September 2000

"Co-operation with NATO threat to EU openness"

NATO’s influence may be threatening efforts to increase EU’s openness, citizens’ participation and the Union’s own international role. According to Hanna Ojanen, a special researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, there is a danger that what has been achieved in developing the EU might unravel.

Writing in Helsingin Sanomat (7 September 2000), Ojanen looks at current efforts to find a workable relationship between NATO and the EU. She fears that instead of the EU’s much-talked-about crisis management capability, the Union’s own character is being weakened in order to get it closer to the North Atlantic Alliance.

Ojanen reminds readers that Finland, Sweden and Holland opposed the recent decisions to keep secret matters connected with defence and security, military and non-military crisis management and international relations.

Finland’s position in this question is rather strange, Ojanen writes. It has advocated both greater openness and putting civil crisis management on par with military crisis management. At the same time, Finland has expressed willingness to be at the core of EU’s security policy.

“Other EU countries don’t necessarily count Finland among the core member countries. This is why Finland apparently must carefully avoid giving an impression that it is promoting some sort of own line – for instance, such principle of openness or such separation of military and non-military action which would seriously damage good relations between the EU and NATO.

“Thus Finland in fact acknowledges NATO’s (read: United States) influence on the Union’s decision-making, as do other EU countries.”

As to the secrecy of non-military crisis management, Ojanen asks how one can develop international co-operation of civilian authorities if relevant documents are declared secret.

“Who in the end benefits from such EU flexibility towards NATO? Undoubtedly NATO protects itself. There is hardly any benefit for the EU even if it can glue blue-star stickers on NATO soldiers’ helmets – unless EU soldiers take complete cover in their secret crisis management operations.”

Ojanen writes that in order to save the principles of openness and other EU ideals, one may have to find a way to keep military operations apart from other activity or give up efforts to create military crisis management capability. As things stand, NATO’s jealous defence of its own interests is a threat to the EU’s principles of openness and citizens’ participation, Ojanen concludes.

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