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Finland in the Mediterranean

Tuomo Melasuo
Centrum Europejskie Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
Year of Publication

This article aims to shed light on the rich, but rather enigmatic relationship between Finland and the Mediterranean world. These interactions have been approached since Antiquity, but this paper’s focus has been on 19th and 20th centuries and especially on the last three decades. About thirty years ago, when Finland was preparing itself to join the European Union, it also had to build up a real Mediterranean policy of its own. It was in the Corfu European Council in June 1994 when the then-president realised that the country needed such a policy. Thus, in 1995, when Finland joined the EU, it also participated in the Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean Conference and signed the Barcelona Declaration that established the Barcelona Process forming the structures for European Union cooperation with the southern and eastern Mediterranean countries. The participation into this structural process was felt important for Finland mainly for two reasons. Firstly, the country wanted to be a full and active member of the EU and thus contribute to every field of activity that are important for the union. Secondly, we Finns realised that if we wanted the southern European countries to understand and to cooperate with our own ambitions in the northern part of Europe, we needed to show solidarity towards the aims and needs of our southern partners in the Mediterranean. All this resulted in Finland being surprisingly active in all Euro-Mediterranean cooperation environments. This concerned not only official state activities, but also other public sectors as well as civil society actors and NGOs. These Euro Mediterranean activities became so many and so multiform that we can deal only with a few of them here as examples. Keywords: Finland, Mediterranean, Middle East, Union for Mediterranean, European Union, Security