Courtesy Reuters

The Neutrality of Finland

WHEN reading articles on Finland in American and other Western publications, I have found that to many foreign observers Finland seems to be a puzzling phenomenon. To some, the existence of an independent neutral state, a Western democracy, next door to the Soviet Union, maintaining its freedom in friendship with, not in defiance of, its powerful neighbor, appears in itself to be a paradox. In any case, none of the conventional labels of international politics quite fits the position of Finland. As a result it is usually described as "exceptional." But an exception from what? The phrase implies that Finland somehow has evaded her predetermined place in the scheme of things, and in fact many an analysis of the Finnish situation has been devoted to seeking an answer to the question why the situation is not different. This approach is bound to lead astray. For the pattern from which Finland is thought to have deviated is constructed from the course of events in countries with which Finland never has had much in common. The mystery resolves itself, I believe, when developments in Finland are examined, not in the light of what has happened elsewhere in very different circumstances, but against the background of her own experiences and circumstances.

The foreign policy of a small nation can have but one purpose: the safeguarding of its independence and security. The means employed to this end must be adapted to circumstances over which it can have only marginal control. In 150 years of nationhood the Finnish people have used a variety of means to protect their self-determination and their identity. Yet throughout, one central idea has dominated Finnish thinking on foreign affairs. This is the idea of neutrality.

I know, of course, that strictly speaking neutrality as a legal concept has no meaning except in time of war. In today's language of international politics, however, it means different things to different nations; among all the states calling themselves neutral it would be hard to point

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