Finland–Israel relations

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Finland-Israel relations
Map indicating locations of Finland and Israel



Israel-Finland relations are diplomatic, commercial and cultural ties between Finland and Israel. Finland maintains an embassy in Tel Aviv and Israel maintains an embassy in Helsinki. Both countries are full members of the Union for the Mediterranean.


A demonstration in the square Narinkka in central Helsinki in support of the State of Israel.

The foundation for bilateral relations between Finland and Israel was laid before the establishment of the State of Israel. Finnish President Paasikivi announced de facto recognition of Israel on 11 June 1948, a month after Israel's declaration of independence. Finland officially recognized the State of Israel on March 18, 1949 and diplomatic relations were established on November 14, 1950. Finland opened its embassy in Tel Aviv in 1952 and Israel opened its embassy in Helsinki in 1956.[1]

The first Finnish diplomatic representative to Israel was Toivo Kala, who presented his letter of accreditation to Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett. Sharett told Kala that he admired Finland's readiness to defend its rights and its efforts to rebuild after the war.[1]

Today, Finland and Israel have strong cultural and scientific ties, and some 10,000 Finns visit Israel every year.[1]

Economic relations[edit]

In 2005, Finnish exports to Israel totaled 155.24 million euros and imports from Israel to Finland totaled 95.96 million euros. Israel imports Finnish machinery, telecommunications equipment, wood, paper products and chemical industry products. Israel's leading exports to Finland are telecommunications equipment and machinery, and Israeli fruits and vegetables.[2]

In 2004, a joint Finland-Israel Technology (FIT) cooperation program was created for research and development projects in the field of ICT. The Office of the Chief Scientist in Israel and Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Research and Innovation, allocated five million euros each for the funding of projects.[2]

The Finland Israel Trade association serves as an intermediary between Finnish and Israeli companies in order to create new business contacts. It helps to organize business missions to Israel and hosts business missions from Israel.[3]

Cultural ties[edit]

In 2006, an exhibition on the history of Finland's Jews from the 1830s to the 1970s opened at Beth Hatefutsoth in Tel Aviv.[4]

Military ties[edit]

IMI Galil is said to have been partially based on Finnish Rk 62 assault rifle,[5][6] and indeed the machinery used to manufacture the first Galils as well as receivers for the early samples were provided by Valmet.[citation needed] Tampella (through fully owned subsidiary Salgad) and Israeli Solel Boneh founded Soltam Systems in 1950 and started to license build Finnish designed artillery pieces and grenade launchers in Israel.[7] It was seen as a win-win for two small and relatively poor countries with nascent defence.[8] When two decades passed the two countries' profiles had grown apart.[8] Amid negative publicity and dwindling domestic sales for Tampella, the ties between Salgad and Soltam were severed 15. August 1974.[9]

The FDF's LV141 and LV241 -radios have been contract-built by Tadiran for Danish Terma A/S.[10] Spike anti-tank missiles were bought from German Rheinmetall, which subcontracted Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.[10] Rafael was also involved in FDF's LITENING AT -targeting pod purchase.[11] Mastsystem International, current Cobham Mast Systems have been granted an export license to export some telescopic masts from Finland to Israel.[10][12] The process to receive export licenses to Israel has been criticized as politically unpredictable, enough for customers to lose interest. For example, a Mastsystem International spokesperson noted in October 2010 that they were denied permit from the end of 2008 to summer 2009.[12] In the same newspaper article a researcher noted that in 2008 Finland had also denied some export permits to Sri Lanka, Brazil and Russia.[12]

In April 2012 the FDF ordered for the Army 24 million euros worth of Orbiter II UAVs from Aeronautics Defense Systems.[13] Their previous Swiss UAV RUAG Ranger's design was also done in Israel.[13] In January 2014, the FDF ordered $47 million worth of multi-spectral camouflage technology from Fibrotex Technologies.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c History of Diplomatic Relations
  2. ^ a b Finland’s trade relations with Israel get a new boost
  3. ^ Finland Israel Trade Association
  4. ^ The unique story of Finland's Jews
  5. ^ Elliott, John (8 September 2011). "The Not So Clear Origins of the Israeli Galil Assault Rifle". Retrieved 7 Jun 2015. 
  6. ^ Kokalis, Peter G. (1 July 1983). "Israel's Deadly Desert Fighter". Soldier of Fortune. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Pykälä, Jarmo (9 April 2009). "Suomalais-israelilaista aseteollisuutta jo 1950-luvulla". Kansan Uutiset. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Korhonen, Petri (26 July 2014). "Suomi "unohtaa" mielellään Israelin asetestit". Taloussanomat. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  9. ^ Lehtinen, Johannes (1 Nov 2013). "Muuttuva asekauppa: tapaustutkimus Suomesta ja Israelista" (PDF) (in Finnish). SaferGlobe Finland. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c "Kirjallinen kysymys 1055/2009 vp: Asevienti Israeliin". The Finnish Parliament. 31 Dec 2009. Retrieved 7 Jun 2015. 
  11. ^ "Finland Buys LITENING AT Pods". Defense Industry Daily. 17 June 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c Nousiainen, Anu (10 Oct 2010). "Aseveljemme Israel" (PDF). Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Retrieved 7 Jun 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Puolustusvoimille israelilaisia minitiedustelulennokkeja". 26 Apr 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  14. ^ "Finland orders camouflage from Israel". United Press International. 21 Jan 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 

External links[edit]