July 2000

European security: Conflict of two doctrines

Finland supports new European security doctrines but simultaneously holds on to traditional defence policy which limits responsibility to one’s own territory. How long is it possible to follow this kind of dual approach? asks Dr. Pertti Joenniemi, a Finnish security policy expert at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Research in Copenhagen.

In an article in the daily Helsingin Sanomat (25 July 2000), Joenniemi writes that the new security thinking, which creates problems for many Finns, is based on common European values. This approach subjects national policies to common rules. When someone breaks these rules, others have to intervene even inside the European Union. Only then the Union can demand adherence to these rules from countries who want to become members.

Clearly Finland is reluctant to go along this road, Joenniemi says. It still sees security policy mainly as a national pursuit. The new common values approach – even after the country became a member of the EU – is still seen as alien. Joenniemi suggests that the background to this reluctance is that wars are seen as a result of big power self-interests. In this context national ideologies are experienced as defensive in nature rather than as the source of security problems.

According to Joenniemi, value-based security thinking is also in contradiction to the traditional approach adopted after the Second World War by the United Nations. This was based on national sovereignty. Consequently one has to ask which approach is best in conflict situations. Is it right to bypass the UN in certain situations?

The sternest critics of the new approach say that it is retrograde step to tie values to inter-state relations which are based on self-interests. They say that at worst this could lead Europe to chaotic conditions, reminiscent of the Middle Ages.

In conclusion, Joenniemi recommends a wide-ranging debate about the relationship between the old and new thinking. So far the debate has been about the conflict in Kosovo, the boycott of Austria and defining limits to peacekeeping.

See also:

EU police force project welcomed

13 June 2000

"EU hard core membership important for security"

31 May 2000

EU foreign policy procedure criticised

23 May 2000

Estonia urged to exercise patience on EU membership

17 May 2000

Non-aligned countries face European security turmoil

12 May 2000

"EU defence will make non-alignment redundant"

6 January 2000

EU preferred to NATO on crisis management

30 November 1999

Defence plans alarm small EU countries

16 October 1999

Nordic approaches to European unity by Laura Ferreira Pereira

October 1999

Non-aligned countries face problems with EU defence

13 July 1999



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