Stubb: Sending Finnish planes to Libya would have been a big change
Foreign Minister says President and government were in agreement on Hornet question
Minister of Finance Jyrki Katainen (Nat. Coalition Party) says that deploying Finnish jet fighters to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya would have been a major change in Finnish foreign policy.
“Something like that would require major national debate”, Stubb said on Wednesday to Helsingin Sanomat.
Stubb says that the ministerial committee on foreign and security policy, which convened last week, decided unanimously not to “push” for sending fighters to Libya.
“Finland would not have had much value-added to offer the operation”, Stubb explained.
Researcher Charly Salonius-Pasternak of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs said in Wednesday’s Helsingin Sanomat that Finland’s political leaders distanced themselves from previous foreign policy by deciding against becoming more deeply involved in the protection of Libyan civilians.
Salonius-Pasternak was especially critical that the reasons for the decision have not been told to the public.
The researcher says that the reasons could well stem from the lack of a clear strategic goal for the Libya operation. Participation would also rule out the possibility that Finland might later serve as a peace mediator in the conflict.
Foreign Minister Stubb responds to the criticism by noting that Finland was one of the first countries to condemn Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Finland was the first in the EU to propose sanctions, and it was also among the first to offer humanitarian aid.
Stubb emphasises that Finland can be active in the Libya operation in many ways in the future as well.
Director Teija Tiilikainen of the Institute of International Affairs says that the fact that Finland is not taking part in the supervision of the implementation of the no-fly zone in Libya is not yet an indication of a change in Finnish foreign policy. “All other options remain open.”
“Charly speaks in his own voice and he has the right to do so, but I do not agree with him.”
Tiilikainen says Sweden’s active participation in the Libya operation is largely due to the fact that Sweden has been downsizing its regional defence system in recent years. Now the focus of Sweden’s defence doctrine is on international cooperation and crisis management.
Sweden’s air force is somewhat larger than that of Finland, but in strike capability, Sweden is not much bigger than Finland.
As a Partnership for Peace country Finland is the first to have reached the level two evaluation process.
As a result, Finland could help NATO with four jet fighters and two substitute planes.
In Sweden, only the compatibility of planes has been established, and it is at a level that is one rung lower than that of Finland.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finland not taking part in monitoring Libya no-fly zone (30.3.2011)
Sweden, but not Finland invited to NATO Libya meeting (29.3.2011)
NATO confirms interest in Finnish view on Libya operation (21.3.2011)
Finnish Institute of International Affairs