Opposition National Coalition Party leader Jyrki Katainen feels that the relationship between Finland and NATO would not change if Finland were to take part in the NATO Response Force (NRF).
Commenting on the initiative, Katainen said that NRF would be simply a new field of operations for the Finns.
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) feels that Finland should focus on the rapid deployment forces of the European Union. "We are looking for experience through the EU", Vanhanen said.
Katainen observes that 80 per cent of Finnish crisis management forces are already involved in operations led by NATO.
NATO has decided to invite non-NATO countries of the Partnership for Peace programme into NRF operations under certain conditions. Observers believe that Finland meets NATO’s requirements.
Minister of Defence Seppo Kääriäinen (Centre) wants a thorough political debate on the matter. He also warns against too much haste.
"As I understand it, NATO will give the Partnership countries plenty of time to think about the matter", Kääriäinen said.
The Chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs, Liisa Jaakonsaari (SDP), says that Finland should concentrate on the rapid deployment forces of the EU, in which it will soon be Finland’s turn be on alert for deployment.
Jaakonsaari says that she is not opposed to taking part in the NRF, but she wants more information first. She says that the division of responsibility between the EU’s rapid response forces and the NRF remains unclear to her.
Jaakonsaari also feels that Finland must consider if it has the resources to take part in both the NRF forces and the EU’s rapid deployment forces.
The government and President recently took the view that Finland can take part in NRF exercises. President Tarja Halonen said in Jyväskylä in mid-November that Finland cannot commit itself to taking part in the NRF.