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Articles like this one by the Atlantic Council suggest that Finland and Sweden are going to join NATO and give up their neutrality. However would Finland's joining NATO not violate the 1947 Treaty of Paris? To be more precise PART III. MILITARY, NAVAL AND AIR CLAUSES. Also as mentioned in the answer by Fizz, Article 3 is restoring the Peace Treaty between the Soviet Union and Finland concluded in Moscow on 12 March 1940, where there is also Article 3 which could be interpreted as forbiding Finland to joining NATO.

Here the text of this Article 3:

Both contracting parties undertake each to refrain from any attack upon the other and to make no alliance and to participate in no coalition directed against either of the contracting parties.

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    Can you include some explanation of what is in the Treaty of Paris that might conflict with joining NATO? Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 13:48
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    The question should motivate more why that might be a violation of the Treaty of Paris, i.e. please give a bit more context. Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 13:55
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    @Trilarion I have added which part of the treaty could colide with posible NATO membership.
    – convert
    Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 17:57
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    @convert How? NATO doesn't require a minimum military size. And I'm not sure those are in effect anyway, since Finland already seems to have a larger military than that treaty allows
    – divibisan
    Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 21:43
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    @convert Well, there's only a handful of NATO members who meet the 2% goal, so they'd be in good company, and there's no requirement to have nuclear weapons or to host US nukes. The edit you did makes more sense – that Article 3 does seem like a much more clear prohibition
    – divibisan
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 14:42

3 Answers 3

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I'm still looking for something more detailed, but more specifically, (according to two different sources 1 2) in the 1990s Finland has already unilaterally denounced part III (art. 13-22) of the 1947 treaty, which imposed limits on the size of its armed forces and various other limitations like even not buying any civil aircraft with German components (art 21). They already had done some reinterpretation in that regard in the 1960s with respect to article 17 that had barred from having any missiles, reinterpreted then to allow them to have at least anti-aircraft missiles. (Likewise the other provisions against guided missiles and torpedo boats could be easily interpreted as being violated by the Hamina-class missile boats, which also carry some lightweight torpedoes nowadays.)

It's also worth noting that the 1948 friendship treaty with the USSR actually contained foreign policy limitations that would have been much more relevant to your question (because e.g. "Article Four prohibited Finland from ‘establishing or joining any alliances that are targeted against the other high party’"). But it was replaced in 1992 by a new treaty with Russia. In the aftermath, in 1995, Finland joined the EU, which as you probably know also has a common defense clause in article 42.7.

The NATO treaty in itself doesn't mandate any size of armed forces, or what kinds of weapons to have, so on the face of it, it adds nothing in terms of violations of the 1947 treaty. Conversely, it's usually assumed that NATO countries need to spend at least 2% of their budget on the armed forces, but the 1947 USSR-Finland treaty doesn't put any limitation on the Finnish armed forces budget- or spending-wise. (Also the 2% spending is not in the NATO treaty either, being the result of a guideline.)

So the answer in relation to that part of the 1947 treaty really depends on what kinds and quantity of weapons Finland would acquire in view of or after joining NATO, assuming that Russia still intends to hold Finland to the letter of the 1947 treaty, which isn't entirely clear to me (right now). I know they've recently warned Finland and Sweden not to join NATO, but I don't recall specific treaties [with Russia] being mentioned in that context.

I should probably add here that Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania all have similar 1947 treaties that prohibited much of their rearmament (without UNSC approval), from specific numeric forces limits to outright prohibitions on specific weapons like submarines or guided missiles. Those countries all broke those treaties with respect to those limitations. The case of Italy is better documented in Western sources, as their violations came with the explicit blessing of the Western Allies, but these also alleged that the Soviet bloc countries on that list did the same, around the same time [1950]. (The aforementioned Soviet bloc countries also flatly refused to implement the Conciliation Commissions specified in those treaties, leading to an ICJ case.)

As far as I can tell, the 1947 treaty with Finland is silent on other issues that may be entailed by NATO membership, like e.g. the stationing of foreign (especially US or UK) forces on Finland's soil.


Ah, I actually missed something: the 1947 treaty with Finland does something the other 4 mentioned don't have an equivalent: it also restores via its article 3 the earlier 1940 peace treaty between the USSR and Finland (minus articles 4, 5 and 6 of the latter)--treaty concluded after the Winter War. But that 1940 treaty also has an article 3 (restored through the 1947 treaty) that says:

Both contracting parties undertake each to refrain from any attack upon the other and to make no alliance and to participate in no coalition directed against either of the contracting parties.

So, since Russia says NATO is an alliance directed against it, I suppose Russia could raise the issue of article 3 of that 1940 treaty as being contravened by Finland joining NATO... although I haven't heard Russia making that specific argument.

I suppose Finland could claim that Russia also/already broke that treaty in the same way, since as the USSR it formed a similar military pact (Warsaw Pact), and more recently it did the same with the CSTO. Both of these claim to be defensive organizations just like NATO claims.

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  • "I suppose Finland could claim that Russia also/already broke that treaty in the same way" But Russia or CSTO never said they want to defeat Finland.
    – convert
    Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 17:05
  • @convert that's a rather unfair comparison. Finland didn't start a war of aggression, Russia did.
    – JJJ
    Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 17:11
  • @JJJ But Russia has not ataced NATO or Finland and some NATO countries have started similar wars.
    – convert
    Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 17:40
  • @convert: Eh, "directed" is pretty interpretable. Finland could claim the CSTO is "directed" against all of Russia's neighbors. Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 17:44
  • But such claim must be based on something.
    – convert
    Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 17:54
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It seems that Finland unilaterally renounced part of that treaty in the 1990s when the Soviet Union dissolved. And considering that the Ukrainian SSR was signatory, while the Russian SFSR wasn't, who is to blame them? Perhaps Belarus might have a complaint, they were signatories, too.

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    As far as know Finland like everyone else recognized Russia as the successor state to the USSR. (Finland seeming did it on on December 30, 1991.) So the logic in your "Russia didn't sign the 1947 treaty" doesn't seem to hold much water. Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 20:11
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    @wrod: "recognized" typically means de jure recognition. And what that entailed e.g. "Switzerland explained that it considered Russia to be the continuity of the former Soviet Union, so it had replaced the designation "USSR" with "Russia" on all multilateral treaties for which it was a depository." tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07075332.2017.1398177 Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 7:45
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    @wrod: and if they don't? Does Ukraine have a peace treaty with Japan? Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 9:35
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    @wrod Your information about Ukraine sims to be not up to date, modern Ukraine refuses any conection to USSR.
    – convert
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 12:19
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    @convert, I sincerely doubt the Ukraine would want to hold Finland to the 1947 treaty even if it could. Which would mean it is about as relevant as Rapallo 1922 or Vienna 1815 -- historically significant if one wants to understand the evolution of the present system, but not guiding modern politics.
    – o.m.
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 14:45
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No

The treaty does not say anything about joining defensive military organizations.

As long as the country is not under direct attack, Nato does not need to bring a single soldier in, so why anything would change? It is not that Finland is signing immediately for Nato nuclear weapons and unlimited number of they armed forces deployed.

This is assuming the treaty is currently in force that may not be the case.

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    "As long as the country is not under direct attack, Nato does not need to bring a single soldier in" You should know it beter, Baltic states are not under direct attack, but there are thousends of NATO soldiers there.
    – convert
    Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 17:03
  • Finland may not need this as they have they own functional army that would stand till Nato comes to help. Baltic states may be completely overrun without fight as once happened, before Nato interfers. Hence at least "tripwire forces" are needed, to be sure some fighting actually begins.
    – Stančikas
    Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 17:18

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