Finland sticking to NRF decision despite Swedish delay
Finland is keeping to its decision to join the NATO Response Force, even though Sweden is postponing its own decision on the NRF until next autumn.
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) said on Wednesday that the postponement of Sweden's decision will not affect Finland.
Parliament debated Finnish NRF policy for four hours, and none of those taking part in the debate wanted Finland to wait for Sweden. Parliament's foreign affairs committee also felt that Finland should make its own decision.
Finland and Sweden had initially planned to report for the NRF at the NATO summit next week. When the government and the President decided on March 7th that Finland should join the NRF, Sweden's delay was already known.
"We didn't know that Sweden's decision would be delayed until the autumn", Vanhanen said.
Sweden's new schedule was made public on Wednesday morning. The move came up in debate in the Finnish Parliament.
Former Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja (SDP) noted that it has been a starting point that Finland and Sweden should not inflict surprises on each other.
The current Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ilkka Kanerva (Nat. Coalition Party), said that it is most likely that Sweden will "join the process" next autumn.
The delay was attributed to the fact that Sweden's opposition Social Democrats oppose Sweden's participation in the NRF forces.
This gave the Left Alliance in the Finnish Parliament the opportunity to needle the Finnish Social Democrats, who largely support the line of the government and President.
"Finland's Social Democrats are further to the right than Sweden's right-wing government", Jaakko Laakso (Left) proclaimed.
The Left Alliance, along with the True Finns and two Social Democrats, declared their opposition to joining NRF. Parliament votes on the matter on Friday.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Raimo Väyrynen: NRF rotation compatible with Finnish EU role (18.3.2008)
BREAKING NEWS: Finland decides to take part in NATO Response Force (7.3.2008)