NATO, European Defence and the presidential candidates: a lot of nonsense and ignorance

estonia-2400975__480If you follow the Finnish Presidential election, you know the candidates:  the current president, Sauli Niinistö, who is being backed by a voters’ association, the conservative National Coalition and the Christian League, and according to all be reelected, Pekka Haavisto of the Greens, the Social Democratic Party’s Tuula Haatainen, Finns Party candidate Laura Huhtasaari, Merja Kyllönen of the Left Alliance, The Swedish People’s Party’s Nils Torvalds, the Centre Party’s Matti Vanhanen, and the latest candidate to enter the race, Paavo Väyrynen who is running as an independent and was a member of the Centre Party.

We have learned some days ago that most Finns would prefer if the candidates in the upcoming presidential elections had a clear-cut stance on whether or not Finland should apply for membership in NATO. There was a presidential election debate on Wednesday. Are the positions very clear? It is clear for Nils Torvalds, who is for NATO, Paavo Väyrynen, who is for Finland being neutral, so not in NATO, and Merja Kyllönen, against NATO and any EU collective defense mechanism. The other ones, and in particular the future winner Niinistö, are saying more or less: now is not the time, but if the situation changes, we might agree to go in NATO.

When listening to these declarations, one can ask why they cannot say their personal opinion: either Finland will continue for a long time to be a neutral country, not in NATO, and is clear about it, or Finland could join NATO, fast. Saying like Niinistö and the undecided candidates :”We don’t know” or “we’ll see later” is making our Russian neighbor worry  and prepare for a NATO border in Finland, and at the same time Finland does not benefit from NATO’s protection. With this attitude, we always will lose, whatever happens.

Then there was a crazy and extremely worrying debate about what would happen if Estonia (or another EU country) would be under attack. It states that:

“If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with article 51 of the United Nations charter”

For anybody, it should be clear: we have signed the EU Treaty, if Estonia is attacked, we will help Estonia by all means in our power if they ask for our help. It is more or less what Matti Vanhanen has replied: “We’d have to respond [to the request], but then we’d also have to consider what each of us could do to help,” each of us being the EU Member States. Clear and concise.

A little lost in the EU topic, Laura Huhtasaari, True Finn member, expressed her doubts about the mutual assistance clause of the EU and insisted that Finland must under no circumstances tolerate military activity in its sovereign territory, which means that the EU support and troops should not go to Estonia through Finland…

Nils Torvalds, from the Swedish People Party,  estimated that a request for military assistance would effectively be irrelevant as Article 42.7 of the Lisbon Treaty requires a unanimous decision by the Council of Europe. Sorry, but there should be no vote: the article states that other EU members help, so they must help.. And the Council of Europe has nothing to do with the European Union, it is another international organization, it has 47 members and it is about human rights. So globally nonsense, as stressed by Sauli Niinistö.

But then the nonsense continued: President Niinistö indicated that “The Lisbon Treaty, remains ambiguous in regards to whether or not it obliges member states to provide military assistance upon request from another member state, and I would discuss the hypothetical request also with the chairpersons of relevant parliamentary committees“. So it means that maybe Finland maybe would help, maybe not, which is not in line with the  treaty signed by Finland. It should be also noted for President Niinistö that Article 42.7 is similar to NATO’s Article 5, which states that an attack against any member of NATO is considered to be an attack on all members. So with President Niinistö, EU solidarity is out, and Estonia can die, Finland is perhaps helping. Or perhaps not. Imagine France and Germany saying: if Finland is under attack, maybe we will help, or maybe not…

Paavo Väyrynen (IND) was still more affirmative: the EU treaty “doesn’t oblige us to provide military assistance, nor should we provide it”. Estonia can die, I don’t care, we signed this Treaty but it does not mean anything…

The social-democratic candidate, Tuula Haatainen, who seemed a little out of her league, indicated that “Lisbon wasn’t built for military situations but for various crisis“. So for her Finland would decide independently – after a series of internal and external discussions – what kind of assistance it would provide. Empty speeches…

Pekka Haavisto (Greens) considers that Nato would likely be the primary provider of assistance to Estonia and the rest of the Baltics. Finland, on the other hand, could provide assistance in dealing with refugees, for example. And he added “Under no circumstances can we not assist Estonia,” which is comforting in some way.

Merja Kyllönen from the left alliance preferred to remind that  various oil spills remain the greatest security threat in the Baltic Sea. She is against NATO, against European Defence…

It is easy to conclude that the only no-nonsense candidates were (on this topic) Matti Vanhanen and Pekka Haavisto. The other ones were either vague, or ignorant, or would consider not respecting a treaty signed by Finland, which is against all Finnish tradition and culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Defence, Elections

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