According to information received by Helsingin Sanomat, it was determined at a meeting of the government’s Committee on Foreign and Security Policy on Tuesday that Finland will join the Ottawa Treaty in 2012 and eliminate landmines by 2016.
The agreement is in line with the earlier plan put together by the key ministers from the coalition partners, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre), Finance Minister Antti Kalliomäki (SDP), and Environment Minister Jan-Erik Enestam (Swed. People’s Party), which has earlier been published in the media.
The issue will be discussed further today in the government in order to secure political consensus. The Committee will also meet on Friday in order to discuss the government’s upcoming defence policy report and to finalise the text concerning landmines.
The opposition parties expressed criticism of the agreement on Tuesday, claiming that the Ministry of Defence is likely to be granted the extra funding regardless of the fact that the current landmines will be replaced anyway within the years 2016 to 2024.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs had proposed that Finland would join the Ottawa Treaty in 2008 and destroy the mines in the course of the four following years.
The Ministry of Defence recommended eliminating the mines within the years 2010 to 2012, by which time Finland would be ready to join the Ottawa Treaty. The replacement of the weaponry would cost EUR 300 million, of which 200 million would comprise extra funding and the remaining EUR 100 million would be taken out of the normal military budget.
The government’s upcoming defence policy report will deal also with the significant cuts that might have to be made in the number of Finnish garrisons.