What should Finland do about Karelia? (Part II)
One of the reasons why the Finnish government hasn’t shown any interest in rejoining Karelia with Finland is because of its large Russian-speaking population. The other factor is fear that Karelia could in the future cause a new war with Russia.
The last matter that some government officials want for Finland is to turn the country into an Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, where there are large Russian populations that pose a cultural challenge to such countries.
Karelia, which had a Finnish population of about 420,000 and had been inhabited by Finns for centuries, is a case in point for Europe. Too many of the conflicts that have occurred in this continent, like World War II and recently the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, are ethnic in nature.
The most extreme modern manifestation of ethnic suspicion and hatred in Europe was by Nazi Germany. It could send millions of Jews and other religious, political and ethnic groups to gas chambers on the pretext that such outlandish deeds were necessary to conserve the purity of the German “race” and help it to realize its full potential.
The first matter that Stalin’s Russia did when it snatched Karelia from Finland in 1944 was to populated it with Russians, Ukrainians and other Soviet nationalities after 420,000 Karelians left their homes and moved as refugees to Finland.
It was the same method that the former British Empire used to ensure that territory seized or colonized by it remained British.
Fortunately there are different winds blowing in Europe today. European Union countries are embracing, albeit at different speeds, a policy of multiculturalism where ethnic, national and cultural minorities must be protected and encouraged.
If you think of it, the advance of multiculturalism in Europe may be the continent’s best insurance against future wars. It may even help resolve in the future sticky geopolitical issues like Karelia.
A map of southern Finland printed in 1908 by the Suomen Matkailijayhdistys..