Erkki Tuomioja (SDP), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, took part in a plenary session at the Parliament on 17 December 2014. Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja (SDP) has branded the guest contribution of Charly Salonius-Pasternak, a senior researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, to Monday's edition of Helsingin Sanomat as provocative.

“The contribution of Salonius-Pasternak is in my opinion a rather deliberate provocation, which is no reason to be provoked,” Tuomioja writes in an e-mail to Helsingin Sanomat.

Salonius-Pasternak estimated on Monday that Russia could control the airspace over the Baltic Sea by seizing a couple of islands in the Åland Archipelago.

Although Tuomioja called attention to the necessity of securing the airspace over the Baltic Sea on his blog on Saturday, he insists that matters pertaining to defence strategy should not be a part of the public debate. “All military commands draw up a variety of contingency plans also for extremely unlikely scenarios and threats,” he highlights to Helsingin Sanomat.

“I doubt the Finnish Defence Forces are any less prepared in this respect. [Such plans] should not be discussed in public because defence information invariably entails a lot of classified information and because there is no reason to portray anyone as an enemy,” he adds.

“I believe that much should be obvious also to researchers at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, but he can choose to ignore it if he has his own political agenda and objectives.”

A scenario such as that conceived by Salonius-Pasternak, Tuomioja estimates, may have already been taken into consideration in contingency plans. Tuomioja also points out that Nato may be similarly interested in taking advantage of the Åland Islands.

As for the motives of the senior researcher, Tuomioja commented: “Deliberation is naturally a part of it – that is, he has a hidden Nato-related agenda.”

Laura Halminen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva