Courtesy Reuters

Soviet Pressure on Scandinavia

IN fundamentals, the foreign policies of the four northernmost European nations have not changed since they made their respective choices in 1949. Norway and Denmark (together with Iceland) are members of NATO and the Atlantic Community. Sweden, warily neutral and comparatively well-armed, and Finland, geographically exposed and until recently completely self-effacing, maintain an allegedly interdependent isolation. In the last year or so it has been apparent, however, that Soviet Russia is putting pressure on all four countries, in ways appropriate to each, with the aim of reviving the project of a neutral Scandinavian defense bloc, in which Finland would be included. The restatement of Finland's foreign policy by her Premier, Urho Kaleva Kekkonen, on January 23, 1952, therefore aroused immediate interest. The Finnish Premier's main thesis-- that Finland desired good relations with the Soviet Union and wished to stand apart from Great Power conflicts--was nothing new. But his plea that the Swedish policy of neutrality be adopted by Sweden's neighbors reopened the broader question of a regional defense bloc.

"A thorough and secure neutrality for the Scandinavian countries, such as Sweden has observed for nearly a century and a half, is thus in accord with Finland's interests, since it should remove even the theoretical risk of an attack on the Soviet Union through the territory of Finland," Mr. Kekkonen declared. "The goal of Finland's policy is to secure the country's peace in all circumstances, and peace in the northern countries is an essential prerequisite for the achievement of this aim." For several reasons this statement has been thought to have been inspired, or at least connived at, by Russia. It envisaged a more active rôle for Finland in foreign affairs than she has played since the war, and one which she could not support against Soviet wishes. Since Mr. Kekkonen insisted on issuing his comments for publication in his party's paper, just before undergoing an operation which necessitated the postponement of the scheduled speech, they seemed to have an unwonted sense of urgency.

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