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Speeches, 11/9/2011

 

Speech by Foreign Minister Tuomioja in The Aleksanteri Institute’s conference

Speech by Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja in The Aleksanteri Institute’s conference “The Dragon and the Bear: Strategic Choices of China and Russia” on November 9th 2011 in Helsinki.

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China, Russia and learning from the Nordic model

Ladies and Gentlemen. Opening an academic conference is always a pleasure. Any views and statements presented at an academic arena should be developed, challenged and questioned by the audience. Hopefully you will be able to build up - and perhaps challenge - the views I will be presenting.

I China, Russia and the global governance

One of the main lessons to draw from the global economic crises is the increased interdependency of all societies. China and Russia are, to a significant degree, affected by this phenomenon: Both countries are increasingly dependent on the global economy and its cycles. They have benefited from the increasing global demand and financial flows but, at the same time, have not been isolated from the downfalls.

The future path of the global economy is uncertain. The most likely trend is that the centre of gravity of the global economy will move eastward to Asia. Global economy and globalization will no longer be processes orchestrated by the Western industrial powers. The importance of the emerging powers will increase in global governance and in shaping the rules of globalization. Both China and Russia are members in the G20, UN Security Council and BRICS. In these roles, the two countries have real responsibilities in the shaping of global governance.

The G20 succeeded in smoothening the downfall of the global economy in 2008 and 2009. Common and coordinated action by the members of the G-20 prevented a steeper downfall of the global economy. My impression after the recent summit in Cannes is that the G-20 is at crossroads. Whether the G20 can maintain its current position will depend on its capacity to progress on other crucial questions of global development. Tackling climate change, reducing poverty, disarmament, regulating financial markets and especially preventing future financial crises are the key questions defining G20's future legitimacy and relevance.

Finland is a strong supporter of multilateral approaches to global governance - be it through the United Nations or through the WTO. We support Russia's WTO accession and welcome the recent progress. It is of utmost importance that all major powers are committed to multilateralism and are constructive members of multilateral institutions.

Benefits and responsibilities should go hand in hand. I hope that all major powers benefiting from globalization are committed to tackling their share of global challenges and responsibilities resulting from this phenomenon, for example in the areas of climate change or poverty reduction.

II The Nordic model - how to ensure comprehensive security

The ongoing economic crisis has seriously tested the adaptability of societies, and the feasibility of different models of governance. In recent years, both China and Russia have been able to grow fast and increase their prosperity. Also the Nordic countries weathered the storm of the economic crises rather successfully. But we should not let the figures of average growth and income to shadow the picture of the increased inequality in both emerging countries like China and Russia and the Nordic countries.

In the Nordic countries, our response to crises was conditioned by our fundamental values of openness and transparency of the democratic society, and by our engagement in international cooperation. It is, however, too early to judge our success in handling the economic crises. We must heel the internal damage - increased inequality - to make sure that the future path of our societies is secure. Inequality - either between or within societies - is the root cause of insecurity. A comprehensive approach to security requires that we really stick to our fundamental values like promoting equality and leveling the income gap.

I have been pleased to notice that many emerging countries, including China and Russia, have expressed a strong will and commitment to tackle the long-term challenges of their societies: health care, education, social security, innovations and clean technologies. They understand that a stable and secure society cannot be guaranteed without those functions. The Nordic countries are in many ways the best places to look at for solutions in those sectors. The interest towards our model, our achievements and practices is the foundation for developing our future relations with China and Russia.

III Increasing mutual understanding - how to increase student mobility

Relations between the EU and Russia or China cannot be based only on contacts between governments and corporate world. The same holds for the contacts between individual EU member states and Russia and China. Citizens and NGOs are equally important in strengthening the ties between nations.

The Nordic model - the Nordic welfare state is a single whole consisting of an open economy, rule of law, equality, respecting labor rights, redistribution of income, leveling of income gap and the inclusion of citizens and NGOs in decision-making. That is why the often-admired practices of Nordic countries cannot be fully understood and replicated by only focusing on what authorities and governments do. It is equally important to understand and replicate the role of the civil society in the Nordic model. Civil society is a decisive element in constituting a stable and secure society.

Lowering cultural and language barriers is a long-term investment in our quest to advance partnerships between the EU and China and Russia. We do our best to lower those barriers both towards China and Russia. We also welcome the efforts of Russia and China in lowering those barriers. The key concept in this work is reciprocity, and a shared understanding that lowering barriers is a two-way street that can bring benefits to both parties.

Research and education can improve our understanding of our partners. The more we have contacts and joint work between our students and researchers, the better. The EU, Russia and China and their academic communities are all part of the global process of building up knowledge and understanding. Increasing student and researcher mobility is therefore high on our agenda and we are ready to listen to the stakeholders in the academic world - students, researchers and universities - as well as our partners, Russia and China - to find ways and means to increase mobility. We should set a target to have at least as many Russian students in the EU as we have Chinese students.

We should not restrict our efforts to increase mobility in higher education and research. It is equally important to increase mobility among students of professional education. By doing so, we would also make available the successful practices of working life in the Nordic Countries.

In many emerging economies decisive questions of working life are decided without dialogue with workers' organizations. Increasing mobility among students of professional education could increase the awareness about the best practices in social dialogue between state, employers and workers' organizations. I am convinced that the Nordic countries have proven that tripartism works and is a necessary element of a competitive economy. By advancing mobility in professional education we would build stronger ties not only between educational organizations and students but also between institutions of working life in general.

Ladies and Gentleman, I want to congratulate Aleksanteri Institute for hosting and organizing this conference. Creating a platform for an exchange of views and bringing people together from around the world to discuss and argue is the unchanging task of universities. The value of this may be hard to measure, but global challenges we are facing cannot be solved without the intellectual contribution from the academic community.

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Updated 11/9/2011

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