FINLAND - HISTORY

Finnish history has been written since the 12th century, when in 1155 it has come to the first expedition of Swedish into the area of what is Finland today. The Southern and Western regions were consequently added to the Swedish Kingdom.

The Eastern borders of the country have expanded during the expansion of Sweden as a military force during the 17th and 18th century, which has ended in the expansion of Finland as well. But there was no united Finnish nation during this time.

After Sweden lost against Russia in 1809 Finland has been added to the Russian empire as the autonomous territory Finnish archduchy. Swedish stayed the official language, but Finnish has subsequently been born. In 1812 the capital moved from Turku to Helsinki. The end of the 19th century Finnish has been adopted as the official language beside Swedish.

In 1906 the existing assembly has been replaced by a new four-chamber legal authority. At the same moment, Finnish women received the right to vote, as the first women in Europe.

December 6, 1917 the parliament passed the declaration of independence elaborated by the senate under the leadership of Pehr Evind Svinhufvud. Under the weight of the Russian events a rupture between the rights and the lefts took place that ended in civil war. It was a bloody battle between the whites and the reds, too bloody for Finnish relations. The civil war ended May 1919 with the victory of government (white) troops under the lead of General Carl Gustaf Mannerheim. The Republic of Finland has been declared one year later.

White Guard in Nummi

White Guard in Nummi - source

During WWII Finland fought two wars against the Soviet Union. The first one – the Winter War (Finnish: Talvisota) – which took place November 1939 to March 1940 ended with a peace from Moscow, on whose basis Finland had to renounce the South-Eastern areas on behalf of the Soviet Union. After the attack of Germany on the Soviet Union in 1941, Finland has become a German ally. The second one – the Continuation War (Finnish: Jatkosota) – which ended with a peace treaty in 1944. The Petsama region was added to the regions lost during the Winter War. The conditions of the peace treaty were ratified by the Paris Peace Treaty in 1947.

In the following years the position of the country on the international field improved drastically. In 1952 the Summer Olympics took place in Helsinki, in 1955 Finland entered the UN and the Nordic Council. Since the inauguration of Urho Kekkonen, Finnish President since 1956, the chapter of active and rigorous policy of the country’s neutrality was established. This has helped to widen the possibilities of activities in international relationships.

Winter War

Winter War - source

Finland and the city of Helsinki were the organizers of the European Conference on Safety and Cooperation. The signature of the Final Act on 1 August, 1975 between 33 representatives of European countries, USA and Canada laid down the principles of mutual cooperation between Europe and North America. During the 70s and 80s the left was at force, with communists and social democrats forming the government. 1982 Urho Kekkonen (leading the country for more that 25 years) resigned and was replaced by Mauno Koivisto. During the time he was in office the country became a full member of the EFTA (European Free Trade Association).

Spring 1987 it has come to a significant turnover in the existing political distribution of strength, the conservative National Coalition Party and Social Democrats form a majority government that stayed in force until 1991. In 1989 Finland finally joins the European Council. The fall of the Socialistic block, the collapse of the communist system meant a significant relief and freedom in foreign policy. In 1990 the government released a declaration, where it stated that the limitation of the Finish sovereignty resulting from the Paris Agreement (1947) concerning the army and equipment has become obsolete. The split-up of the Soviet Union has also hindered the pressure on Finland which have prolonged the Agreement on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance.

After the general election in 1991 social democrats joined the opposition and the government of the Conservatives and the Central Party (former Agrarian Party) – led by Esko Aho – were in force till spring 1995. Finland accepted Russia as a successor of the Soviet Union and an agreement on mutual good relations has been signed between the two sides January 2002. No articles concerning military questions have been included in this document.

May 1992 the agreement on the European economic space was signed between EFTA and the EC. This agreement guaranteed the EFTA countries larger access on the inner market of the EC. The participation of Finland in this agreement was initially considered as the final aim of the integration into European structures. In a consultative referendum the Finnish have decided in 1994 to join the European Union with the majority 57:43.

In 1994 the first direct presidential elections took place. Since former president Koivisto was not a candidate the chances of Martti Ahtisaari and Elisabeth Rehn were rather equal. A second round has brought a tight decision on the win of Ahtisaari, formerly the Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.