Next Sunday, February 15th, Urho Kekkonen will have completed twenty years continuous service as Resident of Inland -- a period that represents about one third of his country's independent history, and something approaching a record for an elected President of a democratic country.
1976 GV Snow scenes, Finland (2 shots)
1957 MV Kekkonen speaking
MV Parade passes
1964 CU Kekkonen
MV Mikoyan presents medal, photographers (3 shots)
1969 GV Ceremonial drive, Kekkonen and Queen Elizabeth enter Buckingham Palace (2 shots)
MV Guards present arms
GV Kekkonen and wife with Royal family
1970 MV & CU Kekkonen and Nixon (2 shots)
1971 MV Chandelier PAN TO Kekkonen greeting SALT talks delegates
MV Kekkonen down steps of aircraft, greeted by Soviet leaders
SV Photographers, leaders walk off
1975 MCU Brezhnev greeted, enters conference hall (2 shots)
MCU Ford greeted, enters conference hall (2 shots)
GV Kekkonen opens conference, speaks
1976 MV Kekkonen up and past on skis
KEKKONEN: "Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the government and the people of Finland, I have the great honour to declare open the first stage of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe."
Finland has had one man at the head of affair for twenty years: President Urho Kokkonen, now seventy-five years of age, and serving an extended third term.
This Independence Day Parade in Helsinki was in 1957 -- the year after he took office. Before that, he had been a member of Parliament for twenty years, representing the Agrarian Party, and Prime Minister for the last five of them.
In 1964, he received a visit form Mr. Mikoyan, then Head of State of the Soviet Union ... and was awarded the Order of Lenin, in recognition of his work in maintaining friendly relations between the two countries.
1969 found him in London, the guest of Queen Elizabeth, for all the ceremonial of a State visit. He has been a constant traveller in the cause of Finland's friendship with both East and West.
He held talks with government ministers as well as the social event he and Madame Kekkonen attended with the British Royal family.
A year later, he was being welcomed by President Nixon in Washington, for talks about East-West relations. By this time, preparations were under way for the European Security Summit.
The position of neutrality which President Kekkonen has built up has made Helsinki a favourite place for international meetings. He has been host to four sessions of the Strategic Arms Limitation talks.
His regular visits to Moscow -- on this occasion enlivened by a particularly lavish hat -- have helped to keep Finland on good terms with the Soviet Union. He has recognised the facts of geography and given this priority as an essential part of his policy.
Mr. Brezhnev and his colleagues in the Warsaw Pact countries had been calling for a European Security conference at summit level for some years -- and as early as 1969, President Kekkonen had offered Helsinki as a suitable venue.
So when the leaders of thirty-five nations, including President Ford of the United States, met there last summer, it fell to President Kekkonen to get proceedings started.
When he can escape from the cares of office, President Kekkonen still enjoys skiing at his home outside Helsinki ... up to two hours at a time in spite of bitter weather. He has been a keen sportsman all his life, and in summer goes out walking or fishing.
Initials BB/1900 JH/DK/BB/1945
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Next Sunday, February 15th, Urho Kekkonen will have completed twenty years continuous service as Resident of Inland -- a period that represents about one third of his country's independent history, and something approaching a record for an elected President of a democratic country.
President Kekkonen is 75. Born a forester's son in central Finland, he fought as a schoolboy of seventeen in Finland's war of independence against the Russians; became national high-jump champion; studied law at Helsinki University; and was elected to Parliament in his mid-thirties as an Agrarian Party member. By 1944 he had become Party leader and Minister of Justice. in 1950, he became Prime Minister, and headed five centre and centre-social democrat coalitions.
He was first elected president by a bare majority of the 300-strong electoral college in 1956. Since then, he has been re-elected twice with substantial two-to-one majorities in 1962 and 1968; and his third term, which was due to end in 1974, was extended by special legislation for a further four years.
Throughout his time in office, the President has walked a tight-rope foreign policy, keeping Finland on good terms with its powerful neighbour, the Soviet Union, and also with the Western nations. President Paasikivi, the Head of State in the years immediately after the second world war, recognised that the hard facts of geography required Finland to co-operate with the Russians. President Kekkonen has maintained the relationship without prejudicing finland's independence; and by skilful diplomacy cleared the way for his country to have associate membership of the European Free Trade Association, and later a special trading agreement with the European Common Market at the same time as it has a co-operation agreement with the East European trading organisation, Comecon. The decision to extend his third term of office by legislation so s to put an end to uncertainty, was connected with his talks with the Soviet Union about Finland's trading with the Common Market, and illustrates the extent of his personal involvement, and the importance of his personal standing, in the conduct of Finland's foreign policy.
Finland's neutrality has made Helsinki a Favourite place for important meetings of East and West. President Kekkonen has been host to four sessions of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the Untied States and the Soviet Union in his capital. And last summer, he welcomed the leaders of thirty-five nations, including President Ford and Mr. Brezhnev, to Helsinki for the European Security Conference.
In pursuit of friendly relations between his country and other nations, whatever, their political complexion, President Kekkonen has been a constant traveller. He pays regular visits to the Soviet Union. He was in Britain in 1961, and again in 1969; in France in 1962; went to the United States in 1961 and in 1970. He has also visited Canada, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland, Indian and Tunisia.
President Kekkonen is a great country-lover. He likes to go fishing or walking from his country home outside Helsinki in summer, and skiing in winter. He goes out regularly skiing cross-country for up to two hours at a time, despite the cold; and doctors are reported to have credited him with the constitution of a man little more than half his age. He appears to be looking forward to a strenuous life for some years to come yet; for the has given his consent to be nominated for a fourth term in the next Presidential elections in 1978.