Finland is an integral part of Nordic Europe. With the
exception of a small Swedish-speaking minority, the
ethnically distinct from the Scandinavian countries, but
years that Finland was part of Sweden gave it a Nordic
inheritance that survived the century during which Finland
autonomous state within the Russian Empire. During the
period, it entered into numerous agreements with the other
of Nordic Europe. After World War II, relations resumed,
caution owing to the tensions of the Cold War. Finland
undertake no initiatives in international relations that
cause the Soviet Union to suspect that Finland was being
into the Western camp.
The gradual relaxation of superpower tensions meant
1955 Finland could join the Nordic Council, three years
foundation. The Nordic Council was an organization
further cooperation among Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and
Meeting once a year for a week in one of the capitals of
member countries, the council was an advisory body, the
of which were not binding; it did carry considerable
however, as the delegates at the annual meetings were
leading politicians of the countries they represented. At
insistence of Finland, security matters were not to be
and attention was directed rather to economic, social, and
cultural issues. Unlike the European Community
the Nordic Council was not a supranational
organization, and membership in the council did not affect
Finland's status as a neutral nation.
The Treaty of Helsinki of 1962 gave birth to the Nordic
Convention on Cooperation, which defined the achievements
goals of the regional policy of increased interaction.
agreement was followed by the formation in 1971 of the
Council of Ministers, which instituted a formal structure
frequent meetings of the region's cabinet ministers. The
hand determined which ministers would attend. In addition
these larger bodies, numerous smaller entities existed to
Nordic cooperation. A study of the second half of the
more than 100 such organizations. The efforts of these
the many formal and informal meetings of Nordic
civil servants stopped short of full integration, but they
yielded numerous agreements that brought Finland and the
Nordic countries closer together. This so-called "cobweb
integration" has given the citizens of Nordic Europe many
reciprocal rights in one another's countries. Finns were
travel freely without passports throughout Nordic Europe,
and work there without restrictions, enjoy the full social
health benefits of each country, and since 1976, vote in
elections after a legal residence of two years.
another of the Nordic countries could be acquired more
a Finn than by someone from outside the region.
Economic cooperation did not proceed so smoothly.
hopes, in the mid-1950s, of establishing a common market
disappointed, and EFTA was accepted as a substitute. An
in 1969 to form a Nordic customs union, the Nordic
(NORDEK), foundered when Finland withdrew from the plan.
withdrawal may have been caused by Soviet concerns that
could be brought into too close a relationship with the
Denmark's expected membership in the Community. This
mitigated, however, when the Nordic Investment Bank began
operations in 1976 in Helsinki. The bank's purpose was to
in financial ventures in the Nordic region.
In the second half of the 1980s, Finland continued
with its Scandinavian neighbors, being a part, for
the Nordic bloc in the UN and participating in Nordic
development projects. Finland's Nordic NWFZ proposal was
studied and furthered by an inter-Nordic parliamentary
and Finland was always present at the semiannual meeting
Nordic foreign ministers.
Data as of December 1988