Finnish decision on Icelandic airspace patrols delayed till late spring

A Finnish Air Force Hornet fighter. Image: Kati Rantala / Yle  Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja says that Parliament will probably not get a chance to debate Finnish participation in Icelandic airspace surveillance patrols until April.

According to Tuomioja preparations for making a final decision on the issue are moving ahead in pace with Sweden. 

Original plans called for the government to make a presentation to Parliament this month.

The leadership of parties in Parliament are leaning toward permitting the government to present a simplified situation report rather than a more formal cabinet presentation.

“It is possible to handle the matter as a simple report now that NATO has made it clear that for Finland it will be an exercise,” pointed out Foreign Minister Tuomioja.

“In legal terms it is quite clear that it does not require any formal cabinet presentation,” he added.

The Chairman of the Parliament’s Defence Committee, Finns’ Party MP Jussi Niinistö, said Wednesday that he still favours a formal presentation because of a number of still unanswered questions.

“Is this matter of an exercise, or an exercise-like surveillance operation, or what is this about?” Niinistö asked.

However, he did go on to say that he and his party are ready to consider the government giving Parliament a simple report.

The Social Democratic Party has not taken a position as of yet on Finnish participation in the NATO-led mission. The chairman of the party’s parliamentary group, Jouni Backman, said that what is important is that Parliament gets a chance to debate the issue.

His personal inclination is to give it a green light.

“Since it is specifically an exercise operation, then [Finland] can participate,” he said.

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