The Minister in Finland (Warren) to the Secretary of State
Sir: I have the honor to report that on February 18, I called upon Mr. K. A. Fagerholm, the Social Democratic Chairman of the Finnish Diet, at his office at the State Alcohol Board (Fagerholm is a director of this Board). An Attaché of this Legation acted as interpreter.[Page 762]
After the usual courtesies, Mr. Fagerholm indicated that he was anxious to make known some information concerning those problems which are currently causing the greatest concern to Finland. Mr. Fagerholm wanted to make it clear that he shares President Paasikivi’s close confidence.
Mr. Fagerholm said that the President is gravely concerned about a “defense friendship pact” with the Soviet Union. Such a pact was suggested to Prime Minister Mauno Pekkala and Foreign Minister Carl Enckell while they were in Moscow for the October Revolution celebrations last November. Since the January 1948 arrival of General Savonenkov in Finland as Soviet Minister, he has approached President Paasikivi and Foreign Minister Enckell about such a pact, demanding that the Finns initiate the discussions. The General’s pressure at the present time for such a pact is strong. Fagerholm said it is extremely difficult for Finland to prevent such a pact in view of the squeeze which the Soviet Union can apply upon Finland in connection with reparations deliveries and interpretation of the peace treaty.
The President, as well as Mr. Fagerholm, is of the opinion that the Finnish Government must postpone any decision relative to a Soviet-Finnish “defense friendship pact” until after the Diet elections in July. He went on to say that the present Government no longer has the confidence of the Finnish people, it has to be considered to be merely a technical Government acting during the interim period until the new elections. It would therefore be most dangerous for the present Government to propose such a pact. If it is still necessary to propose such a pact after election of the new Diet, which will contain fewer extreme leftists, the Government which will then be formed will at least have the confidence of the people who might then understand the necessity of a pact. All the people, except for the Communists, are against a pact. Necessity can, however, make them succumb. Although the pressure for a pact is increasing, the President is determined to cause postponement of any action on the matter until after the elections. No notes relative to the pact have been written by the Soviets; all Soviet approaches have been oral.
Mr. Fagerholm explained that any aids to Finland’s economy will strengthen Finland’s position in stalling off the Soviets. If the Finnish Government could be certain that reparations deliveries and other obligations incurred under the peace treaty could be met to the full satisfaction of the Soviet Union, the Government would be fortified in its struggle to prevent any alliance with the Soviet Union.
With respect to the possibility of Diet elections earlier than the scheduled time in July, Mr. Fagerholm said that it naturally would be worthwhile to have elections earlier (in order that a Government based [Page 763] on the popular will might be formed). On the other hand, these elections, for technical reasons, could not be scheduled for any date earlier than the end of May. Thus, there is not much to be gained by advancing them a month before the scheduled July date.
The French Minister to Finland, Mr. François Coulet, spoke with me on February 16 about talk of a friendship and mutual defense assistance pact between Finland and the Soviet Union. Minister Coulet said that Foreign Minister Enckell, a long time friend, had called upon him specifically to tell him of recent talks with the Soviet Minister, General Savonenkov. The two recent visits of Savonenkov to President Paasikivi (Legation’s telegram No. 34 of January 31, 19481) were for the purpose of inviting the President to visit Moscow. On General Savonenkov’s first visit he proposed the visit, and on the second call he insisted upon the visit to Moscow by the Finnish President. President Paasikivi is said to have replied that (1) Any matters of common interest additional to the peace treaty can be discussed just as well between the two of them in Helsinki as on a visit to Moscow; (2) The Finnish population would be terrified by such a visit, recalling the President’s ill-fated visit to Moscow on the eve of the Finnish-Soviet Winter War in November 1939; (3) The state of the President’s health (he suffers from lumbago) does not permit him to travel at this time.
Minister Enckell himself was invited to lunch by General Savonenkov on February 13. At this time the General proposed that the Finns, on their own initiative, propose a friendship and mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union. Minister Enckell replied (1) As the Finnish peace treaty has so recently come into force, it might be better first to determine Finland’s ability to adhere to it before making any further treaties; (2) There would be strong opposition to such a pact in the present Finnish Diet; (3) The Finnish people are not ready for a friendship and mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union. The General refused to accept Minister Enckell’s third point, saying he has been in Finland for three years and knows that the Finnish people are ready.
Minister Coulet told me that he received the impression that the form of pact which the Soviets had in mind for Finland was similar to the pact signed with Hungary this week.2 Also I gathered that Minister Enckell was possibly using him as an intermediary to attempt to determine what would be the attitude of the United States toward the idea of a Finnish-Soviet friendship and mutual assistance pact [Page 764] and how the American Government might react, should such a pact be concluded.
My conversation with Mr. Fagerholm confirms the French Minister’s story about the existence of severe Soviet pressure upon the Finnish Government to propose a friendship and mutual assistance pact. Mr. Fagerholm appeared well aware that conclusion of such a pact would be a long stride towards the inclusion of Finland within the Soviet system.