OFFICIALS from Finland and the United States have reached a provisional agreement on a defence co-operation agreement (DCA) between the two countries.
“The negotiations were held in a collaborative spirit. This draft agreement will now proceed to the political process,” commented Mikael Antell, a deputy director general at the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Antell was Finland’s chief negotiator in the official-level negotiations, the latest round of which was held in Helsinki on Monday and Tuesday.
Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) told Helsingin Sanomat from Oslo on Tuesday that the agreement is important to Finland, given the role of the US in Nato.
“When we joined Nato, we knew that the US is a key power in Nato. It’s therefore absolutely crucial to have an agreement with the US on the rules for how you act as an ally, how you collaborate with the country and on what terms. We need the US,” he messaged.
The agreement text will not be final until both parties have signed it following the political process, a step that will also signal the publication of the agreement. Its entry into force is subject to approval by parliament.
Helsingin Sanomat on Tuesday reported that the agreement fundamentally defines in juridical-technical terms the implementation of the security guarantee granted to Finland by the US.
While US troops will require no passport or visa to enter and stay in Finland, civilian staff accompanying them will require a passport and military identity card, according to the newspaper. US troops will be able to operate, be it to store equipment or build infrastructure, in areas defined in the appendix of the agreement by the Finnish Defence Forces. Although there are believed to be multiple such areas, troops will not be based in garrisons near the border between Finland and Russia.
The US will not initially establish permanent military bases in Finland. Its personnel will instead primarily move in and out of the country to conduct and participate in exercises, but some will stay more permanently to, for example, maintain and secure the weapons.
Orpo said he sees no risks in the special rights granted to the US in Finland.
Both Finland and the US will next conduct a political examination of the draft agreement. In Finland, it will be processed by the president and ministerial committee on foreign and security policy before it is presented to parliament for approval. Helsingin Sanomat wrote that the provisional timetable is to submit the agreement to parliament between late November and early December.
“The parliament has been well informed, and once we move on to the next stage from the negotiations, meaning once a draft agreement is ready, we’ll also open the citizen debate,” assured Orpo.
Official-level negotiations on the defence co-operation agreement began in August 2022. The US has devised similar bilateral agreements with several other Nato countries, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Norway. In addition, discussions on such an agreement are underway with Denmark and Sweden.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT