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Jussi Niinistö (BR), the Minister of Defence, believes Finland should abandon the so-called Ottawa Treaty.
Jussi Niinistö (BR), the Minister of Defence, believes Finland should abandon the so-called Ottawa Treaty.

 

Jussi Niinistö (BR), the Finnish Minister of Defence, has reiterated his concern about the so-called Ottawa Treaty, an international convention aimed at eliminating anti-personnel landmines.

“Finland’s decision to join the Ottawa Treaty was a blunder by a peacetime fool. By joining the treaty, Finland created a hole in its military defence capabilities that is useful only to the enemies attacking us,” he wrote in a blog on Puheenvuoro on Monday.

He highlighted that although most countries in the world have signed and ratified the treaty, it has yet to be signed by the likes of India, Israel, Russia and the United States.

The Ottawa Treaty proscribes the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel land-mines that have been designed to explode by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and to wound or kill one or more persons. The treaty has been ratified by a total of 164 countries.

Niinistö acknowledged the importance of developing alternative weapons systems but argued that they will not patch the hole created by the prohibition of anti-personnel landmines.

“They serve as a band-aid, but they will not restore the comprehensive deterrent that are landmines. Anti-personnel mines are inexpensive and domestically manufactured defence weapons that are very effective in our terrain,” he explained.

He urged the current government to declare its intention to withdraw from the international treaty in its government programme but received little support for his demands.

The issue, he argued, should be re-introduced to the political debate to allow the next government to withdraw from the treaty and restore the landmine deterrence to the military repertoire of Finland.

“The Finnish parliamentary elections will be held next spring, and that is why now is the right time for this discussion,” wrote Niinistö.

The six-month withdrawal process can be triggered by filing a notification with the United Nations, according to him.

“The sooner the notification is filed, the sooner we are able to reinforce the military defence capabilities of Finland. I have received feedback while travelling around the world as the minister of defence over the past four years that withdrawing from the Ottawa Treaty would not damage our reputation,” he said.

The issue was discussed also during the run-up to the most recent presidential elections. Laura Huhtasaari, the candidate of the Finns Party, expressed her support for the idea of withdrawing from the treaty, while President Sauli Niinistö indicated he might be willing to resort to anti-personnel landmines under certain circumstances.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Lehti – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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