Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State
The Minister of Finland called at his own request. He said that the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland had been invited by the Soviet Government at Moscow to come to that city for a discussion of political questions, and urged to come as soon as possible. The Minister [Page 961] said that his latest impression was the Finnish Foreign Minister himself would decline to go, but would send a subordinate with the view to minimizing and discouraging the matter from the standpoint of the Government of Finland. I said that naturally it was to be hoped the two countries might be able to keep up normal and mutually satisfactory friendly relations. I inquired as to what the Minister thought the Soviet might have in mind. He replied that he only knew what had happened to Estonia and Latvia, which was that the Soviet had assumed military domination of those two countries. I inquired as to what islands, if any, he thought the Soviet would insist on occupying, and he told me those two or three in the Gulf of Finland, as well as the Aland Islands, although, he said, his Government had not the power to transfer occupational rights or privileges on the Aland Islands to the Soviet, on account of the international factors involved.25 The Minister then urged that this Government say something in some way to the Soviet Government with the view to discouraging any objectionable acts by the Soviet Government against Finland and to its detriment. I said that, regardless of our genuine friendship for his country and his people, we were not in a position to project this Government into political discussions and controversies between two other countries, such as the Soviet and Finland. I said that even if we were so disposed and should undertake to send a message to our Ambassador at Moscow for this purpose, it would probably become public and then the more harm would result both to Finland and to this country than any possible good, on account of the unfavorable reaction of the Soviet Government towards Finland in these circumstances. The Minister agreed that this view was true. I said that, repeating exactly my words of two days ago, this Government naturally feels a wholehearted interest in the welfare of Finland, and, in that state of mind, it naturally observes with interest developments from time to time relating to the welfare of Finland and her people. I added that this was all I could say at present.
- For the international stipulations involved, see the Convention relating to the Nonfortification and Neutralization of the Åland Islands signed at Geneva, October 20, 1921, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. ix, p. 211.↩