6 August 1999                                  

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Finland accused of toeing NATO line in nuclear disarmament

Debate over the implications of Finland’s non-aligned status was rekindled when the country’s peace movement accused the government of toeing the NATO line in nuclear disarmament.

Published on the 54th anniversary of the Hiroshima atom bomb (6 August), the statement by the Committee of 100 Association and the Finnish Peace Association demanded that the government take a more active role in nuclear disarmament. The organisations pointed out that Finland has been active in questions of disarmament. During the 1990s, however, Finland has adopted the NATO line on votes about nuclear disarmament initiatives in the United Nations, the peace movement complains.

"While other non-aligned countries have become more active is disarmament issues, Finland has consistently abstained from voting", the statement says.

"As EU President, Finland has to declare more often than before its position in nuclear disarmament. One of the current initiatives is the declaration of the New Agenda Group. In its statement, the group (formed by eight countries: Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden – although Slovenia later withdrew under NATO pressure) proposes a concrete action programme to disarm the world of nuclear weapons. The resolution based on the declaration was approved by a large majority of votes in the UN General Assembly in December 1998. Finland abstained in spite of the fact that the EU Parliament had appealed to all member countries to vote for the resolution."

The statement by the Finnish peace movement emphasises that the whole process of nuclear disarmament is in a critical state. It fears that the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty is under threat. The review conference in the spring of 2000 may end in trashing the Treaty.

A world-wide campaign to get nuclear powers to the negotiating table is needed, the statement says.

"This calls for campaigning by both citizens’ movements and states. The Kosovo negotiations showed that non-aligned countries have an important role in the world. As a non-aligned and non-nuclear country, Finland would have a good opportunity for being active also in nuclear disarmament. Finland is also under an obligation to act in its role as EU President."

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