Beginning of the establishment of diplomatic relations
First contacts between the new independent states after the World War I
The conditions under which the independent states of Czechoslovakia and the Finnish Republic were formed at the end of the First World War were so different that they did not automatically bring an impulse for establishing diplomatic relations. Because of a rather unclear foreign policy orientation and internal political situation marked by the civil war Finland was not of special interest to Czechoslovakia.
The initiative for establishing diplomatic relations came from the Finnish side. The government of Finland asked for de jure recognition of the Republic of Finland by a note on 31st December 1919 and Czechoslovakia recognized Finland on 28th April 1920. In September 1923 a consulate was opened in Helsinki. It did not have however all diplomatic powers. Its main task was to support mutual trade and that’s why Section of national economy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs put though its own candidate, Jan Hodek, consul of VII. class, former legionary who entered diplomatic service in newly founded Czechoslovak state after the war. Jan Hodek arrived to Helsinki 1st August 1923 and already 15th September 1923 he received the exequatur from President of Finland Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg.
In March 1924 Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland asked for an exequatur for Vice-consul Yrjö Soini. President Tomáš G. Masaryk issued the exequatur 5th March 1924 and the first Mission of Finland in Prague – Effective Consulate of the Republic of Finland – started officially its work.
First steps of the Czechoslovak diplomacy in Finland
The first Czechoslovak consulate in Helsinki was situated in a house in the city centre, its address was Bulevardinkatu 28 B and in 1927 the consulate moved to a building on the street Yrjönkatu 11 E.
The first consulate of Czechoslovakia in Helsinki was situated in the
building on Bulevardinkatu 28 B.
Besides supporting bilateral trade and consular services as issuing passports and visas the Czechoslovak consulate focused also to establishing contacts with representatives of Finnish public and cultural life. It also endeavoured to promote Czechoslovakia which at that time was a rather unknown country for most of the Finns.
From 1927 the Diplomatic Mission of Czechoslovakia was situated in this
building on Yrjönkatu.
The consulate for example initiated and supported publishing of the book “Czechoslovakia” (Tshekkoslovakia) written by Viljo Mansikka, Professor of Helsinki University. The book informed Finnish people about history, geography and political system of the country as well as e.g. about the personality of President Masaryk and his contribution to the independence of Finland.
Development of relations between the wars
The problem of bilateral trade during 20´s was mainly an imbalance between import and export. While the success of Czechoslovak products on the Finnish market was growing rapidly and Finland became the 10th biggest buyer of the Czechoslovak goods, Finland which at that time could offer mainly products of its wood processing industry had stayed behind in export remarkably.
In 1927 a trade agreement between Finland and Czechoslovakia was signed in Helsinki. It guaranteed among other things purchasing of certain amount of goods by Czechoslovak companies which re-exported it then to the third countries. Although Finnish export increased significantly after that, Czechoslovak export did not suffer any great loss and its volume had been growing until the World War II broke out.
In 1926 Office of General Consul was established in Finland in the city of Viipuri in the eastern part of the country (nowadays Vyborg belongs to the Russian Federation). Trade contacts with Czechoslovakia had already existed in this region, there were trade centres with Czechoslovak export goods and industry in this region was generally on a high level. In addition to that Viipuri was a strategic place for communication and cooperation with Russia.
After signing the trade agreement in 1927 also diplomatic relations were established – in 1927 the consulate was upgraded to a legation. In 1928 a visa-free travel was introduced between Czechoslovakia and Finland.
Period during the World War II
After the German occupation of Czech countries Finnish authorities took a negative stand to further activity of the Czechoslovak mission which was closed 15th March 1939 and Czechoslovak passports were declared invalid.
Re-establishment of the relations and cooperation
Diplomatic relations were renewed from the initiative of Finland in 1946; the Czechoslovak Legation started to work again 30th June 1947. Diplomatic relations were officially re-established 8th May 1947. In 1959 the Legations in Prague and in Helsinki were upgraded to Embassies.