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Open radio speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Mr. Tanner
December 15, 1939
Mr. Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov!
A few weeks since, Mr. Paasikivi and myself were involved in negotiations between Yourself and Mr. Stalin. These negotiations were associated with demands for surrender of territories, as proposed by the Soviet Union. While Soviet Union does not possess any lawful means of making these proposals, we were, on behalf of government of Finland, prepared to accept more than somewhat extensive concessions. We were prepared to do this in order of maintaining peace. Finland did not in turn express any proposals.
No common ground was reached during these negotiations. On behalf of Finland, we did, however, at end of the meeting forward our willingness to continue negotiations, until of such time where agreement suitable to both parties would be achieved.
These have, however, not continued. The fault to this lies entirely with the Soviet Union, which has not wished to proceed. In fact, in order to make any further negotiations unlikely, You have terminated diplomatic relations between our countries. Offer of the United States government to act as a broker has been refused by the Soviet Union. Likewise, You have refused a proposal for re-commencement of negotiations forwarded by us via the government of Sweden, regardless of that the government of Finland had notified that we were in position to offer new and positive proposals in order to solve the stalemate. As a reply to efforts by Finland to achieve a peaceful solution, the Soviet Union has attacked our peaceful country. Amongst others, in this instance in a vicious manner bombing civilian population, slaying women and children.
Ultimately, You have rejected the proposal by League of Nations to end hostilities and resume negotiations. As both the Soviet Union as well as Finland are members of the League of Nations, this rejection is more than somewhat surprising.
By taking this course of action, You have indicated Your unwillingness to listen to our proposals. In order to avoid hearing these, You have tried to close all avenues between our countries.
The airwaves do, however, remain open. In this manner, via radio I turn to You in order to ask several questions.
During our negotiations, You communicated as the sole reason for the Soviet Union’s demands for surrender of territories the need for securing the Soviet Union and in particular the city of Leningrad against possible attack by a superpower.
Was this Your factual purpose?
If so, the concessions given by Finland were, in our opinion, sufficient for that aim to be reached. Additionally, we have forwarded our readiness to consider concessions over and above those already given.
Subsequent events have however given raise to the understanding that the Soviet Union has, from the beginning, harbored further reaching intentions. It would seem that Your intention is to bring the entire Finland under Your authority, and thereby restore the borders to what they were at Tsar – Russian times.
Should this be Your intention, You can be certain that Finland will defend itself to the end. Our people do not wish to lose their independence and freedom. The people of Finland can never be subjected to life under occupying force. That is not worthwhile to try even under the kind of “power to people” type of governmental system, which for example, Your salaried assistant, Kuusinen’s cabinet is. That cabinet does not enjoy the luxury of support of the people of Finland. The working population of Finland is members of the Social Democratic Party, as evidenced by the support during elections of the past summer, where this party achieved the level of 42.5 % of total votes cast. Additionally, that it does not enjoy the support of Finland’s peasants either, You possibly are already aware of. Both the government of Finland as well as the mode of politics driven by it, are supported by a unanimous cabinet. And behind cabinet stands united population. Ambitions of accommodation are hopeless. Establishing of Kuusinen’s cabinet has not met with support on this side of border.
The Soviet Union has wished to appear in the role of a champion. In addition, it has conveyed its respect of the rights of small nations to self-government. During my recent trip to the large agricultural exhibition held at Moscow, I read a winged statement by your leader Mr. Stalin, on the wall of a building. “While the Soviet Union does not seek even an inch of another country’s land, it will definitely defend every inch of its own land”. This exemplary sentence should at this moment be saved from being lost forevermore.
How do these principles announced by the Soviet Union lend themselves to your current attack against small and peace loving Finland?
I would ask You to answer this.
In the course of our parting at Moscow, we indicated our readiness to continue, by way of negotiations, efforts aimed at reaching a common agreement suitable to both parties. We remain prepared to continue, and additionally, as we have notified You, are prepared to bring forward new proposals. This preparedness is a function of both our peace loving nature as well as our willingness to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.
The first 16 days of war alone have shown that, this war shall be harsh and claim many victims.
Why should we engage in practicing bloodletting, while there are alternatives that remain uninvestigated?
Are You prepared to recommence negotiations and by this act willing to demonstrate by practical means that Your standards are of a higher level of substance than those of common advertisement material?
I would request reply by the same means as this question has been made. Should the answer not arrive, or should it be negative, the entire world, which is already watching various acts of the Soviet Union with amazement, shall know the value placed by the Soviet Union on its principles and promises.
Translated by Olli Makkonen, 2011