19 October 1999
Finland urged to support UN
A strong plea for Finland to back the UN and not to join NATO was made by one of the countrys leading experts in international politics.
Professor Raimo Väyrynen says that membership of NATO would reduce the countrys freedom of choice in its foreign and security policy. It would also increase its defence spending without strengthening its security.
"The reduction in freedom of choice would manifest itself at least in the EU where Finland would have to go along with the decisions made by the major EU countries who are NATO members", Väyrynen said according to a report in the national daily Helsingin Sanomat (19 October 1999).
He was speaking at a ceremony where he was awarded a major prize for his distinguished and extensive literary output in international relations. Väyrynen currently teaches in the United States.
Väyrynen emphasised that participating in crisis management in Europe does not require NATO membership. Strengthening EU capacity, in his opinion, increases possibilities of participation, he said.
"There is, however, no reason to deceive oneself by pretending that this is a way to escape the NATO sphere of influence. Rather, a closer involvement would ensue but in a way that would emphasise the promotion of common security and stability."
According to Väyrynen, the EU seeks security and stability with political and military crisis management, whereas a military alliance has as its central goal "a deterrent based on force and the creation of common fighting capacity to back it".
Väyrynen believes that decisions on sanctions mandated by the UN Charter should be taken in the UN Security Council. Peace-keeping should be returned to the UN and taken away from "various external alliances".
"Finland should become active as a defender of this kind of policy and publicly confirm its traditional stance, according to which the UN is the central operator in maintaining international peace and security.
"I cannot avoid the impression that Finnish official foreign policy has not been very successful in moving from the old security agenda to a new one. This is why Finnish influence has been meagre, if compared for instance to that of Norway and Canada. Partly this is a result of rigid attitudes, partly of weakness of expertise."
Väyrynen is doubtful of the capacity of the EU to cope with crisis management without the help of the United States. He sees uncertainty, even tension, between the US and the EU in relation to the direction of the EUs independent defence policy. Väyrynen does not believe that the foreign policy chief Javier Solana will attain the position of strength which has been predicted.
See also articles:
- Military non-alignment backed by majority (3 December 1999)
- EU preferred to NATO on crisis management (30 November 1999)
- Aftermath of Kosovo: Europe takes military route to security (October 1999)
- Changing EU voting rules would be undemocratic by Hannu Reime (October 1999)
- Power of big EU countries raises questions (October 1999)
- Ex-president criticises Wests policies in Yugoslavia (31 August 1999)
- Finland accused of toeing NATO line in nuclear disarmament (6 August 1999)
- Non-aligned countries face problems with EU defence (13 July 1999)
- War in Yugoslavia: Non-aligned countries watch warily as NATO sidelines UN (May 1999)
- Finland agonises over Kosovo by Tuomas Forsberg (May 1999)
- Intellectuals divided by events in Yugoslavia (27 April 1999)
- Debate about Finnish neutrality in New Europe intensifies (January 1999)
- Neutrality said to leave Finland and Sweden weak in future Europe (November 1998)
- Finland's role in Europe subjected to 'realist' analysis, book review by Hannu Reime (November 1998)
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