The mayor of the city of Savonlinna (a town in the south-east of Finland) offered to unite Finland with Russia during a meeting with the authorities of St. Petersburg.
According to the plan of the Finnish mayor, a single economic zone should be created, which would include the Northern capital, the Leningrad Region and the south-eastern part of Suomi.
Mayor Janne Laine believes that the creation of a special economic zone would facilitate the movement of people, capital and services. In practice, Leine proposes to start the implementation of the Business Growth and Innovation Corridor SPB-SEF project, within the framework of which a special economic zone could be created.
Officials and representatives of the political authorities of the cities of Southeast Finland and the province of South Savo held talks with the authorities of St. Petersburg on Friday. The negotiations were attended by representatives of five Finnish cities – Savonlinna, Imatra, Kouvola, Lappeenranta and Mikkeli.
According to the publication Yle , the project may receive funding from the EU. The EU will allocate about EUR 70–80 million under the ENI cross-border cooperation program.
Finland shares a 1,340km border with Russia and its existing relationship with the country is greatly different from that of Moscow’s neighbours who have been extremely apprehensive of Russia post the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Maintaining independence from a dominant neighbour for over a century has not been smooth, and Finland has had to make sacrifices to withstand the ‘Bear’. It fought two wars against the USSR between 1939 and 1944 and lost some territory as a result.
During the Cold War, a sarcastic term “Finlandisation” was coined by West German experts to describe how the northern European country adapted its policies to suit the USSR while remaining neutral and keeping good relations with the West.
Finland played a difficult game during that period, consenting to the USSR in many respects and not challenging it but maintaining its freedom and political system. Many experts say Finland is friendly with Russia but remains hard-headed and pragmatic.