Director Mika Aaltola acknowledges FIIA’s work during the pandemic. FIIA has released a record level of publications despite the exceptional circumstances. The Institute launches a new flagship event, FIIA Forum, and new audiovisual formats. New projects on climate, the EU’s strategic autonomy as well as Russia have started.

Greetings from the Director

Covid-19 has impacted our health and work. The global economy is affected. Like all institutions and organisations, FIIA is affected by and trying to deal with the current pandemic. Since March, the staff members have been recommended to work from home. We are all taking necessary precautions: practicing physical distancing, following the relevant official regulations and recommendations and trying to contribute to lessening the spread and the effects of the virus. I appreciate this is a very worrying time, and the policies implemented have aimed to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, which is our primary concern.

The experiences with the pandemic prompt me to share a few thoughts with you. The first one is the pride I feel for what an extraordinary organization FIIA is. Thanks to an all-out effort by our staff, we have been able to maintain a record level of publications, many of which have focussed on the Covid-19 situation and its implications in different processes and geographical regions. Although the times are worrying, and the adversity and challenges have been many, FIIA is clearly united by a common culture of discipline, flexibility, and co-operation.

There is no doubt that this crisis is going to bring about irreversible changes in the ways that we do our research and deliver our publications and events. It makes me proud to see how smoothly we have been able to roll out telework and other flexibility measures in all the activities, from daily one-to-one meetings to large scale webinars. Many of these new formats will remain after the corona situation has passed.

-Mika Aaltola, Director of FIIA

First ever FIIA Forum sheds light on the Geoeconomic World Order

FIIA  will launch its new flagship event FIIA Forum on the 30th of September 2020. The topic of FIIA’s main event of the year is geoeconomics: FIIA and the guest speakers will look at how the emerging tech and trade wars are taking us towards a Geoeconomic World Order.

FIIA Forum: Towards a Geoeconomic World Order: The Emerging Tech and Trade Wars
On the 30th of September 2020 from 16:00 to 18:00

Attendance is by invitation only. You can join the FIIA event mailing list here. This event will be livestreamed. You can follow the conversation regarding the FIIA Forum on social media #FIIAForum and on FIIA’s Twitter.

FIIA started a weekly podcast on US Elections 

US Elections Untangled  is a weekly podcast series that dives deep into the big questions surrounding the 2020 elections. Drawing on the expertise of FIIA researchers, the podcast looks at the elections mainly from the perspective of international relations. The series is hosted by FIIA Visiting Research Fellow Maria Annala, an expert in present-day American politics. Joining her in the studio will be a wide array of international relations experts from FIIA. You can also listen to the series on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts, and follow the conversation on social media #USElectionsUntangled

You can now listen to some of FIIA’s research papers

In the spring, FIIA launched a pilot project with audio versions of some of its Briefing Papers. They were recorded into short Soundbriefings.

“It is important that as many people as possible can take part in the discussion on foreign and defence policy. With this project, FIIA aims to reach audiences who have difficulties reading its publications, and also audiences who would rather take in new information by listening than reading,” says Senior Research Fellow Charly Salonius-Pasternak, who narrated FIIA’s first audio publications.

FIIA’s climate project receives funding from the Academy of Finland

Leading Researcher Antto Vihma has been granted funding from the Academy of Finland for a joint research project on transparency in international climate governance by the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) and FIIA. The project is co-led by Vihma and Harro van Asselt, a Professor of Climate Law and Policy at the UEF. FIIA’s share of the funding is €279,810, totalling at €559,810 for the four-year project as a whole.

FIIA’s climate researchers are also conducting a new externally funded project titled “Finland and Climate Security in an Interdependent World“. The project is part of the Finnish Government’s 2020 analysis, assessment and research activities (VN-TEAS) and will conclude in May 2021.

FIIA starts new projects on European Strategic Autonomy as well as Russia

The project on European Strategic Autonomy investigates the consequences of Europe’s push for strategic autonomy for the EU as an international actor and for its relationships with other powers in the international order. It concentrates on two questions: What are the implications of the EU’s promotion of strategic autonomy on its foreign and security policy, and how does the EU manage its relationship with other powers in the multipolar international order in the pursuit of its strategic autonomy? The project will run from 2020 to 2021. It is led by Leading Researcher Niklas Helwig from FIIA.

Together with the Aleksanteri Institute and the National Defence University, FIIA is jointly conducting a research project titled “Northern Europe in Russia’s Foreign and Security Policy“. The project is part of the Finnish Government’s 2020 analysis, assessment and research activities (VN-TEAS) and will conclude in April 2022. The main objective of the project is to produce a comprehensive research-based analysis on the aims, methods and operational logic of Russia’s foreign and security policy in Northern Europe.

Staff news

Samu-Ville Paukkunen has started as Deputy Director and Director of administration of the Institute. Paukkunen has previously worked at the Finnish Parliament, the Office of the President of the Republic of Finland, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and the Finnish Defence Forces.

Ambassador Okko-Pekka Salmimies  has started as a Visiting Senior Fellow.  In his research work he will focus on Finnish Foreign and Security policy, the European Union and geopolitics.

Mar-Leena Kolehmainen has started as Head of Communications (fixed term).

Sanna Erkamo has started as Research Fellow and will be working in the climate security project.

Recent publications

FIIA has published almost 40 publications already this year. All FIIA publications are available on the FIIA website. Recently FIIA’s researchers have, for instance, written on Belarus’ election, the European Green Deal, and Sweden’s crisis preparedness.

Implications of the Covid-19 pandemic have also remained on the agenda. FIIA researchers have recently analysed Germany’s ‘Corona presidency’, how the pandemic threatens US elections, and China’s responsibility for the pandemic.

Latest FIIA Reports

Great-power competition and the rising US-China rivalry: Towards a new normal?

The EU’s external action on counter-terrorism: Development, structures and actions

Climate Change and Populism: Comparing the populist parties’ climate policies in Denmark, Finland and Sweden

Sharpening EU sanctions policy: Challenges and responses in a geopolitical era

The latest issues of the Finnish Journal of Foreign Affairs (in Finnish)

Ulkopolitiikka 3/2020  

The autumn issue of Ulkopolitiikka, the Finnish Journal of Foreign Affairs (in Finnish), deals with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on national economies and politics. The increased state spending and mounting sovereign debt pose a challenge to established economic theories. In a profile interview, former prime minister of Finland Paavo Lipponen reflects on how Finland’s EU relationship has changed over time. Other main stories explore Chinas hybrid strategy, Joe Biden’s views on foreign policy, and lack of vision in Finland’s EU policy. The issue will be published on 10 September 2020. The journal is available in print and online at


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