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The Paasikivi-Kekkonen line refers to the doctrine 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 Finland's postwar foreign policy of neutrality was Juho Kusti 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.
- 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, and
- War reparations to the Soviet Union decided to 300 million gold dollars (amounting to an estimated 570 million U.S. dollars in 1952, the year the payments ended).
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.
Contemporary Finns often criticized the Paasikivi-Kekkonen line as tending towards a "liturgy" of good relations. Both countries were militarily prepared. However, international trade was active, in the framework of bilateral trade. Furthermore, the policy was heavily tied to the person of President Kekkonen, who consequently exploited his position as a "guarantor of Soviet relations" against political opponents. Outright censorship was employed for films and works considered explicitly anti-Soviet (e.g. Manchurian Candidate), although political freedoms were not otherwise coercively limited.
Later criticism has included the following points:
- The Soviet Union did not consider Finland a neutral country, but "striving to be neutral". Although Kekkonen was largely successful in keeping the sovereign power over affairs in Finland, Finland's position on international affairs such as the invasion of Czechoslovakia was often ambiguous or Soviet-friendly. The 1977 airplane hijacking of a Soviet plane further exemplifies this; the undue influence of the Soviet ambassador, who would storm a government meeting to make demands, shows that the Finnish government had trouble fending off Soviet demands. The Soviet Union had an unusually large diplomatic mission, and Kekkonen communicated with the Soviet Union through the KGB station chief rather than by regular diplomatic channels. The Soviets intervened in Finnish politics in various ways, e.g. through the Communist Party of Finland.
- The Soviet military kept a separate unit in readiness to invade Helsinki from Tallinn in the case of war. The plans, which were fully up-to-date, were left behind in the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Estonia after Estonia become independent.
- The policy had little respect in the West. Western foreign policy actors and military personnel either did not know about the policy or assumed it was a failure from the outset. Regarding the former, for instance British military officers could ask how many Soviet troops were there in Finland. Regarding the latter, nuclear weapons were trained on targets in Finland, with the assumption that any possible Finnish resistance to a Soviet invasion would be a certain failure.
- There was covert cooperation between the Finnish government and Western intelligence agencies. CIA could fund the anti-Communist Social Democratic Party, a major, often government-leading party. There was also military intelligence cooperation, for instance allowing SIGINT flights to probe the Soviet radar network (according to Pekka Visuri) and providing seismic data to detect Soviet nuclear tests.
The Finns responded cautiously in 1990–91 to the decline of Soviet power and the USSR'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 concerns 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 about the formerly Finnish territory ceded after the Continuation War (though a small but vocal minority of the people disagrees), and continues to reaffirm the importance of good bilateral relations.
- Tiilikainen, Heikki. Kylmän sodan kujanjuoksu.