Tenho Tiilikainen cites Michael Cramer in a Finnish newspaper

16.03.2012: The Finnish newspaper "Etelä-Saimaa" reports on March 16 on Michael Cramer and the Iron Curtail Trail.

Find the original article here.


IMATRA. When the German MEP Michael Cramer (Greens-EFA) talks about cycling and particularly about the Iron Curtain Trail, his hands are rolling just like cycle pedals – up and down and all round. It is easy to recognize that this man is all excited about these topics. The Iron Curtain Trail is a cycling route which unites Kirkenes in Norway and Carevo at the Black Sea. This 9000 km long route is called the Iron Curtain Trail, “Rautaesiripun reitti”, or, officially, the European Cycling Trail 13.

Michael Cramer, who has lived in Berlin since 1974 , was one of the founders of the cycle route along the former Berlin Wall after the break down of the wall. "This track has been immensely popular and I have also a strong believe in the Iron Curtain Trail. It has everything a great cycle trail needs: nature, history and sight-seeing. Cycling becomes more and more popular not only as sports but also as a touristic activity", Cramer tells. The New York Times has recently published an article about the Iron Curtain Trail. "I was contacted several times by citizens of the United States who wanted to cycle along this trail. Those people are interested in the border which divided the East from the West and in the Cold War. In contrast, those people don’t necessarily know exactly where Paris is located, even less about the precise location of Finland and Imatra."

In Finland, the route follows quite closely along the eastern border. "The attempt was to mark the trail as close to the border as possible, but this is not the main purpose. Most importantly is that there is a great possibility for sight-seeing. Finland and especially South Karelia are very attractive in this respect", applauds Cramer.


The exciting border

Michael Cramer is not the first German I have met which is interested in both the border which separates Finland from Russia and the entire border which separated for a long time the East from the West. For many years, Germany was a divided country and Berlin was a divided city. Older generations are used to a unified Germany. For younger generations, however, the situation was different 20 years ago. To take a glance into the life taking place in Eastern Germany was like taking a glance into the Soviet Union – into a totally different world.

I remember when a German boy choir visited Imatra in the 80ies. After performing in Imatra, the choir was supposed to perform in Ilomantsi and Joensuu in North Karelia. The conductor of the choir approached me with a map asking whether the main road really follows the Russian border so closely. His finger pointed at the Joukio border station in Parikkala. Another situation was in the 80ies when I met a volleyball team from the United States which obviously was very excited to stay so close to Russia. The team was staying at Rajahovi (Border manor) in Rajapatsas.

For those of us who actually live close to the border, the border is nothing special. Still, seeing a border pole in the middle of the wood in the nowhere may still be thrilling: “Abandon all hope of those who enter here”.