THE RETURN OF FINNISH KARELIA
Finnish speaking people, originating from Finland, have inhabited Karelia for about 10 000 years, whereas the Rus-sians have lived there for a mere 60 years. Finland became independent the 6th of December, 1917. The Finnish-Russian border remained unchanged since the time Finland was the grand duchy of Russia. The Petsamo (Pechenga) area was attached to Finland, exchanged for another area in Karelia. This border was confirmed in the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920.
The SU attacked Finland on the 30th of November, 1939 without any declaration of war. Thus began the Winter War. The SU was expelled from the League of Nations. A state of war ended on the 13th March, 1940 and an interim peace began. The first evacuation of Karelian refugees took place when they left their homes.
The Germans started Operation Barbarossa and attacked the SU on June 22nd, 1941. Without any declaration of war the Russians bombed Finland on the 25th of June, 1941. Thus the Continuation War or WW II began for Finland. Within a few weeks time the Finnish army had pushed back the Russian offensive from Karelian territory so that the evacuated Karelians were allowed to return to their homes. In most cases they had to rebuild their log cabins, which were destroyed during the Winter War.
The Continuation War ended with a Finnish military defence victory. However, the Karelian evacuees had again to leave their homes and return to other parts of Finland. The disappointing conditions for peace were outlined in Paris, 1947.
The losses of the two wars for Finland were devastating. There were about 95 000 casualties, 240 000 injured, 420 000 evacuees and 85 000 war orphans. Finland had to pay the SU for war damages US $ 262.5 million, in gold dollars. National anger rose because the Finnish President, national hero, Risto Ryti, as well as some other government offi-cials were condemned as “criminals of war”. This was deeply humiliating. A post-war Russian military surveillance commission tried to break the backbone of Finnish national self-respect. The constant mental anxiety from Russian controllers produced a phenomenon called “Finlandization”.
Background for the return
Demand for justice is nowadays growing, and crimes of totalitarian communist regimees have also been condemned by the European Council.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Finland ended its unilateral Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (FCMA) with the former SU. At the same time Finland nullified some armament articles of the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty.
The Karelian evacuees received from the State of Finland social welfare and subsidies on average 20 % as a compen-sation for the losses of their property. However, they still own their lost properties in the occupied Karelia. The Kare-lians resettled throughout Finland in a unique way. Had they stayed in the occupied Karelia, most would have been sent to Russian labor camps and the rest of Finland would have been occupied. Their purpose in reconstruction has been instrumental.
Tens of thousands of Finnish people had to give land to the Karelian evacuees. The financial compensation these land-owners received from the State of Finland did not cover their losses.
Karelia from the viewpoint of Moscow is a periphery without perspective. It is wasting away and desolate. The medie-val stone city of Viipuri (Vyborg) with unique stone castle is crumbling. Only oil ports, T-shirt shops and pompous, ugly dachas – country houses - are being built.
Return of Karelia back to Finland would benefit Russia
We estimate that about 8 billion Euros is needed to reconstruct the infrastructures in Karelia. About 20 billion Euros should be used for private investments over a 10 year period. The revenue from forest and agricultural products would be around 10 billion Euros. The infrastructure can thus be funded by taking advantage of these unutilized resources.
For investments there will be EU support as well as investors from different parts of the world. An effective commer-cial and industrial centre in the proximity of St. Petersburg, would benefit both countries. Growing markets in Russia interest both Finnish and international businesses.
The return of Karelia would develop additional resources for the national Finnish economy, especially in Eastern Finland. The construction phase would demand about 400 000 – 500 000 working years and would create about 150 000 permanent jobs. About 300 000 Finns would move to the area.
At present about 365 000 Russians live in occupied Karelia; about 270 000 in the Karelian Isthmus and 95 000 in the Ladogan Karelia.
When Karelia is returned to Finland, the Russian border guards, officials and army will move back to Russia. Those who choose to leave Karelia will be compensated for their properties. About 200 000 people will probably stay in the area, forming about 4 % of the Finnish population. This is about the same as the present Swedish minority in Finland. All the civil rights, housing, social and other security benefits would be implemented according to international regula-tions.
The return is a process
ProKarelia introduces six points for realizing the return.
- Stop complaining and adopt a positive attitude
- Accept a peaceful return of Karelia based on mutual advantage (win-win)
- Accept the nature of the return progress in stages
- Concentrate forces first on a political and national discussion in Finland
- Motivate the political leadership to do a broad study about the effects of the return
- Search for political understanding for the case and offer negotiations to Russia
We live in a changing world, one of possibilities. ProKarelia would like cooperation in the return of these forcefully ceded territories. It is a constructive idea to integrate Russia into the EU. Russia has raw-materials and energy. EU has technology, know-how and management. Both parties need each other. From the return will stem a new, beginning for Finnish, EU and Russian constructive cooperation.
Teamwork pays – Ex unitate vires!
ProKarelia is a non-governmental organization. Its mission is to have the forcefully ceded Finnish territories of Karelia returned back to Finland and European Union.
The return is to occur peacefully by negotiation, in good cooperation with Russia, European Union, OSCE and United Nations as well as other international organizations, on the win-win basis.
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