Professor: Finland being branded "Finno-Ugric hickville"

A professor of world politics at the University of Helsinki has levelled criticism at recent events contributing to what he sees as Finland's tarnished reputation. He says that both domestic and foreign policy choices have recently upset many and compromised the country's credibility.

Professor of global politics Teivo Teivainen. Image: Yle

Helsinki University world politics professor Teivo Teivainen says that Finland's decision to cut contributions to the United Nations environmental UNEP programme by six million euros and to halve funding to other UN organisations has smeared Finland's reputation.

The loss of credibility is also directly related to Finland's attitude towards immigrants, he says.

"We are slipping away from being perceived as a tolerant, affluent Nordic family due to these recent incidents," Teivainen said on Yle's morning TV programme on Monday.

"It seems like we're branding Finland as some kind of Finno-Ugric hick town."

Further dents in the country's image include its scratch vote on the European Commisison's plan to relocate asylum-seekers across the EU and recent racist protests against refugees.

"We are fast approaching the same black hole with our attitude towards immigrants as Hungary," says Teivainen. "Finland's combined domestic and foreign policy is not looking good. Finland's reputation has been destroyed quite effectively."

The label of backwardness is more than a cosmetic flaw, he says, adding that how a country reacts to others in crisis is reflected in the support it will later receive if faced with a crisis of its own.

"When we ourselves face distress - whether financial, military or from a natural disaster - then we'll the consequences of our actions," Teivainen warned.