My Fulbright Scholarship Experience (p.4)

During our week in Brussels and Luxembourg, we visited the European Parliament, Court of Justice, NATO’s European Headquarters, the College of Europe (in Brugge) and various other places. I submitted a report at the conclusion of this seminar, but for the life of me can no longer locate it so have only a weak memory to rely on.

I remember distinctly that the Court of Justice was my favorite field trip. The presenter was highly entertaining and was very informative and candid regarding the challenges that faced the Court. For example, at that time (spring 2004), the EU was on the brink of its largest expansion to date (the addition of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, & Slovenia). The addition of these countries brought the number of “official” EU languages from 16 to 24 and thus the Court was harried because it needed to hire qualified translators to transcribe Court documents into some rather isolated languages like Estonian and Maltese. In fact, the Court had not been able to locate any qualified Maltese translators and accession was mere weeks away!

Beyond the beautiful antiquities the Brussels offers the eyes, the beer is perhaps the best in the entire world. I had never even heard of Brussel’s famous lambics and at first thought they tasted like vinegar. However, after three days I couldn’t get enough. We met up with very nice local professor who spent an evening taking us around the city to various niche lambic bars. You can read about lambics here. It’s no use for me to attempt to explain it in words. Grab a bottle next time you’re at the specialty brew store (have $12.00 ready though – it’s not cheap!)

Finland, NATO & ESDP
ended in April and my research project was as complete as I could’ve been. School To be honest, and this is interesting given the “transparency” and “honesty” that marks Finnish society & government, Finland’s whole claim to military non-alignment is a farce. While Finland is not an official member of NATO, it works closely with NATO via the PFP program, its military participates in overseas operations and it is committed to the development of a common European Security & Defence Policy.

                                                                                                                                                                         On this note, according to NATO’s Finland-PFP webpage, “Finnish cooperation with NATO is based on its longstanding policy of military non-alignment”. However, only mere sentences later, it also states “Finland’s main objective in participating in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme is to develop and enhance interoperability between NATO and Partner forces.” Soooo, Finland does not want to ally itself with another country, but it still wants to make sure that its military could be allied and thus function with the systems of NATO and other member states (just in case Russia invades).

Other reasons that Finland doesn’t want to “officially” join NATO:

  • Finns are generally a very peaceful and private people. The thought of fighting in other countries or having their soldiers die for foreigners (e.g. the US) is highly disturbing to them. Rightly so.
  • Finns are pretty anti-American and there is misguided notion that the US runs NATO and makes all the decisions (not true, 1 member = 1 vote)
  • Finnish government officials play on the tradition, strength and sisu of the Finnish people. Thus, being militarily non-aligned is popular and few politicians wish to risk losing favor with their constituents despite the fact that it would make sense to join NATO (In international comparisons the defence expenditure is around the 3rd highest in EU)

In sum, it didn’t take me long to figure this out, but it was fun to learn, read and talk with people about it primarily because it allowed me to learn about the individual, their position and their emotions tied to that position.

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