Finland in the world press

A placard is placed in Helsinki on 19 July bearing the words “Israel bombs hospitals”, bringing attention to the usage of weapons exported from Finland."MILITARY trade between Finland and Israel goes back for more than 60 years. Finland exported weaponry to Israel already in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. The major imports from Israel took place in the 1990's and during the very first years of the 21st century.

It would probably be an exaggeration to claim that more than a relatively tiny part of Finns are aware that Finland is conducting arms trade with some of the most egregious human rights violating countries in the world. However, the issue has received scattered coverage. In particular, Finland's arms trade links with Israel keep drawing a lion's share of the overall criticism.

Indeed, the fact that Finland continuously seals new military deals with a state that so openly breaches international law, that is the state of Israel, as well as conducts trade with, and produces economic benefit to, private Israeli weapons companies which are complicit in Israel's abysmal human rights breaches has arguably elicited more domestic criticism than Finland's arms trade with any other state.

Over 250 Finnish dignitaries from the arts, sciences and politics have signed a petition demanding an immediate discontinuation of all military trade and cooperation between Finland and Israel.

Among the signatories are foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja, world-renowned international law expert Martti Koskenniemi and distinguished professor at the University of Helsinki, forensic dentist Helena Ranta. They are joined by Finnish MEPs and MPs, a number of Finlandia Prize winners, film and stage directors, writers, actors, scholars and more than 40 university professors.

The Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki encapsulated some of the reasons why Finland's arms trade with Israel is such an abomination: 'What makes the arms trade between Finland and Israel particularly disgraceful is the fact that it is carried out with companies and weapons which have had a central role in the killing of civilians in the territories illegally occupied by Israel.'..."

LEHTIKUVA / Timo Jaakonaho