Andres Tennus

Alexander Stubb: value-based realism gives space for foreign policy

In his speech held in the university assembly hall on 29 May, President of Finland Alexander Stubb underlined that we are standing on the threshold of a new era in which a value-based, realistic perception of the world, compromise and cooperation play the key role in shaping the future world order. 

In Stubb’s approach, value-based realism rests on two pillars: values and a realistic worldview. We believe strongly in basic values, such as human rights, freedom, the rule of law, protection of minorities, global collective goods and international institutions. 

However, a realistic worldview suggests that not everyone wants to become a liberal democracy like us or believe in liberal values, social market economy or freedom. This, however, means that it may be necessary to compromise one’s values from time to time or make concessions to be able to solve major global crises. Compromises are required to end wars and tackle climate change, and compromises are needed in the economy. All of this is only possible through dignified and respectful communication based on international diplomacy. 

According to Stubb, if we want to maintain remnants of the current order, ensure that the balance of power does not tilt too far away from the Global West and that the dynamics will not go from competition to conflict but remain cooperation, we need to make difficult compromises. We live in a completely new world order. Stubb said that we can get it wrong, as was the case in 1918, get it right and improve the world as they did in 1945, or we can be just lazy, like we were in 1989 when many of us believed that peace had come with the end of the Cold War confrontation, and freedom and democracy were here to stay. 

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