Monocolumn

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18 August 2014

When it comes to voicing your concerns, 1,300km makes a difference. That is the distance of the Finnish-Russian border, which I have been thinking about a lot when following the European reactions to Russia’s recent behaviour.

The UK is eager to criticise Russia. My home country Finland doesn’t approve recent actions either but the tone is a little softer. It seems that Finland still plays the role of Russia’s friend who has to be on the other side of this argument because of peer pressure.

You don’t want to make a massive neighbour angry. And in today’s world you can’t go it alone. Just look at the current economic might of the US, growing China and unpredictable Russia. I find it absurd when I hear politicians from small European countries fantasising of a world with no EU.

The UK – probably the biggest advocate of leaving the EU – has the population size of just two US states: California and Texas combined. Finland with its five million citizens is not even a member of Nato and could really do with all the membership ties with the west it can get.

It is easy to mock the European Union for not being fast, efficient or united enough with its actions regarding Russia.

In Finland this discussion has an added undertone: it has been argued that, as the Finnish economy is suffering as the result of the economic sanctions against Russia, we’d be better off outside the EU.

I would like to say to Finland that you can’t cherry-pick these things. I believe that the current crisis may well be something that brings the European countries closer to each other. It is good practice for the EU and will prepare it for similar situations in the future.

I suggest we quit moaning about banana directives and Brussels bureaucracy and focus on working together in Europe – we can’t really afford to be without each other.

Markus Hippi is a producer for Monocle 24.

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