Creating a State and National Identity. Finland and Europe: 1918-1922 Cover Image
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Creating a State and National Identity. Finland and Europe: 1918-1922
Creating a State and National Identity. Finland and Europe: 1918-1922

Author(s): Vesa Vares
Subject(s): History
Published by: Editura Cetatea de Scaun
Keywords: small states security policy; national identity; Finnish independence; Finnish foreign policy; Finnish identity; Finnish relations to Eastern Europe; Finnish relations to Russia; Finnish relations to Britain

Summary/Abstract: The article deals with the security and identity policy of a newly-independent state, Finland, after the First World War. The scholars differ largely in their opinions of the importance of the activities of the smaller countries, but the impact of the smaller nations in re-mapping the post-WWI Europe can hardly be denied. Also Finnish foreign policy and the Finnish position within the world policy belong to this context: to the meeting-place of the old and the new: how would Finland maintain its independence after the collapse of the Russian and German Empires and create a credible image in the eyes of the world? The article argues that it was not only the two traditional great powers, Soviet Russia and Germany, or the neutralist Scandinavia, which were considered in Finnish foreign policy and identity-building processes. There were also other alternatives, none of which, however, were functional in the longer run. Finland would have gladly allied itself with Great Britain, but could not do this because Britain was not interested. It could not cooperate with White Russia because the latter did not recognize its independence and the hatred against all things Russian had become colour-blind. Eastern Europe could not serve the same purposes either, although there were many similarities in the new position and even the structure of the society was equally agrarian. However, Eastern Europe influenced the Finnish identity by forming the contrast in the Finnish minds. It served the purpose of creating the Finnish “Self”, in which democratic mentality, chances to social advancement and reform especially through education, law-abiding nature, honesty of the civil servants, national cohesion, and hard, silent but efficient and punctual work were considered to be key elements. It was mainly the Scandinavian, Lutheran background which made them see Eastern Europe as the “Other”. Therefore, there were only the League of Nations, the strong sense of belonging to the “West”, the gradual “Scandinavization” and the national military virtues left – and these were also the only things one had in 1939.

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 14
  • Page Range: 79-104
  • Page Count: 26
  • Language: English