New security policy of would-be Finnish gov't redefines NATO role

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-02 05:21:59|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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HELSINKI, June 1 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming Finnish left-center cabinet under Social Democratic leader Antti Rinne is toning down the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Finnish security policy, local media reported on Saturday.

The newspaper Iltalehti published on Saturday the security policy section of the new government's program.

The new wording notes that "maintaining national leeway" and "options of choices" belong to the basis of Finnish security policy. "That maintains the possibility of applying for NATO membership", the program says.

The outgoing center-right government of Centre Party leader Juha Sipila defined in 2015 Finland as "a country outside military alliances" and noted that Finland "maintains practical companionship with NATO and maintains the possibility of applying for NATO membership".

Commentators noted on Saturday that the previous definition was a compact sentence that included the possibility of NATO membership application, while in the new definition NATO comes up in a separate sentence.

The new foreign and security policy section of the government program does not accept the use of Finnish territory for hostile purposes against other countries. The previous government program did not include that restriction.

Commentators of Iltalehti, Tommi Parkkonen and Lauri Nurmi, noted the sentences restricting the use of Finnish territory are particularly interesting as they could be interpreted in such a way that the government program would not allow NATO forces to use Finnish territory in operations that defend the Baltic countries.

But at the same time the government program defines that "as a member of the European Union Finland could not be an outsider if security is threatened in the vicinity of Finland or elsewhere in Europe".

The Iltalehti commentators concluded that under that definition Finland then should help Estonia, if that country would be attacked.

The new program highlights defense co-operation between Finland and Sweden. "Deepening of the co-operation with Sweden gives opportunities for strengthening the defense of our countries," it says.

The Baltic countries are members of NATO while Finland is not. Finland and Sweden are enhanced partners of NATO. There is also a three country protocol that includes the United States.

During recent years practical co-operation and defense planning of Finland and Sweden has increased, but both countries have underlined no actual military alliance exists.

A Swedish parliamentary defense plan in May suggested that Sweden should earmark a brigade to be sent to Finland in the event of a crisis.

The new foreign policy definitions appear to give a more central role to value questions such as promotion permissiveness and equality in all international activities. The Iltalehti commentators saw a partial return to wordings heard during the presidency of Tarja Halonen in 2000-2012.

The new Finnish government is to include the Social Democrats, the Center, the Greens, Left Alliance and the Swedish Peoples Party.

Government program talks that took nearly three weeks were completed on Friday, parts of the program have been published in the media.

The official publication of the program is to be on Monday at the new central library of Helsinki. During this coming week the participating parties are to give the final seal to joining the cabinet. The new government could be appointed by the end of the week.