Opportunities for Cooperation between Estonia and Finland, 2008
Estonia and Finland are very close to each other both as states and nations. At almost all levels and sectors of society, the relations between the two countries are exceptionally intense. Very likely, the relations would have evolved to the point at which they are today even without any additional push given by the Estonian and Finnish governments. Even so, in 2002 Prime Ministers Paavo Lipponen and Siim Kallas held that it could be useful to examine the bilateral relations in a less unorthodox manner and explore the potential shared future outlook in view of the time when both countries would be members of the European Union.
As a result, a report named Estonia and Finland in the European Union was drafted by Jaak Jõerüüt, a former Estonian Ambassador to Finland and Esko Ollila, a former governor of the Bank of Finland. In the report, both authors presented their own view of the future relations between the two countries and issued over forty proposals for action for the purpose of promoting the relations. Most of the recommendations have already been implemented.
Five years later in June 2007, Prime Ministers Andrus Ansip and Matti Vanhanen decided to launch a project to draft a new report addressing the future relations between Estonia and Finland. Jaakko Blomberg, Finland’s former Ambassador to Estonia, and Gunnar Okk, Vice-President of the Nordic Investment Bank, were invited to write the report.
The main aim of this new report is to generate ideas on how Estonia and Finland can respond to the challenges presented by globalization in collaboration rather than individually and how the two countries can support each other in improving their competitiveness. The prime ministers were particularly interested in the potential for cooperation in education, research and innovation, and energy issues. No preconditions were laid down for the report in terms of form, subjects addressed, structure or scope.
The 2008 report on the future of Estonian-Finnish relations consists mostly of tangible recommendations for developing relations between the two countries. At the same time, the report gives a number of more general recommendations in order to underline the special importance of a specific area of cooperation relative to others; shed new light on some generally known facts; arouse debate; inspire readers to develop the ideas and take action.
The report also outlines our vision of what Estonian-Finnish relations might look like in 2030. It is not a prediction, just the authors’ subjective view of the level to which the relations may evolve over the next 22 years – provided, of course, that we are able to develop the mutual cooperation in the best possible manner, respond to global challenges and that no highly serious global threats materialize.