A daily bulletin of news & opinion

23 October 2012

Last Thursday was supposed to be a bit like Christmas – alongside 5.4 million other Finns, I was eagerly waiting to find out whether Finland had won a seat as a non-permanent member of UN Security Council.

It was supposed to be all clear – there had been years of campaigning, so many countries had promised their support behind the scenes at the UN. Every last minute effort possible was made, including receptions in New York where guests were given dried blueberries, Finnish chocolate and Angry Birds sweets. We were supposed to get the whole world’s attention. What could go wrong?

Well, something did – Luxembourg and Australia got the seats and Finland found itself being left out in the cold.

It was a dark day for Finland. I found myself drinking the sparkling wine I had bought to celebrate as a means to drown my disappointment. Finnish politicians and ex-presidents were busy giving interviews to let everyone know how disappointed and astonished they were, too – looking to find out what went wrong and who to blame. Even now almost a week after, I feel slightly unwanted.

Who knows, this may still be a part of my mental coping mechanism but after all the hysteria, when I try to think of this whole episode rationally, I wonder what we lost after all.

When it comes to the real exercise of power can we really talk about this when even the permanent countries cannot agree on things and are so keen to use their right to veto?

I suspect Finland would get more positive attention and international recognition by winning the Eurovision Song Contest or the women’s javelin at the Olympics.

Which raises another question – knowing that Finland doesn’t have unlimited resources for its functions abroad, would it not be better off trying to concentrate on what is most relevant and crucial? At the same time while millions of euros were wasted on campaigning for the Security Council seat, Finland was closing embassies around the world.

Maybe it’s some kind of an inferiority complex that both me and my home country really, really wanted to see the Finnish flag next to the ones of the big countries. Just imagine the line-up – US, China, Finland, Russia, and so on.

Perhaps it is also a sign of healthy self-confidence that none of the Australians I know have been ecstatic about winning the seat. Their reaction has been lukewarm at most whereas the Finns might have gone to the streets for celebration.

I would almost go so far as saying that Finland should have got the seat because we wanted it more.

But I still hope Australia enjoys its place in the UN Security Council. Have fun. Mingle with the big boys and girls. I am happy for you. Sincerely.


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