Finland’s political parties for more defence spending

Finland's flag. (Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva / AFP)
Finland’s flag. (Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva / AFP)
Finland’s major political parties are backing a proposed increase in defence spending after 2015.

Of the groups represented in the Parliament, only the junior government partners the Left Alliance and Green League appear to be stuttering on the issue.

Yle’s evening discussion programme A-studio polled political parties on their stand with respect to increased subventions for Finland’s defence forces after 2015. A majority of parties said they would support taking that goal into the next government programme.

According to estimates drawn up by Finnish defence command, the forces would need an additional 50 million euros in 2016 and another 150 million dollars by 2020, not including index increases.

Concerns about insufficient defence spending appear to have reached their mark. A special parliamentary committee has been set up to review the defence force proposal.

Kanerva: Spend or cut

The chair of the group, the National Coalition’s Ilkka Kanerva, said his party is ready to implement the proposed increases in the next government programme. Otherwise defence cuts could lie ahead.

“One (option) is that we don’t defend the entire country, another could be that we give up compulsory military service. Whether or not we actually want this is an entirely different question,” Kanerva said.

The opposition Finns and Centre parties also support the expenditure increases proposed by defence command.

On the other hand the Social Democrats support some increases in funding, but not to the level proposed. Social Democratic parliamentarian Johannes Koskinen said the numbers put forward may not be the final reckoning.

“We probably need some kind of increase, but whether these figures of 50 and 150 million are absolutely right, we can’t say yet,” he noted.

Greens, Left dig heels in

On the other side of the fence, the Green League and the Left Alliance have dug their heels in against the measure. Green International Development Minister Pekka Haavisto proposed targeting savings by way of more condensed military service and reducing garrison numbers.

Left Alliance MP Annika Lapintie shared Haavisto’s views and called out the special committee for leaning too heavily on the defence force proposal without looking at a wider threat assessment.

“This is why assessments by the Foreign Ministry, for example, would play an important role. Now the work is being done on the basis of a defence force wish list and we are looking to bankroll it,” she declared.

On Tuesday at the official re-opening of Parliament, President Sauli Niinistö said that it would be critical for the group to consider the impact of different levels of funding on defence readiness. The parliamentary committee will table its final report during the autumn.

Related Links:

Canada: Soldiers gather in Yukon, Canada for military exercise, CBC News

Finland: Finnish defence minister demands extra cash for military, Yle News

Norway:  Norway’s military intel chief admits to phone spying outside, The Associated Press

Russia: Russia’s Putin rattles military sabre over Canada’s claim to North Pole, The Canadian Press

Sweden:  Swedish military reports newspaper to intelligence service, Radio Sweden

United States: Crews unearth military history on Alaska Glacier, Alaska Dispatch

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