The Minister in Finland ( Schoenfeld ) to the Secretary of State
[Received October 4.]
Sir: With reference to my despatch no. 521 of May 23, 1938,9 informing the Department that the Legation had submitted to the Finnish Foreign Office on May 20 in pursuance of instructions a draft convention between the United States and Finland relative to military service and other acts of allegiance, I have the honor to report that, since the submission of that draft, periodic inquiry has been made at the Foreign Office as to when consideration of the proposal by the various Finnish Ministries concerned would be completed, and the readiness of the Legation was stated to discuss the matter in further detail upon completion of such consideration.
On August 23 I last mentioned the matter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and expressed the hope that consideration of the proposal in the latest form submitted, which had been pending since May of this year, could now be expedited. The Minister undertook to look into the matter and on September 9 Mr. Gray, Third Secretary of this Legation, was requested by Mr. Sohlberg, Chief of the Juridical Section of the Foreign Office, to call on him.
By my direction Third Secretary Gray did so, and I enclose for the Department’s information a memorandum of Mr. Gray’s conversation with Mr. Sohlberg on September 9,9 from which it appears that our proposal of May 20 is not acceptable to the Finnish Government on the ground, which has been the obstacle to the successful negotiation of such a convention since it was first proposed some years ago, that the Finnish Government does not see its way to sign any treaty affecting in a binding manner the military obligations of Finnish men between the ages of 17 and 28, and naturalized in a foreign country.
In view of this attitude, which was not unexpected, Mr. Gray, also by my direction, submitted the alternative proposal authorized by the Department’s instruction no. 57 of April 26, 1938, and I enclose for the Department’s information a memorandum9 left with Mr. Sohlberg by Mr. Gray covering this alternative proposal.
It now seems clear that nothing can be accomplished towards the negotiation of a treaty relating to the military obligations of naturalized persons until the Finnish nationality law is revised. As to the probability of such revision in the present frame of mind of the Finnish Government, I invite the Department’s attention to Mr. Sohlberg’s statement, as reported in Mr. Gray’s memorandum of conversation [Page 476] enclosed, that it is the intention, in Mr. Sohlberg’s opinion, to maintain the present law affecting the military obligations of men between the ages of 17 and 28, in any case. It may be desirable in these circumstances, and the Department may wish so to instruct me, to bring to the attention of the Finnish Government in a more formal way, by means of a note, that the convention now under discussion on the basis of the latest proposal does not cover the very important class of naturalized persons and that a liberalization of the Finnish nationality law with reference to Finnish men between the ages of 17 and 28 and naturalized abroad would permit negotiation of a treaty defining the military obligations of naturalized persons. Such a formal statement on our part might have the advantage of recording our position in a more formal manner than has been possible during the recent stages of this negotiation and of correspondingly establishing the point in the mind of the Finnish authorities.
I beg leave to add that it appears probable that the Finnish Government will find no objection to the latest proposal made and it may be expected that the negotiation will be satisfactorily concluded with reference to the limited class of persons born with dual nationality.
[For text of Convention Between the United States and Finland Regulating Military Obligations of Persons Having Dual Nationality, signed at Helsinki January 27, 1939, see Department of State Treaty Series No. 953, or 54 Stat. 1712.]