Finnish-U.S. joint exercises are for military and technical practice: President Niinistö

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto speaks to the media in Helsinki August 14, 2014. REUTERS/Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto speaks to the media in Helsinki August 14, 2014. REUTERS/Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva
According to President Sauli Niinistö, new joint U.S. exercises have no security policy significance and are in line with Finland’s foreign policy.

President Niinistö spoke to the press following a meeting on Finland’s foreign and security policy with parliamentary political party leaders Wednesday morning. The upcoming joint military exercises with U.S. forces, which have aroused a heated debate of late, are purely military in nature, said Niinistö,.

“The exercises now discussed are technical and tactical exercises. They do not create a line of security policy,” he said.

He pointed out that over the last 15 years Finland has taken part in at least five joint so-called map exercises that have had a security policy role. Decisions on participation in such exercises that are in line with national defence policy have always been made within the Foreign Ministry.

Niinistö stressed that other exercises do not have security policy significance in terms of Finland’s relationship with NATO. Decisions to take part in these exercises can be taken by the Ministry of Defence because they are technical and tactical in nature. They are aimed at keeping up the preparedness and capabilities of Finland’s national defence forces.

Finland’s policy has remained unchanged for some time. said Niinisto.

“As a NATO partner we secure Finland’s territorial inviolability,” he stated.

Better information

A sharp debate has arisen between the Cabinet and Parliament over the availability of information concerning exercises in which Finland participates.

According to Niinistö, availability and access to this information should be improved.

The Defence Ministry’s near-term schedule of military exercises has close to 90 points, including NATO exercises that will include Finnish participation. Parliament has not been well-informed about the details of the exercises.

The Defence Ministry is to draw up criteria to identify new types and differing practices for these exercises.

“With these criteria some of this rather muddled discussion could be avoided,” Niinistö told the press.

Related stories from around the North:

Denmark:  Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News

Finland: Finland confirms 6th Russian airspace violation in just over a year, Yle News

Norway: U.S. Marines jump into freezing Finnmark water, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia:  New Russian spy ship to keep tabs on Norway, Barents Observer

Sweden:  New security landscape in the Arctic, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. general says Alaska military cuts not final without Arctic plan, Alaska Public Radio Network

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