According to Ilta-Sanomat, the Bold Quest military exercise has been puzzling the Finnish Parliament’s Defence Committee. Mika Kari, vice chairman of the Defensc Committee, would like to know more about the exercise, which is to be held next year in Finland, and will be attended by dozens of countries and the Nato, according to preliminary information. Mr Kari has been wondering about the fact that Finland is the host country, but the United States is the leader of the exercise
Yle has reported on the visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini to Washington. He discussed current global political issues with the US State Secretary Mike Pompeo. Many of the issues discussed were related to Russia.
Due to the crisis in Ukraine, sanctions have been imposed on Russia for almost five years behind, but they are still no changes in sight by the EU or the United States. Mr Soini noted that the fact that the Minsk agreement has not been implemented means that sanctions still remain in place.
According to an editorial in Ilkka, the details of the case of GPS jamming during NATO exercise in Finland have not been opened, but the Ministry for Foreign Afffairs said that Russia was involved. The latter denied involvement and demanded concrete proofs, which is unlikely to come, as both Norway and Finland would reveal to Russia the accuracy of their own technology.
According to the editorial, the matter has shifted to the diplomatic level, but details of the debate between the State Secretary and the Ambassador of Russia are not reaching the public. However, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has informed that air safety is of interest to both parties. The Ministry demands more information and responsible action from Russia, but it is unknown what has been Russia’s response to Finland’s request.
Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met in Helsinki last week, reported Verkkouutiset. The two held a broad debate on the development of the European Union and its future challenges.
The leaders also discussed Finland’s priorities for the Commission’s forthcoming five-year program and Finland’s forthcoming EU Presidency. The issues of the EU’s response to migration and international trade and the development of the EU’s internal market were raised too.
Ilta-Sanomat has reported that Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö had spoken in favour of shared European defence for years, and now he has received support from both France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
German Chancellor Merkel spoke at the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on Tuesday and she said the European Union should establish a joint army. French President Macron and European Commission President Juncker have also spoken on behalf of a European army.
An editorial in Ilta-Sanomat has stated that Finnish top politicians have reacted strongly to the allegations that Russia had been jamming the GPS signal in his Finland’s northern airspace during the recent Nato military exercise Trident Juncture 2018.
President Sauli Niinistö, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, Foreign Minister Timo Soini, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Matti Vanhanen, and Chairman of the Defence Committee Ilkka Kanerva condemned the incident. Mr Soini also promised to issue a statement to the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Kremlin has disputed the allegations. The editorial states that even if no « smoking gun » could be found, Finland should object to Russia’s violation of its airspace.
Verkkouutiset reports that according to a European Policy Centre (EPC) study: « Finland in the European Union: Frontrunner or follower », Finland is only average in European affairs. Finland makes positive statements about, for example, the internal market but then holds on to many blocks to the free mobility of goods, services, capital, and labour, says senior policy analyst Annika Hedberg.
Finland ranks well in terms of the digital internal market, digital skills, public services, and mobile networks. EPC researcher Paul Ivan said that Finland should intensify its defence and security co-operation with Europe. However, the problem is that, according to Ivan, Finland is not of interest to other EU countries. Finland follows Germany’s defense policy, but Germany does not see Finland as a strategic partner.
Iltalehti has reported that the Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini will meet the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on 15 November. They will discuss i.a. the transatlantic cooperation, European security, response to hybrid threats and other topical issues.
Mr Soini will also meet members of the Congress and discuss with representatives of think tanks. According to a statement from the Foreign Ministry, the discussions highlight the impact of the interim on US policy, relations between the European Union and the United States, and the future of the statutory system.
Journalist: Antti Pajamo