Minister of Defence Antti Häkkänen (NCP) spoke to AFP Nato on the sidelines of a defence ministers’ meeting at the defence alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on 12 October 2023. Häkkänen on Friday stated to YLE that he is opposed to calling off the acquisition of an air defence system from Israel over the situation in Gaza. (Simon Wohlfahrt – AFP / Lehtikuva)


MINISTER of Defence Antti Häkkänen (NCP) has rejected the idea of cancelling the acquisition of an air defence system from Israel over the situation in Gaza.

“The Ukraine war has shown us that air defence capabilities are crucially important. This is why cancelling [the acquisition of] such a weapons system over any incident is in my opinion out of the question,” he commented on YLE TV1 on Friday.

Häkkänen said the Finnish and Israeli defence ministries have signed a separate agreement to commit both administrations to the transaction, which – he added – will not be completed until years from today.

The Left Alliance has urged the government to suspend arms trade with Israel, arguing that it is not right to engage in arms trade with a country that is continuing an illegal occupation and bombarding civilians.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) on Sunday outlined that Finland should promote peace between Israel and Palestine in both the European Union and United Nations.

“The situation is extremely volatile. This isn’t happening somewhere far away, but near Europe,” he was quoted saying at the party conference of the National Coalition by Helsingin Sanomat. “Finland’s position consists of three core elements: We fully condemn the terror attack by Hamas. We recognise Israel’s right to self defence within [the boundaries of] international law, human rights. And we want humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in Gaza.”

Finland on Friday abstained from voting on a UN resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip, alongside 44 other countries including Germany, India, Italy, the Baltics and the Nordics.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Elina Valtonen (NCP) explained to Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday that the decision to abstain was taken because the resolution did not condemn the attack by Hamas on 7 October.

“We voted for Canada’s motion, which would’ve condemned the attacks by Hamas. It didn’t succeed so we ended up abstaining,” she said, stressing that the abstention should not be misconstrued as opposition to the contents of the resolution.

“We don’t think the resolution was balanced enough, but it certainly doesn’t mean that we oppose the core messages. It’s important that civilians are protected, that humanitarian aid gets through and that hostages are released,” she clarified.

Israel began its long anticipated ground offensive of Gaza on Saturday, 28 October.

“This is the second stage of the war, whose objectives are clear: to destroy the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas and bring the hostages home,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated at a nationally televised news conference on Saturday, according to AP.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT