Presidential race: Haavisto rejects Arhinmäki innuendo over NATO stance
Green League presidential candidate Pekka Haavisto has roundly rejected suggestions by Left Alliance presidential hopeful Paavo Arhinmäki that Haavisto’s stance on possible Finnish NATO membership is vague.
Commenting on the matter to Helsingin Sanomat on Friday Haavisto said that it would be good if debate in the presidential elections were based on what people have actually said.
Arhinmäki took up the NATO issue on a television current affairs programme on Thursday evening. He repeated his claim that there are people in the presidential race who are secretly in love with NATO, making specific reference to Paavo Lipponen (SDP) and Sauli Niinistö (Nat. Coalition Party).
Arhinmäki, who is campaigning on a strong anti-NATO platform, said that Haavisto’s stance on the matter is vague.
“[Haavisto] has said that leaning on neutrality is old-fashioned, and that we need to see that NATO’s role has changed as a peace organisation”, Arhinmäki said.
Arhinmäki claimed that Haavisto had spoken about neutrality being old-fashioned at a meeting of the Green League party council in 2007. However, an online summary of Haavisto’s speech at the event did not make reference to any such passage.
On Friday Arhinmäki put a link on his Facebook page to a story by the National Coalition Party’s online publication Verkkouutiset from August 2010. It was about a press conference where the Greens had detailed their views on conscription.
According to Verkkouutiset, “Haavisto described policy emphasising NATO and the European Union to be modern, while the striving for neutrality represents an old kind of defence thinking.”
The story does not directly quote Haavisto, nor was there confirmation from any other sources about what he may or may not have said. The policy paper released by the Greens on the conscription issue did not mention NATO at all.
Haavisto emphasised that he had clarified his stance on NATO “in as much detail as possible” in the Helsingin Sanomat candidate selection engine.
In the engine he had ticked the option that states that “NATO membership is not topical now, but the issue must be open to consideration in the future if needed.”
“I feel the stance taken by six parties together in the present government programme to be on target”, Haavisto says.
According to the government programme, Finland is not making preparations to apply for NATO membership.
The Green League and the Left Alliance are both in the present government coalition.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Mission Impossible: Finland´s 15-year standoff over NATO (8.3.2011)
Defence Minister says Nordic NATO membership would strengthen cooperation (7.5.2008)
Prime Minister Katainen reacts to Defence Minister Wallin’s comments on NATO (11.8.2011)
Finland will not move toward NATO membership in current Parliamentary term (17.6.2011)
NATO Pros and Cons (20.11.2007)