Publications from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, 2015


Timo Behr and Teija Tiilikainen (eds.), Northern Europe and the Making of the EU’s Mediterranean and Middle East Policies, Ashgate 2015.

Rosa Balfour, Caterina Carta, Kristi Raik (eds.), The European External Action Service and National Foreign Ministries: Convergence or Divergence, Ashgate 2015.

 Juha Käpylä and Harri Mikkola, On Arctic Exceptionalism: Critical reflections in the light of the Arctic Sunrise case and the crisis in Ukraine, FIIA Working Paper 85, 7 April 2015,

During the last decade, the Arctic has generally come to be understood as an exceptional ‘zone of peace’ and a ‘territory of dialogue’. In this sense, the Arctic has been seen as a unique region detached, and encapsulated, from global political dynamics, and thus characterized primarily as an apolitical space of regional governance, functional co-operation, and peaceful co-existence.

This paper discusses and critically analyzes this notion of ‘Arctic exceptionalism’. In particular, the paper argues that the contemporary Arctic is not only global but – precisely because it is global – no different from any other region in terms of being increasingly subject to politico-strategic (or other kinds of) dynamics.

The paper begins by discussing the recent history of Arctic exceptionalism, after which it discusses in more detail why the Arctic is often considered to be an exceptional zone of peace and co-operation. While these arguments have validity in avoiding/defusing intra-Arctic conflict dynamics, the paper argues that the regionalist approach brackets out global political dynamics and their impacts on the Arctic region, thus neglecting the potential for extra-Arctic conflict dynamics as well.

By focusing on two cases – the Arctic Sunrise case and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine – the paper illustrates how forces and dynamics external to the region have had an impact on the co-operative spirit and governance practices of the Arctic. The Arctic Sunrise case, in which the Russian coast guard seized a ship carrying Greenpeace activists near the Prirazlomnoye oil rig, revealed the actual limitations and handicaps of the UNCLOS as a reliable governance framework – and particularly as a legitimate arbitration mechanism in the case of an interstate dispute – also in the Arctic. This is important since the UNCLOS has been regarded as the bedrock of Arctic cooperation.

The second, and even more important, case is the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, which has brought external political and conflict dynamics to the Arctic. This has had direct and indirect effects on Arctic cooperation in at least four ways, by affecting: a) the way the Arctic is discussed and understood, b) existing practices of security co-operation in the Arctic, c) in a limited way, the workings of governance structures and particularly the Arctic Council (there have been active and mostly successful measures to prevent spillover), and d) economic cooperation in the Russian Arctic through the policy of sanctions.

While not necessitating alarmism, the paradigm of Arctic exceptionalism appears to be an insufficient approach to understanding both the present and future of the global Arctic. The contemporary Arctic is not – and should not be viewed as – a closed system that can be separated from exogenous political (or other) dynamics and managed only by relying on governance structures, practices and imperatives related to the region itself. Unshielded from global dynamics, the Arctic has many potential trajectories that may, or may not, be realized due to a number of global uncertainties and challenges. The Arctic is just like any other region in an interconnected world; regional development is both constrained and enabled by global forces and dynamics – be they economic, political or environmental in nature.


FIIA Briefing Papers

Mikael Wigell, Seal the deal or lose Brazil: Implications of the EU-Mercosur negotiations, FIIA Briefing Paper 171, 12 March 2015,

The EU seems to be dragging its feet in the negotiations for a free trade agreement with Mercosur. It urgently needs to revive the process.

The time is now ripe for reaching a deal. Mercosur is ready for the exchange of market offers, reflecting the fact that Brazil wants to speed up the negotiations.

The broader geostrategic implications of an EU-Mercosur agreement have been neglected in the European debate. Not only would an agreement help the EU revive its presence and influence in South America, but it would also strengthen Brazil’s stake in the liberal world order.

If the EU fails to act, Mercosur will likely turn elsewhere and become a more difficult partner to negotiate with.

Any hopes the EU may currently have of Brazil breaking free from the Mercosur format to negotiate a separate deal are misplaced. Despite the pressure on Brazil to open up for more trade, it is unlikely to want to risk its position as a regional leader by negotiating alone with the EU.

Marco Siddi, The EU’s Energy Union: Towards an integrated European energy market? FIIA Briefing Paper 172, 16 March 2015,

The European Union is heavily dependent on energy imports from abroad, which cover more than half of the EU’s demand. Dependence is particularly strong in the field of fossil fuels, where Russia is the EU’s main export partner.

Following the Ukraine crisis and the ensuing tensions with Russia, the objective of diversifying the portfolio of partners has gained prominence in the EU. This is particularly relevant to gas imports, as alternatives to Russian gas are limited for several EU member states.

National energy markets in the EU are largely disconnected from one another. Member states decide their energy mix and negotiate supply contracts with third parties without previously consulting their EU partners. This has resulted in large price differentials between member states.

In order to tackle these issues, the European Commission has proposed the establishment of an EU Energy Union. Its main objectives include the integration of the EU energy market, diversifying suppliers, increasing energy efficiency and decarbonising the economy.

However, the implementation of the Energy Union is likely to face several challenges. These primarily concern the reluctance of member states to renounce national prerogatives in the field of energy, diverging national interests, and the need to create adequate governance mechanisms at the EU level.

Arkady Moshes, The war and reforms in Ukraine: Can it cope with both? FIIA Briefing Paper 173, 18 March 2015,

The military conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine is the main factor determining also the internal political situation in the country. On the one hand, as long as the conflict calls for national consolidation and strengthens the understanding that only a reformed Ukraine may hope to endure, the war should drive the transformation. On the other hand, the conflict poses a major impediment to the changes, not only because it is a drain on resources, but even more so because it tempts Ukraine to blame its own inaction on “objective difficulties”.

A number of conditions currently favour the reforms proceeding as planned. Ukraine enjoys a sizeable pro-reform majority in the parliament, and the population is still largely supportive of the government. The influence of the anti-reform opposition is smaller than ever. The Association Agreement with the EU, and the IMF programme are in place to serve as powerful vehicles of transformation.

However, progress to date has been limited. The necessary change is certainly going to be painful for the population, which partly explains the reluctance to undertake radical steps. Resistance from the country’s oligarchs and within the extremely corrupt environment as a whole is apparent, to which a lack of experience can be added. Any further delay will threaten to destroy the existing confidence that has been bolstered among the people.

In this situation Western assistance for the reforms in Ukraine will become crucial. But it will make a difference only if strict conditionality is applied.

Bart Gaens, Securitizing Aid: The nexus between Japan’s development cooperation and security policy, FIIA Briefing Paper 174, 26 March 2015,

The recent hostage crisis in the Middle East involving two Japanese citizens laid bare Japan’s attempts to implement a more active role for itself in international security, through a strategic use of development cooperation and by aiming to loosen the restrictions on Japan’s military in the long term.

Throughout the post-war era, Japan has consistently applied Official Development Assistance (ODA) as an effective mechanism for promoting its own national interests, for example through tied aid and by providing loans rather than grants.

The release earlier this year of a new Development Cooperation Charter clearly reveals the securitization of ODA, or the use of aid for a more rigidly defined strategic use.

The hostage crisis furthermore fuels the debate on a possible revision of Japan’s constitution, and breathes new life into the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s long-cherished goal of revising Japan’s key charter.

While at first sight neither the securitization of aid nor the incipient debate on the constitution are marked by huge immediate changes, they nevertheless represent a significant incremental step towards the accomplishment of the ruling conservative party’s grand strategy and the new course it is mapping out for Japan.

Toni Alaranta, Turkey’s new Russian policy: Towards a strategic alliance, FIIA Briefing Paper 175, 30 March 2015,

Since the end of the Cold War, Turkey has developed multi-level cooperation with Russia, characterized by increasing economic ties.

In its ideological confrontation with the West, and revisionist foreign policy stance in the Middle East, the Turkish government has been careful not to antagonize Russia in any way.

In the long run, the dominant neo-imperialist visions in both countries are likely to re-establish the traditional Russo-Turkish rivalry, but for now Russia is an important strategic ally for Turkey.

At a deeper level, Turkey’s strategic cooperation with Russia is symptomatic of the country’s own authoritarian, neo-imperialist project that has made the idea of Turkey fulfilling the EU Copenhagen political criteria completely nonsensical.

In this situation, the EU should suspend Turkey’s candidacy until there is a government in power willing to participate in a political union based on shared values.

Jarkko Levänen, A Turning Point in the EU’s Climate Policy? Carbon capture and the third period of the emissions trading scheme, FIIA Briefing Paper 176, 15 April 2015,

The scope of the global climate policy is changing towards the post-2020 situation and the stringent regulation of carbon-intensive activities. A more ambitious climate policy is needed because global climate change shows no signs of abating – on the contrary, it seems to be worsening.

The third period (2013–2020) of the EU’s emissions trading scheme, the EU ETS, is critical because during this time European carbon markets should finally start to function as planned since the initiation of the market mechanism.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of the solutions associated with the success of the EU ETS, and numerous CCS technologies are already technologically viable, but the EU ETS is still not capable of encouraging investments in CCS.

The biggest short-term challenges in the promotion of CCS are: 1) increasing financial interest in supporting the further development of different forms of CCS, and 2) achieving a wide consensus on the significant decrease of emission allowances.

During the 2020–2050 time period, the largest CCS potential will be found outside traditional energy production. CCS applications that are based on mineral carbonation or bioenergy are good examples of promising CCS technologies.

FIIA Comments

Jyrki Kallio, No liberalization in sight for China: The Communist Party is ever more prominently taking the lead, FIIA Comment 10 (2015), 13 April,

President Xi Jinping is amassing power and purging opposition at all levels. This is probably not an indication of a power struggle but rather a sign that the Communist Party is gearing up its leadership role for the next crucial five-year period.

Sinikukka Saari, The New Alliance and Integration Treaty between Russia and South Ossetia: When does integration turn into annexation? FIIA Comment 9 (2015), 24 March,

Crimea is not Russia’s only land grab in the post-Soviet neighbourhood. Russia has just signed an integration treaty effectively abolishing the border between Russia and South Ossetia, a separatist enclave of Georgia. In practice, it is hard to see much difference between integration à la South Ossetia and annexation.

Kristi Raik, No zero-sum game among EU foreign policy actors: Germany’s leadership in the Ukraine crisis has strengthened the Union, FIIA Comment 8 (2015), 10 March,

As Germany has led Europe’s response to the Ukraine crisis during the past year, the EU institutions have been sidelined. While the role of the latter needs to be strengthened, it is crucial to avoid zero-sum competition among the many European foreign policy actors.

Marco Siddi, Rome and Athens allied against austerity? Prospects for cooperation between Italy and Greece in the EU, FIIA Comment 7 (2015), 19 February,

The Italian government has welcomed the election of Alexis Tsipras in Greece and is ready to support some of Syriza’s economic policies. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi sees Tsipras as a potential ally in his quest for fiscal flexibility, but Italy wants Greece to repay its debt.

Charly Salonius-Pasternak and Jarno Limnéll, Preparing Finland for hybrid warfare: Social vulnerabilities and the threat of military force, FIIA Comment 6 (2015), 17 February,

Finland is well placed to withstand hybrid warfare. Nonetheless, preparations call for the strengthening of mental and physical crisis resilience, the creation of a unified picture of the situation, and the development of new means of defence and legislation.