Out of sight, not always out of might. Bilateral relations  between distant small countries; methodological observations Cover Image
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Out of sight, not always out of might. Bilateral relations between distant small countries; methodological observations
Out of sight, not always out of might. Bilateral relations between distant small countries; methodological observations

Author(s): Vesa Vares
Subject(s): History
Published by: Editura Cetatea de Scaun
Keywords: bilateral relations; distant countries; diplomatic relations; international politics; Finnish foreign policy

Summary/Abstract: Studying bilateral relations of “distant” countries is a complex issue, especially in cases where there are no evident mutual interests or mutual threats or when there are no special conflicting interests either. However, this kind of research does not necessarily differ qualitatively or methodically from the study of countries and cultures which are much closer to each other. However, the undramatic day-to-day affairs, which have not moved the destinies of the two nations, can often reveal interesting examples of political identities and mentalities and surprising links, especially if the bilateral relations have been used in order to gain a foothold of the wider reference group of the other party. Most often it is hoped that one would find markets for its products or diplomatic support and to make oneself more known also among other countries in the area. However, it is more common to find negative than positive stereotypes, when one deals with bilateral “distant” relations. It is what is peculiar, odd, exotic, even frightening and shocking, that gets the attention and is exaggerated. All this creates a contrast and a possibility to strengthen one’s own identity. I shall here refer to some examples especially in the Finnish case. All in all, studying the bilateral relations of two distant countries in the very least gives a possibility to find something new; how have those narratives, which we already know, been seen on a smaller scale and in unusual arenas – and how have these smaller nations themselves influenced the larger narrative?

  • Issue Year: 2011
  • Issue No: 16
  • Page Range: 5-19
  • Page Count: 15
  • Language: English