Alpo Rusi’s interview in Helsingin Sanomat 17.10.2017
by Jussi Niemeläinen
”Russia seems to have a break for re-thinking”
Retired diplomat Alpo Rusi learned in the Baltic a new approach to the Baltic region
Living in the Baltic area may offer a new angle to analyze the Baltic Sea Region and its security policy. This is what former ambassador Alpo Rusi has learned as Rudolf Holsti professor of diplomacy and international relations at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas. His task is to lecture about international politics, diplomacy and becoming diplomat and convey ”silent information”.
The title Rudolf Holsti is new and was created based on the funding of the Finnish Foreign ministry.Rusi has been a visiting professor at the university already before.
Located only 50 km from Kaliningrad from Kaunas, Russia is a topic in Kaunas too. ”Venäjä (Russia) seems as it would have a break for re-thinking”. However, it is too early to predict whether this situation would last longer. The break may be related to the forthcoming elections, soccer World Championship or whether Putin just wants to elaborate more carefully the international situation.
There are no signs about any bigger changes. Russia is not withdrawing from the annexation of Crimea or from the long term goal to increase its influence. ”The conflict could be solved for example so that Russia would develop a new and more constructive role in international affairs without creating an unnecessary threat perception for itself”.
Rusi is thinks that unfortunately the conflict between the West and Russia may stay there for a longer period of time in case Putin is serious about the potential clash of civilizations democracy and liberal values on the one side and illiberal values and sovereign democracy or the Russian authoritarian interpretation of democracy on the other side.
One has to be prepared for the worst case scenario too. He appreciates the Lithuanians who are strong and stubborn.”The have suffered of big power politics since the 18th century in particular. They have now a historic opportunity to protect their country and the future.”
One has to be prepared to face information warfare. History is important. ”In case Finland wants to be a frontline country in resisting hybrid attacks and information warfare , it means that we in Finland have to take seriously the research of our history during the Cold War.
Rusi is interested about thus subject based on his own experience and unjustified processes he had to experience. Every country needs this. Russia is not willing but all countries have black spots in the past.”
”In Europe we may need a OSCE of history. Our common history is tragic and full of calamities”.
Rusi’s home is in Helsinki but he is traveling between home and Kaunas and thinking of the future of the region.
”I support the strengthening of cooperation between the Baltic and Nordic states. We should get closer to Germany and France but together and as a bloc we would be more influential within the EU”.
This is natural for a man who hold the Rudolf Holsti title as a professor.
Holsti sis the same as foreign minister in 1919-1922. ”He considered the independence of the Baltic states fundamentally important for Finland. Sweden was not the solution for the dispute on the Åland Islands. Holsti wanted to promote the cooperation with the Baltic states and Poland. In Finland his plan was rejected in the parliament and he had to resign. The second term as Foreign Minister ended the same way as he criticized Germany,or Hitler. ”Holsti understood the basic problem related to Russia. In case no support is possible from the West,we have to take care of the Russian relation bilaterally. He understood in 1938 that we did not get help from the West”.
What is Rusi saying to the foreign students who dream about a career as a diplomat.”Information does not tell anything in case you cannot put it to the proper context”., he stresses. ”And in conversations between diplomats, you earn reputation in case you are not using simplistic or non-intelligent arguments”.
"The more you understand the world, the higher your chance of shaping it".
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
Valtiotieteen tohtori, suurlähettiläs, tasavallan presidentin entinen neuvonantaja, professori ja kirjailija.
Kirjoituksia saa lainata. Lähde on mainittava.