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Home NATIONALFinland mulls deal to allow easier entry of NATO troops
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Thu, 28 Aug, 2014 12:01:28 AM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, August 28

 

Finland is considering signing an agreement with NATO in order to strengthen cooperation, which would possibly mean easier entry of NATO troops onto Finnish territory.

The plan was announced by a government press release on Wednesday in the wake of media reports in neighbouring Sweden about a similar move by that country.

The new framework in discussion could allow NATO forces to use Swedish land, airspace and maritime territory while en route to operations, and Sweden would guarantee the troops’ logistical and support operations, said Finnish national broadcaster Yle.

Defence Minister Carl Haglund said the agreement with Finland mainly serves the needs for staging maneuvres, and will also be applicable in natural disasters and international conflicts.

Haglund told media that the arrangements as no "carte blanche", but NATO troops entering Finland would need a Finnish invitation.

Haglund also noted that the agreement would not mean that NATO would have to respond to a Finnish request for assistance.

Even though the word agreement has been used in newscoverage and interviews, Finnish officials have said it is literally a protocol. The document is to be signed next week during the NATO meeting in Wales, Britain.

Finnish officials said consultations about this kind of agreement have continued over 10 years between NATO and Finland.

Neither Finland nor Sweden are members of NATO, but they are partner countries. Finland is one of Russia's western neighbors.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said in Helsinki on Wednesday that the relationship between Finland and NATO has not changed, and the protocol would not bring Finland closer to NATO.

Tuomioja said on Facebook that the security in Finland would not be improved through “making another border a frontier between NATO and Russia.”

The news coincided with the start of the NATO operation Northern Coasts 2014 in Finland this week. In all, 3,000 soldiers, half of them from Finland, and 60 ships, 20 from Finland, will be participating.

The operations hub is in the west coast town of Turku.

The Finnish military noted that the timing and the location of this maneuvre was decided in 2010 and thus are not related to the current situation.

The series Northern Coasts first started in 2007.

Two submarines are participating in the ongoing exercise, one from Sweden and one from Germany.

Finland has had no submarines since World War II. Submarines were prohibited in the Paris Peace Treaty 1947 and although the restrictions were lifted in 1991 Finland has not purchased any submarines.

"The deployment of foreign submarines in Finland now gives us the possibility of exercising submarine related operations in our waters," a Finnish Navy representative told Helsingin Sanomat.

 
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