• Short Summary

    Next Sunday, February 15th, Urho Kekkonen will have completed twenty years continuous service as Resident of Inland -- a period that represents about one third of his country's independent history, and something approaching a record for an elected President of a democratic country.

  • Description

    Next Sunday, February 15th, Urho Kekkonen will have completed twenty years continuous service as Resident of Inland -- a period that represents about one third of his country's independent history, and something approaching a record for an elected President of a democratic country.

    President Kekkonen is 75. Born a forester's son in central Finland, he fought as a schoolboy of seventeen in Finland's war of independence against the Russians; became national high-jump champion; studied law at Helsinki University; and was elected to Parliament in his mid-thirties as an Agrarian Party member. By 1944 he had become Party leader and Minister of Justice. in 1950, he became Prime Minister, and headed five centre and centre-social democrat coalitions.

    He was first elected president by a bare majority of the 300-strong electoral college in 1956. Since then, he has been re-elected twice with substantial two-to-one majorities in 1962 and 1968; and his third term, which was due to end in 1974, was extended by special legislation for a further four years.

    Throughout his time in office, the President has walked a tight-rope foreign policy, keeping Finland on good terms with its powerful neighbour, the Soviet Union, and also with the Western nations. President Paasikivi, the Head of State in the years immediately after the second world war, recognised that the hard facts of geography required Finland to co-operate with the Russians. President Kekkonen has maintained the relationship without prejudicing finland's independence; and by skilful diplomacy cleared the way for his country to have associate membership of the European Free Trade Association, and later a special trading agreement with the European Common Market at the same time as it has a co-operation agreement with the East European trading organisation, Comecon. The decision to extend his third term of office by legislation so s to put an end to uncertainty, was connected with his talks with the Soviet Union about Finland's trading with the Common Market, and illustrates the extent of his personal involvement, and the importance of his personal standing, in the conduct of Finland's foreign policy.

    Finland's neutrality has made Helsinki a Favourite place for important meetings of East and West. President Kekkonen has been host to four sessions of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the Untied States and the Soviet Union in his capital. And last summer, he welcomed the leaders of thirty-five nations, including President Ford and Mr. Brezhnev, to Helsinki for the European Security Conference.

    In pursuit of friendly relations between his country and other nations, whatever, their political complexion, President Kekkonen has been a constant traveller. He pays regular visits to the Soviet Union. He was in Britain in 1961, and again in 1969; in France in 1962; went to the United States in 1961 and in 1970. He has also visited Canada, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland, Indian and Tunisia.

    President Kekkonen is a great country-lover. He likes to go fishing or walking from his country home outside Helsinki in summer, and skiing in winter. He goes out regularly skiing cross-country for up to two hours at a time, despite the cold; and doctors are reported to have credited him with the constitution of a man little more than half his age. He appears to be looking forward to a strenuous life for some years to come yet; for the has given his consent to be nominated for a fourth term in the next Presidential elections in 1978.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA9DCH2RJRE9RAXKUM1IKT6EHKJ
    Media URN:
    VLVA9DCH2RJRE9RAXKUM1IKT6EHKJ
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    11/02/1976
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:03:17:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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