202. Telegram From the Embassy in Finland to the Department of State0

288. Comment on Embtel 287.1 President Kekkonen in December 10 radio speech appears to have gone dangerously far toward giving Moscow free hand in determination how far Finland must go to restore Soviet confidence and trust in Finland. He skillfully sought, through drawing heavily on Paasikivi and other statements re past crises, to give impression that he simply reminding nation of necessity strict adherence to established and proved policies. Embassy feels however that he postulated degree of subservience that can only be described as new. In reply to “generally asked” question of whether Soviet Union has any reason for suspicions towards Finland, President treated query as irrelevant and said no way conceal or deny fact of Soviet dissatisfaction and “it is up to us to decide what conclusions to draw”. The conclusion he himself in effect drew is that irrespective of “rights” to contrary, Finland cannot afford to manage its affairs as it wishes, or even as required honestly to keep faith with Soviets, but must act in manner which will meet subjective Soviet standards as to what is proper. President argued USSR had not interfered in Finland’s internal affairs, but had merely “indicated its views, right that cannot be denied to it.” He placed blame for present situation almost entirely on Finns, although only specifics he cited were post-Porkkala appearance of critical writings and “underestimation” in Finland of significant results obtained during his visit to Moscow last May.

President failed give indication of what he had in mind to remedy situation. He did however through references to successful policies of late forties and to “pre-Porkkala” period seem intent upon preparing way for significant, perhaps open-ended, concessions. Vague allusions to return to conditions of “end 1940s” could be used to justify inclusion Communists in the Cabinet as in 1946–1948 period, but does not necessarily point to such inclusion immediately.

President’s motivation for what Embassy can only characterize as shocking abnegation of Finland’s position can only be conjectured. On basis variety reports he seems in recent days to have been intent upon [Page 524] giving impression of being deeply troubled, if not outright alarmed, over Soviet situation. Should be noted in this connection that in his speech and in other public and private statements, he has related “critical” international situation, including “threat of war”, to Finland’s position. This feeling may be genuine. In appraising President’s stance, however, it is important to note that he has consistently and freely utilized a “viewing with alarm” technique in his post-war career. Many astute Finn observers have indicated that Kekkonen and his Agrarian Party are in real trouble in consequence policies and actions re Fagerholm Government, particularly loose use of “Soviet displeasure” issue. Entirely possible therefore Kekkonen is seeking shore up his own and party’s position by direct, and alarmist-colored, justification his position to people.

Disdain expressed for “advice” and “promised aid” based on political considerations from western countries could fit same pattern. Probable that in inter-party debates President’s opponents arguing that Finland can safely risk continued Soviet economic boycott since assistance could be secured from west. Hence logical President should point to “danger” such aid. (It must be allowed, on the other hand, that the President may have felt compelled take such position view possibility Soviet protest based on Newsweek and follow-up stories regarding US assurances.)

Whatever President’s motivation the Embassy convinced that Finn position vis-à-vis Soviets has been worsened and that serious undermining Finn independence now real possibility. Final outcome this phase which will probably not be determined for several months, will depend on way in which Soviets seek to capitalize on opportunities open to them, and on courage and good sense of political opponents to President’s course. These opponents are numerically predominant although at present poorly organized and virtually leaderless.

Embassy believes that best course for US is to sit tight from standpoint both comment and action and await developments.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 660E.61/12–1158. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Moscow.
  2. Telegram 287 from Helsinki, December 11, which summarized the December 10 speech, underlined Kekkonen’s insistence that Finland’s foreign policy “can henceforth never run counter to the Soviet Union, and our Eastern neighbor must be convinced of our determination to prove this.” (Ibid.)