President U.K. Kekkonen of Finland goes to Moscow tomorrow (Saturday) on an official visit to?
President U.K. Kekkonen of Finland goes to Moscow tomorrow (Saturday) on an official visit to the Soviet Union. It will be his first official visit to Moscow since 1960, although he and other Finnish leaders have made frequent private visits.
It is expected that while in Moscow the Finnish President will urge the Soviet government to insert a clause guaranteeing the neutrality of Finland into the Finnish-Russian Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance. In its present form the treaty records "Finlands desire to remain out of the conflicting interests of the great Powers" but does not specifically bind Russia to respect this Finnish desire. The treaty itself is not due for renewal until 1975.
This is considered a good time, however, for Finland to raise the matter since her policy of neutrality in international affairs security conference in Helsinki, to which the Soviet Union, the United States, Canada and all European countries would be invited, has been particularly welcomed by the Soviet leadership.
SYNOPSIS: Finland has for centuries been seeking a peaceful independent existence alongside its giant Russian neighbour.
For more than 100 years Finland was a grand-duchy of the Russian Empire. Independence was only won after the Russian Empire.
Independence was only won after the Russian Revolution of 1971. But relations with what was now a Bolshevic regime remained uneasy.
The 1939 agreement between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany assigned Finland to the Soviet sphere of influence.
Stalin demanded minor frontier concessions of the Finns. When Finland refused the Red Army attacked.
Field Marshal Gustav Mannerheim won the civil war which lead to Finnish independence. He again assumed command of the army.
The Finns were no match for the Russians in equipment or manpower. But a particularly bitter winter came to their aid. Russian tanks bogged down in the snow. Mobile Finnish troops inflicted severe losses on the Russians.
There was little to stop the Russians in the air. Soviet air attacks caused heavy damage to Helsinki and other Finnish towns. In March, 1940, the Finns sued for peace.
Finland surrender large parts of its frontier to the Russians. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, the Finns took the opportunity to reoccupy most of their lost territory. Britain supported Russia by declaring war on Finland. The Americans never did so.
At the Big Three conference at Teheran and later meetings President Roosevelt insisted on protecting Finnish independence. Finland sued for peace again in 1944.
The armistice agreement with the Soviet Union handed over one tenth of Finland.
Four hundred thousand people abandoned their homes and farms and fled westwards into Finland. They took with them everything they could move. The refugees were paid compensation and given new land.
The war crippled economy was further strained by a demand for 300 million dollars worth of Soviet reparations. Finnish ships, timber and industrial goods were handed over to the Soviet Union. The debt was finally repaid in 1952.
President U.K. Kekkonen was elected in February, 1956. Under his guidance Finland opted for democracy at home and neutrality abroad.
Finnish troops were assigned to United Nations duty in Cyprus. Finland's neutralist role was internationally recognised.
Free elections produced groupings of moderate socialists which kept Finland aloof from the Cold War. All eight political parties agreed on a policy of absolute neutrality.
Nikita Khrushchev was the first of a number of Soviet leaders to make friendly visits to Finland. The official visit to Moscow this weekend of President Kekkonen will be followed immediately afterwards by a visit to Washington.
Helsinki has become the place where East meets West. Soviet trucks and cars sell in competition with Western products. Finland remains a peaceful bridge between two worlds.