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Finlandization (Finnish: suomettuminen; Swedish: finlandisering; German: Finnlandisierung) is the influence that one powerful country may have on the policies of a smaller neighboring country.

It is generally considered to be pejorative, originating in West German political debate of the late 1960s and 1970s. As the term was used in Germany and other NATO countries, it referred to the decision of a country to not challenge a more powerful neighbor in foreign politics while maintaining national sovereignty. Commonly in reference to Finland's policies vis-à-vis the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but could refer to similar international relations, such as Denmark's attitude toward Germany between 1871 and 1940, and Taiwan's relation with China since 2008 [1].


Origin and international usage

In Germany, the term was used mainly by proponents of closer adaptation to US policies, chiefly Franz Josef Strauss, but was initially coined in scholarly debate, and made known by the German political scientists Walter Hallstein and Richard Löwenthal, reflecting feared effects of withdrawal of US troops from Germany. It came to be used in the debate of the NATO countries in response to Willy Brandt's attempts to normalize relations with East Germany, and the following widespread scepticism in Germany against NATO's Dual-Track Decision. Later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the term has been used in Finland for the post-1968 radicalization in the latter half of the Urho Kekkonen era.

Finnish perception

In Finland, the use (by others) of the term "Finlandization" was perceived as blunt criticism,[citation needed] stemming from an inability to understand the practicalities of how a small nation might hope to make a deal with a culturally and ideologically alien superpower, without losing its sovereignty. It is said that the purpose of Finlandization was primarily Realpolitik: to survive. On the other hand, the threat of the Soviet Union was used also in Finland's domestic politics in a way that possibly deepened Finlandization (playing the so-called idänkortti, "east card"). Finland cut such a deal with Joseph Stalin's government in the late 1940s, and it was largely respected by both parties — and to the gain of both parties — until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. While the Finnish political and intellectual elite mostly understood the term to refer more to the foreign policy problems of other countries, and meant mostly for domestic consumption in the speaker's own country, many ordinary Finns considered the term highly offensive. As far as perceptions of the policy within Finland go, Finlandization has been (humorously) explained as the art of bowing to the East without mooning the West.

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