Minister of Defence: Abandoning land mines would cost more than 200 million
Minister of Defence Seppo Kääriäinen (Centre Party) announced on Tuesday that the 200 million euros suggested by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will not suffice to replace Finland's infantry mine defence on the Eastern border with other weapons systems without a loss in defence capability.
Kääriäinen answered the questions of citizens online yesterday. Many demanded to know why Finland is planning to abandon its mines, as they are seen as a key element in the country's defence.
The minister explained that Finland's current mines are quite old, and will need to be replaced by the 2020s at the latest. The majority of Finland's current infantry mines were manufactured 25-50 years ago.
Finland's current mine problem has many dimensions: international pressure to join the Ottawa Convention that bans all anti-personnel mines, the timetable of replacing the mines if such a decision is made, and the costs of alternative weapons systems.
The Defence and Foreign Ministries have disagreed on the realistic cost of maintaining Finland's defence capability without mines.
The Ministry of Defence believes that Finland should not join the Ottawa Convention until 2012, with alternative defence systems costing 311 million euros being implemented over the years 2007-2013. The Foreign Ministry would like the current government to make the decision on land mines in 2007, with the costs totalling only 200 million.
Kääriäinen emphasised that whatever the decision on mines, it must not weaken Finland's defence capability. Decisions on the issue can be expected in the fall.