Ambassador Heikki Talvitie has served as EU Special Representative for the Caucasus and an OSCE Special Envoy in Georgia. He has also been Chairman of Finland-Russia Society and Friends of History Society as well as one of the founders of Finnish History Days.
As a career diplomat, Heikki views history differently from researchers. “Understanding other cultures and backgrounds make it easier to also understand other people. Knowing history helps when you are trying to understand the foreign state’s policies and activities”, Heikki says. “Knowing the history of your neighbour is especially important for a diplomat”, says Heikki who has studied in depth the history of the countries he has served in. “While working in Moscow and Stockholm, I understood how profoundly current international events are linked to history”, Heikki notes.
In HWB’s board, Heikki has been active in developing the Ukrainian-Russian History Dialogue: “The Situation between Ukraine and Russia is extremely tense. Since it is also very sensitive, a diplomatic experience and knowledge are needed in discussions on countries mutual and parallel histories”, Heikki says. He thinks that one of the main strengths of HWB is its position between academic world and decision makers. Heikki stresses how important it is to bring these actors together.
Describing himself as a history enthusiast, who highly values the expertise of historians he says: “The role of historians in the society is vital. In order to use their knowledge in the most effective way, it should be combined with decision-makers’ know-how”.
Heikki is one of the founders of HWB and has been its board member since 2015