Finland in 1970
Officially claiming to be neutral, Finland in the 1970s lies in the grey zone between the Western countries and the Soviet Union. Finland practises what is called “active neutrality”; trying to maintain good relations with both NATO and the Warsaw Pact while also retaining its independence. The Finno-Soviet Pact of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance gives the Soviet Union some leverage in Finnish domestic politics. However, Finland maintains a market economy, unlike most other countries bordering the Soviet Union.
Thanks to the Cold War, Finland’s importance in regard to intelligence and espionage is far greater than her international standing would suggest. International secret services such as the KGB, CIA, and STASI actively work in the capital, making Helsinki “a hotbed of spies” and, together with Berlin and Vienna, “a centre of international espionage”.
20 years ago, Finland was still a developing country, largely destroyed by war, with its people dying of common diseases such as malaria. The last two decades have been a period of incredible development, social security, industrialization, and of opening up to Europe.
In 1968, president Urho Kekkonen was elected for a third term. He dominates Finnish politics, wins his elections with little opposition, and will later be classified as an autocrat. While the president is untouchable, the rest of politics is boiling. Prime Minister Mauno Koivisto’s government is broad-based, including the Social Democrats, the Centre Party, the Finnish People’s Democratic League, the Swedish People’s Party, and the Social Democratic Union of Workers and Smallholders, with over four-fifths of MPs belonging to the governing parties. The government has implemented some liberal reforms, including legalising the sale of beer in grocery stores.
Quickly proceeding urbanisation and industrialization cause young adults to leave the countryside, and tens of thousands of Finns move to Sweden in pursuit of a higher standard of living. Matters like internationalism, pacifism, and women’s issues, together with critical attitudes towards Christianity, traditional family values, and the army, have started to affect general opinion – and caused a counter effect. Cultural life is dominated by the left wing. The student movement has culminated in the occupation of the Old Students’ House in 1968. Suddenly the young people – the baby boomers – seem to be everywhere.
The Finnish Mission in Norway
The Finnish embassy in Norway tries its best to follow the official line of Finnish foreign politics: the active neutrality. Up to a point, it has succeeded. As the staff consists of people from different sides of the political map, the conversations inside the embassy sometimes get heated: but when necessary, people put aside their differences and work together for the benefit of the fatherland.
Finland is a small country, but lots of bigger players are interested in its affairs – which might be both an opportunity and a huge threat. If the embassy plays its cards right, it can achieve something big, and help to keep Finland neutral and independent.
The older generation of the embassy mostly consists of experienced but disillusioned people, while many of the upcoming talents are young, hungry, and ready to work for their ideals and for a better world.
- Cultural Attaché B. Bäcker (F) – As an absolute enthusiast about culture, B. Bäcker knows anyone who is anyone in that sphere. Formerly an active politician in the Finnish People’s Democratic League, she has had to reassess her values since witnessing the Prague Spring. She is known for sometimes misusing her power. As someone with dual nationality, both Finland and the DDR want something of her. (The character will be modified according to the player’s knowledge of German. No knowledge of German is necessary to play the character.)
- Deputy head of mission K. Kataja (F) – The Embassy’s Second-in-command might not be second for much longer. Well-connected and excellent at her job, diplomacy seems to come effortlessly to her. It is clear to everyone that soon she will be nominated to be an Ambassador, either in Norway or somewhere else. That is only the surface, though. Hard work is taking its toll, and behind the scenes she has gotten herself into an interesting situation both work-wise and in her private life.
- Head of staff M. Mäkinen – Mäkinen mostly works behind the scenes to solve problems, mediate disputes, and deal with issues before they explode, as well as acting as a confidant and advisor to the Ambassador, and a sounding-board for ideas. Idealistic, smart, keen to seek adventure, and with a desire to feel important. Has big secrets which, if revealed, will get them kicked out of the embassy and straight into jail.
- Head of mission, Ambassador N. Niinivaara (in his 60s, M) – N. Niinivaara’s long diplomatic experience has made him a master of sauna diplomacy, and of smiling to all sides; as well as a disillusioned cynic who often drinks too much. He tries his best to maintain a balance between the East and the West, but is clearly losing his grip on the embassy. He tries not to take commands from anyone, or at the very least, to do so while maintaining his dignity. As if his position weren’t already tricky enough, a tragic romance from his past has returned to his life. (Player needs to enjoy playing in the sauna.)
- Military Attaché P. Peltonen (in his 50s, M) – P. Peltonen is a veteran of the war, who is trying to serve his country, while at the same time staying physically as far away from it as possible. Active in the Central Party and a personal friend of President Kekkonen, he has more power over the embassy than his position would suggest. He splits his time between his duties, being traumatised by the war, and trying to forget his traumas with alcohol and relationships that are doomed to fail.
- Commercial Attaché T. Talvela (in their mid-20s) – An idealistic new talent of the National Coalition Party, T. Talvela has decided to work abroad for a couple of years before returning to Finland, securing a victory for their party, and becoming a minister… Or possibly making an astonishing international career? For T. Talvela, nothing is impossible – except perhaps holding onto a relationship. They found the spark for politics while studying in the UK. Awkwardly obvious about their NATO sympathies, they have made a lot of friends in the West.
- Trainee S. Snellman (in mid 20s) – Child of a famous Finnish politician from a long line of famous politicians, S. Snellman’s irresponsible behaviour and flaming socialism made their parents send them to Norway. Impulsive, eager to party, but sweet and charismatic, their black-and-white thinking sometimes frustrates their colleagues, but it’s hard to stay angry at them for very long. Their position, family, and character have made them an excellent target.
- Security and intelligence officer V. Vaahtera (F) – Posted to the embassy by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service, V. Vaahtera’s job is to make sure that Finland gets all the information it needs, and does not give away any more than it should. A big part of her job consists of spending time with suspicious people, both Finnish and foreign. While extremely patriotic, she’s sometimes frustrated about Finland’s size and stature. She would prefer to play with the big boys, and has previously burned herself while seeking bigger game.