19 October 1999                                

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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 country’s leading experts in international politics.

Professor Raimo Väyrynen says that membership of NATO would reduce the country’s 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 EU’s independent defence policy. Väyrynen does not believe that the foreign policy chief Javier Solana will attain the position of strength which has been predicted.

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