Letter: National differences in a cold climate

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article 'Europe must think big to prosper' (28 February) discussed some of the problems the European unification process has faced. Western Europe is still divided into two major blocks, the European Union and the European Free Trade Association, although Austria, Finland and Sweden have now been admitted to EU, provided that their citizens do not reject their leaders' EU aspirations.

It is true that it is undesirable for Western Europe to remain divided. However, historically, these countries have been misunderstood and mistreated by the major powers. We worry that we will be misunderstood also in the future.

Life in Finland is different. During our hard winters, animals (except Arctic reindeer) must be kept in houses that are insulated and heated. Almost all green vegetables are grown in heated greenhouses. To build, heat and maintain these buildings makes high food subsidies unavoidable.

Another source of concern is cultural identity. In 1905, Finland had its first women MPs. We are pragmatist Lutherans. We cohabit with our girlfriends until marriage takes place with the arrival of the first baby. In 1863, our first social security laws established free food distribution for the poor. In brief, it is not to our collective advan-

tage if we lose these individual qualities.

Yours sincerely,

VELI ALBERT KALLIO

Mikkeli, Finland

4 March

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