Foreign policy and defense
Finland is a nation in Northern Europe. Its capital city is Helsinki. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought a new orientation in Finnish foreign policy. Since 1995, Finland has been a member of the EU and the country also participates in international cooperation through the UN. Finland’s freedom of alliance remains, despite an occasional lively debate about a possible entry into the NATO military alliance.
After Finland’s defeat to the Soviet Union in the Second World War, a foreign policy was formulated which insisted that the country must live in neighborly territory with the Soviet Union. A peace agreement was signed between the countries in 1947. In addition to defining Finland’s borders, the agreement also contained clear instructions on how large a defense force Finland could have (see Modern history). By fulfilling the peace treaty and judging prominent politicians, including former President Risto Ryti, who were responsible for the war, Finland managed to safeguard its independence.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Finland for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
An agreement on friendship, cooperation and assistance – the so-called VSB pact – was signed with the Soviet Union in 1948. It guaranteed Finland’s neutrality, giving it considerably greater political freedom than many other countries in Eastern and Central Europe where Soviet sound regimes were installed.
However, only after Stalin’s death in 1953 was Finland allowed to pursue a more independent foreign policy and to approach other countries. In 1955, Finland joined the Nordic Council and the UN. Finland has been active within the UN and in other international contexts, including disarmament issues. The ESC (now OSCE) European Security Conference was held in Helsinki in 1975.
Member of the EU and the EMU
When the Soviet Union collapsed, both the VSB pact and the peace treaty were canceled. Instead, on the initiative of Finland, a neighborhood agreement was drawn up with the new Russia. In 1995, Finland joined the EU, as well as Sweden and Austria. Finland’s participation in the EU’s monetary union EMU and the introduction of the euro as currency has also been seen as a way to strengthen the country’s security policy position.
Despite EU membership, Finland has continued to care about good relations with Russia. The border between countries is over 100 miles long. Concerns about instability in Russia have been one of the driving forces behind Finnish efforts for democratic development in neighboring countries.
At the same time, relations between Finland and the US are good, especially in the trade area. Finland did not participate in the US-led war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks against the United States in 2001, but the country later contributed soldiers to the peacekeeping NATO led Isaf forces. Finland opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, as it did not receive the UN mandate.
After the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, it was established that Finland’s security policy is based on “freedom of alliance and independent defense”. Nowadays it is stated that Finland is alliance free but “engages in cooperation with NATO and maintains the possibility of applying for NATO membership”.
Cooperation with NATO has taken place within the framework of the Partnership for Peace (PFF) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). Since 1997, Finland has a separate representation at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.
In recent decades, the question of whether Finland should maintain its military alliance freedom has been central. No referendum on a possible NATO membership wants none of the major parties, as a clear majority of the population opposes this. However, at a NATO meeting in Newport in the United Kingdom in September 2014, Finland, together with Sweden, signed an agreement that opens up NATO support in the two countries in a crisis situation. The agreement also means that NATO, Sweden and Finland can carry out joint military exercises.
Finland’s defense is based on general military duty for between six and twelve months. Gun-free service is possible, but only during peacetime.
Finland has participated in both UN and NATO-led peace operations in former Yugoslavia. In 1999, then-President Martti Ahtisaari was named EU peace negotiator in that region. After Ahtisaari left the presidential post in 2000, he undertook new mediation missions. In 2008 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role as mediator in international conflicts.
With Sweden, there has long been a defense cooperation. As a result of rising tensions between the EU and Russia in the wake of the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine in 2014, Finland and Sweden initiated talks on closer defense cooperation (see Calendar). The countries exchange officers and officials and collaborate on defense equipment. Like Sweden, Finland has also participated in international efforts in Afghanistan, Chad and Ethiopia / Eritrea, among others.
FACTS – DEFENSE
Army: 15 300 men (2017)
The air Force: 2,700 men (2017)
The fleet: 3,500 men (2017)
Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.4 percent (2017)
Military spending’s share of the state budget: 2.6 percent (2017)
Six parties form government
The leader of the Socialist Party Jyrki Katainen becomes prime minister in a government with the Socialist Party, the Social Democrats, the Left Federation, the Greens, the Swedish People’s Party and the Christian Democrats.
Tough government negotiations
The leader of the Socialist Party Jyrki Katainen tries to form a government between the Socialist Party, the Social Democrats and the True Finns, but the True Finns say no to government cooperation when, in the middle of the month, the Socialist Party and the Social Democrats support the EU agreement on a support package for Portugal. In the election movement, the true Finns have demanded a stop for Finnish contributions to the crisis-hit countries in the euro zone.
The gathering party becomes the largest party
For the first time in the parliamentary elections, the Assembly Party becomes the largest party with 44 seats. The Social Democrats will be the second largest with 42 seats. The election will be a great success for the true Finns, who will become the third largest party with 39 seats, an increase of 34 seats compared to the 2007 election. The center will be the major loser of the election and will fall from 51 seats in the 2007 election to 35 seats.
The Swedish language becomes a matter of choice
Compulsory Swedish teaching in school – called by the opponents compulsory Swedish – becomes a matter of choice. The opposition is led by the True Finns, while the Swedish People’s Party is at the forefront of the supporters. Otherwise, the electoral movement is dominated by the financial crisis and emergency loans to crisis-stricken euro countries. Elderly care, school and nuclear power are also discussed.