In 1858 the Russian consul in London, Counselor Kremer, asked if the consulate could engage a civil servant skilled in the Finnish and Swedish languages. The official would serve as the consul’s interpreter when Finnish ships’ captains or other seafarers came to the consulate on business. The consul’s request demonstrates that at an early stage of the Czarist period in Finland Finns already had a presence abroad as a separate group who needed the services of a foreign affairs administration.
In the absence of their own administration Finns used the services of the embassies and consulates of the country that governed them, imperial Russia.
When Finland became independent the country set up its own administrative machinery to handle external relations. Initially it was thought that each individual branch of government would be responsible for its own particular interests. That was why, for example, the Ministry of Agriculture appointed “agrarian attaches” to Copenhagen and Rome. Soon, however, it became established policy that the Finnish state would be represented abroad exclusively by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and its external representatives: ambassadors, consuls and honorary consuls.