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Wed, 28 Aug, 2013 12:04:15 AM
NATO membership could not be an alternative
FTimes-STT Report, August 28
President Sauli Niinistö was speaking at the meeting of Ambassadors in Helsinki on Tuesday. Photo - Lehtikuva.
The President, Sauli Niinistö on Tuesday underscored the need for strong defence forces in Finland despite being a member of different common security organisations including NATO.
 
“We have to be attentive to our own defence forces, whether we are in any pack or union,” said Niinistö while addressing the three-day annual meeting of the heads of the diplomatic missions abroad in Helsinki.
 
The president said that cooperation with the military alliance NATO had helped the country to develop its defence sector, but he warned that the national security could never be secured by a free ride.
 
He also referred to the opinions of 100 experts during the discussion on defence policy held at the president’s summer house in Kultaranta in June where most of them said that the membership of NATO cannot replace the defence.
 
Niinistö emphasised on strengthening relation with other common security and defence organisations in Europe and Nordic countries and opined to look for the possibility for Finland’s inclusion in ‘Weimar Triangle’, the defence pact of three European countries --- France , Germany and Poland.
 
The president also discussed various contemporary issues and pointing out the decision of cutting his salary as per his recommendation, he hoped that it would be an example to others as a move to cut expenditure amidst the economic crisis of the country.
 
He, however, said that the example did not create any impact among the high officials of different organisations so far.
 
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen was speaking at the meeting of Ambassador in Helsinki on Tuesday. Photo - Lehtikuva.
In mid-June the discussants at  Kultaranta focused on human rights, possible conflict of interest in commerce and the Finnish position on NATO with the discussants proposing options for defence investment.
 
They suggested enhanced investment in national defence and join with NATO  or investing in national defence sector only without NATO.
 
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, number of politicians, businessmen, representatives from government and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) attended the discussion on foreign and security policy of the country, Nordic and European Union and International military alliance NATO.
 
The analysts also discussed the Finland’s decision of joining in Iceland airspace surveillance.
 
The cabinet committee on Foreign and Security Policy on June 14 finalised the Finnish participation in training on airspace surveillance of Iceland in early 2014.
 
The three-day meeting of the ambassadors will end on Wednesday.
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