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Finlandization (Finnlandisierung in German) is a negatively charged term with origin in West-German political debate of the 1960s and 1970s. It was used mainly by proponents of closer adaptation to US interests, chiefly Franz Josef Strau▀, but was initially coined in scholarly debate and made known by the German political scientists Walther Hallstein and Richard L÷wenthal, reflecting feared effects of withdrawal of US troops from Germany. It came to be used in the debate of the NATO countries in response to Willy Brandt's attempts to normalize relations with East-Germany, and the following widespread scepticism in Germany against NATO's Dual-Track Decision. Later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the term has been used in Finland for the post-1968 radicalization in the latter half of the Kekkonen era.

Table of contents
1 International usage
2 Finnish perception
3 Criticism
4 See also

International usage

As the term was used in Germany and other NATO countries, it expressed the process of turning into a neutral country which, although maintaining sovereignty, in foreign politics exerts not to challenge a big and mighty neighbour - similar to that of Finland's policies vis-Ó-vis the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but for instance also similar to Denmark's relations vis-Ó-vis Germany 1871-1940.

Finnish perception

In Finland the use (by others) of the term "Finlandization" was perceived as a brickbat stemming from an inability to understand the practicalities of how a small nation might hope to make a deal with a culturally and ideologically alien superpower without losing its sovereignty. Finland cut such a deal with Stalin's government in the late 1940s, and it was by and large respected by both parties - and to the gain of both parties - until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. While the political and intellectual elite largely understood the term to be more a reference to foreign policy problems of other countries than itself, and meant mostly for domestic consumption in the speakers own country; many ordinary Finns considered the term highly offensive.

Historical background

Finland's foreign politics before this deal had been varied: independence from Imperial Russia with support of Imperial Germany in 1917; participation in the Russian Civil War alongside the Entente 1918-1920; a non-ratified alliance with Poland in 1922; association with the neutralist and democratic Scandinavian countries in the 1930s ended by the Winter War (1939); and finally in 1940 a rapprochement with Nazi Germany, the only power able to protect Finland against the expansionist Soviet Union, leading to the Continuation War in 1941.

The Wehrmacht's defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad led Finland to basically revert to its 19th century traditions, which had been perceived as highly successful until the Russification of Finland 1899-1905. Finland's leadership realized that opposing the Soviets head-on was no longer feasible. No international power was able to give the necessary support. Nazi Germany, Finland's chief supporter against Russia, was losing the war. Sweden was not big enough, and its leadership wasn't at all keen on confronting Russia. The western powers were allied with the Soviet Union. Thus Finland had to face her big neighbour on her own, without any greater power's protection. As in the 19th century, Finland chose not challenge the Soviet Union's foreign policy, but exerted to keep its independence.

The Paasikivi doctrine

After the Paris Peace Treaty (1947) Finland succeeded in retaining democracy and parliamentarism until the fall of the Soviet Union, despite Soviet attempts to stage a coup d'Útat and to influence Finland's internal affairs with other means. Finland's foreign relations were guided by the Paasikivi doctrine, emphasizing the necessity to maintain a good and trusting relationship with the Soviet Union. To this end, Finland signed an Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance with the Soviet Union in April 1948. Under this pact, Finland was obliged to resist armed attacks by "Germany or its allies" against Finland, or against the Soviet Union through Finland, and, if necessary, ask for Soviet military aid to do so. At the same time, the agreement recognized Finland's desire to remain outside great-power conflicts, allowing the country to adopt a policy of neutrality during the Cold War. Hence Finland did not participate in the Marshall Plan and took neutral positions on Soviet overseas initiatives. By keeping very cool relations to NATO, and to western military powers in general, Finland could fend off Soviet preludes for affiliation to the Warsaw Pact.

Self-censorship and excessive Soviet adaption

However, from the political scene following the post-1968 radicalization, the Soviet adaption spread to the editors of mass media, sparking strong forms of self-control, self-censorship and pro-Soviet attitudes. Most of the Úlite of media and politics shifted their attitudes to match the values that the Soviets were thought to favor and approve, developing into a self-imposed Finlandization that often is argued to have exceeded the Soviet expectations.

Civil servants, politicians and journalists accepted the practice that, if they cared about their careers, they did not talk about injustices such as the Soviet's assaults leading to the Winter War. But not only historical injustices were suppressed, also news about Soviet contemporary atrocities, as for instance the fate of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, were sanitized in the name of maintaining a working relationship between Finland and the Soviet Union.

Only after the ascendancy of Mikhail Gorbachev to Soviet leadership in 1985 did mass media in Finland gradually begin to move closer to Western standards of journalistic freedom without governmental pressure.


It was a persistent fear of US foreign policy experts that Western Europe would be Finlandized, leading to a situation in which the old NATO allies no longer automatically supported the United States - nor opposed the Soviet Union. Foreign policy scholars such as Eric Nordlinger have, however, argued that the fear of the possible "Finlandization" of Europe was always counterfactual. A vision of Finlandization in America's absence runs up squarely against the European states' long-standing communist antipathies and wariness of Moscow's peaceful wiles, valued national traditions and strong democratic institutions, as well as their size and economic wherewithal.

Authorities on the foreign relations of Finland often argue that proponents of the term "Finlandization" persistently failed to recognize that Finland had achieved its negotiating position after successfully fending off military attacks of the Soviet Union in the Winter War (1939) and the Continuation War (1941). While the soviets certainly didn't actively fear the Finns, those who were in charge of handling relations with Finland have since openly admitted that relations with Finland were handled with the same care that they would have handled relations with a super-power. Furthermore, if Finland had attempted to get a "Finlandization" deal in the 1930s or 1920s, too soon after the Russian Revolution, the Civil War in Finland and the Russian Civil War, it would likely have wound up like Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.

See also

External links and references