Director Mika Aaltola: How FIIA functions in the time of Covid-19

Because of the in-house expertise in pandemics, FIIAns have been tracking the coronavirus disease since mid-January. In March we started to offer standing guidance and updates to our staff. We needed to make prudent choices to protect the health of our staff and the broader communities that FIIAns belong to. This was done without creating unnecessary disruptions to the normal pursuit of our fundamental research, policy support and societal participation missions. With the disease now established in Finland, we have intensified our institutional response. FIIA events have been cancelled or are arranged through virtual platforms. All travel and visits to FIIA have been cancelled.

The work goes on. The first longer research publication on Covid-19’s political implications came out in mid-March. Since then we have been publishing numerous research comments on this crucial topic. FIIAns have been present in the national and international media. The sense of commitment is strong, and the results so far in these uncertain and worrying times, encouraging. As FIIA director, I have every confidence in our community’s ability to pull together with compassion and care for the common good. In the meantime, let’s wash hands, practice physical distancing, and stay well.

Kai Sauer elected to chair the FIIA Board

In its meeting on 22 January, the FIIA Board elected Under-Secretary of State Kai Sauer (Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland) as the Chair and Professor Anu Kantola (University of Helsinki) as the Vice-Chair. For further information, click here.

The latest FIIA analysis on Covid-19

Covid-19 has posed a huge challenge to governments throughout the world, and will put into question the whole modus operandi of the present world order. FIIA Director Mika Aaltola has analysed what the changes in the global order due to Covid-19 might look like. Read more: Covid-19 – a trigger for global transformation?

Covid-19 also highlights the relevance of sharing information at a time of crisis. The revision of International Health Regulations in 2005 aimed to prevent the international spread of diseases, but the response to the novel virus shows that gaps in global health security remain, writes Junior Research Fellow Tyyne Karjalainen. Read more: Tackling Covid-19 calls for trust: Building confidence is part of containing a pandemic.

The hotspots in the fight against Covid-19 have been Italy, China and Iran. In all three countries, the pandemic will impact domestic and foreign policies and the economy. Meanwhile in Russia, the confirmed Covid-19 infections have been suspiciously few. However, the number of cases has risen rapidly, and the new situation has an effect on the Kremlin’s position in the eyes of the people.

Read more:

In Finland, the traditional model of preparedness planning is challenged by Covid-19. The virus hampers the functioning of many regional and global networks, which are at the core of Finland’s preparedness planning strategy, writes Leading Researcher Harri Mikkola. Read more (in Finnish only): Covid-19 testaa Suomen huoltovarmuuden: Häiriöt kansainvälisissä tuotanto- ja toimitusketjuissa haastavat kansallisen kriisinkestävyyden

In the face of Covid-19, Finland activated its Emergency Powers Act for the first time ever. Finland’s plan for how to protect its citizens and vital functions of society has so far withstood its initial confrontation with reality, writes Senior Research Fellow Charly Salonius-Pasternak. Read more: Finland’s response to the Covid-19 epidemic: Long-term preparation and specific plans.

Are you working in media and looking for someone to comment on Covid-19-related issues? FIIA experts can offer you insight. Please see a list of experts here.

Despite the pandemic, FIIA has published extensively on other topics, too:

The latest issue of the Finnish Journal of Foreign Affairs (in Finnish) deals with scenarios for the future, detailing three possible transformative events in world politics for the coming decade. Other main stories explore, for instance, the nationalist Finns Party’s foreign policy ideas, protests in the Middle East and around the world, and African integration. You can subscribe to the journal here.

Coming up:

  • FIIA Forum on Geoeconomics: FIIA will introduce its new main event later this year. The topic will be geoeconomics: FIIA and guest speakers will look at how the emerging tech and trade wars are taking us towards a Geoeconomic World Order.

  • New FIIA research projects are running on the Politics of Climate Change, European Strategic Autonomy , as well as Integration and Differentiation. Stand ready for publications, event invitations etc.

Staff News

Henri Vanhanen and Jyri Lavikainen have joined FIIA’s project on Finnish Foreign and Security Policy as a Junior Research Fellows. Vanhanen specializes in Finnish foreign, security and defence policy, as well as European and US security issues. Lavikainen, in turn, focuses on Russia’s foreign and security policy.

Tyyne Karjalainen has joined the European Union research programme as Junior Research Fellow. Her tasks are related to the coordination and research of the EU Idea project (H2020).

Maria Annala will join FIIA’s Center on US Politics and Power as a Research Fellow in the beginning of May for the rest of the year. She will focus on US politics.


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