In his New Year's speech President Mauno Koivisto said that the European Economic Area (EEA) is a desirable alternative for Finland, because it opens up the possibility of participating in the growing European market place, while leaving at the same time room for independent decision making. Koivisto hoped that the EEA treaty could be built on a clear public consensus. According to Koivisto Finland has a good start in establishing relations with Russia and other member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). He hoped that the reforms in the East would soon lead to rising production, viable forms of trade and a revival in economic cooperation. President Koivisto issued an amendment to implement the resolution made by the United Nations (UN) Security Council which bans the transfer of weapons and war material to Yugoslavia.
The Government of Finland condemned the Yugoslav Federal army after it had killed five observers on a peacekeeping mission from the European Community (EC). The Government also expressed its full support for the attempts of the EC to solve the crisis and for UN peacekeeping.
The Government published its report "Finland and Membership in the European Community”. According to the report membership in the EC would not change the fundamental goals of Finnish foreign and security policy. The report stated that Finland will remain neutral and has full responsibility for its defence.
In a televised interview Frazer Cameron, security adviser to the Commission of the EC, said he did not believe that Finland could remain neutral as a member of the EC. He reminded that the applicants must accept the rules of the EC, to which the Maastricht treaty added a commitment to a common foreign and security policy.
Deputy Foreign Minister of Great Britain Tristan Garel-Jones visited Finland. He urged Finland to hurry its application to the EC in order to be in the so-called first wave of enlargement with Sweden and Austria.
In an interview on Swedish radio Minister of Defence Elisabeth Rehn said that she thought it would be important to establish strong cooperation between Sweden and Finland in the area of defence policy if both states become members of the EC.
Foreign Minister Paavo Väyrynen visited Germany and met Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who promised that Germany would support Finland in case it applied for membership in the EC.
Finland recognized the independence of the Republics of Croatia and Slovenia. The decision was in concert with the decision of the EC to recognize Croatia and Slovenia.
A treaty on the Foundations of Relations was signed between Russia and Finland. The new treaty replaced the Finnish- Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (FCMA), signed in 1948.
Finland participated in a ministerial conference held in Washington, DC, which aimed to coordinate the humanitarian and technical aid given to former Soviet republics. In his speech Foreign Minister Väyrynen, the head of the Finnish delegation, emphasized the role of Finland as a potential gateway for the transportation of relief aid to Moscow and St. Petersburg. He also suggested that the areas near Finland could be used as a testing ground for helping the CIS countries.
In a seminar held in Helsinki concerning the UN Conference on Environment and Development, Minister of the Environment Sirpa Pietikäinen emphasized that industrialized countries should be ready to freeze their carbon dioxide emissions to the 1990 level by the year 2000. Foreign Minister Väyrynen suggested that the international community could buy rainforests from developing countries and establish international nature conservation areas.
The Defence Committee of Parliament visited London and met representatives of the Western European Union (WEU). During the discussions it became evident that if Finland ‘becomes a member of the EC it must also join the WEU either as a member or as an observer, as the EC proceeds on its way toward European Union. A similar view was expressed two days later by the Secretary General of the WEU, Willem van Eekelen, in an interview with the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. He argued that the WEU is part of the EU and in order to join the EU, a new member must accept the Union as a whole, including the WEU.
Foreign Minister Väyrynen participated in a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. At the meeting, which was held in Prague, 10 member states of the CIS were accepted as members of the CSCE. The foreign ministers also accepted several resolutions of principle which would, if implemented, lead to a more cohesive CSCE. They hoped that the CSCE would start planning for the establishment of its own peacekeeping forces and decided to establish a new economic forum and a center for democracy and human rights in Warsaw.
A delegation made a request to President Koivisto that he would consider the question of restoring to Finland the territories which were annexed by the Soviet Union as a result of the Winter War and the Continuation War. According to the delegation Finland should aim to restore its borders of 1939.
Finland announced its satisfaction with the UN Security Council's public statement regarding the challenges posed by regional crises and military conflicts for the UN. Finland welcomed the Security Council's desire to emphasize the role of the UN in guaranteeing world peace.
The Constitutional Committee of Parliament, led by Member of Parliament Paavo Nikula, submitted its mid-report to Minister of Justice Hannele Pokka. The Committee suggested that Parliament should be given more powers in foreign policy.
In the opening ceremony of the 1992 Parliamentary Session, President Koivisto announced that Finland would apply for EC membership. According to Koivisto, the application would be submitted to the EC in March, after the Government and Parliament have had a chance to review and debate it.
The EC and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) successfully finished negotiations about the EEA.
At a seminar organized by the Defence Information Planning Board in Helsinki, Finland's ambassador to the EC, Erkki Liikanen, emphasized that any country applying for membership in the EC should be prepared to join the WEU at least as an observer. Prime Minister Aho visited France, where he met President François Mitterrand and Prime Minister Edith Cresson. During the discussions Aho received support for Finnish membership in the EC.
The Government published statistics about Finnish development cooperation aid in 1991, which show that Finland had achieved the UN recommendation of a 0.7% share of GNP.
The presidents of five CIS countries— Mircea Snegur from Moldova, Stanislav Shushkevitsh from Belarus, Islam Karimov from Uzbekistan, Rahmon Nabiev from Tajikistan, and Leonid Kravtshuk from Ukraine — signed the CSCE Final Act in Helsinki.
The Government approved an official report to be given to Parliament concerning Finland's EC membership application. The Government stated that it will apply for membership if Parliament approves the Government's position. There was some disagreement in the Government about Finnish agricultural policy and the policy of neutrality.
While visiting Finland, Sweden's Foreign Minister Margaretha af Ugglas and Denmark's Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen expressed their satisfaction with the Finnish Government's decision to apply for EC membership. Af Ugglas said that she believed that the application will strengthen cooperation between Finland and Sweden.
The chairman of the Nordic Council, Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Ilkka Suominen, expressed his hope that issues of foreign policy would be placed on the agenda of the Council. He criticized the Council for lagging in issues of foreign policy.
The prime ministers of the Nordic countries met in Helsinki in order to prepare their formal meeting and the 40th session of the Nordic Council. The prime ministers agreed that the agenda of cooperation must be revised and that organizational changes must be made in accordance with the workload of the Council. According to the prime ministers, issues of foreign policy and security policy should be placed on the agenda, but only for discussion. The meeting made a resolution according to which the Nordic countries will invest FIM 550 million in the Baltic states. The financing will be arranged in cooperation with the Nordic Investment Bank and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. The meeting also dealt with the issue of a common Nordic natural gas network.
In an interview with Helsingin Sanomat the newly appointed Russian ambassador to Finland, Juri Derjabin, said he believed that the issue of the Finnish-Russian border is here to stay. He said he could visualize many cooperative projects around Vyborg and other areas near the border.
The 40th session of the Nordic Council was held in Helsinki. The Council discussed its future and decided to give more emphasis to the meetings of the prime ministers, while cutting other forms of cooperation. The main topics of discussion included relations between the EC and the Nordic countries, and nuclear dumping by Russia in the Arctic. Germany's Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who participated in the session, emphasized that Finland and other coutries applying for EC membership should be aware that in Maastricht, the EC decided on a common foreign and security policy, which is bound up with NATO.
The Government decided to set up an expert committee to clarify the changes that possible membership in the EC would have on the foreign-policy decision-making process. The Government submitted to Parliament a motion about membership in the EC. The Government's decision to apply for membership in the EC was unanimous.
The foreign ministers of ten Baltic states met in Copenhagen to decide on the establishment of a new organization, the Baltic Council. The foreign ministers decided to meet once a year to give political support for cooperation in the Baltic area in issues such as environmental protection, transportation and health care.
Foreign Minister Väyrynen visited Stockholm. In a seminar at the Defence Academy, Väyrynen made a speech concerning the security of the Nordic areas in the new Europe. Väyrynen did not support the idea of a military alliance between Sweden and Finland but suggested instead that developing the peacekeeping activities of the CSCE could be made a new focus point of Nordic cooperation. He also suggested cooperation between the Nordic countries and the Murmansk, Karelia, and St. Petersburg areas, as well as the Baltic states and Poland. According to Väyrynen this would increase the stability of the Nordic area. Väyrynen also said that Finland could as a EC member participate in the common foreign and security policy of the Community, as decided in Maastricht, while staying neutral in issues regarding military cooperation. In a report concerning the Government's notification about membership in the EC, the Defence Committee of Parliament requested the Government to take care that Finland's membership in the EC would not lead to membership in the WEU also. According to a unanimous statement by the Committee, Finland should hold to an independent defence capability and stay militarily non-aligned and neutral.
President Koivisto decided that Finland will apply for membership in the European Economic Community, the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Atomic Energy Community. The decision was preceded by a discussion in parliament about the Government's motion to apply for membership. Parliament voted on the motion and approved it in the decisive vote by 108 votes for to 55 votes against. After Parliament's decision the Government held an additional session, which was followed by the signing of the Finnish EC-membership application by President Koivisto and Prime Minister Aho.
Prime Minister Aho visited Portugal, which held the presidency of the EC, where he presented Finland's EC membership application to Portugal's Prime Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva.
The meeting of foreign ministers of the fourth follow-up meeting of the CSCE was held in Helsinki. Foreign Minister Väyrynen welcomed the new member states of the CSCE: Georgia, Croatia, and Serbia. The foreign ministers decided to hold a conference in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. 25 member states of the CSCE also signed the Open Skies treaty. During the conference, German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher suggested that the CSCE would develop its collective security structure in cooperation with NATO and the WEU. Foreign Minister Väyrynen argued that the biggest security problem in Europe currently is nuclear security. He hoped that the CSCE would pay more attention to environmental issues.
Finland decided to lift trade sanctions against South Africa. The decision was based on the democratization process in South Africa.
In an interview with the newspaper Keskisuomalainen the chief of staff of the armed forces, General Gustav Hägglund, said that returning Karelia to Finland would not be in the interests of Finland. According to Hägglund Karelia is still militarily important for Russia because it guarantees the security of the St. Petersburg area. He also reminded about Russians living in Karelia.
Prime Minister Aho made a brief visit to Brussels, where he met Jacques Delors, president of the Commission of the EC. Delors assured Aho that Finland was now in the same group as Sweden and Austria regarding EC membership negotiations.
Helsingin Sanomat published an article based on an interview by the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaja Gazeta, in which Foreign Minister of Russia Andrei Kozyrev analyzed the complex heritage of Soviet foreign policy. According to Kozyrev part of the heritage are the border issues which were left unresolved by the Soviet Union. He said that the new treaty between Russia and Finland solves the border issue for good.
According to a cost-cutting program of the Government, the share of Finnish development cooperation aid will drop to 0.4% of GNP in 1993.
The foreign ministers of the EC countries decided in Luxemburg to request an opinion (avis) from the Commission about Finland's membership application.
A diplomatic conference concerning environmental protection of the Baltic Sea was held in Helsinki. On the final day of the conference, the Baltic Sea countries approved a renewed Baltic Sea protection treaty which was enlarged to include the territorial waters of the coastal states.
The Constitutional Committee of Parliament submitted a statement about the Government's report about EC membership to the Foreign Affairs Committee. According to the statement, the Government should notify Parliament about the progress of the membership negotiations. According to a confidential report of the EC, which was made public by Swedish radio, the EC membership candidates must guarantee the Community that their policies will not represent an obstacle to the common foreign and security policy of the EU. The report, which was drafted by the EC, stated that the policy of neutrality was inconsistent with the common foreign policy and the future common defence policy of the EU. According to the report, EU membership will lead to military cooperation and to membership in the WEU. The report, which was drafted before the disintegration of the Soviet Union, also stated that Finland's membership in the EC was not problematic because Finland's policy of neutrality had changed significantly with the changes in the east. The EC Court of Justice approved the EEA treaty between the EC and EFTA. Minister of Foreign Trade Pertti Salolainen said that it still remains unseen whether the treaty is problematic from the viewpoint of the EFTA countries' legal systems.
The commander of the Armed Forces, Admiral Jan Klenberg, said in a speech that we are living in times when Finland's security may face unforeseen challenges. According to Klenberg, defence expenditure must have a special priority even during an economic recession because maintaining external security is a prerequisite for all other societal activities, Klenberg argued that Finland is the most weakly defended country in northern Europe and that the development of Finnish defence expenditure has been dismal. He also said that cuts in the fighter aircraft deal would be unthinkable. The EEA treaty was signed in Brussels after representatives of the EC Commission and the EFTA countries had agreed upon a final amendment to the treaty. The EFTA countries agreed to make a new record which would oblige them to respect the powers of the EC Court of Justice.
At the CSCE follow-up meeting in Helsinki, Finland demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Baltic states. According to Finland the relations between Russia and the Baltic states are extremely important for the stability of the Baltic and Nordic areas.
President Koivisto issued an amendment in accordance with UN resolution 748, which bans weapons exports and air transportation to Libya. After a proposal from Finland, the political committee of the Council of Europe decided in Paris to send members of parliament of the Council to Turkey to make an additional inquiry about the human rights situation in Turkey and especially the situation of the Kurds.
In an interview with the newspaper Aamulehti, Minister of Defence Elisabeth Rehn said that the hyper-nationalism stirred up by presidential candidate Vladimir Zhirinovski in Russia represents a serious threat to Finland's security. According to Rehn, Zhirinovski, who is supported by six million people, cannot be considered a harmless phenomenon. Rehn said that she was also worried about the increase in the numbers of Russian forces placed near Finland's borders and about the security of nuclear power plants near Finland.
In a speech given at a dinner for the diplomatic community in Helsinki, President Koivisto emphasized that there are still serious threats to security in Europe. According to him, the biggest and most immediate security concerns are nuclear security and the ecological situation. The President hoped that the CSCE summit in January would decide on common measures to increase the stability of Europe.
The Finnish Govemment expressed its deep concern about the use of violence in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Government said it will encourage the peaceful resolution of problems in that area by the EC peace conference.
The Karelian League, a Finnish private association, made a public statement in which it announced that arguments by which the handing over of Karelia has been justified are no longer valid in the current situation. The Karelia League demanded measures from the Government which would lead to the restoration of Karelia to Finland.
Prime Minister Aho paid an unofficial visit to Great Britain, which holds the EC presidency during the latter half of 1992. In London Aho met Prime Minister John Major and assured him that Finland will accept the Maastricht treaty as a whole, including its security dimension. Major also briefed Aho about the schedule of the membership negotiations.
Finland was chosen as the Nordic candidate to the UN Human Rights Committee for the three-year term 1993—95.
The foreign ministers of the 12 EC countries and the ministers leading the negotiations of the 7 EFTA countries signed the EEA treaty in Porto, Portugal.
The ministers of development cooperation of the Nordic countries emphasized in Helsinki that all industrialized countries should donate at least 0.7% of their GNP to development cooperation. According to them this is a prerequisite for achiveing the goals of the UNCED. Prime Minister Aho said he would like to initiate negotiations with the Russian government and the commanders of the armed forces concerning the Russian forces that have been moved to the eastern border of Finland. Aho suggested that the talks could be held at the CSCE forum of security politics.
The foreign ministers of the Nordic countries met in Vantaa and initiated cooperation in foreign and security policy in order to enhance the stability of the Nordic area. The ministers urged Russians to hurry their military withdrawal from the Baltic states and to freeze nuclear testing at Novaja Zemlja. The meeting also condemned the atrocities in Bosnia-Hercegovina and the use of heavy artillery against Sarajevo and other cities.
The Finnish Air Force announced its decision to buy 64 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft from the United States. The Government authorized the Ministry of Defence to make a pre-contract agreement about the purchase with the US Department of Defence. The total price of the purchase was estimated to be approximately FIM 13 billion.
The EC officially began the handling of Finland's membership application as the committee responsible for the negotiations met for the first time. The task of the committee is to prepare an opinion about the Finnish application, which is needed for the Commission to start the actual negotiations with Finland.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of parliament made public its report about the Finnish-Russian treaty which replaced the FCMA treaty. The committee concluded that the new treaty did not include any kind of military obligations.
In an interview on Finnish television Tomas Ries, a Norwegian expert on Finnish security policy, said that Finland's decision to buy the American F/A-18 Hornets makes Finland dependent on the United States. According to Ries the United States is the only country with the will and the power to help Finland in a crisis situation. Ries argued that Finland is the neighbour of the most dangerous country in the world, and that Finland needs a strong defence in case a Russian threat materializes. He was in favor of the Finnish decision to purchase new fighter planes, but criticized Finland for neglecting ground forces.
The ministers of defence of the Nordic countries held their semiannual meeting in Lappeenranta. They decided to ask the UN for better financing of its peacekeeping forces and discussed about establishing a Nordic UN- negotiation system. Sweden's Minister of Defence Anders Björk commented on the Finnish decision regarding the fighter planes saying that it pulls the rug from under Finnish-Swedish defence material cooperation.
Prime Minister Aho visited the United States, where he met President George Bush, Secretary of State James Baker, Secretary of Defence Richard Cheney, Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady, Chairman of the Senate Military Committee Sam Nunn, and Senator Richard Luger. The discussions dealt with European integration, security issues, the situation in Russia and the other CIS countries and the Baltic states, and the Finnish decision regarding the fighter aircraft. Aho suggested to his hosts that Finland would be relieved from the costs of development of the aircraft. During the trip Aho emphasized that the reasons for buying the F/A-18 Hornets are purely technical and economic.
France's Minister of European Affairs Elisabeth Guigou visited Finland. Finland's EC membership application and the development of the EC emerged as the main themes of the discussions. Guigou said that France has a positive attitude towards Finland's EC membership, but reminded that Finland must be ready to fulfil the responsibilities of membership.
In an interview with Helsingin Sanomat, President Koivisto emphasized that the decision to buy fighter aircraft from the United States was not based on political reasons. Thus the President took a stand in support of the Government, which had consistently argued that the decision was based on economic and technical reasons.
After an initiative by the EC countries, the environmental working group of the G-24 countries held a meeting in Helsinki. The meeting dealt with the lessons learned from giving environmental aid to the Baltic countries and discussed the problems and the means to solve them.
In a speech given in Stockholm, Speaker of Parliament Ilkka Suominen criticized the Government's statements about Finnish security policy, especially the concepts of independent defence, neutrality in neighbouring areas, and non-alignment. He argued that a strictly independent defence capability was not only impossible in the current situation but also contradictory with the intentions that Finland and Sweden have with respect to the EC. According to Suominen, the only sustainable premise for Finland's foreign policy is maintaining an independent defence capability while realizing that the democratic world defends its common values together.
The EFTA council held its meeting in Reykjavik. Among the issues dealt with were the EEA treaty and matters related to it. The meeting also discussed the relations of EFTA with third countries. During the meeting Slovenia signed a cooperation treaty with EFTA.
Parliament approved the treaty on the Foundations of Relations between Finland and Russia by 153 votes to 4 votes. At the same time it approved a Finnish-Russian treaty concerning Russian areas neighbouring Finland.
The Russian minister of defence, General Pavel Gratshev, said in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat that Russia will transfer more special forces from Central Europe to areas near the Finnish borders. According to Gratshev the transfers should not be seen as an aggressive concentration of forces near Finnish border, because Russia does not have enemies and the Russian military doctrine is defensive.
In a secret report concerning the impact of the neutral membership candidates to the security of the EC, the Commission of the EC stated that it cannot accept a policy of neutrality from its member states. The report demanded that Finland should leave the door open for membership in the WEU and NATO. The report also noted that the accession of Finland and Austria would bring two highly unstable and crisis-prone areas to the EC. The report also made the remark that not all old member countries of the EC would be ready to guarantee the security of these borders.
The foreign minister of Estonia, Jaan Manitski, visited Finland. During the visit, Manitski emphasized the importance of the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Baltic states. According to him the Russian forces represent a threat not only to democracy in the Baltics but also to the stability of the Baltic Sea area and the rest of Europe.
Russia made a formal announcement that it will reduce its forces near the Finnish border so that their number would equal Finnish forces on the other side of the border.
After the Danish referendum had tamed down the Maastricht treaty, the Government of Finland announced that the result of the referendum will have no direct implications on Finland's integration policy. Speaker of parliament Ilkka Suominen said in a speech at Kauhava that returning Karelia to Finland is not a meaningful goal. According to Suominen a more sensible goal would be to normalize the border between Finland and Russia to a "European” border, which would be only a daily crossed theoretical line. Suominen also touched the question of Russian forces in the Baltics. He said it would be in the interests of Finland for the Russian forces to be withdrawn as soon as possible.
The Finnish delegation to the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was led by Foreign Minister Väyrynen. In his address to the Conference, Väyrynen emphasized that Finland supports the proposal made in Rio that all developed nations should exceed the goal of funding development cooperation with a 0.7 % share of their GNP by the year 2000. President Koivisto, who participated in the summit of the heads of state, named the consumer habits of the industrialized countries as the worst threat to the planet. During the meeting Finland signed the international climate treaty and the biodiversity treaty.
Prime Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt, who spoke at a meeting of the Swedish-Finnish Society in Stockholm, stressed that the basic preconditions of the foreign and security policies of Sweden and Finland are nearer to each other than ever before in modern history. During the speech Bildt said that Sweden could not have pursued a policy of neutrality if Finland had not remained independent after the Second World War. After the Government had authorized the Ministry of Defence to sign a contract to purchase 57 fighter and 7 training aircraft, Minister of Defence Elisabeth Rehn signed the contract in Helsinki. The price of the F/A-18 Hornets was FIM 12.7 billion according to the 1992 price level. In its report concerning the effects of EC membership on Finland, the Foreign Affairs Committee of parliament stated that Finland's goal in the EC membership negotiations should be to stay neutral. However, the report admitted that harmonizing neutrality and EC membership is problematic and might lead to a new foreign policy doctrine. The report demanded a change in the constitution which would compel the Government to give an account of timely foreign policy issues, if requested by the Committee. The report also said that the final approving of EC membership should be done by a consultative referendum.
Finland was accepted as the first neutral country as an observer to the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) in Oslo.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of parliament asked the Government for an explanation about why Finland became an observer in the NACC and who made the decision.
The European Parliament made a proposal about the amount of parliamentary seats that the official membership candidates would receive if they joined the EC. The Parliament offered Finland 16 seats.
The departments of defence of Finland and Estonia signed an official agreement concerning military training of Estonians in Finland.
Defence Minister of Germany Volker Rühe said in Berlin that Finland is the only country outside NATO that will be sold weapons belonging to the People's Army of the former GDR.
Foreign Minister Väyrynen told the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament that Finland did not accidentally slip in to the NACC. According to Väyrynen Finland was admitted as an observer to the meeting in Oslo. However, from the viewpoint of NATO, Finland had become a permanent observer. According to officials from the headquarters of NATO, the foreign ministers of the 16 member states made a formal decision about Finland's status in the NACC at the meeting in Oslo.
The Constitutional Committee of Parliament gave its report concerning the legislation of the EEA to Prime Minister Aho. The Committee proposed that Parliament should be given more power in drafting international treaties. The report stated that the main responsibility for preparing the issues related to the EEA should be left to the Government. The Committee also proposed that a ministerial committee should be established to lead the Government's EEA organization.
The foreign ministers of the EC countries agreed in Luxemburg that the EC will begin its negotiations with Finland and the four other EFTA countries in the beginning of 1993. The change in the schedule was made because of the outcome of the Danish referendum. The foreign ministers stated that all the applicants must guarantee that they will accept all the laws of the EC and that they will permit the EC to proceed towards a common defence. The foreign ministers also stated that the new members cannot pursue an independent foreign policy and that they cannot prevent the political development of the EC by using their traditional security policy doctrine as an excuse. The meeting proposed that the applicants must present during the negotiations a strict economic program by which they will prepare themselves for European monetary union and a common currency by 1999.
President Koivisto decided that Finland will take part in the UN peacekeeping operation in Somalia in accordance with the request made by the UN Secretariat.
The Finnish Government expressed its satisfaction with the decision made by the EC in Lisbon concerning the expansion of the EC.
At a press conference in Moscow, Russian President Boris Yeltsin said that from the Russian viewpoint the question of Karelia does not exist and that Karelia is and will continue to be a part of Russia. However, Yeltsin said that he is ready to discuss about greater cuts in the number of forces near Finnish borders than previously. Yeltsin also promised to withdraw the forces from the Baltic states within two years.
The chairman of the Karelian League, Rauno Meriö, said that the League will demand negotiations about restoring Karelia to Finland despite President Yeltsin's statement.
The prime ministers of the Nordic countries held a meeting in Helsinki, where they decided that the refugees from former Yugoslavia should be kept in their home districts, and that the Nordic countries will increase their aid to the organizations helping the refugees. Aho stated that Finland could not receive large amounts of refugees because of the economic situation in Finland.
The CSCE Summit was held in Helsinki. Representatives from all 51 member states participated in the summit. Before the Summit, representatives of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan signed the CSCE Final Act from 1975. In his opening speech President Koivisto emphasized the importance of helping former socialist countries. The main issues touched by the other heads of state included the crisis in former Yugoslavia, the establishment of a CSCE peacekeeping mechanism, protection of minorities, the growing refugee problem in Europe, and the withdrawal of forces from the Baltic states. The Summit agreed on a Final Act and a resolution condemning Belgrade in the crisis in Yugoslavia.
In Helsinki, the head of the Russian delegation to the Vienna disarmament negotiations, Vladimir Shustov, announced that Russia will begin the reduction of its forces in the Leningrad military district to the level agreed in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty as soon as the treaty comes into force. President of the Commission of the EC Jacques Delors emphasized in Helsinki that the EC will hurry in order to be able to begin the membership negotiations with Finland in the beginning of 1993.
According to Helsingin Sanomat the foreign minister of Norway, Thorvald Stoltenberg, and the government he represents are planning an economic zone in the Barents Sea. Stoltenberg hopes that a Barents area council would be established by Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who participated in the CSCE Summit, made a state visit to Finland. As the first eastern head of state, Yeltsin laid a wreath at the monument of Finnish soldiers who lost their lives in the Winter and Continuation War. He emphasized that Russia will not interfere in issues of Finnish domestic politics. Referring to the question of Karelia, Yeltsin said that there are no unresolved border issues between Russia and Finland.
In an interview given at his summer residence in Naantali, president Koivisto said that Finland might issue an obligatory visa to all the refugees coming from former Yugoslavia. Referring to the question of Karelia, Koivisto said that there is no border issue between Russia and Finland, but the restoration of Karelia may be an issue of public discussion. According to Koivisto, the Karelian border cannot yet be made more "transparent” because of the unstable situation in Russia. Koivisto also said that he is not very enthusiastic about the idea of a consultative referendum about Finland's EC membership. He did not want to comment on Finland's potential membership in the WEU or NATO. Koivisto said he was surprised by how fast Finland was accepted by the NACC.
Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Gustav Hägglund said in Helsingin Sanomat that the idea of a Nordic defence union, put forward by Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces Bengt Gustafsson, was not timely. According to Hägglund the idea of a Nordic defence union is dependent on the development of Europe. Foreign Minister Väyrynen thought that the idea was interesting, but reminded that it had not received much support.
Over 650 participants from Finland, Russia, and other European countries began a conference on the topic "Our Common Environment” in St Petersburg. The working groups dealt with nuclear risks and the protection of water and air. The working group on nuclear risks demanded the immediate closing of the Sosnovyi Bor nuclear power plant located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland.
At a UN Refugee Conference in Geneva the head of the Finnish delegation, Minister of Internal Affairs Mauri Pekkarinen, stated that Finland will continue its tradition of accepting a few hundred, rather than a few thousand, refugees. Pekkarinen said that refugees should be helped in the crisis area. He did not support the idea that all countries would share the refugee burden by a quota system.
The Commission of the EC recommended to the member states that they should start membership negotiations with Sweden. In the statement, the Commission required that Sweden would depart from its traditional policy of neutrality and make a clear commitment to the future common foreign and security policy of the EC.
A Commission of Economic Cooperation was established by Finland and Russia. Finland and Russia also decided that new import custom duties or other similar taxes and payments will not be introduced by either party.
Sweden and Norway rejected Namibia's request for additional aid to cover the damage caused by drought. The reason for the refusal was the decision by the government of Namibia to purchase a FIM 15 million aircraft for the use of the president of Namibia, Sam Nujoma. The Finnish Government did not reconsider Namibia's aid because Finland's aid is allocated through UN organizations.
The Finnish Government decided that refugees from former Yugoslavia in Finland may stay for the time being. According to the decision approximately 1800 refugees who have already entered Finland will receive a temporary residence permit.
The Nordic prime ministers met in Denmark. They approved a proposal concerning changes in the structure of Nordic cooperation. Topics of discussion included the presence of Russian forces in the Baltic states, the situation in Yugoslavia, and the relations between the Nordic countries and the EC. The prime ministers of the Baltic states participated in a part of the meeting. With them, the Nordic prime ministers discussed the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Baltic states and aid from the Nordic countries in the rebuilding of the Baltic states.
The government of Estonia decided to expand the limit of its territorial waters from 4 nautical miles to 12 nautical miles. However, Estonia's Ambassador to Finland, Lennart Meri, said that Estonia cannot implement the decision because of the lack of resources. In Finland it was argued that the decision was regrettable from the viewpoint of international maritime transportation.
The Nordic foreign ministers held their autumn meeting at Spitzbergen, where they decided to hold a meeting with Russia in Norway in the beginning of 1993 to talk about environmental cooperation and problems concerning the safety of Russian nuclear power plants.
Prime Minister Aho said in Helsingin Sanomat that developments in the EC have been positive during the last months. According to Aho the future European Union will probably not be as centralized as was thought in the beginning of 1992. He argued that more power will be left to national decision-making, a centralized bureaucratic union will probably never emerge, and national identities and differences will be accepted.
Secretary-of-State Martti Ahtisaari confirmed that he will take an assignment as a peace negotiator in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Secretary General of the UN, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, requested Ahtisaari for the job in August.
According to an opinion poll conducted by Finnish Gallup, Finns are far more enthusiastic than the citizens of the other Nordic countries and the EFTA countries about membership in the EC. 54% of Finns were in favor and 25% against Finnish membership in the EC. 21% had not made up their minds yet.
The ministers of the environment of the Nordic countries and Russia met in Norway to decide on the focus of environmental cooperation. According to the meeting, the most urgent environmental challenges facing the Nordic countries and Russia are reducing acid rain, protecting the Baltic Sea and taking environmental issues into consideration in the countries' trade policies. The Russian minister of the environment stated that the financial aid of the Nordic countries to the nickel smelteries in the Kola Peninsula is inadequate. Minister of Defence Elisabeth Rehn visited Sweden at the request of Sweden's Minister of Defence Anders Björk. Rehn did not give support to the idea of a Nordic defence union, put forward by Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish Armed Forces Bengt Gustafsson, but suggested instead cooperation in the area of defence industry. According to Rehn, Finland and Sweden should discuss the compatibility of the military organization of the countries. Both ministers wanted more exchange of information between the armed forces of Finland and Sweden.
Finland and Denmark reached an agreement on their argument about the bridge to be built over the Belt Sound. According to the agreement, Denmark will pay FIM 63 million in compensation to Rauma-Repola, which will suffer damage. The agreement does not guarantee free passage, which was the initial objective of Finland.
The Government handed the 1993 budget estimate to parliament. According to the budget proposal the main objective of Finland's foreign policy is now to ensure the national interests of Finland and to strengthen the international position of Finland. In the estimate, development cooperation was given FIM 2 billion (2.9 billion in 1992), which is 0.4% of GNP. The aid to Central and Eastern Europe rose to FIM 320 million (224 million FIM in 1992). FIM 255 million was reserved for membership in the EEA and FIM 160 million was allocated to Finnish UN peacekeeping forces. FIM 13 million was reserved for improving the safety of nuclear power plants near Finland's eastern border.
Vice-president of the Commission of the EC Henning Christophersen said that the decision of Finland's central bank to float the Finnish mark was regrettable. He stressed that because the Government of Finland made a unilateral decision to link the Finnish mark to the ECU, it can also decide to end this linkage. According to him, the devaluation of the Finnish mark does not affect the currencies of EC member states or the EMS.
Foreign Secretary of Great Britain Douglas Hurd said in an interview on Finnish public radio that Finland does not have to join the WEU or NATO in order to join the EC. However, according to Hurd Finland should accept the common foreign and security policy described in the Maastricht treaty. According to Hurd Finland's policy of neutrality was not a problem concerning membership in the EC.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague announced that it will not rule upon the case concerning the Belt bridge after Finland and Denmark announced that they had reached an agreement.
The G-24 countries decided in Brussels that the Nordic countries may join the international group which coordinates western aid to the nuclear plants in Eastern Europe and the CIS countries.
Officers representing 15 CSCE countries and the CSCE conflict prevention center paid a visit to the Finnish air force in Lapland. The visit was a part of the confidence and security building measures of the CSCE. The Council of Europe held a meeting in Helsinki in which it decided to take Belarus and Ukraine as special guests of the organization. The Council also decided to send a delegation to Estonia to follow the presidential election on 20.9.1992.
Speaker of the German Bundesdag Rita Süssmuth visited Finland at the request of Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Ilkka Suominen. The discussions dealt with the future of the Maastricht treaty, the refugee problem, and right-wing extremism in Germany. Süssmuth suggested that Germany and Finland could develop cooperation in helping the people living in Eastern Europe and the CIS countries by investing money in their home districts.
The Government decided that Finland will receive 200 new refugees from former Yugoslavia. According to the Government, preference will be given to those who are in the weakest position, such as children, aged and handicapped persons. Finland will send a delegation to the crisis area to choose the refugees after the UN High Commissioner on Refugees has made a proposal about them.
Foreign Minister Väyrynen participated in the opening of the 47th session of the UN General Assembly. In his speech Väyrynen supported the proposal to expel Yugoslavia from the UN. Väyrynen also supported the possibility of resorting to means of military force to increase the credibility of the UN in guaranteeing international security and the proposal to establish UN military forces. According to Väyrynen Finland expects that the UN will create a peacekeeping fund to speed up the setting up of peacekeeping operations.
After the French had approved the ratification of the Maastricht treaty in a referendum by a narrow majority, Finland's Prime Minister Aho said that the outcome was favourable to Finland. According to Aho the outcome of the referendum means that the ratification process of the Maastricht treaty continues.
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Admiral Jan Klenberg said in Helsinki that the defence budget has been cut to its lowest possible limit. According to Klenberg, more reductions in the near future would lead to a crisis in Finnish defence policy.
Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Forces Sakari Visa said in Turku that the defence of the Åland Islands should be strengthened and that the demilitarization of Åland should be reconsidered. Visa suggested that the Ålanders should be given responsibility for defending the islands. Minister of Defence Rehn turned down the Visa's proposal by reminding that Finland must abide by international treaties. Commander of Swedish Armed Forces Gustafsson said he understands Visa's proposal. According to Gustafsson, the Åland Islands are strategically important and the country governing them should think about their defence. Russian Ambassador to Finland Juri Derjabin joined the discussion on 8 October by saying that Russia supports maintaining Åland as a demilitarized zone. Finland and ten other West European countries signed a North-Eastern Atlantic protection treaty which replaced the Oslo and Paris treaties made in the 1970s. In the treaty the countries promised to prevent dangerous chemicals from reaching the sea and not to dump radioactive waste in the sea.
The Finnish delegation supported the membership of Estonia in the Council of Europe even though the Council's general assembly criticized the treatment of the Russian minority in Estonia.
In an opinion poll commissioned by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and the Finnish-Russian Friendship Society it appeared that over 70% of Finns oppose starting negotiations about restoring Karelia to Finland. Over half of those who were against believe that the present instability in Russia will continue. According to the opinion poll Finns were most worried about the safety of Russian nuclear power plants and the spread of organized crime from Russia to Finland.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament criticized the cuts in development cooperation. According to the Foreign Affairs Committee the cuts endanger the positive image of Finland in the development of southern Africa. The committee reminded especially about Finland's support to Namibia's independence.
Russian Ambassador to Finland Juri Derjabin said that Moscow is planning to invite Finnish observers to follow the activities of the Leningrad military district. According to Derjabin it is important for Finland to get adequate information concerning the development in the area. In a letter to Prime Minister Aho, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali brought forward his concern about Finland's decision to cut its development cooperation funds. Boutros-Ghali reminded that Finland had for long been an exemplary country by being one of the few coutries in the UN to reach the goal of contributing a 0.7% share of its GNP to development cooperation. According to Boutros-Ghali the Finnish decision would be a bad example to other countries.
Estonia's new president, Lennart Meri, paid a working visit to Finland. During the visit Meri said that the question over territorial waters between Estonia and Finland is not a problem that would affect the relations between the two countries. Meri hoped that Estonia would soon be able to host a meeting of the Baltic Sea Council and to come closer to the Nordic countries.
An environmental committee of the Baltic Sea Protection Commission suggested that the location and number of gas weapons dumped into the Baltic Sea would be investigated by the Commission.
The newspaper Iltalehti divulged a communication by Jaakko Blomberg, the head of the political department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, concerning the outlook of Finnish foreign and security policy. The communication was given to a meeting of Finnish ambassadors. In the communication, which was approved by Foreign Minister Väyrynen, Blomberg proposed that Finland should join the WEU either as a member or as an observer and that Finland should consider membership in NATO. Blomberg reminded that EC membership is always accompanied with either observership or membership in the WEU. According to him Finland must weigh the significance of military non-alliance to the stability of the region against the significance of the deterrent created by alliance against Russia. Blomberg argued that observership in the WEU is not contradictory with the present security policy doctrine of Finland.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament finished its report concerning the EEA treaty. In the report the Committee proposed a change to the constitution which would guarantee the Committee the right to get information concerning the EEA. According to the Committee, issues like the preparation of the EC membership treaty should be assigned to it.
Foreign Minister of Norway Thorvald Stoltenberg, who spoke at a seminar in Rovaniemi concerning the development of the Arctic area of the Nordic countries and the Kola Peninsula, suggested the establishment of a Barents Sea council. Stoltenberg hoped that other countries besides Russia and the Nordic countries would join the council, since the Nordic countries do not have enough financial resources to guarantee the safety of the Polarnyje Zor nuclear power plant and to clean the nickel emissions. Because of this he suggested that Germany could participate in the renewal of the Kola smelteries. He said that Germany gets its nickel cheaply from Kola while Finland and Norway suffer the environmental damage. Stoltenberg hoped that economic aid to Russia would be made dependent on solving the pollution problems of the Kola smelteries.
Minister of Defence Elisabeth Rehn said she was very cautious about the idea of the use of force in UN peacekeeping operations. She thought that it could endanger the reputation of Finland as a neutral and able peacekeeping country. Rehn said that Finland is preparing to be ready to send forces to CSCE peacekeeping operations in the future.
Parliament approved the EEA treaty by 154 votes to 12.
President Koivisto made an official visit to Belgium and Luxemburg. During his discussion with the Secretary General of NATO, Manfred Wörner, Koivisto said that discussion about Finland's potential membership in NATO is not timely. In his discussion with the president of the Commission of the EC Koivisto assured that Finland is applying for membership based on the Maastricht treaty. Koivisto thought that it would he impossible for Finland to negotiate similar exceptions to membership as have been put forward by Denmark.
The Parliament of the EC approved the EEA treaty by 351 votes to 16, with 17 abstentions.
The director of Unicef, James Grant, paid a visit to Finland. Grant appealed to the Finnish Government to reconsider cutting development cooperation funds.
112 Muslim refugees from Bosnia entered Finland. The group belonged to the quota of 200 refugees approved by the Government. Previously over 1800 refugees had entered Finland.
Prime Minister Aho presented a report about Finland's foreign and security policy which was given to the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament in September. The report was also given as background material for the EC Commission. The report argues that there are no grounds for continuing Finland's traditional policy of neutrality. The report states that the new basis of Finnish foreign policy is independent defence and military non-alliance. According to the report Finland is ready to participate in the common foreign and security policy of the EC as stated in the Maastricht treaty. The Government also reminded that the Maastricht treaty does not turn the EC into a military alliance and replace the defence doctrines of members or member candidates. According to the Government, Finland's independent defence is in concert with the obligations of the Maastricht treaty. However, the Government noted that the treaty might lead to the formation of common defence.
In an interview with the newspaper Aamulehti, Commander of the Armed Forces Klenberg said that it would be difficult to unite European and Finnish defence systems. According to Klenberg, the defence systems of many EC member states are based on the idea of transferring military operations out of the national territory if possible, which has led to offensive defence systems, while the Finnish system is based on regional defence. Klenherg argued that these basic differences make it expensive and hard to unite the systems. He also said that the 12% cut in the defence budget for the following year is dramatic.
Finland and Russia continued their dialogue on the Russian forces near Finnish borders as the head of the political department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jaakko Blomberg, met Russian Deputy Minister of Defence Andrei Kokoshin in Moscow. Blomberg also met Deputy Foreign Minister Vitali Tshurkin, with whom he discussed the new frontier crossing points, cooperation between Finland and Finno-Ugrians in Russia, and the establishment of a Finnish institute in St. Petersburg.
A group of ministers led by Minister for Development Cooperation Kankaanniemi proposed that development cooperation funds would not be cut further next year. If the Government approves the proposal, development cooperation funds will be 0.4% of GNP in 1993.
Finland received the opinion of the Commission of the EC concerning Finnish membership. The avis was positive and listed relatively few problematic issues. According to the Commission both Finland and the EC will clearly benefit from Finland's membership. The report noted that, based on the 1992 situation, due to the economic recession in Finland and the weakness of the Finnish mark, Finland would pay the EC only FIM 720 million more than it would receive from the EC. The report demanded that Finland guarantee that it will approve the future development of the foreign and security policy of the EC. Prime Minister Aho said that the most important message of the report was that it approves Finland as a membership candidate and proposes that membership negotiations should be started.
President Koivisto sent a telegram of congratulation to President-elect Bill Clinton. Koivisto stated that the friendly relations between Finland and the United States are based on the common values of democracy, freedom, and justice.
Minister of Defence Rehn, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the civil defence courses in Helsinki, demanded an open dialogue with Russia about the military forces near Finnish borders. Commander of the Aimed Forces Klenberg said that the most important problem in Finland's defence policy currently is to harmonize the policy of western integration with the bilateral security interests arising from neighborhood with Russia.
The ministers of development cooperation of the Nordic countries met in Oslo. With the exception of Denmark, the cuts in development aid by the Nordic countries had received negative international publicity despite the fact that aid by the Nordic countries is still above the OECD average. The ministers promised that development cooperation funds will increase as soon as the economic situation gets better.
The Nordic Council held its 41st annual meeting in Århus, Denmark. The meeting agreed that Nordic cooperation, which so far has concentrated mainly on cultural issues, should be coordinated by governments. Other topics of the meeting included cooperation in the European integration process, the Russian forces in the Baltic states, the NACC, cooperation in the Barents Sea area and sending CSCE observers to Estonia and Russia.
President Koivisto visited London, where he met Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and president of the EBRD Jacques Attali, among others. Koivisto urged the countries of Western Europe to respond positively to requests for economic aid coming from Russia.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of parliament Pertti Paasio said in the newspaper Demari that Finns should try to avoid a nationalistic "Winter War” tone when discussing Finland's independent defence and membership in the EC. According to Paasio the fact that Finland did not receive any military help in the Winter War does not mean that it will never receive, or even ask for, any help in the face of attack. Paasio argued that the differences in the standard of living on the two sides of the Finnish-Russian border constitute a big security threat. Paasio also said that the term neutrality will be increasingly harder to understand when there is only one real military power in Europe.
At a press conference held after the meeting of president Koivisto and the Foreign Affairs Committee of parliament, Koivisto said that there is no need to change the line of Finnish foreign policy or to redefine the international position of Finland. According to him, Finland's relationship with the WEU cannot be defined yet and membership in NATO is only a theoretical alternative. Koivisto reminded that the possibility of Finland being left outside the EC is a possible but undesirable alternative. Koivisto thought that it was improbable that the Nordic countries would negotiate together about EC membership because of their different interests. He hoped that the countries of Western Europe would not demand the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Baltics as a prerequisite for economic aid.
Minister of Justice Hannele Pokka said in Rovaniemi that renting the Petsamo Harbor on the Barents sea shore from Russia is a noteworthy alternative if Finland's receivables from Russia would be paid as real estate and by renting land.
In an interview with Aamulehti Chief of Staff Gustav Hägglund said that Finland prepares to use reserve forces for unforeseen cases, such as taking care of large amounts of refugees. According to Hägglund, possible scenarios leading to such situations include conflicts between nationalities in the Baltics, nuclear accidents and nuclear terrorism, or the lack of discipline in the Russian border troops.
Secretary General of the WEU Willem van Eekelen visited Finland. He informed Finns about military aspects of the WEU and the position of the new member countries. He suggested that Finland should join the WEU as an observer or as a member.
The Finnish Institute of Intemational Affairs published its report on the alternative development scenarios of Russia and Finnish-Russian relations. The director of the Institute, Tapani Vaahtoranta, said that if Finland becomes a member of NATO or the WEU, it will take a conscious risk of being drawn into a conflict with Russia on the side of the West European countries. According to the researchers, predicting the development of Russia is so hard that Finnish foreign policy cannot be based on a consideration of Russian developments.
At a meeting of the ministers of defence of the Nordic countries the ministers were eager to increase the trade of defence material between the countries and authorized a committee of civil servants to map the possibilities. The meeting also discussed the situation in the Baltic countries, especially the slow withdrawal of the Russian forces and the treatment of minorities in the countries.
Prime Minister of Estonia Mart Laar paid an official visit to Finland. Laar requested that Finland help in making two military nuclear reactors safe, that Finland continue supporting Estonia's application to the Council of Europe and that Finland grant an extension for Estonia's oil debt.
Finland expressed its concern to Iran's ambassador to Finland, Seyed Al Mahmoudi, about the death sentence imposed on Salman Rushdie.
The Secretary General of the WEU, Willem van Eekelen, said that the WEU is ready to establish special relations with Finland, Sweden, and Austria. He said that the three countries have expressed their desire for a mechanism which would enable them to articulate their views even before they are accepted to the EC. According to van Eekelen the EFTA countries can participate in some activities of the WEU, such as peacekeeping operations.
Deputy Prime Minister of China Zhu Rongji visited Finland. During the visit Finland and China renewed the investment protection treaty between the countries. The Human Rights Group of Parliament handed Zhu Rongji a letter expressing Finland's concern about the human rights situation in China and Tibet.
In an interview with the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet, Minister of Defence Elisabeth Rehn expressed her satisfaction about the visible role of the Ministry of Defence in the public discussion about security policy. Rehn said that while reasons of security politics do not compel Finland to join the EC, membership in the EC would strengthen Finland's security.
In an interview published by He!singin Sanomat, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Gustav Hägglund argued that it would be possible for Finland to be a member of western alliances and organizations but still to take care of its defence independently. He anticipated that the security cooperation between Finland and Sweden will get closer if the two countries are not forced into separate camps. According to him the most probable scenario is that Finland and Sweden will join the EC and become observers in the WEU.
In a meeting of the Development Aid Committee of the OECD in Paris, Finland suggested that other payments besides traditional development aid could be considered development aid in international statistics. According to Finland such payments could include aid to the former socialist countries, costs arising from receiving refugees and immigrants, payments to global environmental programs, and the civilian costs of peacekeeping operations.
Foreign Minister Paavo Väyrynen visited London where he met Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and Deputy Foreign Secretary Tristan Garel-Jones. The main topics of discussion were the EC and the human rights situation in the Baltic states. Väyrynen said that while agricultural issues and regional questions might prove to be problematic during the EC membership negotiations, there seems to be an emerging mutual understanding between Finland and the EC about basic questions. Väyrynen emphasized that the EC does not require changes in Finnish foreign and security policy.
At a seminar on nuclear issues, which was held in Rovaniemi, Finland, the Nordic participants condemned the intentions of Russia to continue nuclear tests at Novaya Zemlya. The participants also expressed their concern about radioactive waste and nuclear reactors of submarines that have been dumped in the northern seas by Russia.
According to an opinion poll commissioned by the Defence Information Planning Board the satisfaction of the Finns with the Government's management of foreign policy has increased. 73% of those interviewed were satisfied with the management of foreign policy during the last years (62% in 1991). There were few changes in the opinions concerning security issues: 52% of those interviewed believed that the situation will be less secure five years from now. According to the poll the biggest security fears of Finns concern the nuclear power plants of Russia and the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union. The poll also revealed that only one-fourth of Finns wanted the government to start negotiations with Russia about restoring Karelia to Finland, while 60% opposed such negotiations.
Speaking at the 75th annual celebration of Finland's independence, President Koivisto emphasized that the world and the political environment of Finland have changed but the geographical position of Finland and the historical experiences of the Finnish people have not. Referring to Finland's relation to the EC, Koivisto said he believes that Finland will find solutions that help to maintain what has been built to guarantee the country's safety while at the same time making Finland's participation in security-building activities in Europe possible.
An opinion poll commissioned by the Defence Information planning Board revealed that over 35% of Finns believe that the importance of neutrality for Finland has decreased in recent years (24% in 1991, 13% in 1990). 36% of the respondents would stay totally out of military alliances and rely on an independent defence capability. 58% of the respondents thought that the defence budget should be kept untouched. 44% of those interviewed thought that the decision to buy 60 fighter aircraft was mostly positive while 40% thought that it was mostly negative. 77% of the respondents supported defending Finland by military means even if the outcome was unsure (70% in 1991).
Prime Minister Aho met Secretary General of the UN Boutros-Ghali in New York. Aho handed Boutros-Ghali an official response concerning Finland's development aid. According to the response the cuts in Finnish development aid are temporary and due to the economic situation in Finland.
The Government submitted to Parliament a proposal which would enable the EC Commission to establish a permanent delegation in Finland and grant the delegation diplomatic rights.
The heads of state of the EC countries decided in Edinburgh to start negotiations with Finland, Sweden, and Austria in the beginning of 1993. The summit reminded that the membership negotiations cannot be brought to an end until Britain and Denmark have approved the Maastricht treaty. According to Foreign Minister Väyrynen and Minister of Foreign Trade Salolainen Finland is ready to begin the negotiations ahead of schedule. Väyrynen said that Finland might even benefit from starting the negotiations earlier than was planned. Väyrynen thought that the EC is ready to make many compromises with the membership candidates if it is in a hurry to get new members. Salolainen estimated that Finland could become a member at the beginning of 1995.
The Government decided to strengthen the preparation of foreign and security policy by allowing the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament to discuss doctrinal questions of foreign policy. The Government also aims to coordinate the foreign policy statements of individual ministers and decided that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will coordinate official visits from Finland.
The Parliament of Estonia approved a proposal which would extend the limit of Estonia's territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. The proposal had raised criticism in Finland because it would move the traffic of Russian warships closer to the Finnish coast.
The foreign ministers of the EC decided that Finland, Sweden, and Austria will begin formal negotiations about membership in the EC on 1.2.1993. The foreign ministers of the three candidates were invited to join the first session of the negotiations in Brussels. In the session the EC and the applicants will present their interests and goals in the negotiations. The schedule of the negotiations will also be decided during the session. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, the foreign minister of Denmark, which will be the chairman country of the EC from the beginning of 1993, stated that the goal of Denmark is to make Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Austria members of the EC in 1995.
The prime ministers of the Nordic countries met in Copenhagen with Prime Minister of Denmark Paul Schlüter. Topics of discussions included EC membership negotiations, the implementation of the EEA treaty, and the reorganization of Nordic cooperation. Prime Minister Aho emphasized that the interpretations of the Maastricht treaty provided by the Lisbon and Edinburgh summits will make the membership negotiations easier.
Finland recognized the Czech Republic and Slovakia
President Koivisto decided that Finland will send a UN observer group of 200 persons to Macedonia.