Kommentti NATO pääsihteerin puheeseen


Naton pääsihteeri vieraili Suomessa 8.11.2007. Minulla oli kunnia pitää kommenttipuheenvuoro. Tilaisuus järjestettiin Eduskunnassa. Järjestäjinä olivat UM ja UPI.

Dr Risto Penttilä 8 November 2007
Chairman, Atlantic Council of Finland
Comment to a speech by Mr Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary General of NATO

Mr Secretary General, Your Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Greek Foreign Minister, Mr George Papandreou, was confronted with a group of journalists during the NATO air campaign in Kosovo. They wanted to know what it was like to be a foreign minister at a time when the Greek people were so utterly divided about NATO’s campaign. ”They are not divided”, Papandreou said, ”everyone is against it.”

I am happy to report that the situation in Finland is not as bad as that. Not everyone is against Finland’s membership in NATO.

It is true that a majority of Finns are against [membership in NATO] but roughly half of the Finns would be willing to accept membership in the alliance if the Finnish political leadership were to recommend it with ”good grounds”.

Reluctance to join NATO can be explained by a number of factors. The long shadow of the Cold War, the unpopularity of US foreign policy, misunderstanding of the nature of NATO and old ideological vendettas are some of them.

Personally I think it is fair to say that the best informed people in the country are either for membership in NATO – or they are in favour of a very close co-operation with NATO.

Even those who are against membership recognise the fundamental importance of NATO for European and global security.

Mr Secretary General,

We appreciate your visit. We appreciate your message. Your visit is very timely.

As we all know, much is happening in Finland’s foreign and security policy. In a few weeks’ time, we will be able to read the results of a one-man task force on the advantages and disadvantages of Finland’s possible membership in NATO.

A few months later, The Finnish Institute of International Affairs, under the capable leadership of Professor Väyrynen, will publish the results of its NATO research project.

And next year, there will be a government white paper on Finland’s foreign and security policy.

It is unlikely that these publications will offer anything new to the experts. But if they can broaden the debate to include the general public the publications will be very useful indeed.

The Finnish Foreign Minister, Ilkka Kanerva, has stated that for the general public NATO is comparable to a new holiday destination. Before people embark on a journey they want to find out what the brand new destination is like. Does the hotel have five stars or four? Who else is going to be there? Can you play golf? And how much does it cost?

I wholeheartedly support Mr Kanerva’s unorthodox approach. It is up to us experts to demystify NATO, to describe it with down to earth metaphors and tropes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am Chairman of the Atlantic Council of Finland. Therefore it will come to you as no surprise that I strongly feel that Finland’s natural place is among the NATO nations. Eventually this will happen.

Meanwhile it is important to make sure that Finland’s co-operation with NATO is as smooth as possible.

Mr Secretary General correctly pointed out that Finland has contributed troops to many NATO missions. We have troops in Kosovo. We have troops in Afghanistan. Indeed, if one did not know that Finland is not a NATO member it would be difficult to reach that conclusion from looking at the troops on the ground. In many ways Finland is already acting like a member – without receiving the full benefits of membership.

The next step is to intensify Finland’s participation in the NATO response force. From the Finnish point of view participation in EU battle groups and in NATO NRF are part and parcel of Finland’s modern foreign and security policy. It does not make sense to participate in one but not in the other.

Mr Secretary General,

Thank you very much indeed for your visit. It is an honour to have you here.

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