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Finland/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.6 Other relevant issues

The EU programmes and projects, especially those financed and carried out under the frameworks of the Structural Funds and INTERREG, have substantiated the assumptions that culture is an important factor in development – in overall national development, for equal regional development and development of transnational co-operation -for examples, see chapter 3.4.4 and chapter 3.4.5.

Finland has special international relations to / through "diaspora Finns" and "kinship people". The diaspora Finns live mainly in three geopolitical areas: North America (the USA and Canada), the Russian Federation (Ingria) and Sweden. The "kinship relations" are maintained with people speaking Finno-Ugric languages.

Intercultural ties through the diaspora relations have now a lesser role than they had in the post-World War II era. The Finnish diaspora in the USA and Canada resulted from the mass emigration in the late 19th century and the early 20th century and the individuals and organisations of this diaspora provided important material aid to Finland after the wars. The second mass emigration, due to unemployment, took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s to Sweden. Although a considerable share of these emigrants returned to Finland, the present diaspora of the first and second generation immigrants is estimated to be about 450 000 persons. The third mass migration took place during and after the Finno-Soviet wars as most of the Ingrians, belonging to a historical Finnish minority population living close to St. Petersburg / Leningrad, were first moved directly, or via Germany, to Finland and then after the truce returned to the Soviet Union. The Ingrians were given a promise, by the Finnish President in 1990, to be treated as returning migrants to Finland, and after this promise materialised in legislation and practice, some 30 000 Ingrains have moved to Finland.

When the smaller Finnish Diasporas, and Finnish citizens working abroad, are added to second and third generation Finns living in the North-American and Swedish Diasporas, there are close to 1.6 million Diaspora Finns living outside Finland. Their role as international extensions of Finnish culture, and mediators of intercultural dialogue with their country of origin, displays a great diversity. The North American immigrant communities have had the same kinds of cultural links to their country of origin as any other small immigrant settlements in the U.S and Canada. As the flow of emigration has been steadily waning since the 1940s, cultural communication has also decreased in terms of volume, although it is still fairly active. Although the original Finnish minority in Sweden has decreased, they form, together with their descendents, one of main minority groups in Sweden. On the other hand, because of the close geographic location, cultural communication with the Sweden-based immigrants to Finland takes place to a great extent on the individual level of family and kinship relations and holidays.

The maintaining of links with diaspora Finns has been delegated to an umbrella NGO, the Finland Society, which maintains media and other links and organises meetings and events and allocates grants to diaspora associations and diaspora media. In order to enhance the participation of the diaspora Finns in the organisational activities, the Finland Society established, in 1997, a forum for all expatriate Finns. The forum is called the Finnish Expatriate Parliament (FEP), which enables the diaspora Finns and expatriate Finns to "…come together and decide collectively on issues that they deem important to them". The Parliament, which has sub-forums in eight continental regions, meets every two or three years. Its Secretariat is the Finland Society and its Speaker the chairman of the Finland Society.

Chapter published: 25-04-2017

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