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  • Author: Mika Aaltola, Johanna Ketola, Aada Peltonen, Karoliina Vaakanainen
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although their timing and nature is unexpected and disrupts normality, pandemics are not black swans, but rather an expected feature of a feverishly con- nected and globalizing world. Since the end of the Cold War, there have been several serious cases of and close calls with pandemics, including SARS in 2003, H1N1 infuenza (“swine fu”) in 2009 and Ebola in 2014. By now, we know the usual features of pandemics, how they emerge and the shape of their temporal context: rapid onset leading to a politically compelling impact followed by decreasing attention and lessening restric- tive policies resulting, in some cases, in the return of the disease. Te most serious pandemics, like the 1918 infuenza pandemic (“Spanish fu”), come in waves. Te less restrictive policies are followed by subsequent waves, partially propelled by diminishing attention and wishful policies until a cure or vaccination is found, or immunity achieved. Despite the growing awareness, pandemic diseases nevertheless often catch us of guard and bring about human misery. Te latest form of Severe Acute Res- piratory Syndrome caused by a novel coronavirus, Covid-19, which spread like wildfre around the globe in 2020, came as a surprise even though the point of origin and secrecy surrounding its emergence were similar to that of its predecessor, SARS, in 2003. In other words, pandemics continue to include “un- known” aspects, which have to do with their specifc characteristics, perhaps most notably their timing, but also other features such as infection and fatality rates, patterns of spread, and the outbreak location zone(s). Our starting point in this Working Paper is that se- rious contagious diseases are political as their cascad- ing and nonlinear efects impact people’s livelihoods and disrupt normality. Tis applies to the most recent coronavirus pandemic, as highlighted in this paper. Te key research question concerns how the European Union (EU) and its member states, illustrated through the case of Finland, became aware of the prevailing health crisis, and the kind of political ramifications that the response had, and could have had. Te focus of this paper is on the frst two and a half months of the coronavirus pandemic, from January to mid-March 2020, by which time the pandemic had replaced the prevailing agendas in the EU and in its member states and saturated the public debate, reach- ing a tipping point. Te onset entails a build-up to a clear situational policy necessity, a sentiment that drastic, exceptional actions need to be taken to con- tain or at least to slow down the pandemic outbreak, as well as a remorseful debate and fnger-pointing at actions that should have been taken sooner. Te paper studies this build-up phase while recognizing that the next phase of political reaction to a pandemic tends to include the sentiment that enough has been done or even that the actions that were taken earlier were somewhat excessive and overblown.1 Tis phase may be followed by – and is an important constituent of – yet another phase, the second wave of the pandemic. The timeframe for the Working Paper extends to mid-March 2020 when Covid-19 became the prevail- ing topic of public concern in Europe. We refer to this prevalence as the tipping point. Te term tipping point is used to identify the critical juncture, both nation- ally as well as in the EU, when sudden changes to be- haviour took place at the public and political levels. At such moments, public attention becomes heightened, single-issue focused, and rushed. Te pressure for po- litical action becomes paramount. Te mobilization of resources as well as the introduction of diferent states of emergency suddenly seem possible. Te emergent, situational requirements become the context for pol- icymaking, instead of the requirements of the then prevailing normality; namely, exceptional political acts can prevail when urgency seems to necessitate them. Te situated characteristics of a pandemic include a heightened sense of exceptionality, particularly if there is a sense that prior preparations at national, regional, and global levels were inadequate and the contingency planning insufcient. Any delays and hesitations are easily seen as weaknesses although, in normal times, they are often the keys to stable and rational political deliberation. Tis was the scenario that actualized with Covid-19, as the preparedness planning for pandem- ic security was largely perceived as defcient and the global as well as the European regional coordination in short supply.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland
  • Author: Sergey Utkin
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU is determined to maintain the transatlantic bond, while Russia tends to interpret the EU’s strategic autonomy precisely as autonomy from the US. The Western unity effort is significantly strengthened by the poor state of the EU’s relations with Russia. Russia is ready to pay lip service to the idea of a more capable EU, but instead it sees opportunities in areas where bilateral cooperation with member states is possible. The EU-wide consensus is doomed to remain critical vis-à-vis Russia for the foreseeable future. The EU will increasingly focus on gaining autonomy from Russia, primarily in the energy field and in terms of hard security deterrence. The EU-Russia geopolitical tension, centred on the common neighbourhood, is long-term and might cause as yet unseen damage to the relationship if it is not handled carefully.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Conflict, Regionalism, Autonomy, Rivalry, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Maria Annala
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2020, President of the United States Donald Trump launched an unprecedented electoral manipulation campaign in an attempt to secure himself a second term in office regardless of what voters decided. This Working Paper seeks to answer three questions: What electoral manipulation methods did Trump use? In what ways were his methods similar to those used previously by other incumbents to interfere with elections in their respective countries? And in what ways did his methods resemble those of election meddling by foreign state actors? To answer the aforesaid questions, this paper seeks to develop a model to describe Trump’s electoral manipulation campaign. The paper finds that Trump used seven different methods: Disinformation, voter suppression, intimidation and violence, intraparty pressure, attacking government institutions, breaking democratic norms, and attempted collusion with one or more foreign states. While most of the methods were not new, their combination was unique. That was to be expected, as Trump was the first 21st century incumbent in a well-established Western democracy to undertake such a massive electoral manipulation campaign.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Violence, Voting, Misinformation , Election Interference
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Veera Laine
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In January 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a set of constitutional amendments, aiming to secure the continuity of his power in the years to come. At the same time, the amendments allowed ideological visions on national identity to be inscribed in the Constitution. Since summer 2020, the Constitution has enhanced the symbolic status of the Russian language, which is now not only the state language but also the language of those who speak it (i.e. of “ethnic” Russians or “Russian-speakers”), implicitly referred to as the state-founding people. These provisions, together with support for compatriots abroad, not only continue the turn observable since the 2010s in Russia’s nation-building from a civic vision towards an ethnic vision of nation, but also challenge the existing interpretations of state borders. The provisions on safeguarding the “historical truth” and establishing a single framework for education hinder the republics from pursuing their identity policies. This Working Paper argues that the amendments both adjust the earlier changes and signal new ones in the official discourse and nationalities policy.
  • Topic: Corruption, Governance, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Constitution, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Aliya Tskhay
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Central Asia is at the core of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which promises to bring connectivity, trade, and improved infrastructure, as well as overall economic development to the states of the region. Yet beyond the official rhetoric, China is promoting its power through geoeconomic means. This paper looks at areas of cooperation (energy, infrastructure, trade, and finance) and identifies the ways in which China is involved with the region. Through a combination of loans, investments, and infrastructure projects, the research shows how China ‘binds’ the region closer to itself and ‘wedges’ out alternative partners. It also shows how Central Asian states utilise the funding within the BRI framework for national development programmes, whilst navigating avenues for mitigating the establishment of a dependent relationship with China. The paper concludes with some policy implications for China, Central Asia, and the wider region.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Hegemony, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Matti Pesu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This Briefing Paper looks into the fundamentals of the Baltic Sea security landscape in the early 2020s. It argues that three interconnected security dynamics shape the present, ‘post-2014’ security environment in Northeastern Europe. That is to say, Russia’s assertive behaviour in the region and in Europe more broadly, NATO’s reassurance and deterrence measures in the area, and Finland’s and Sweden’s closer integration into the Western defence network all affect hard se- curity dynamics in the Baltic Sea region. These three dynamics underlie the tense regional stability that emerged after a period of alarmism and turbulence in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s ac- tions in Ukraine. Fundamentally, the stability is the product of the interplay between the three dynamics. In other words, NATO’s reassurance and deterrence measures accompanied by Finland’s and Sweden’s in- tegration into the Western security and defence system act as a counterweight to Russia’s actions in the region, creating a balance of power holding Russia’s ambitions in check. Investigating the sources of regional balance is rele- vant for multiple reasons. The region remains a poten- tial hotspot between Russia and the West and, thus, it merits close and continuous attention. Moreover, the word ‘stability’ frequently features in foreign policy parlance in Northern Europe, particularly in Finland and Sweden. Given this rhetorical proclivity, attention needs to be paid to the factors that actually constitute stability and the state of hard security in the Baltic Sea area. The paper consists of three analytical parts. First, it provides a brief historical overview of the twists and turns in the regional security landscape from the early post-Cold War era to today. The second part introduces the three dynamics in detail, followed by an analysis of how they are interconnected. The paper concludes by contemplating how regional stability could best be preserved in the 2020s.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Baltic Sea
  • Author: Juha Jokela, Ilari Aula
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU needs to assume more responsibility in defending its interests and security. Brexit will constitute an additional challenge for the EU in this respect, and has led to calls to strengthen the efficiency of the the Common Foreign and Security Policy, including EU sanctions, which currently form one of the toughest and most increasingly used tools in the EU’s foreign policy toolbox. The UK has been the most active and influential member state in formulating the EU’s sanctions policy. The EU could largely replace the technical expertise provided by the UK, yet the level of ambition of the EU’s sanctions policy is likely to decrease. Even though the UK has taken measures to maintain the sanctions regimes it agreed to as an EU member state, an independent UK sanctions policy could result in divergence. The envisaged coordination mechanisms between EU and UK sanctions policies can mitigate some of the negative implications of Brexit, but they cannot replace the UK’s EU membership.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Sanctions, European Union, Brexit
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Kristiina Silvan
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In March 2019, Kazakhstan’s authoritarian leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, stepped down after three decades of rule and yielded power to his nominated successor, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev. However, Nazarbayev has paradoxically remained the most powerful political actor in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan’s model of gradual leadership succession could serve as an example to authoritarian states around the world, but it is particularly significant in the post-Soviet context. Institutional and constitutional changes that took place in the 1990s were aimed at concentrating power in the presidency. However, modifications initiated by Nazarbayev in the 2000s and 2010s sought to weaken the Kazakh presidency while strengthening power vested in himself personally, in order to ensure the continuation of a political status quo and his family’s well-being after the transfer of power. Despite the careful preparation and Tokayev’s relatively smooth ascension to power, it is still too early to evaluate the success of the transfer due to the vast powers retained by Nazarbayev. The transition of power in Kazakhstan remains an ongoing process and, as such, unpredictable.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Authoritarianism, Leadership, Transition
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kazakhstan
  • Author: Mika Aaltola
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since late 2019, the world has sought – frantically at times – to appropriate policies for responding to the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19). This Working Paper reviews the political significance of Covid-19 in order to understand the ways in which it challenges the existing domestic order, international health governance actors and, more fundamentally, the circulation-based modus operandi of the present world order. The analysis begins with the argument that contagious diseases should be regarded as complex open-ended phenomena with various features; they are not reducible to biology and epidemiology alone. In particular, politics and social reactions – in the form of panic and blamecasting, for example – are prominent features with clear historical patterns, and should not, for the sake of efficient health governance, be treated as aspects extraneous to the disease itself. The Working Paper further highlights that when a serious infectious disease spreads, a “threat” is very often externalized into a culturally meaningful “foreign” entity. Pandemics tend to be territorialized, nationalized, ethnicized, and racialized. This has also been the case with Covid-19.
  • Topic: Governance, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: To address Covid-19, Finland has activated its Emergency Powers Act for the first time ever. While the outcome remains uncertain, Finland’s plan for how to protect its citizens and vital functions of society has withstood its initial confrontation with reality. The authorities are cooperating with private and third-sector actors to ensure that implementation is effective and to anticipate further steps.
  • Topic: Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19, Medicine
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China has garnered international goodwill by aiding countries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. China is in a position to show that it takes its ideal of creating a global community with a shared future seriously. However, the country’s other actions undermine its soft-power dissemination efforts.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Marco Siddi
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Thus far, Italy has been the EU member most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the first one to take drastic measures to fight contagion. The country is now a reference for lessons learned and a test case for solidarity in the EU.
  • Topic: European Union, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In Iran, the response to the coronavirus pandemic would require cooperation but is marred by the politicization of the crisis. Iran faces a difficult balancing act between different segments of society amid a serious economic situation that also encompasses international power politics.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Arkady Moshes, Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since the Euromaidan Revolution, self-identification and attitudes within Ukrainian society have changed profoundly. This report takes stock of the identity changes both nationwide and in three major oblasts, namely Lviv, Kharkiv and Odesa, representing in this study the Western, Eastern and Southern regions of the country respectively, to identify new differences and unity points. To this end, the report focuses on two major issues, looking firstly at the trajectory of the identity shifts nationwide and in three key regions, and secondly, at their political effects. The question of the sustainability of the changes is also addressed. Taking the regional aspect into consideration is crucial given that cleavages have traditionally had a visible regional pattern, and that the identity shifts coincide with a realignment of centre-periphery relations within the context of the ongoing reforms, particularly decentralization. The report also furthers understanding of the potential risks – or lack thereof – of this process for the Ukrainian state. This publication is part of a research project “Ukraine after Euromaidan” conducted by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. The project is implemented with the financial support of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2020.
  • Topic: Revolution, Local, Decentralization , Identity, Euromaidan Revolution
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Tyyne Karjalainen
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Covid-19 highlights the relevance of sharing information at a time of crisis. The revision of International Health Regulations in 2005 aimed to prevent the international spread of diseases, but the response to the novel virus shows that gaps in global health security remain. At the same time, authorities at all levels need to gain citizens’ trust in order to design an effective response.
  • Topic: Leadership, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Veera Laine, Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In Russia, the confirmed Covid-19 infections have been suspiciously few. The official numbers do not reflect reality as there has been no systematic testing at any phase of the epidemic. Now, however, the number of cases has risen rapidly, and the new situation has an effect on the Kremlin’s position in the eyes of the people.
  • Topic: Leadership, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Toni Alaranta
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkey’s increasing activity in Africa is part of its new foreign policy doctrine within which Turkey is conceptualized as a global ‘order-producing’ country. The export-oriented companies supporting the AKP constantly seek new markets, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to export his brand of Islamic-conservative ideology to other Muslim-majority countries. Turkish government officials and NGOs emphasize the historical connections between the Ottoman state and the African target countries. Turkey currently plays a key role in the internal affairs of Libya and Somalia, upholding military bases and training programmes. Turkey’s emphasis on humanitarian aid and equality, and the use of government-affiliated NGOs, have produced positive results, but the tendency to see Africa as a terrain for hegemonic power struggles against Egypt and Saudi Arabia is likely to generate negative reactions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Humanitarian Aid, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Saila Heinikoski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Free movement within the Schengen Area has been challenged in recent years by national measures: from internal border checks after the ‘migration crisis’ to the closure of borders in the Covid-19 crisis. This is the first time in the history of Schengen that member states have categorically refused entry to other EU citizens who are not registered residents or cross-border workers. Seventeen Schengen countries have submitted a notification on reintroducing internal border control due to Covid-19: Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland. The use of Schengen provisions was creative: 12 states justified their internal border controls as a case requiring immediate action (Art. 28), France and Denmark expanded their already existing internal border controls (Art. 25), Finland appealed to the ‘foreseeable event’ clause (Art. 25), and Slovakia and Poland introduced ‘healthcare-police measures’ (Art. 23) before launching border controls (Art. 28). The crisis illustrates the need to reform Schengen in order to maintain the legitimacy of commonly agreed rules.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, European Union, Public Health, Schengen, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Norway, France, Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Estonia, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Iceland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia
  • Author: Arkady Moshes, Ryhor Nizhnikau, Kristiina Silvan
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The pandemic is testing the effectiveness of the Eurasian Economic Union. However, its actions demonstrate the fundamental flaws of this integration project instead.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia
  • Author: Katja Creutz
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In December 2019, Myanmar defended itself before the International Court of Justice against genocide charges for the atrocities committed in 2016–2017 against the Rohingya Muslims. The Rohingya crisis has driven several hundreds of thousands of the Rohingya as refugees into neighbouring Bangladesh with an unsettled future. In addition, questions of perpetrator accountability remain open. The UN Human Rights Council created a fact-finding mission and an international investigative mechanism for the purpose of bringing the individuals responsible to justice. With Western states generally condemning Myanmar’s actions, China’s influence in and over Myanmar has intensified, as the country has blocked robust action before the UN Security Council, leading to charges of political inaction. There is growing legal pressure against Myanmar at the national and international level, forcing it to respond. While accountability proceedings are important, problems may emerge when several courts deal with the same situation. Their capacity to provide immediate relief in relation to the crisis is also small.
  • Topic: Genocide, United Nations, International Court of Justice (ICJ), Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Myanmar