Finland Table of Contents
Considering the magnitude of the defeat and the blows that were dealt to other nations fighting on Germany's side during World War II, Finland did not fare badly when the terms for the Treaty of Paris were completed on February 10, 1947. With respect to national security, the most important parts of the peace treaty were the restrictions it put on Finland's armed forces. Part III, Articles 13 through Article 22, limited the future regular Finnish army to 34,400 soldiers, the navy to 4,500 individuals, and the air force to 3,000. There were also exclusions of equipment of an offensive nature, such as bombers, missiles, and submarines. Warships could not exceed a combined total of 10,000 tons. The air force could acquire up to sixty combat planes, but they were not to include bombers or fighter bombers. None of the services was allowed to construct, to procure, or to test nuclear weapons.
The stipulations on the size of the Finnish armed forces were included on the demand of Britain, which did not want to accord special treatment to Finland. (Limiting provisions also had been incorporated into the peace treaties with Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary.) Fears that Finland would soon come within the Soviet orbit may also have influenced the British demands. The peace treaty restrictions have never been interpreted as prohibiting Finland from training and arming a large reserve force, however. The Soviet Union has, on the contrary, been willing to sell Finland equipment far in excess of the needs of its standing army.
Changing geopolitical conditions and weapons technology have resulted in an easing of the treaty's restrictions. In spite of the prohibition against missiles of all types, in 1963 the contracting parties approved an interpretation of the peace treaty permitting Finland to acquire defensive missiles. Finland subsequently armed itself with naval surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs), antiaircraft missiles, and antitank missiles. In 1983, following another interpretation that the treaty's ban on magnetic underwater mines did not prohibit mines of a defensive nature, Finland was permitted to buy modern mines from Britain and from the Soviet Union.
The problems of national defense were also affected by the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance (FCMA-- see Appendix B) with the Soviet Union, requested by Joseph Stalin in February 1948 and signed by the Finnish government in April of the same year (see The Cold War and the Treaty of 1948 , ch. 1). The most important defense-related clauses were Articles 1 and 2, which deal with military cooperation and consultation between Finland and the Soviet Union. Other articles deal with noninterference in the internal affairs of the other state and agreement not to enter into an alliance aimed against the other party of the treaty.
The Finnish government distinguished the FCMA treaty from a military alliance by pointing out that its military clauses were restricted to situations of attack against Finland or against the Soviet Union through Finnish territory. Moreover, according to the language of the treaty, the military assistance to be provided by the Soviet Union was not to come into effect automatically; it was to require Finland's approval following consultations of the general staffs of the two nations.
The FCMA treaty has been renewed several times, most recently in 1983 for a twenty-year period. The frequent renewals, long before the expiration dates, seemed to reflect intense Soviet interest in the treaty. Finland has strenuously avoided military consultations under the treaty and has never accepted hints by the Soviets that the treaty should be the basis for military cooperation and joint exercises. Nevertheless, the potential for serious strains with Moscow always existed over the need for, and the nature of, assistance under the treaty (see Soviet Union , ch. 4).
The Aland Islands have historically served, during conflict in the Baltic Sea, as naval bases and as staging and transit areas in support of offensive operations on land (see fig. 1). In 1921 the most important Baltic countries, exclusive of the Soviet Union, concluded a convention that strengthened the demilitarization of the islands originally agreed to in 1856. Under this convention, Finland could neither fortify the islands nor construct military bases in the archipelago, but it could send armed forces there temporarily in case of a need to restore order or to carry out inspections by small naval vessels or air reconnaissance. In wartime, the convention authorized Finland to take necessary measures to repel an attack endangering the neutrality of the zone.
In 1940, under a separate agreement between Finland and the Soviet Union, Finland reaffirmed the demilitarization of the islands and pledged not to place them at the disposal of any other state's armed forces. These commitments were recognized by a clause in the 1947 Treaty of Paris stating that the islands were to remain demilitarized. In conformity with Finland's obligations under these agreements, the Coast Guard patrolled the territorial waters of the Aland Islands in peacetime. The Defense Forces would exercise responsibility for their defense in wartime.
Data as of December 1988
Finland Table of Contents