Saturday

21st Oct 2017

Focus

Finland rushes to finalise US defence pact

  • Finland has an unspoken pact with Sweden that neither country would join Nato alone (Photo: Finnish army)

Finland’s defence minister has said it aimed to conclude a defence pact with America before US president Barack Obama leaves office, amid concern over Russian aggression.

The minister, Jussi Niinisto, told the Reuters news agency on Monday (22 August): “We want to get the agreement ready during the autumn. However, I am convinced that our cooperation with the USA will continue regardless of which candidate is elected president”.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Soini: "We do not want to turn our back on Russia. At the same time one has to be honest ... Russia has broken European rules" (Photo: European Parliament)

He said that the pact would not include a Nato-type mutual defence promise.

“It would cover areas where we already work together, like military training, information sharing and research," he said.

His comments came ahead of US elections in November.

The Republican candidate, Donald Trump, has taken a pro-Russia line in his campaign and has cast doubt on the future of Nato.

The Finnish foreign minister, Timo Soini, also on Monday, told a meeting of Finnish ambassadors in Helsinki that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had changed the security situation in Europe.

"We cannot, we do not want to turn our back on Russia. At the same time one has to be honest: With its action in Crimea, Russia has broken European rules," he said, referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

He noted that Finland was also building closer defence ties with Sweden and with Nato.

He described Sweden as Finland’s “closest and most natural partner”.

He said Finland was not planning to join Nato, but he noted that “keeping the door [to Nato membership] open serves Finland's security”.

He added that “the European Union is also a security community, the significance of which should not be underestimated”.

Finland spelled out its thinking in a foreign policy review paper drafted by the prime minister’s office in June.

Russian challenge

The review said that “during the past 10 years or so Russia, through its actions and interpretations, has challenged the essence of the security regime to an extent, and has destabilised it … A vicious circle has evolved, resulting in increased tension and military activity in the Baltic Sea region”.

It said Finland was already a “target” of “hybrid influencing”, referring to Russian propaganda and political and economic pressure.

“The use or threat of military force against Finland cannot be excluded”, it added.

It said that “Russia’s isolation does not serve anyone’s interests”, but it forecast a difficult period inside Russia in which its leaders would “try to avert internal disorder”, but would struggle with “energy price fluctuations and, in the long term, from different structural problems”.

The paper noted that the US deal would focus on “interoperability, materiel cooperation as well as training and exercise cooperation”.

It warned that Nato membership would be “a fundamental and far-reaching decision” that would “require wide-ranging debate and careful consideration”.

A Nato official, speaking to EUobserver ahead of the Nato summit in Warsaw in July, said that if Finland or Sweden wanted to join “this would not be too difficult for two such capable and committed countries.”

But a recent poll by public broadcaster Yle noted that just 22 percent of Finnish people, who share a long border with Russia, support Nato entry, while 55 percent oppose it.

For his part, Russian leader Vladimir Putin on a visit to Helsinki in July threatened to move troops closer to the border if it went ahead.

EU clause

The Finnish security review in June described EU defence cooperation primarily in terms of joint arms procurement and overseas crisis missions.

But it noted that the EU treaty, in its article 42.7, contained a “binding” Nato-style “mutual assistance clause”. The clause was invoked by France after last November's attacks in Paris.

With some EU states, such as the Czech Republic, calling for the creation of an EU army in the wake of Brexit, the defence paper added: “The European Union must continue to further develop its common preparedness and arrangements for closer defence cooperation”.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  2. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving up to 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  5. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  9. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  10. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  11. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  12. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks