ProKarelia movement wants back ceded areas as well as war reparations paid to the Soviet Union
Money would be used to rebuild Karelia and nearby Russian territories
ProKarelia, an independent Finnish NGO, which insists on the return of the Finnish territories that were ceded to the Soviet Union during the Second World War, is also requesting that Russia return to Finland the war reparations paid to the Soviets some fifty years ago.
ProKarelia also claims that Russia should make good for the destruction caused during the war, as well as damage inflicted after peace was made.
According to ProKarelia plans, returned war reparations and other monetary amends would be placed in a special "Karelia Fund".
The funds would then be used to rebuild and restore the returned areas and to refurbish the areas on the Russian side of the new national frontier - which would match the border established by the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920.
Such distribution of funds would prevent a living standard gap from being created in the area.
The ProKarelia movement's remarkably detailed plan, which even includes dates, for the returning of the compulsorily ceded areas is presented in a new book Karjalan palautus (Returning Karelia) that was published on Wednesday.
The author of the book, Veikko Saksi, estimated at Wednesday's press conference that in today's currency the war reparations paid to the Soviet Union after the so-called Continuation War of 1941-1944 would total around EUR 4,000 million.
As a burden to Finland's national economy, however, the war reparations correspond to no less than EUR 30 billion.
This is a substantial amount of money, as the Finnish government's budget for the whole year of 2005 is just shy of EUR 38 billion.
After the peace was agreed, the Soviet Union also confiscated from Finland possessions left by the Germans and these should also be compensated for. Saksi estimates this sum at around EUR one billion.
Saksi's book also brings up questions relating to devastation experienced by the Finns during the war, the human casualties, and the destruction carried out in the ceded areas after the war. Monetary value is not suggested for these issues. Deciding on that would be a task for the negotiations with the Russians.
The ProKarelia movement estimates that the rebuilding of Karelia, which consists of the Karelia Isthmus and Ladoga Karelia east and north of Lake Ladoga, would cost EUR 30 billion and would take around ten years.
Two-thirds of the expenses would be funded by private citizens and corporations. The government's portion would be covered by forest industry profits from the area, and by a 25-percent tax levied on all returned assets.
The price for rebuilding the Petsamo and Salla areas further north has not been calculated.
According to ProKarelia's estimates, some 250,000 Russians would stay in the returned areas. Human rights and proper living conditions would be guaranteed for them, but obtaining Finnish citizenship might take some time.
The Karelian cities of Vyborg and Sortavala have become badly dilapidated and the surrounding countryside is even worse off. Of the just under 1,300 Karelian villages, one thousand have already become empty of inhabitants.
The ProKarelia movement believes, nevertheless, that some 300,000 Finns would move into the region.
The movement's plan does not reveal who these people might be.
Karelia activist Prof. Heikki Reenpää explained that the purpose of the new book was to free the Finnish people for an unbiased discussion on the subject.
The time to address the Russians will come later.
"Time to wake up, people!" declared emeritus professor Pentti Malaska during the at times heated discussions.
Russian officials have thus far shown no inclination to return any of the territories concerned.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Last war reparation train crossed Finnish-Soviet border 50 years ago (3.9.2002)