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Cablegate: Finland: Response to Request for Third Party

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HELSINKI 001023

SIPDIS

STATE FOR PM, EUR/NB

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/05/2014
TAGS: MARR MOPS PREL FI IQ
SUBJECT: FINLAND: RESPONSE TO REQUEST FOR THIRD PARTY
FINANCING FOR UN PROTECTION FORCE

REF: SECSTATE 166158

Classified By: ACTING POL CHIEF DAVID ALLEN SCHLAEFER FOR REASONS 1.5 (
B) and (D)

1. (C) This message contains an action request from the
Government of Finland for additional information. See para
6.

2. (C) Poloff delivered reftel demarche on August 3 to
Leena Riitola, the Acting Director of the MFA's Department
for Africa and Middle-East Affairs. Riitola agreed that it
was important for the UN to fully engage in Iraqi
reconstruction, and that there had to be a robust protection
force to ensure the safety of returning UN personnel. She
said that there was obviously a need for a "buffer" between
UN civilian personnel and Coalition military operations. She
opined that using American and British forces to protect UN
assets invited attacks by insurgents and was not the ideal
solution to UN security needs. However, she stopped short of
endorsing the concept outlined in reftel and said that the
Finnish government would have to seriously consider the issue
before giving any official reaction.

3. (C) Riitola told Poloff that Finland's Foreign Minister,
Tuomioja, was returning from vacation at the end of the week,
and would be meeting with President Halonen for an "informal
review" of pressing foreign policy issues that had arisen
during Finland's unofficial summer break. Riitola said that
she would pass the information to the Political Secretariat
and Foreign Minister's Office, and see that the force
protection issue was on the agenda for the Halonen/Tuomioja
meeting. To reinforce our message before that review,
Ambassador Mack met with Under Secretary of State for
Political Affairs Jaakko Laajava and Acting Political DG Anu
Lammanen Ryter on August 5. The Ambassador emphasized that
an early expression of support for the UN protection force by
Finland could be critical to galvanizing the necessary
support in the international community. Keying off comments
made by President Halonen last week that Muslim troops were
the best hope for stabilizing Iraq, the Ambassador stressed
that the force contemplated in reftel would consist primarily
of Muslim troops and be less likely to be attacked by Muslim
insurgents and terrorists. The Ambassador cited Finland's
long-standing, strong support for the United Nations and
multilateralism, and also noted recent press remarks by UNSYG
Annan stating that plans for full UN re-engagement in Iraq
are in jeopardy because of lack of support on the force
protection issue.

4. (C) Laajava agreed that a solution to the UN force
protection issue was necessary. He said that it was often
easy to "miss the forest for the trees," and that whatever
policy differences existed with the U.S. as regards Iraq, it
was in everyone's interest to now assist in helping to build
a stable and safe country for the Iraqi people. Laajava
mentioned that Annan had been in Finland (and was in a
meeting with President Halonen) when he was informed of the
tragic attack on UN headquarters earlier this year. He noted
that former Finnish President Ahtisaari had led the inquiry
into the attack, and many of the recommendations in
Ahtisaari's report seemed to inform the UN force protection
concept that was now being discussed. However, Laajava also
said that since the operation envisioned was not a "blue
helmet" operation, both politics and logistics could be more
complicated. Laajava said that he would be participating in
the "informal review" of foreign policy later that very day,
and would fully discuss the issue with Tuomioja and Halonen.
He also had several questions about the mechanics of the
operation.

5. (C) Comment: There is currently an ongoing debate in
the Finnish press about how Finland should reconcile its
commitment to the UN and multilateralism with the aversion
both the GoF and Finnish society have as regards the Iraq
conflict. While the GoF has publicly emphasized that lack of
resources makes any consideration of Finnish troop deployment
impossible, some editorials have questioned whether that
position is morally sustainable, and whether Finnish lives
are "worth more" than the lives of would-be peacekeepers from
the developing world. Given that, the reaction of the MFA's
working level to the current demarche suggests they see
financing a UN protection force as an opportunity for Finland
to fulfill moral and political obligations to the UN without
becoming involved in actual ground operations. Whether
Tuomioja agrees with this assessment remains to be seen.
Tuomioja's support alone may not be sufficient to secure a
positive response from Finland, but his opposition will
almost certainly make the idea a political non-starter here.

6. (C) Action request: The GoF has requested the following
information pursuant to its internal debate over third party
financing on UN force protection in Iraq:

-- What are Iraq's neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia, doing
in regard to UN force protection?

-- Why is the U.S. making this appeal rather than a direct
approach from the UNSYG?

-- What criteria were used to determine which countries
would be approached?

-- Who will command the UN protection force?

-- What will the force's relationship be to the coalition
and what precisely will its function be?

-- What is the attitude of the IIG to this idea?

-- Why is this not officially a "blue helmet" operation,
since that would seem to facilitate both financial and troop
donations?

MINIMIZE CONSIDERED
MACK

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