The Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) was founded in 1961 on the initiative of the Paasikivi Society and until the end of 2006 remained a private state-assisted institute independent of the Government and any political party, and maintained by The Foundation for Foreign Policy Research. The Foundation received state assistance from the Ministry of Education, and FIIA obtained additional funding from other sources.

The decision to establish The Foundation for Foreign Policy Research was made by the Paasikivi Society in November 1959. The Institute was intended to function as a more politically autonomous body than the Paasikivi Society in order to conduct research and to provide the general public with an enlightened foreign policy debate.  The Foundation’s board invited Jaakko Iloniemi to represent the Institute, and additional funding was initially requested from the corporate world. Corporate contributions remained modest, however, and the Institute didn’t take off until August 1961 after receiving a grant of 500,000 Finnish Marks from the Ministry of Education.

In 1965 the Institute attained its first director, Osmo Apunen, but the post was not a full-time one. At the time, the focus was on working groups which met sporadically. The Institute began to accumulate a library and launched a series of publications called Maailma tänään (The World Today) with the Finnish  publisher Tammi.

The journal Ulkopolitiikka (Foreign Policy), founded in 1961 by the Paasikivi Society, ceased publication in 1968, but was revived by FIIA in 1972. That same year, the Institute was able to employ a full-time director and a publicist due to increased state assistance. The newly appointed director, Jaakko Kalela, went on leave shortly afterwards and publicist Kari Möttölä took over the running of the Institute.

The Institute strove even harder to become a research body and defined three main focal areas for its research: Finnish foreign policy, neutrality, as well as the general theory of international relations and international foreign policy. The Institute employed its first full-time researcher in 1987, and the era of growth truly began after Paavo Lipponen was appointed director in 1989.

As early as the late 1970s and early 1980s, debate arose on nationalizing the Institute either under the Parliament or the Ministry of Education. In 2006, the tenure of the Institute was transferred from The Foundation for Foreign Policy Research to the Parliament of Finland.

In conjunction with its centennial anniversary, the Parliament decided to establish an institute to conduct research on international relations and the EU.

The Act regulating the Institute coincided with the centennial celebration of the unicameral Parliament. At its centennial plenum on 1 June 2006, Parliament passed the Act on the Research Institute of International Relations and EU Affairs, which entered into force on 1 July 2006 and by virtue of which the new Institute assumed the old Institute’s duties and launched its operations on 1 January 2007. The Institute still bears the name The Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

The director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs is Mika Aaltola (2019-). Previous directors of the Institute have been Teija Tiilikainen (2010-2019), Raimo Väyrynen (2007-2009), Tapani Vaahtoranta (1991–2007), Tuomas Forsberg (during Mr Vaahtoranta’s leave of absence in 1998–2001), Paavo Lipponen (1989–91), Kari Möttölä (1973–88), Jaakko Kalela (1972–73) and Osmo Apunen (1965–72).


-Mikko Metsämäki: “UPI:n oppivuodet. Informaation välittästä tutkimusinstituutiksi”, an article published in the journal Ulkopolitiikka, 3/2001.

-The Institute’s Annual Report of Activities for 2006.