The Finnish culture of military non-alignment is not at risk despite deepening defence co-operation in the European Union, Timo Soini (BR), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, asserted on Monday after he and his colleagues from 22 other member states signed a joint notification on the Permanent Structured Co-operation (Pesco).
Pesco enables the participating member states to jointly develop defence capabilities, invest in development projects and enhance operational readiness.
Laura Huhtasaari, the presidential candidate of the Finns Party, has expressed her concern that closer defence co-operation between the member states could lead to the principle of solidarity also being applied to the field of defence, thus creating additional costs for Finland.
Soini dismissed her concerns as irrational.
“This is another indication of how some people don’t understand anything. [Pesco] will increase efficiency and even create savings. It’ll also help small and medium companies in the defence industry gain entry to new markets. It could bring new jobs and orders. Of course the costs will drop when you introduce this kind of pooling and sharing. But otherwise defence costs must be at a rational level,” he told Uusi Suomi.
“The EU certainly has its problems, but this is one of the best things you can get from [the union].”
Soini also clarified that although Finland remains military non-aligned, it has not been impartial since 1995.
“We have to be careful with the terms: Finland isn’t impartial because it has committed politically to the European Union. It’s absolutely clear that any talk of impartiality in this context would be misguiding, and deliberately so,” he explained.
“But Finland is non-aligned in the sense that it isn’t a member of a military alliance.”
Mika Aaltola, a programme director at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, warned in an interview with Uusi Suomi on Sunday that the recent public wrangle over Nato could confuse the general public about the security policy position of Finland.
“I thought it was a smart way to put it,” commented Soini.
“There have been deliberate attempts to create confusion and misunderstanding, because certain sections of the political arena are finding it difficult to come to terms with the fact that these things are moving forward and that our rational approach to foreign and security policy is producing results.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Anniina Luotonen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi