on edge when riots broke out in Tallinn last year. Some predicted the end of times for the Estonian republic. But I didn't. Why? It wasn't just because of those two NATO planes flying overhead. It was because there is so much Nordic capital here that it would be politically impossible to impose a Soviet-style military occupation on this country again, especially over that controversy.
That hasn't even been an option in Georgia, at least for the moment. Russia's goal was to have a loyal stooge in power in its neighboring country. That is why the Russian objective for Estonia is to create a special relationship with domestic political parties that will basically adopt a Halonen-style policy towards Moscow. In other words, Kekkoslovakia redux.
People might criticize the Halonen line, but Finland is a well-ordered, wealthy country with a diversified economy. Lip service may cost the Finns some pride, but that pride is made up for in capital which, in the end, benefits the Finnish people. The Finns, though, believe they are different, and here is the contrast with the Estonians, who do not see their future through the lens of Nordic exceptionalism. Finns looked at Georgians and saw "them." Estonians looked at "them" and saw "us."
One untruth, though, maybe in Halonen's description of Finland as the "eastern most Nordic country" with regards to its Russia policies. That doesn't jive with the position of fellow Nordic country Sweden on the conflict in Georgia, does it? Wasn't Sweden also pushing for a hard European line? Isn't Denmark similarly friendly to Ukraine and Georgia's NATO aspirations? Finland's stance seems more isolationist than "Nordic." If "Nordic" means being pro-Moscow, then perhaps Finland is not only the easternmost Nordic country, but the only Nordic country, period.