Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU, gave the history of Tampere as an example of reconciliation
Text: Heikki Laurinolli
Photos: Jonne Renvall
Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, visited the University of Tampere to collect the material symbols of her honorary doctorate and to talk about European peace.
Mogherini was conferred the title of an honorary doctor in absentia in August but was unable to visit Tampere until now. In the event where she received the doctor’s hat and sword, Mogherini gave a lecture titled “A superpower for peace: Europe’s choice in a challenging world.”
Mogherini, an Italian, has been a key player in international conflict management and diplomacy since being appointed High Representative of the EU in 2014. She also serves as Vice-President of the European Commission.
Tampere is an example of bringing about a reconciliation
Mogherini thanked the University of Tampere for conferring the honorary doctorate and said that the token might yet encourage her to return to research and studying. In the 1990s, she worked for some time on her doctoral thesis on political Islam even though the topic was not yet considered relevant to political science.
Mogherini is familiar with what happened in Finland and Tampere a hundred years ago. She said that the post-Civil War Tampere is a good example of how a city can be rebuilt in a spirit of reconciliation.
Mogherini talked about the European history and pointed out that people sometimes tend to forget common achievements unless investments in the EU continue. According to her, taking things for granted is the worst mistake people can make in history.
Wars have no winners
Mogherini repeated that there are no winners in wars, only losers, and that military victories provide only an illusion of glory.
According to Mogherini, the post-World War II era was a turning point for Europe as states realised that the strength of their neighbours was not a threat to their own country but meant stability for all.
Mogherini also referred to history when she said that a hundred years after the battles in Tampere, peace and mediation research at the University of Tampere is ranked among the top in the world.
She said that there are no large and small member states in the European Union but member states that are stronger together.
Mogherini claimed that without the European Union the world would collapse. “If the European Union didn’t exist, we should invent it,” she said.
Europe is no longer the battlefield of superpowers it was during the Cold War but a superpower in itself. However, Mogherini pointed out that power is irrelevant if it is not used. According to her, now is the time to use that power and take responsibility because the EU has a global role to play.
Ahtisaari’s peace mediation created a European practice
Mogherini commended Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari’s input in peace building and said that Ahtisaari has contributed to the European understanding of peace and security.
“A unique mix of hard power and soft power, peacekeeping and diplomacy, traditional security and economic leverage,” Mogherini described the ingredients of the EU’s peace project.
The model of working for peace that Ahtisaari developed has been used by the EU in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali and Colombia. The EU is also implementing an investment programme in the most fragile parts of Africa.
“Other world powers see investment in Africa only as a way to expand their influence and to exploit local resources. For us, investing in Africa, with Africa, is a way to strengthen African societies by giving opportunities for human growth starting from women and the youth,” she said.
According to Mogherini, the European Union is sometimes not considered a credible power because it is not a military actor. She strongly refuted that this should be true. Instead, the credibility of the EU lies in its constant search for mediation where violence and destruction prevail.
Mogherini spoke in favour of multilateralism without mentioning Donald Trump who tends to promote the United States as a global superpower.
According to Mogherini, bilateral agreements are important but they are not enough because no superpower is big enough to address the great challenges of our times alone. The world needs an effective multilateral system with strong United Nations at its core. According to Mogherini, the alternative is not the rule of nation states but complete chaos.