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The Federation of Paasikivi Societies
In 1994, the Paasikivi Societies set up a new central organisation to act as a link between the member societies and to stimulate public debate on and interest among citizens in Finland's foreign relations. This organisation, the Federation of Paasikivi Societies, has sought to forge closer contacts than before with not only the public sector but also the business community, different associations, local authorities and the universities and schools. It organises at least two Annual General Meetings, which are held in varying parts of the country. The Federation has its own Board. The Federation has organised visits to and established contacts with nearly all European and several other countries.
The Federation of Paasikivi Societies replaces the former Delegation of Paasikivi Societies, founded in 1968.
The background of the operation of the Paasikivi Societies
We nowadays hear more about what is happening in the world than ever before, yet it is difficult to form an overall picture of those events. The media may supply us with instant news, but they seldom tell us clearly why something has happened or what the consequences will be.
The international systems have changed so much that it has affected almost all states and their citizens. Non-aligned, non-governmental organisations, such as the Paasikivi Societies, thus face a growing task in preparing the ground for free debate on international issues for citizens and experts.
The Paasikivi Societies operating in different parts of Finland specialise in arranging events at which Finnish and foreign speakers can openly address issues of international and foreign policy. These speakers are often prominent figures in society, politicians, researchers and other experts with whom members of the audience are invited to debate topical issues.
It all began in Helsinki
The first Paasikivi Society was founded in Helsinki in 1958, its aim being to strengthen and stabilise Finland's foreign policy. An Institute of International Affairs, owned by the Foundation for Foreign Policy Research of which the Society has a 60 per cent share, and a journal called Ulkopolitiikka (The Finnish Journal of Foreign Policy) were established on the Society's initiative. The first provincial societies, in Tampere and Lahti, were set up in 1962. At this moment a total of 18 societies are operating in various parts of the country. Their membership consists of people from different political parties and of non-partisan experts and other interested persons.
The Helsinki Paasikivi Society has acted as a forum for numerous eminent Finnish and foreign speakers. Many of the speeches given there by Presidents Urho Kekkonen, Mauno Koivisto and Martti Ahtisaari, all honorary members of the Society, as well as by President Tarja Halonen, have subsequently become famous. A number of foreign statesmen have also been invited to speak at Society meetings.
The name of the Society has been seen as a fitting symbol for the realistic foreign policy associated with President J.K. Paasikivi.
The Paasikivi Societies that are members in the Federation of Paasikivi Societies are independent associations governed by their own Boards elected by the Annual General Meeting. They each plan and organise their operations independently, which means that the forms of activity vary. Besides arranging meetings for members and public events, they organise seminars and visits and engage in publishing.
The following cities in Finland have an operating Paasikivi Society: