Finnish official appeal for recognition of independence, addressed to the Governments of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Britain and the United States

December 5, 1917

The Diet of Finland, on the basis of the principles enunciated in article 38 of the Form of Government, resolved on 15 November to take possession of the exercise of supreme authority and appointed a government for the country. On behalf of this government and as its leader I have presented a bill to the Diet concerning a new form of government, based on the principle of Finland’s existence as an independent republic. I have further-more solemnly declared before the Diet on behalf of the government – with reference to the frequently expressed assurances of the belligerent states about the granting of full rights of self-determination to small nations – that the Finnish people, in the circumstances in which they now find themselves, are both entitled and obliged to take their fate in their own hands and to seek recognition of Finnish independence from foreign states.

The Speaker of the Diet welcomed this step, which he regarded as in accordance with the rights of the country and the unanimous wish of the people.

There has been no government of late in Russia which has been generally acknowledged either at home or abroad. The representatives of the defeated Provisional Government in Finland, the Governor-General and his assistant have not been at their posts since the beginning of November. More recently, the troops appointed a sailor and a workman as Russian commissars for Finland, but since the constitutional laws of Finland do not recognise guardians of Russian interests appointed in this manner, the Finnish government has been unable to enter into any sort of contact with them.

By their unrestrained behaviour, the Russian troops stationed here have in recent months have caused terror amongst the peaceful population of this country. The intimate relations which in places have been noticeable between the leaders of these troops and hot-headed and unstable elements of society have in a number of instances led to serious breaches of the peace and general order, which must be seen as a direct reflection of conditions prevailing in Russia.

In addition to these grave political tribulations there is a serious food shortage which the Finnish people is now having to combat. The crop failure of last summer and the impossibility of obtaining grain from Russia as well as the difficulty met in realising the projected imports of flour from the United States threaten the nearly three and a half million people of Finland with open famine. This painful situation is made even more difficult by the fact that the disorders in Russia are forcing an ever increasing number of refugees to seek shelter in Finland. These Russian refugees are also consuming the meagre reserves of the country. Moreover, these reserves are also being depleted by the numerous inactive Russian forces stationed here, since they are not certain of regular supplies of foodstuffs from Russia either.

It is therefore of vital import to the Finnish people that the truly isolated position in which the country now finds itself should come to an end. It is vital that the full independence of Finland be realised without delay and that its government manage to establish direct relations with foreign states.

Chairman of the Government of Finland