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Living Next Door to the Bear How did Finland survive the Cold War? Seppo Hentilä

Living Next Door to the Bear How did Finland survive the Cold War? Seppo Hentilä Professor of Political History University of Helsinki March 31, 2006 Hosei University, Tokyo. Map of Finland In the North of Europe, between Russia and Sweden Surfice Area: 330 000 Sqkm

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Living Next Door to the Bear How did Finland survive the Cold War? Seppo Hentilä

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  1. Living Next Door to the Bear How did Finland survive the Cold War? Seppo Hentilä Professor of Political History University of Helsinki March 31, 2006 Hosei University, Tokyo

  2. Map of Finland In the North of Europe, between Russia and Sweden Surfice Area: 330 000 Sqkm Common Border with Russia: 1200 km

  3. Historical starting point in 1944 In the Second World War Finland was fighting together with Germany against the USSR Separate peace with the USSR on September 19, 1944 Finland lost the war but was not occupied by the Soviet troops When the Cold War broke out in the second half of the 1940’s Finland found herself stranded in the no-man's-land between the two power blocs

  4. Marshall C. G. Mannerheim (1867-1951) Commander of the Finnish Army during the war and the first President of the Republic after the war 1944-1946

  5. J. K. Paasikivi (1870-1956) President of the Republic 1946-1956

  6. Urho Kekkonen (1900-1986) President of the Republic 1956-1981

  7. Finland's constitution gave unusually extensive powers to the President of the Republic, which Kekkonen in particular had no compunction in exploiting to the full But did he use them purely in the interests of his country or also to holster his own position? This question is currently the focus of intense debate in Finland Was Finland “Finlandized” during the Cold War, and what is the real meaning of this phrase?

  8. Finland remained a Western country, but it was a neighbour of the Soviet Union and politically within the Soviet influence, while also having a strong and active Communist Party (ca. 25 per cent of votes in the parliamentary election of 1945) Contemporaries experienced the situation as threatening, and in the West Finland's position was considered difficult in the extreme But Finland survived. She was the only country within the Soviet sphere of influence which did not become a communist satellite at the end of the 1940s

  9. Finland’s democracy and the Western judicial and social system all survived, the market economy became a flourishing success, and by the 1960’s Finland developed into a welfare state with a standard of living among the highest in the world How did this kind of “succes story” become possible?

  10. The years of danger 1944-1948 The terms of the interim peace agreed in Moscow on September 19, 1944 were hard on Finland The province of Karelia in the South-East was lost, ceded to the USSR, and the Karelian refugees, ten per cent of the Finnish population, had to be resettled further west; reparations were to he paid; and the highest members of the wartime political leadership were to be put on trial

  11. A Soviet naval base was set up just 20 kilometres from Helsinki, and, what was worse, to the west of the capital on the Porkkala peninsula, which was to he leased to the Soviet Union for 50 years The Allied (Soviet) Control Commission, a body established by the USSR and Great Britain, arrived in Helsinki to monitor implementation of the terms of the peace treaty But Finland escaped occupation, and the Finnish Government was allowed to manage the transition to peace itself Free elections were held as early as March 1945, at a time when the rest of Europe was still at war

  12. One of the main results of the Second World War was that it enabled Communism in Europe to push almost a thousand kilometres further west By 1949 eight countries in Central Europe and the Balkans had become one-party Communist dictatorships It was easy to predict a similar fate for Finland, given the frightening number of signs pointing in the direction of 'people's democracy' in the immediate post-war years in Finland as well

  13. Although the Wars had been hard, Finnish society had nevertheless emerged strong and united The government and the administration was in good working order, while in workplaces up and down the country the Social Democrats met the pressure from the Communists head on There was fear of Soviet intervention, but despite requests by the leaders of the SKP the Finnish Communists received no concrete support from their comrades in the Kremlin

  14. According to President Paasikivi it was Finland's responsibility to attempt to build such trust in her relations with the Soviet Union that the latter would feel no need to attack our country Concessions had to be made, but there was no compromise over the Nordic judicial and social system of Finland This was the absolute limit of concessions in Paasikivi's thinking. Finland would do best if she could as far as possible keep outside conflicts between the superpowers

  15. Finland left between the blocs In February 1948 Stalin proposed to Finland the same sort of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance treaty as the Soviet Union had just concluded with Hungary and Romania The Communists had just seized power in Prague Was Finland to go the way of Czechoslovakia? The Swedish press was already writing that Finland's absorption into the Communist bloc was complete in all but name

  16. Paasikivi informed Stalin that Finland would agree to negotiations if the text of the treaty could be discussed without preconditions Stalin consented to Finland's wishes with surprising ease, and the final content of the mutual assistance treaty was largely dictated by Paasikivi The Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance Between the Republic of Finland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was signed in Moscow on April 6, 1948 FCMA-treaty

  17. The Finnish-Soviet treaty differed decisively from those between the USSR and her satellites: Finland was entitled to remain outside disputes between the superpowers and was not forced into military pact with the USSR The military articles obligated Finland to defend her own territory “if Germany or some other country allied to Germany were to attempt to invade the Soviet Union through Finland” Under Article 2 Finland undertook to negotiate for Soviet assistance in the event of being unable to resist the invader unassisted; this so-called 'consultation article' was from the Finnish point of view the most dangerous part of the treaty

  18. The Finnish Communists had high hopes of the mutual assistance treaty, as in the event of a crisis it could offer the USSR the opportunity to occupy Finland The Communists' disappointment was all the more bitter at their defeat in the parliamentary elections of July 1948 and their consequent removal from the Finnish Government (remained in opposition until 1966) The Soviet Union protested, but its attitude towards Finland remained unchanged

  19. There is no doubt that the Soviet Union would have had the capacity to force Finland to join the other 'people's democracies' if she had so wished Finland belonged militarily to the Soviet sphere of influence, and the Western Powers would have had no practical means to prevent Finland's seizure, just as they had been unable to help Czechoslovakia For some reason, which will probably remain an eternal mystery, Stalin chose not to use force

  20. Stalin would certainly have weighed up the possible costs of using force The determined Finnish defence in the Winter War of 1939-40 and again in the massive Soviet offensive of summer 1944 were undoubtedly still fresh in Stalin’s memory

  21. From the ’thaw’ to the 'night frost' In the so-called spirit of Geneva after Stalin’s death the USSR ended its occupation of Austria and guaranteed Austrian neutrality Such formal recognition of neutrality by the superpowers was something Finland lacked, and was to continue to lack in the future In autumn 1955, the Soviet Union waived surprisingly her 50-year lease on the naval base in Porkkala peninsula in return for an extension of the mutual assistance treaty for a further 20 years

  22. Urho Kekkonen won the presidential election of 1956 with the smallest possible majority Kekkonen was an exceptionally gifted and ambitious, if controversiai, leader He rose to political prominence as the defender of the interests of the poor eastern and northern Finland, and it took a long time for the 'gentlemen of Helsinki' and the urban middle and working classes to accept him

  23. Following this short period of thaw, Finnish-Soviet relations drifted in autumn 1958 into a crisis known to Finns as the 'night frost‘ The reason for this was the Communist Party's continuance in opposition, despite its becoming the largest party in the Finnish Parliament at the previous elections When the conservative Party, the centrist Agrarian Party and the Social Democrats joined forces to form a majority government, the reaction from the Soviet Union was unexpectedly severe: it broke off trade negotiations and withdrew its ambassador from Helsinki

  24. The 'night frost' crisis was a practical demonstration of just how little room for manoeuvre Finland had in her foreign policy, and partly even in her internal affairs However, this did not prevent Finland in the early 1960’s from joining in the process of Western European economic integration, although the other alternative, namely membership in the Eastern economic bloc under the USSR, was always open to Finland, too Opening of the Western market was vitally important to Finland’s paper industry

  25. At that time Finland would have been unable to join any such organization dominated by members of NATO and including West Germany It was Finland's good fortune that the French president Charles de Gaulle prevented British membership of the EEC and the establishment of a broad free trade area This led in 1959 to the birth of EFTA, which the Scandinavian countries duly joined in Britain's wake In April 1961 Finland became an associate member of EFTA

  26. The Berlin crisis in 1961 had led to an extremely tense international situation, while Finland was facing the approach of both parliamentary and presidential elections Then, on October 30, 1961, the USSR sent the Finnish Government a note which, referring to the "imperialist threat" from West Germany, proposed defence consultations in accordance with the military article of the mutual assistance treaty President Kekkonen was at the time on a visit to the United States, and when the note arrived he was sitting in Hawaii with a garland round his neck

  27. The sense of drama was heightened by the fact that Kekkonen had to meet the Soviet leadership in Novosibirsk in Siberia The situation seemed to be calmed rather easily in Novosibirsk Khrushev promised to postpone consultations, but wanted Kekkonen to keep closer watch in future on developments in the Baltie area and northern Europe

  28. There has been debate in Finland whether the note was caused by genuine Soviet fears over the situation in Europe, or by a wish to interfere in Finland's internal affairs to ensure Kekkonen's re-election Kekkonen certainly benefited from the 'note crisis‘ - it marked the beginning of his period as the unchallenged leader in Finland, which some critical contemporaries called "Kekkoslovakia“ During the 1960’s and 1970’s a presidential system was constructed in Finland

  29. In the late 1960s Brezhnev refused to accept any direct statement on Finnish neutrality, preferring instead the tortuous formulation of "the Paasikivi-Kekkonen line, which is based on the treaty of cooperation and mutual assistance and includes Finland's intention to pursue a peaceful policy of neutrality" The friction in Finnish-Soviet relations was due to Finland's attempts at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s to reorganise her political and trading relations with the West, this time with the European Economic Community (EEC)

  30. Because of the military articles of the FCMA treaty Finland had difficulty in handling her relations with organisations in which West Germany was a member For this reason Finland was not until 1973 free to recognise either of the German states, whereas other Western nations had established diplomatic relations with West Gemany alone. After the German Federal and Democratie Republics had in 1972 signed a treaty containing de facto recognition of each other's legitimacy, Finland could recognise both

  31. President Kekkonen discussed the EEC- matter with the Soviet leaders in the summer of 1972 at the Zavidovo hunting lodge, not far from Moscow Brezhnev took a rather cold attitude towards a trade agreement between Finland and the EEC and warned Kekkonen of the danger of taking any steps which could damage the good relations between Finland and the Soviet Union Kekkonen indicated that he would personally guarantee the continuity of Finland's foreign policy line

  32. Welcome Comrade Kekkonen, Who would ever even think about that you could be Finlandized!

  33. The homespun aspect of Finlandization The military articles of the FCMA treaty meant that Finland was held more firmly within the Soviet sphere of influence than any other Western country For this reason Finland's case could be taken as an example of how a great power could interfere in the internal affairs of a smaller neighbour, rendering the latter's independence at once remote-controlled and incomplete In the 1960s, people in West Germany began to talk of Finnlandisierung - Finlandization

  34. Taken literally, this meant becoming like Finland It was seen as the fate awaiting other Western countries if they gave too much ground to Communism As a term, Finlandization became indelibly engraved on Finland's image abroad, and it also left its mark on historiography Was Finland actually Finlandized, and, if so, what did this mean in practice? It was generally thought in the West that the Soviet Union interfered in Finland's internal affairs and forced the Finns to do as it wanted

  35. This was certainly part of the picture, but there was much more than this, as many Finns actually participated in it of their own free will It is unlikely that many in the West really understood this purely Finnish aspect of Finlandization It meant self-censorship practised by a portion of Finland's politicians, journalists and intellectuals They closed their eyes to the problems of the Soviet Union; playing the 'Moscow card‘ - appealing to the real or imagined interests of the Soviet Union - became a powerful trump card in Finland's internal politics

  36. It is beyond question that some Finnish politicians pursued their own interests in unscrupulous fashion by bowing to Moscow more deeply than was really necessary In using the concept of Finlandization, it is thus essential to examine the “angle of bow” and to distinguish when it was a question of essential management of Soviet relations in the national interest, when again plain grovelling in pursuit of selfish political advantage

  37. Finland nevertheless survived Kekkonen sometimes used to say: ”When you bow to the East you bare your bottom to the West, and vice versa," and it was through such an approach that Finland managed to secure her vital economic interests in the West From the point of view of Finland's survival, the agreement on associate membership of EFTA in 1961 and the free trade agreement with the EEC in 1973 were perhaps more important than is generally realised Finland's relative economic growth from the 1960’s to the early 1990’s was more rapid than that of any other OECD country

  38. This development saw the poor, predominantly agricultural Finland grow during the 1960’s and 1970’s into a Nordic welfare state with one of the highest standards of living in the world During the decades when Urho Kekkonen was in power there was unquestionably a fair amount of grovelling in relations with the Soviet Union But at the same time Finland experienced in the cultural arena, and above all in terms of popular culture, a process of Americanization, a process even more marked in Finland than in the other Nordic countries

  39. In contrast, there was precious little cultural influence from Russia amongst the ordinary people of Finland; this was to some extent a problem, in that so few Finns took the trouble to even learn Russian language From whatever angle one chooses to view Finland's survival, from the situation in the 1940’s or from the result in the 1990’s, it can certainly be considered a minor miracle

  40. Finland managed to preserve the integrity of her most important political and social institutions Alone among those ten European countries which gained their independence in 1917-18, Finland has been able to continue uninterruptedly on her own chosen path Actually, Finnish democracy can nowadays be considered one of Europe's oldest, in the sense that it has continued without interruption since 1917 In 2006 Finland is celebrating the 100th anniversary of universal suffrage for men and women at the same time

  41. Finland after the Cold War The break-up of the Soviet bloc in the early 1990’s coincided with deepening integration in the West Without the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, Finland would not have been able to join the new, political phase in European integration When the members of the EC signed the Maastricht Treaty in 1991, establishing the European Union, not many people in Finland dreamed that they might participate in such political integration in the near future

  42. Not three months had elapsed from the break-up of the USSR in March 1992, when the Finnish government applied to the membership of the EC Austria and Sweden had also recently applied to join, and Norway renewed its earlier application soon afterwards The question of joining the EU was deeply controversial In October 1994, the matter was submitted to a consultative referendum Security policy and agriculture emerged as the central issues in the public debate

  43. The supporters of membership saw a unique opportunity to join the West, to which Finland had in fact belonged for centuries, the EU membership would confirm Finland’s Western identity Political integration was also seen as a source of security, particularly against the background of chaotic conditions in Russia Opponents of EU membership claimed that the EU would deprive Finland of its sovereignty, opening of borders would bring refugees, crime and foreign influence

  44. The farmers feared for their profession: given the harsh climatic conditions, Finnish agriculture could never compete in an open market, they maintained The supporters of EU membership won the referendum, but the margin was narrow at just under six percentage points (56.9 - 43.1) The nation was divided: support for the membership was strongest in southern Finland and among well-educated city-dwellers and young people By contrast, the less-educated, the older generation and the inhabitants of eastern and northern Finland were mainly opposed to membership

  45. Finland became a member of the EU on January 1, 1995; it was a transition from a country in the Eastern sphere of influence into an outpost of the West with incredible speed Do any of the previous turning-points of our country’s history provide a point of comparison? Can we liken EU membership to the arrival of Roman Catholic Christianity on the Finnish peninsula in the mid-twelfth century; or to the annexation of the Grand Duchy of Finland by the Russian Tsar in 1809; or to the Declaration of Independence in 1917; or to Finland’s survival of the wars of 1939-1944?

  46. Thank You for your attention!

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