|www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english||print | close window|
President Halonen responds to critics of Finland's foreign policy line
President Tarja Halonen says that debate over Finland’s line on foreign policy revolves around the fact that the policy line differs from that which its critics would like it to be.
During a visit to the city of Espoo, Halonen admitted that the security policy of the European Union has developed more quickly than previously expected.
Halonen also remained tight-lipped on the question a possible second term.
The handling of Finnish foreign policy has come under criticism by Dr. Aatos Erkko, former Chairman of the Board of Sanoma Corporation, as well as conservative MEP Alexander Stubb, and Sixten Korkman, Director General for Economic and Financial Affairs at the Council of Ministers of the European Union.
Erkko said last weekend that Finland does not have a good foreign policy. Stubb has said that globalisation issues have gained too much attention at the expense of EU policy.
Halonen said that she hopes that calls for open discussion would also apply to the President.
She also said that cooperation with Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has gone well. "I don’t believe that we are clones of each other, but we are quite capable of cooperation", Halonen said.
She also pointed out that Finland is such a small country that it would be good for it to have just one policy line in international affairs, so that other countries would not have to guess what Finland’s policy is.
In his criticism of the government, Stubb noted that the EU is getting security guarantees and a military battle group, of which Finland had originally taken a very critical view.
Halonen noted that she and Sweden’s Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallén had proposed the inclusion of crisis management among the activities of the EU.
"Security policy has developed more quickly in the European Union than we had expected. Hopefully it is not because of any problems in the internal market", Halonen observed.
"I feel that we have moved forward decisively, but carefully", Halonen said, describing Finland’s line on the development of crisis management.
Clearly tired of constant questions of whether or not she will seek a second term, President Halonen noted that it would be better to ask the parties about the elections, but not before next spring.