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Mon, 11 Jul, 2016 01:18:42 AM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, July 11

Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö and his British counterpart Michael Fallon signed on Saturday in Warsaw a protocol on defence cooperation between the two countries.

Finnish media quoted Niinistö as describing the document as "a declaratory expression of intent".

The protocol does not bind Finland and Britain to give mutual assistance in the event of a crisis, but rather sets the framework for cooperation. The document was signed in connection with the NATO Summit.

Contacts will be strengthened in training, maneuvers and in crisis management. Finnish national broadcaster Yle listed as key areas repelling chemical and biological arms, exchange of information and standardization.

Niinistö said the Finnish Defense Forces are totally compatible with NATO standards these days. He said that in fact the level of compatibility exceeds that of some "new" NATO member countries.

Finland is not a NATO member, but is an enhanced companion of the military organization based on an agreement signed in 2014.

The arrangement with Britain was disclosed by the Finnish Defense Ministry a week ago. The news caused some consternation among Finnish parliamentarians as even most members of the security related parliamentary committees had received no advance information and they heard of it first from media.

However, Niinistö said on Saturday the protocol "does not have such level of foreign policy importance" that an advance notification to parliament should have been necessary.

Finland follows Sweden in intensifying defense cooperation with Britain. Sweden and the UK agreed on cooperation in 2014.

Niinistö said earlier Finland and the United States would also sign a defence protocol, probably during this year. 

 
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