Note Crisis

Last updated

The Note Crisis (Finnish : noottikriisi, Swedish : notkrisen) was a political crisis in Soviet–Finnish relations in 1961. The Soviet Union sent Finland a diplomatic note on October 30, 1961, referring to the threat of war and West German militarization and proposing that Finland and the Soviet Union begin consultations on securing the defence of both countries, as provided for in the Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948. The note coincided with the detonation of the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful nuclear test in history, and followed close on the heels of the Berlin Crisis and Bay of Pigs Invasion.


The note precipitated a crisis in Finland: activating the military provisions of the treaty would have frustrated Finland's post-war policy of neutrality in international affairs and greatly damaged Finland's relations with the West. One of the crucial goals of Finnish foreign policy was to reinforce the credibility of Finland's neutrality in the eyes of Western powers which were skeptical of the country's ability to resist Soviet influence.

At the time the note was sent, president Urho Kekkonen was in the Hawaiian Islands on vacation, during his successful visit to the United States and Canada. The proposed consultations threatened the achievements of the previous decade, during which Finland had attained UN membership and the Soviets had vacated the Porkkala military base near Helsinki, leased to them in 1944 for fifty years. At worst, the note was seen as the possible first step towards establishing a Soviet military presence in Finland, and even further, the de facto end of Finnish independence.

President Kekkonen handled the matter by arranging a personal meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Novosibirsk. As a result of the meeting, the Soviet Union agreed to "postpone" the consultations indefinitely, charging the Finns with monitoring the security situation in Northern Europe. The Finnish interpretation of the agreement was that the Soviets thereby left the matter of initiating military consultations to Finnish discretion, and the crisis was defused.

The most common view today is that the Soviet Union was mainly motivated by a desire to ensure Kekkonen's re-election in 1962. Kekkonen, who enjoyed the confidence of the Soviet leadership, was seeking re-election for the first time, and his main opponent, Olavi Honka  [ fi ], was regarded as having a good chance of victory with the backing of a six-party coalition, including two major parties, the Social Democrats and the National Coalition. The extent to which Kekkonen may himself have been involved in orchestrating the incident is disputed, but it is commonly accepted that he was expecting a Soviet intervention in the presidential election, and Kekkonen is known to have planned dissolving the Finnish parliament, forcing his opponents to campaign together in the Presidential election and against each other in the parliamentary election at the same time.

As a result of the crisis, Honka dropped his candidacy in November 1961, and in January 1962, Kekkonen was re-elected by an overwhelming vote of 199 out of 300 electoral college votes. During his second term in office, the Social Democrats were reconciled with Kekkonen's Agrarian League, leading to a new era in Finnish internal politics dominated by this so-called "red earth" alliance.


See also

Related Research Articles

Urho Kekkonen Eighth President of Finland (1956–1982)

Urho Kaleva Kekkonen, often referred to by his initials UKK, was a Finnish politician who served as the eighth and longest-serving President of Finland from 1956 until 1982. He was the third and most recent president from the Agrarian League/Center Party. As head of state for nearly 26 years, he dominated Finnish politics, held a large amount of power, won his later elections with little opposition and has often been classified as an autocrat. Nevertheless, he remains a respected figure.

Mauno Koivisto 9th President of Finland (1982–94)

Mauno Henrik KoivistoGOIH was a Finnish politician who served as the 9th President of Finland from 1982 to 1994. He also served twice as Prime Minister, from 1968–1970 and again from 1979–1982. He was also the first Social Democratic Party member to be elected President of Finland.

Juho Kusti Paasikivi Seventh President of Finland (1946-56)

Juho Kusti Paasikivi was the seventh President of Finland (1946–1956). Representing the Finnish Party and the National Coalition Party, he also served as Prime Minister of Finland. In addition to the above, Paasikivi held several other positions of trust, and was an influential figure in Finnish economics and politics for over fifty years.

Johannes Virolainen Finnish politician

Johannes Virolainen was a Finnish politician and who served as 30th Prime Minister of Finland.

Paasikivi–Kekkonen doctrine

The Paasikivi-Kekkonen doctrine was a foreign policy doctrine established by Finnish President Juho Kusti Paasikivi and continued by his successor Urho Kekkonen, aimed at Finland's survival as an independent sovereign, democratic, and capitalist country in the immediate proximity of the Soviet Union.

Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948

The Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance of 1948, also known as the YYA Treaty from the Finnish Ystävyys-, yhteistyö- ja avunantosopimus, was the basis for Finno–Soviet relations from 1948 to 1992. It was the main instrument in implementing the Finnish policy called Paasikivi–Kekkonen doctrine.

Karl-August Fagerholm Prime Minister of Finland (1948–50, 1956–57, and 1958–59)

Karl-August Fagerholm was Speaker of Parliament and three times Prime Minister of Finland. Fagerholm became one of the leading politicians of the Social Democrats after the armistice in the Continuation War. As a Scandinavia-oriented Swedish-speaking Finn, he was believed to be more to the taste of the Soviet Union's leadership than his predecessor, Väinö Tanner. Fagerholm's postwar career was, however, marked by fierce opposition from both the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of Finland. He narrowly lost the presidential election to Urho Kekkonen in 1956.

Keijo Liinamaa

Keijo Antero Liinamaa was a Finnish lawyer and politician who served as caretaker Prime Minister of Finland from June to November 1975.

Ahti Karjalainen Finnish politician

Ahti Kalle Samuli Karjalainen was a Finnish politician. He was a member of the Agrarian League and served two terms as Prime Minister of Finland. He is, however, better known for his period as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland. Karjalainen is considered one of the most influential figures in post-war Finnish politics. Like President Urho Kekkonen, Karjalainen attached great importance to Finland's relationship with the Soviet Union.

The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) was a key element of the détente process during the Cold War. Although it did not have the force of a Treaty, it recognized the boundaries of postwar Europe and established a mechanism for minimizing political and military tensions between East and West and improving human rights in the Communist bloc. The first phase was the Meeting of Foreign Ministers in Helsinki in 1973, the second negotiations held in Geneva from 1973 to 1975, and the third the Helsinki summit in 1975. The final document was signed in Helsinki Finland on August 1, 1975 by 33 European nations, the United States and Canada. It is often called the Helsinki Agreement. In 1994, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was established as a successor to CSCE.

Sakari Tuomioja Finnish politician and diplomat

Sakari Severi Tuomioja was a Finnish politician and diplomat who served as Prime Minister of Finland between 1953-1954 and as Minister for Foreign Affairs between 1951-1952 and as the Governor of the Bank of Finland between 1945–1955. He was also Finland's ambassador in London and Stockholm.

Parliamentary elections were held in Finland on 6 and 7 July 1958. The communist Finnish People's Democratic League emerged as the largest party, but was unable to form a government.

Carl Enckell

Carl Johan Alexis Enckell was a Finnish politician, diplomat, officer and businessman.

Parliamentary elections were held in Finland on 4 and 5 February 1962.

Parliamentary elections were held in Finland on 15 and 16 March 1970.

Parliamentary elections were held in Finland on 21 and 22 September 1975.

Jaakko Hallama

Eino Jaakko Untamo Hallama was a Finnish diplomat and a longtime Ambassador of Finland to Moscow, who served as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Lehto caretaker government from 1963 to 1964.

Two-stage presidential elections were held in Finland in 1962. On 15 and 16 January the public elected presidential electors to an electoral college. They in turn elected the President. The result was a victory for Urho Kekkonen, who won on the first ballot. The turnout for the popular vote was 81.5%.

Tankmar Horn

Tankmar Horn was a Finnish diplomat, economist, and businessman.

Night Frost Crisis

The Night Frost Crisis or the Night Frost was a political crisis that occurred in Soviet-Finnish relations in the autumn of 1958. It arose from Soviet dissatisfaction with Finnish domestic policy and in particular with the composition of the third government to be formed under Prime Minister Karl-August Fagerholm. As a result of the crisis, the Soviet Union withdrew its ambassador from Helsinki and put pressure on the Finnish government to resign. The crisis was given its name by Nikita Khrushchev, who declared that relations between the countries had become subject to a "night frost".