Icelandic air patrolling stirs reactions

On a practice mission. Image: Yle

Finland’s decision to join patrols of Icelandic airspace has elicited mixed reactions among government parties. Left Alliance and Social Democratic parliamentary groups remain cautious about the decision, while opposition parties are strongly against Finland taking part in the air patrolling.

The decision, announced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, needs to be confirmed by parliament, once all the details connected with the mission are clear. 

The Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy took a favourable stance towards Finland’s participation in patrolling Icelandic airspace last week. However, there is a lack of consensus on the matter among – and even within – the different government parties.

The Left Alliance fell short of advocating the Cabinet Committee’s position, and said it would decide on the matter when it was dealt with in parliament.

Left Alliance Minister of Transport Merja Kyllönen said her party still wanted more detailed information on the operation, and especially its relationship to NATO.

According to Social Democratic MP Maarit Feldt-Rannan, her party’s parliamentary group has decided the operation proposal needs more work before a final decision could be made on this. The Social Democratic Parliamentary Group has taken this view to its party representatives in government.

Opposition pounces, Tuomioja defends

The opposition lashed out against the decision to join Icelandic airspace patrols.

Finns Party member and chair of the parliament’s Defence Committee Jussi Niinistö criticised the government for being prepared to use the dwindling resources of Finland’s air force for patrolling the airspace of NATO-member Iceland.

Niinistö also rejected the idea of Finnish-Swedish co-operation, arguing the whole venture was just about saving NATO money by making outside parties – such as Finland – pay for what should be NATO’s own missions.

Chair of the Centre Party Parliamentary Group Kimmo Tiilikainen said that Finnish patrolling of Icelandic skies did not accord with tasks specified in national defence legislation.

Niinistö agrees, adding that if the air patrolling was just an international joint military exercise, then this is a matter for Defence Minister Carl Haglund to approve of. However, if the mission comes to more than this, Finnish defence legislation would need to be amended, to allow for the patrolling of foreign airspace.

Niinistö is resolutely opposed to altering legislation, asserting that the main task of the military should be to defend one’s own country.

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja of SDP was quick to answer opposition arguments against joining Icelandic air patrols. Writing in his blog, Tuomioja said the operation would in no way bring Finland closer to NATO, as well as noting that the Finnish military actually considered the Icelandic air patrolling a useful exercise.

Related Links:

Finland to join patrols of Icelandic airspace, Yle News

Swedish air force to defend Iceland, Radio Sweden

For more stories from Yle News, click here

Yle News

For more news from Finland visit Yle News.

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *