In Finnish

Note No. 27730 of M. Witting, Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, to M. Zotov, Soviet Envoy in Helsinki, December 21, 1940


In reply to your note No. 77, dated December 10, 1940, I have the honor to state the following:

In your proposals requesting the easing of travel regulations in the case of the USSR consular and commercial staff members in Petsamo, you base the granting of unlimited freedom of movement, in the Province of Lapland, upon the grounds that the Government of Finland has recognized, as the district of the USSR consulate in Petsamo, the whole Lapland Province.

I cannot, however, share your conception that the district within which the consulate functions is in itself an area within whose limits the officers of the consulate can travel without any restrictions. I refer to the fact, fully recognized in international relations, that diplomatic representatives must observe the laws of the country in which they serve, and that they are bound by existing police and other regulations. This applies especially to consular representatives, who lack the special rights and immunities of diplomats. Consular representatives must therefore conform, even in the Province of Lapland, to the restrictions upon travel which it is essential, in the interest of order and security, to maintain in the province.

Article 6 of the Peace Treaty provides that the USSR shall have the right to establish a consulate in Petsamo. It also provides that nationals of the USSR have the right to travel, through the Petsamo area, to and from Norway. The consulate in Petsamo is naturally to be compared with other consulates in the same area; its rights by no means include the right to more extensive freedom of travel than is provided by general regulations regarding travel, and by Article 6 of the Peace Treaty. At present, however, the staff of the Petsamo consulate and the staff of the commercial section enjoy the privilege of free travel everywhere in the Petsamo region, as is shown by note No. 27442 of the Foreign Ministry, dated the 13th of this month, which contains a notification of the lapsing of the special measures pertaining to Liinahamari and Trifona.

As regards travel in the Lapland Province, there are some parishes in the province to which travel without special permits is forbidden. The areas in question are indicated on the enclosed map; their limits are shown in red. The areas indicated in blue require, for travel, only personal identification cards. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has desired, however, to go as far as possible in easing the travel of representatives of the USSR representatives in the prohibited areas. The measures in question were given in the note of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on November 21, last.

In view of the fact that you, M. Minister, consider that this arrangement is not satisfactory to you, I ask you to note that no mere formal requirements, or measures that stem from the arbitrariness of Finnish authorities, are involved, as you seem to assume in your letter. What is involved is restrictions necessary for maintaining order and security, similar to those which obtain at the present time in most countries. Finnish authorities have done their best in granting advantages to the representatives of the USSR, within the limits of these general regulations, which greatly facilitate travel to and from the offices in Petsamo.

I would also like to mention that the representatives of no other country in Finland have requested that travel regulations be eased, nor have any such modifications been granted.

Accept, Your Excellency, my assurances of deepest respect.

Rolf Witting.

Source: Finland reveals her secret documents on Soviet policy, March 1940—June 1941. Doc. nr. 58. Wilfred Funk, New York 1941.
The book is a verbatim translation of the "Blue-White Book" published by the Foreign Ministry of Finland, 1941.

Finland in the Soviet foreign policy 1939-1940