Finland has stepped up its efforts to revise the defence legislation in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris in mid-November.
Finland is currently not allowed to participate in military activities outside the European Union, but the legislative changes under consideration would according to Alexander Stubb (NCP), the Minister of Finance, allow it to provide military assistance also to the Baltic states.
The bill enabling the provision of military assistance is to be submitted for parliamentary consideration at the beginning of next year.
Stubb believes it is important for Finland that the security guarantee clause of the European Union is more than hot air. “It's in the best interests of a non-Nato country like Finland that the EU's assistance clauses and obligations are valid and concrete. It is beneficial and promotes security also here in Finland,” he said.
“I've never considered the clause void in terms of its contents. It has served as a political and symbolic message that EU countries will help each other in times of need,” he added.
Stubb estimated that the revisions will enable Finland to provide military assistance also to the Baltic states in the future. “This is a question of the EU's assistance obligation. The Baltic countries are also members of the EU. The assistance clause incorporates all 28 member states of the EU,” he reminded.
He also admitted that the preparations for the legislative reform are behind schedule.
“We in Finland often say that EU legislation and EU agreements should be implemented as soon as possible. This is an example of something that's lagging behind. We'll fix it by next spring,” he promised.
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) declined to comment on the contents of the legislative revisions in detail on Friday.
“Military assistance refers to the crisis management operations we've decided we're able to continue. Finnish laws don't allow for the provision of other types of assistance. We'll mull over these questions carefully [to determine whether the rights] should be expanded,” Sipilä phrased at the Parliament Annex on Friday.
“The issue is under preparation. I won't make any predictions about the contents,” he added.
Eeva Palojärvi – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
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Photo: A screen capture from a video by Terhi Liimu / HS