LATER this year Finland will celebrate the centenary of its independence as a nation in its own right, declared when the Russian Revolution ended all ties between the Grand Duchy of Finland and Russia’s former empire.

The event will certainly be marked in Scotland which has a thriving Scottish-Finnish Society that has been going for more than 40 years.

It is worth recalling what that Declaration of Independence said, as the words have an inspirational ring and could act as a template for future Scottish aspirations. “The people of Finland have by this step taken their fate in their own hands; a step both justified and demanded by present conditions. The people of Finland feel deeply that they cannot fulfil their national and international duty without complete sovereignty.

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“The people of Finland dare to confidently await how other nations in the world recognise that with their full independence and freedom, the people of Finland can do their best in fulfilment of those purposes that will win them a place amongst civilised peoples.”

The National:

Though it is more than four times the size of Scotland in overall area, Finland is often suggested as a country which Scots should look to as an example of an economy which, though it has its ups and downs, proves that smaller countries can take an economic battering yet still survive and prosper. One of the many myths peddled by Better Together in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum was that Scotland, with its population of only 5.3 million, could not withstand a major economic blow.

Tell that to the 5.5m Finns who have not only dealt with two major economic disasters in the past 25 years, but have emerged as a sustainable economy based on a broad range of activities – “it’s not just about Nokia,” as one observer put it.

National columnist George Kerevan MP has made a special study of Finland and has a general point to make about countries with smaller populations.

He said: “Smaller countries are nimbler when it comes to resolving problems, largely because they can mobilise national solidarity.

“Let’s suppose you have to say to your people that you have to make cuts for say, two years, but thereafter you will be restoring and improving pensions and helping the poor.

“All the Nordic countries did just that in the 1990s and their peoples rallied round to make it happen.”

Finland was the most outstanding example, with the country seeing its trade with the USSR – its biggest trading partner – collapse with the fall of Communism.

Of all the small countries in Europe, and many were directly or indirectly affected by Russia’s transitional period, Finland took the biggest hit. Between 1990 and 1993, Finnish output declined by 13 per cent. Yet by 1997, output had fully recovered while the budget was headed to a consistent surplus.

Kerevan explained: “Though Finland took a big hit, within three or four years its growth rate was way above European average, and it made all the lost money back and upgraded living standards within a short space of time. The speed of reaction and the solidarity of the Finns was instrumental in that happening, whereas here in the UK we have had a decade of austerity with nothing achieved except that people have become poorer and are about to get even poorer because the UK Government never resolves the situation.”

The Finnish economy in the 1990s recovered within five years – “the lifetime of one UK Parliament,” Kerevan pointed out – but was back to growth before 1997.

He added: “Finland shows how a small country with a basically good economy can take even huge damage and recover, and they have done it again in recent years. They had the recession that everyone had after 2008, and took a while to recover but they are now looking at serious growth, maybe even one of the fastest growth rates in Europe either later this year or next.”

Scotland, meanwhile, struggles along with austerity dictated by Westminster.