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New Crossings at Different Borders: Finland

Heikki Eskelinen, Pirjo Jukarainen

Abstract


Finland is surrounded by a 2,413-mile (3,892-kilometer) land border and 775 miles (1,250 kilometers) of territorial waters. A basic distinction can be made between: (1) the western and northern (Finnish-Swedish and Finnish-Norwegian) borders, and (2) its eastern (Finnish-Russian) border. The southern sea border with Estonia is currently an intermediate case, but it is developing rapidly to be an internal European Union (EU) border.

The Finnish-Swedish/Norwegian border has been peaceful throughout most of its history and currently displays characteristics common to many internal EU borders. Even though this border is neither a technical nor an institutional barrier to interaction, its existence is significant due to the infrastructural power of the states concerned. In the European High North, this setting is accentuated by the fact that the border regions are very thinly populated and thus human resources are limited.

The legacy of the Finnish-Russian border is quite different. Over the past centuries it was constructed as part of the East-West dividing line in Europe, with its most extreme form developing during the Soviet era. As a result of political changes in the 1990s, the role of the border has been redefined in several important respects. Although it is still strictly and effectively controlled, the whole cooperation regime has turned upside down in a decade, and "room for regionality" has been created in the political landscape. Cross-border cooperation initiatives at various spatial levels have been launched to promote interaction and reduce border-related disparities, especially after Finland joined the European Union in 1995.


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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229

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