The Western Powers and Finland during the Cold War: What was “Finlandization”? Cover Image
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The Western Powers and Finland during the Cold War: What was “Finlandization”?
The Western Powers and Finland during the Cold War: What was “Finlandization”?

Author(s): Vesa Vares
Subject(s): History
Published by: Institutul National pentru Studiul Totalitarismului
Keywords: Finnish-Soviet relations; Finlandization; President Kekkonen, Cold War; Communist influence on Finland.

Summary/Abstract: The article deals with the image of Finland among the Western Powers, especially the image of President Urho Kekkonen’s foreign policy and his Sovietand Western relations from the mid-1950s until mid-1970s. The United States and Britain, on which the focus in the article is laid, did not have very ambitious goals in Finland, since they knew that if the Soviets wanted to make Finland a Communist state, there was very little the West could do to prevent this; Finland, although not a Warsaw bloc country and although it had remained a multi-party and free-press democracy, was in the Soviet sphere of influence, and the Western Powers did not have any hope to compete with the Soviet Union. Mainly they hoped that the situation would not get worse and Finland would not gradually slip to the grip of Communism – the so-called “Finlandization”, gradual loss of independence. On the other hand, they relied on the fact that although there was a relatively strong Communist Party in Finland (about 20 % of the votes) and although Finland had a military pact with the Soviet Union since 1948, the Finnish society and the Finnish army were staunchly anti-Communist. In fact, the Communists were kept out of Government altogether between 1948 and 1966. The strategy was to give “silent” (in order not to provoke the Soviets) diplomatic and economic aid to Finland in order to stabilize Finnish domestic policy and diminish the influence of Communists and the Soviet Union. President Kekkonen (1956– 1982) caused the Western Powers worries because he was regarded too timid and subservient towards the Soviets; not because he would have been an unpatriotic man, let alone an agent, but because he seemed to have made a wrong conclusion of the outcome of the Cold War – that the Soviet Union would win it. The Americans and the British knew that they could not prevent Kekkonen from being constantly re-elected since he had the backing of two big parties (the Agrarians and the Communists), the support of the Soviet Union and only a disunited opposition against him. Moreover, he was considered to be a far more skillful politician than his rivals. Therefore the policy was to try to influence him and convince him of the Western power, and in the late 1960s his image had greatly improved in the West: now he seemed to guarantee the stability in Finland and be the only man who had the authority to oppose Moscow – but what would happen when he would retire?

  • Issue Year: 2011
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 147-163
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: English