Former Finnish President, Tarja Halonen, has repeated her diagnosis of Estonia’s approach towards Russia as being a symptom of Estonia’s post-Soviet, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The former Finnish President also compared Estonia’s relationship with Russia and the Soviet occupation as that of a wife in an abusive marriage.
Estonia recently hosted a large scale NATO exercise with other partner states. Estonian President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, recently stated that NATO should permanently station forces there.
Former Finnish President, Tarja Halonen, is a long time member of the Social Democratic Party of Finland and was a youth member of its extreme left wing, whose views were aligned with the Soviet Union’s Communist Party.
In the 1970’s she actively lobbied for Finland’s recognition of the Soviet controlled German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
Halonen was a supporter of President Urho Kekkonen’s policy of Finlandization which is widely regarded as a policy of active submission towards Finland’s neighbour, The Soviet Union.
Along with former Finnish Foreign Minsiter, Erkki Tuomioja, Halonen opposes Finnish membership in NATO and maintains a good relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Commenting on the exercises in Estonia, the former Finnish President, who has a close relationship with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said of Estonia, “if that’s how they want to demonstrate their defensive capabilities, then there’s not much else to say, other than that we each do that in our own way.”
In her comments to YLE radio, Halonen said that she doesn’t regret her 2008 diagnosis of Estonia’s “post-traumatic relationship” with Russia and that she would use the same term today. Halonen’s 2008 comments irked Estonian leaders and caused a serious diplomatic rift. President Ilves responded, saying that “Estonia has never condemned, and will not condemn foreign affairs decisions of another EU country. It neither will assess psychiatric state of other EU countries”.
Halonen said that Finland had moved past the Soviet war with Finland with just some “bruises.” The loss of independence, according to Halonen, instilled fear in Estonia that can be compared to someone who has escaped an abusive marriage. “To recover from that is psychologically difficult for Estonians,” said the former Finnish President.
With regards to defence, Halnonen said that Estonia and Finland don’t need to have a common view.
“We can have separate perspectives for different reasons, and emotions also play a role in that. But what we all must do is to try and create a situation that allows for a return to normalized relations,” said Halonen.
“We aren’t naive”
Halonen, who had been a lecturer at Harvard this Spring, said that in her view, the US understanding of Russia and the the threat it poses to it’s neighbours is more “black and white and scarier” than in Finland or Estonia.
“Even so, I don’t think that we’re naive. We have to face these issues today and tomorrow and we’ll do that pragmatically. When it comes to more distant places, we can take a more critical position,” said Halonen.
“We engage in military cooperation with other Nordic states who are NATO members. These are questions that can be solved. But I believe that military cooperation will include a wider geographic group of states where other Nordic, NATO and EU states are involved,” said Halonen.
A recent poll comissioned by YLE showed that Estonians are more interested in military and other cooperation than Finns.
Source: YLE, ERR