Paasikivi

Paasikivi

[pah-si-ki-vi]
Paasikivi, Juho Kusti, 1870-1956, president of Finland (1946-56). He entered the Finnish parliament in 1907 and was minister of finance in 1908-9. After Finland proclaimed full independence from the Soviet Union, Paasikivi was briefly premier (1918), and in 1920 he negotiated the peace treaty with the USSR at Dorpat. In subsequent years he devoted himself mainly to his banking firm. He took part in the unsuccessful negotiations that preceded the Finnish-Russian War of 1939-40 and headed the Finnish peace delegation to the USSR in 1940. He apparently won favor with the Soviet government and with Stalin, and he opposed the Finnish declaration of war on the Soviet Union in 1941. Paasikivi headed the Finnish delegation at the armistice negotiations in 1944. In 1945 he was elected president of Finland after Mannerheim's resignation and took office in 1946. In foreign policy he avoided friction with the USSR. Reelected in 1950 by an anti-Communist coalition, he resigned in 1956 because of poor health and was succeeded as president by Urho Kekkonen.

(born Nov. 27, 1870, Tampere, Fin.—died Dec. 14, 1956, Helsinki) Finnish statesman. He served in the Finnish parliament (1907–13), as minister of finance (1908–09), and as independent Finland's first prime minister in 1918. After World War I, he was prominent as a banker and businessman. As minister to Sweden (1936–39), he negotiated a treaty to end the Russo-Finnish War (1940). After World War II, he served as Finland's prime minister (1944–46) and later president (1946–56). While accepting the necessity of friendly relations with the Soviet Union, he was uncompromising in his defense of Finnish independence and resisted the growth of communist influence in Finland.

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(born Nov. 27, 1870, Tampere, Fin.—died Dec. 14, 1956, Helsinki) Finnish statesman. He served in the Finnish parliament (1907–13), as minister of finance (1908–09), and as independent Finland's first prime minister in 1918. After World War I, he was prominent as a banker and businessman. As minister to Sweden (1936–39), he negotiated a treaty to end the Russo-Finnish War (1940). After World War II, he served as Finland's prime minister (1944–46) and later president (1946–56). While accepting the necessity of friendly relations with the Soviet Union, he was uncompromising in his defense of Finnish independence and resisted the growth of communist influence in Finland.

Learn more about Paasikivi, Juho Kusti with a free trial on Britannica.com.

The Paasikivi-Kekkonen line is president Urho Kekkonen's (1956-1981) realization and development of his predecessor Paasikivi's doctrine, aimed at Finland's survival as an independent sovereign democratic and capitalist country in the immediate proximity of the Soviet Union.

The principal architect of the post-1944 foreign policy of neutrality was J.K. Paasikivi, who was president from 1946 to 1956. Urho Kekkonen, president from 1956 until 1981, further developed this policy, stressing that Finland should be an active rather than a passive neutral.

Background

Finland and the Soviet Union signed the Paris Peace Treaty in February 1947, which in addition to the concessions of the Moscow Peace Treaty provided for:

  • limiting the size of Finland's defense forces,
  • cession to the Soviet Union of the Petsamo area on the Arctic coast,
  • lease of the Porkkala peninsula off Helsinki to the Soviets for use as a naval base (prematurely terminated in 1956),
  • free transit access to this area across Finnish territory,
  • war reparations to the Soviet Union decided to 300 million gold dollars (amounting to an estimated 570 million US dollars in 1952, the year the payments ended).

Realization

In April 1948, Finland signed an Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance with the Soviet Union. Under this mutual assistance pact, Finland was obligated, with the aid of the Soviet Union, if necessary, to resist armed attacks by "Germany or its allies" (i.e. NATO) against Finland or against the Soviet Union through Finland. At the same time, the agreement recognized Finland's desire to remain outside great-power conflicts. This agreement was renewed for 20 years in 1955, in 1970, and again in 1983.

Liquidation

The Finns responded cautiously in 1990-1991 to the decline of Soviet power and the U.S.S.R.'s subsequent dissolution. They unilaterally abrogated restrictions imposed by the 1947 and 1948 treaties with the exception of a ban on acquiring nuclear weapons, joined in voicing Nordic concern over the coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and gave increasing unofficial encouragement to Baltic independence.

At the same time, by replacing the Soviet-Finnish mutual assistance pact with treaties on general cooperation and trade, Finns put themselves on an equal footing while retaining a friendly bilateral relationship. Finland now is boosting cross-border commercial ties and touting its potential as a commercial gateway to Russia. It has reassured Russia that it will not raise claims for formerly Finnish territory ceded after the Continuation War (though a small but noisy minority of the people disagrees), and continues to reaffirm the importance of good bilateral relations.

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