Suomen ulkopolitiikan asiakirja-arkisto ja kronologia
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Remarks by Mr. Pertti Paasio, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland on Council on Foreign Relations, 3 October 1990, New York

The impact of current developments on East-West relations

- A view from neutral countries of Europe

- A debate is going on in the US - primarily in the academia - about the so-called decline of the Great Powers. We listen and read with curiosity and ponder the meaning of the debate.

- At the same time, a debate is also going on in Europe whether the European neutrals are in decline as a result of the lessening of the traditional East-West tension. What are we neutral about if there is no division or conflict?

- There seems to be some interest in Eastern Central European countries - former Warsaw Pact Members - to discuss the meaning of neutrality as well. For them, however, neutrality is an alternative for alliance membership. Obviously, reorientation from alliance position to neutrality will be a complicated matter.

- The topic of the debate today here is, therefore, both timely and complex.

- From the Finnish point of view, the disappearance of division and confrontation in Europe is a matter of relief. We have actively worked in bridge-building during the cold war. It has brought a lot of frustration. It has been part of being neutral. The end of cold war has not put us on idle - yet at least. Bridge builders are not needed as much any more. But managers with job experience are still needed. But the difference is that in today's circumstances, our role and endeavours are more productive and gratifying.

- Unification of Germany - effective from today - is of course a central issue. From the Finnish point of view, it is not a minor thing. It will affect our landscape in ways that are perhaps not yet fully visible. But we see it entirely positive, releasing hitherto constrained energies into constructive purposes. For us Germany is significant with a view to both our relations with Western Europe (EC) as well as our relations with the Soviet Union.

- Ending of the cold war released the forces of freedom in the Baltic states - still part of the Soviet Union. Without doubt, Finland lik'e other neighbouring countries have a high stake in the orderly liberation of the Baltic nations. We support their aspirations for independence, but we believe they should pursue them in negotiations with the Soviet government. For us good relations with our neighbour in the East seem a necessity, both in practice and in principle. We hope that the Baltic nations would see it the same way. It is essential for stability in the area and therefore a direct concern to us. - A brief look in the history of Finland tells how vital international relations around the Baltic Sea are for Finland.

- In the Finnish foreign policy, good relations with our immediate neighbours and neutrality occupy central places. But in the new emerging Europe, participation in broader contexts has become indispensable.

- One might think that good neighbourly relations can be taken far granted in the new Europe. Or that neutrality has has lost its guiding value in a Europe whole and free. We are, however, convinced that new priorities should complement, not supercede old priorities. Thus the necessity for us to participate fully in Western European integration does not do away with the fact that we have high stakes in our relations with the Soviet Union, our neighbour, both economic, social and cultural.

- The internal problems of the Soviet Union pose to us formidable challenge.

- For Finland, since early 1970's, the CSCE has been the forum to deal with European relations. Consensus-based, it suits neutral countries well. It will stay a centerpiece in Finnish diplomacy, certain to keep us busy, not idle.

- Through EFTA, Finland is trying to secure its interest in the intensified integration of the European Communities. We don't want to be excluded from the Market. On the other hand we do not consider membership in the BC as a viable option - at this stage at least. Nor is the EC now welcoming membership applications.

- Neutrality is fundamental to Finnish foreign policy. It is our way to deal with every eventuality.

- Neutrality may have a connotation of withdrawal. Today participation is the international way of life. For us there is no contradiction between neutrality and participation. At least as we are concerned.

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