Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) attended a plenary session in the Parliament House on 24 January 2023. Marin on Wednesday indicated that the much-discussed proposal to appoint a new security policy advisor for the prime minister will likely be shelved until the next government has taken office. (Mikko Stig – Str / Lehtikuva)


PRIME MINISTER Sanna Marin (SDP) on Wednesday said it is likely that the appointment of a new much-discussed security policy advisor for the prime minister will be postponed.

The office of the prime minister has been preparing to set up the advisory position, but the notion has come under heavy criticism from the office of the president, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Defence Command of the Finnish Defence Forces.

Marin on Wednesday stated at a press conference that it is reasonable to allow the next prime minister to evaluate whether the position is necessary.

“My own thinking is that it is. But in any case it’s very much a possibility that the timing will be postponed. I don’t think that the timetable is particularly important, that it’d have be set up during this government’s term in office. This would’ve been for the next prime minister, not specifically for me,” she was quoted saying by Helsingin Sanomat.

The parliamentary elections will take place on 2 April 2023.

The office of the prime minister had outlined that the decree for setting up the position would come into effect in March, with the appointment to be made shortly thereafter. Underlying the proposal is an apparent desire to consolidate the role of the prime minister in the domain of foreign and security policy.

The proposal has been justified with an increase in security policy-related duties linked to the upcoming accession to Nato.

The office is responsible for assisting the prime minister in leading the government and for monitoring the implementation of the government programme.

The Finnish constitution prescribes that foreign policy is led by the president in collaboration with the government, with the actual work taking place at joint meetings of the president and Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy (TP-Utva).

President Sauli Niinistö told YLE last week that he believes the current system is working tremendously well. His office had earlier rejected the proposal as premature and oversized.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs expressed its concern that setting up the position could blur the division of responsibilities between ministries and shift powers away from ministries toward the prime minister.

Nato-related issues fall largely within the purview of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence. Once its Nato membership has been ratified, Finland would be represented in summits of the military alliance by the president.

The Finnish Defence Forces’ Defence Command on Tuesday viewed that the proposal fails to both sufficiently justify the need for the position and pay attention to possible impacts on the leadership structures pertaining to national defence and foreign and security policy.

“The Defence Forces’ Commander serves as a permanent advisor in TP-Utva, and thereby members of said committee have access to the military expertise of the entire Defence Forces,” its statement reads according to Helsingin Sanomat. “In general, hearing various experts offers more broad-based support for decision making than appointing a single advisor.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT