Finland has been a UN member since 14 December 1955; it is also a member of the OECD, and joined the EU at the beginning of 1995.
Finland has actively participated in UN peacekeeping operations in Cyprus and in the Middle East on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria, as a part of the UN forces there. Finnish officers have served in UN observer groups that police cease-fire lines in Kashmir and the Israeli-Egyptian border, and they have served in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
Finland participates in UN development activities and channels a substantial part of its development aid funds through the UN and other multilateral agencies. In addition, Finland plays a role in the African Development Bank and Asian Development Bank, and is involved in a number of bilateral projects, primarily in African countries.
Finland has a close relationship with the other Scandinavian (Nordic) countries. The main forum of cooperation is the Nordic Council, established in 1952; Finland joined in 1955. A common labor market was established in 1954, granting citizens of member states the right to stay and work in any other Scandinavian country without restrictions.
Finland became associated with EFTA in 1961. In 1967, tariffs and other barriers to trade between Finland and EFTA members were eliminated; in 1986, Finland became a full member of EFTA. By agreement, the former USSR enjoys the same tariff benefits from Finland as those accorded the EFTA countries. Tariffs on most industrial goods from the EU have been phased out. In 1969, Finland joined the OECD; four years later, Finland became the first non-Communist country to sign a special agreement on economic and technical cooperation with CMEA.
Officially neutral, Finland seeks to maintain friendly relations with both the United States and the former USSR, its powerful eastern neighbor. Finland has hosted many major meetings and conferences, including rounds I, III, V, and VII of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the United States and USSR (1969–72). In November 1972, the multilateral consultations on the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, now the OSCE) began in Helsinki. These initial consultations were followed by the first phase of CSCE at the foreign ministerial level and then by the third phase at the highest political level, culminating with the signing of the Final Act in Helsinki on 1 August 1975. Foreign ministers of the United States, Canada, and 33 other European countries met in Helsinki on 30 July 1985 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Final Act.