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Report: Unofficial offers by Russia in 1991 to return ceded Karelia to Finland

Väyrynen: claims of Russian offer "do not sound credible"


Report: Unofficial offers by Russia in 1991 to return ceded Karelia to Finland
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The cautious attitude taken by Finland in 1991 to the possible return to areas of Karelia ceded to the Soviet Union after the war was well founded, says Markku Kangaspuro, a researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki.
      On Wednesday, the newspaper Kainuun Sanomat reported that the administration of Russian President Boris Yeltsin had sent unofficial messages to Finland about the possible return of Karelia in late 1991.
      "It was very easy to understand the actions of President Koivisto. At that phase, when Yeltsin was struggling for power with Mikhail Gorbachov, statements such as these from Yeltsin were part of the quest for power."
      He says that nobody could predict in 1991 what the situation behind the Eastern Border would prove to be like.
      "It was wise not to make any moves in which the Finnish state would have been directly involved in the internal power struggles of Russia and the Soviet Union."
     
According to Kainuun Sanomat, a secret group of experts formed under orders of President Mauno Koivisto worked in 1991 and 1992 to assess the costs of a possible return of Karelia to Finland. The group calculated that the return of Karelia would have cost Finland 64 billion markka (more than EUR 10 billion). In the longer term, the costs of repair to basic structures would have reached 350 billion.
      The Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time, Paavo Väyrynen, who currently serves as the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, told the Finnish News Agency STT on Wednesday that he does not feel that the reports of unofficial Russian offers are credible. He also does not know about any working group that would have assessed the costs of a return of Karelia.
      Former President Koivisto did not want to comment on the matter on Wednesday.


Previously in HS International Edition:
  Aleksanteri Institute

Helsingin Sanomat


  16.8.2007 - TODAY
 Report: Unofficial offers by Russia in 1991 to return ceded Karelia to Finland

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