CFM Files

Verbatim Record


C.P. (Plen) 19

The President:

The Conference has decided to invite the Finnish Government to state its views with regard to the draft Treaty with Finland.

[Page 237]

In virtue of this decision, I call upon M. Enckell, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, to take the floor.

M. Enckell (Finland):

Mr. President, Gentlemen, the Prime Minister of Finland, Mr. Pekkala, head of the Finnish Delegation, has asked me to read this statement on behalf of the Delegation.

The Finnish Delegation desires to express its deep gratitude for the opportunity it has been given to set forth its views and its wishes at the Peace Conference organized by the victors in the second world war.

One of the results of that war is that Finland, a democratic country, defeated with heavy loss, now stands as an ex-enemy before the victorious democratic Powers.

We would like, however, to recall that Finland was one of the first countries to institute democracy, a system which was, and still is, diametrically opposed to Nazism. More than forty years ago, mainly through the efforts of the working classes, we introduced universal suffrage with full equality for men and women in political life.

This system has weathered all storms and is now firmly anchored in the Finnish people. This is why Finland, realizing the disaster inherent in war, put an end to this policy, tried and condemned its leaders as responsible for the war, concluded an armistice, declared war on the Germans and drove them out of its territory.

Our war against Germany cost us many lives. We have also had to spend large sums of money as a result on the far-reaching devastation of the country by the German troops. We believe and hope that this is sufficient proof, even for other countries, of what the real attitude and aspirations of the Finnish people have always been.

Our people have therefore turned over a new leaf and are pursuing a new policy of lasting cooperation with its great eastern neighbour for the maintenance of peace and good neighbourhood in that part of Europe.

Finland has endeavoured, correctly and punctually, to comply with the terms of the armistice agreement concluded with the Soviet Union and Great Britain. This has already been publicly acknowledged, and the whole Finnish nation particularly appreciates the fact that, in the Preamble to the draft Peace Treaty, it is admitted that Finland has loyally endeavoured to fulfil its obligations under the armistice agreement.

Now that the moment has come for the definitive conclusion of peace and the Conference has kindly invited my country to set forth its views and desires with regard to the questions at issue, the Finnish Delegation begs, for a short while, to take up the Conference’s valuable [Page 238] time and to describe the difficulties into which we have been plunged by two unfortunate wars, in respect of which we crave understanding and indulgence on the part of the victors.

After the first world war, the Soviet Union was the first to recognize Finland’s independence, and, by authoritative statements made at the time, to lay stress upon the fact, that this was an act of historic justice towards an industrious people. Between the two wars, Finland’s rapid progress in the economic and social fields gained us the goodwill and respect of the world. This shows the importance to be attached to Finland’s independence and territorial integrity.

It is evident that a country defeated in two unfortunate wars encounters great difficulties in fulfilling its obligations under the Peace Treaty and in organizing its life on a new basis.

According to the draft Peace Treaty, the main lines of which have been agreed upon by the Council of the Four Foreign Ministers, the Finnish frontiers are established as fixed by the Treaty of Moscow. This means that Finland is to lose the major part of the province of Vilpurie [Viipuri], or Finnish Carelia, a territory of some 24,000 sq. km.

This region included the Town of Vilpurie [Viipuri], a large export harbour and traffic counter, which was utilized as such, not only by the areas destined to be taken from Finland, but also by territories to remain within the Finnish frontiers.

This gives rise to numerous and difficult problems. The region in question was inhabited by a population of 436,000, which in the final stage of the war, migrated to other parts of Finland. The task of permanently establishing these people in the remaining part of Finland is lengthy, calls for heavy sacrifices, increases Finland’s difficulties in paying war reparations and, in general, delays economic reconstruction.

The territory in question was also the seat of important industrial concerns and its farming was highly developed. This naturally also tends to weaken Finland’s economic capacity.

According to the draft Peace Treaty, Finland is also to lose the territory of Petsamo on the Arctic coast. This territory, surrendered to Finland by the Soviet Union of its own accord under the Peace Treaty of 1920, was beginning to play an important part in Finland’s economic life, mainly owing to its excellent harbour.

Finland has further to lease to the Soviet Union the Porkkala region near Helsinki, the loss of which will cause serious difficulties in supplying the capital with foodstuffs since it is thereby deprived of certain means of communication.

[Page 239]

You will understand that, in view of the importance for us of the territories to be ceded, we entertain the hope that the territorial clauses may be somewhat mitigated in the final Peace Treaty. The present and future effects of the Finnish armistice agreement on our national wealth and economic life are set forth in the memoranda which the Finnish Delegation submits to the Conference.9 From these documents the Conference will be able to appreciate the consequences which the wars have entailed for Finland and the extent to which its productive capacity has suffered through loss of territory. To this should be added the devastation directly due to the war, mainly through German action in Northern Finland, the nation’s losses in man-power, the reduction of economic reserves, the weakening of the state finances and the burdens and expense caused by the displacement of the population.

Under the armistice agreement, Finland has to pay reparations in kind to the amount of 300 million dollars. The goods are to be invoiced on the basis of the world market prices of 1938, subject to an increase of 10 to 15 percent. Finland has also to pay compensation for all property removed from the Soviet Union to Finland, but these amounts have been reduced through the kindness of Generalissimo Stalin and the Soviet Government.

An improvement of the position through foreign trade is not to be reckoned with. Indeed, but for outside aid, which has enabled Finland to maintain its modest standard of living and to reorganize production, the country would not have been in a position to pay reparations.

A final peace treaty is now to be concluded between Finland on the one hand and the Soviet Union and Great Britain on the other. The question arises whether there is still some hope of obtaining easier economic conditions.

In the first place, we would like to see a reduction in the amount of the war indemnity. If these, for instance, could be reduced by 100,000,000 dollars, Finland’s chances of fulfilling its obligations would be increased.

There are other clauses in the draft Peace Treaty in respect of which we should like to submit our views. But we do not propose to take up any more of the Conference’s time by enumerating the provisions which appear to call for our comment. We presume that these will be discussed at meetings of special commissions.

It is the sincere desire of the Finnish Government that the peace to come shall be one of reconciliation, and pave the way to a lasting friendship between the Finnish people and its great neighbour whilst [Page 240] laying the foundation for the existence of Finland as a free and independent nation.

We must state, in conclusion, that the attitude of the victorious powers towards us, since the armistice has been a generous one. A proof of this is the leniency shown by Generalissimo Stalin and the Soviet Government as regards an extension of the time-limit for payment of reparations and other proposals submitted by a Finnish Delegation during a recent visit to Moscow. We have also received numerous expressions of goodwill from the second signatory of the Armistice Agreement, namely, Great Britain, as well as from other States.

We earnestly hope that this spirit of goodwill will be reflected in the work of this Conference, in the coming peace and in action that may lighten the heavy burden borne by the Finnish people.

The President:

The representative of Finland has just given the point of view of his Government.

On behalf of the Conference, I assure him that the statement which he has made will receive all the consideration it deserves from the various delegations.

I beg the Secretary-General to be good enough to escort the Finnish Delegation from the Conference Hall.

(Accompanied by M. Fouques Duparc, Secretary-General, the Delegation of Finland leaves.)

[Regarding the course of proceedings following Enckell’s speech, here omitted, see the United States Delegation Journal account of the meeting, infra.]

The President:

May I ask for the Conference’s attention a little longer, I have received a request from the Conference Secretariat which I communicate as a suggestion:

  • (Chairman’s Draft)—as amended by the Australian representative.
  • —The Australian wording has been underlined.

In order to organise the work of the Commissions due to begin, and at the request of the Secretariat, I suggest to the Plenary Session of the Conference, that a deadline be fixed for Delegations to send in to the Secretary-General their amendments to the draft Treaties or any new proposals pertaining to these draft Treaties.

In making this suggestion I am following the practice adopted at the San Francisco Conference.

In my opinion, this suggestion should not prevent amendments to be made during future discussions of the Conference and its Commissions, either in order to facilitate agreement or to deal with new points arising, but would allow Commissions to know in advance, at [Page 241] the beginning of their work, what basic proposals and amendments they are going to deal with.

Consequently, I suggest that the Delegations which desire to submit amendments to the draft Treaties or new proposals pertaining to these draft Treaties, be invited to send them in to the Secretary-General before the 20th August, midnight.

The Secretariat will be asked to classify these amendments and proposals and allocate them, on the 21st, to the various Commissions of the Conference in the same way as the Secretariat allocates the articles of the draft Treaties.

Any objections?


(The meeting rose at 8:45 p.m.)

  1. See the Observations on the Draft Peace Treaty with Finland by the Finnish Government, C.P. (Gen) Doc. 6, August 26, vol. iv, p. 282.