HELSINKI, JAN. 20 -- Finland and Russia signed a political treaty today that dissolved a 1948 agreement limiting Finland's role in Western Europe and obliging it to help defend the Soviet Union against attack.
The post-World War II treaty ruled out Finland's membership in the European Community and gave rise to the term "Finlandization" to describe a weak country accommodating itself to a strong one in order to maintain its autonomy.
The senior Russian official who signed today's accord said Russia had no problem with Finnish joining the EC.
"We will go along with it and support it," Deputy Prime Minister Gennadi Burbulis said at a news conference after signing the agreement with Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho.
Finland's parliament is currently debating whether the country should apply for EC membership. A decision is expected within a few months.
The new agreement -- Russia's first political treaty with a Western country -- replaces the 1948 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, which required Finland to help defend the Soviet Union against any attack through Finnish territory.
Finland and Russia have now committed themselves not to use force against each other and to respect their 800-mile border. They also promise to respect the rights of each other's citizens on their territories.
The treaty is valid for 10 years and will automatically be renewed for five-year periods unless annulled by either party.
At the signing ceremony, Aho said Finland will aid Russia and participate in international projects aimed at alleviating its economic problems.
Aho and Burbulis also signed economic and regional trade agreements that call for development of border regions and the Russian areas around Murmansk, St. Petersburg and the autonomous region of Karelia.