Cablegate: Codel Hyde Visit to Finland

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



E.O. 12958: N/A

Introduction and Summary

1. (U) CODEL Hyde -- House International Relations Committee
Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL), HIRC Minority Leader Tom Lantos
(D-CA), Representative Melvin Watt (D-NC), Representative
Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Representative Diane Watson (D-CA)
-- visited Finland, May 29-31. On May 30, the CODEL met with
Finnish Parliament Speaker (and former PM) Paavo Lipponen,
the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, and Foreign
Minister Erkki Tuomioja. The Finns, who strongly support
inter-parliamentary exchanges, warmly welcomed the Delegation
and each of the CODEL's interlocutors stressed the political,
economic, environmental, and security importance of the
trans-Atlantic relationship.

2. (U) Issues covered included the French "no" vote on the
EU's Constitution Treaty May 29; the EU's China arms embargo;
Finland's relationship with NATO; environmental protection,
particularly in the Arctic; the role nuclear power has to
play in the world's energy supply; and developments in
Russia. Representative Lantos said the Congress finds it
"appalling" that the nations to whose aid the United States
came to during World War II should consider lifting the EU
China arms embargo for what are in fact "crass commercial
reasons." On NATO, Lipponen and Foreign Affairs Committee
Chair Jaakonsaari -- both of whom are widely believed by the
Finnish public to be gently nudging the nation toward
Alliance membership -- were non-committal in replying for the
record to the Delegation's pointed questions about the value
of Finnish non-alignment in the 21st Century (although
Jaakonsaari caused general laughter by giving the Delegation
a hearty thumbs-up when the CODEL made the case for
membership). For his part, FM Tuomioja said he doubted the
question of NATO membership would arise even in the next
Parliamentary term (2007-2011). The Finns, who now are
building a fifth nuclear reactor, agreed with the CODEL that
nuclear power has an important role to play in the search for
cleaner (low-carbon) energy sources. On Russia, the CODEL's
Finnish interlocutors expressed guarded concern about both
political trends and the environment, but said
Finnish-Russian bilateral relations are good. The
Delegation's Finnish interlocutors all spoke positively of
the EU's Northern Dimension, and Lipponen and Tuomioja
reiterated Finnish interest in the Enhanced Partnership in
Northern Europe. End Introduction and Summary.

Meeting with Speaker Lipponen

3. (U) Parliament Speaker Paavo Lipponen, who is also well
known to CODEL members from his days as Finnish Prime
Minister (1995-2003), hosted a working breakfast for the
Delegation. Lipponen spoke of the United States as a
"pioneer democracy," whose lead Finland has followed. He
said a window of opportunity now existed for better
trans-Atlantic relations. There is bipartisan support on the
Finnish side for closer cooperation on everything from the
Middle East to energy issues. Chairman Hyde responded that
inter-parliamentary meetings are an important part of this
process, as they help legislatures understand each other and
each other's perspectives. Lipponen noted the June, 2004
trip to the United States of all of the Nordic/Baltic
speakers, which has broadened contacts in the months since.

4. (U) Turning to that morning's headlines on the French
referendum, Lipponen said that although the European project
is not perfect, the "no" vote tells us more about France and
the French than about Europe. EU member nations, he said,
need time to reflect -- on what the geographic limits of
Europe should be, and on how much power to give to Brussels.
That said, the European Union cannot put its Common Foreign
and Security Policy, or its partnership with the United
States, on hold. Nor does it need to: the treaty is an
exercise in codification; it will streamline decision-making
and make it more democratic (incidentally giving more power
to France in the process); but the EU can move forward on the
basis of existing arrangements.

5. (U) Lipponen said Finland is particularly concerned about
the EU's relationship with Russia. He reiterated the Finnish
view that Moscow deals too much with the EU member nations on
a bilateral basis; the countries of the Union should have an
EU-wide agreement on all of the basic issues affecting their
relations with Russia. Finland's main contribution has been
the Northern Dimension, which has been most successful in the
environmental sphere, including in the nuclear area. The
U.S. contribution has been the Northern Europe Initiative,
followed by the Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe, and
the Finns are anxious to continue and expand "e-PINE"

6. (U) On economic issues, the Speaker said that Finland sees
itself as a kind of liberalizing influence within the EU,
countering German and French protectionism. ("I won't speak
of the United States.") But Finland's economy needs reform,
too -- unemployment is still too high and pension systems
need to be more sustainable. He noted that the upcoming
G-7/G-8 meetings will be very important, especially in the
energy field: the world needs a global energy policy that is
more diverse and better able to protect the environment.
Nuclear power has a role to play, he added. Finland is
something of an anomaly in nuclear-averse Europe: it has four
reactors and is building a fifth.

7. (U) Representative Issa asked about Lipponen's vision for
Finland's pending medical reform bill, which is expected to
contain better protection for the intellectual property
rights of pharmaceutical companies. How does Finland plan to
balance cost of pharmaceuticals with protection for those who
invent and invest? Lipponen said that the major
pharmaceutical companies are a significant part of the
Finnish economy, and it is important that they remain in
Finland. Finland wants to develop its biotechnology sector,
and realizes that IPR protection is the key.

8. (U) Asked by Representative Watson for his views on NATO
membership, Lipponen said that for Finland, which is "on the
border of a very sensitive region," territorial defense
remains a fundamental principle in its national security.
The Finns spend close to 2% of GDP on defense, and have
retained universal male conscription, with the result that
the nation could mobilize a force of 300,000 men, one of the
best-educated armies in the world. At the same time, Finland
is participating "without reservation" in European defense
cooperation, with Finnish troops to join two EU battle
groups. Finland retains NATO membership as an option, and
will be following NATO's evolution closely, while cooperating
closely with the Alliance and participating in the
Partnership for Peace.

9. (U) Representative Lantos noted that a great degree of
good will and admiration for Finland exists among the U.S.
people and Congress -- so it disturbs us that in Finland and
elsewhere in Europe, there is so much anti-Americanism. It
is "perverse" that the U.S., which forms the cornerstone of
international security, should be the object of so much
criticism, including from some of Europe's leaders. Lipponen
acknowledged that one can find a degree of anti-Americanism
in Finland today, but Finns are uneasy about "old Europe's"
confrontational attitude toward the U.S. The Finnish
government and parliament want good relations with the United
States -- he noted that even the leader of the Left Alliance,
the party that absorbed the old Finnish Communist party,
considers herself a friend of the U.S.

10. (U) Lipponen conceded that there had been opposition in
Finland to Operation Iraqi Freedom, which had also been used
against him as PM: in the elections of March 2003 challenger
Anneli Jaatteenmaki of the Center Party had accused Lipponen
of "collaborating" with the U.S. But no matter how one felt
about OIF, he stressed, it is in no one's interest for the
U.S. to fail in its efforts to aid democracy in Iraq and the
region, and the Europeans must do more.

11. (U) Representative Watt turned to the CODEL's May 31-June
2 visit to Moscow and meetings with the Russian Duma. What
issues should the Delegation address in those meetings?
Lipponen said that Russia is experiencing economic progress,
and at the same time social "degradation." President Putin
is attempting to lift Russia out of the hands of the local
satraps, oligarchs, and organized crime, but what he is doing
may not be the best way. In a nation as large as Russia, the
president must be able to delegate a great deal of authority
to regional administrations. Lipponen added that Finland is
also concerned about the upsurge in Russian nationalism,
especially following the tragedy in Beslan. That said,
Finland's own bilateral relations with Russia are good, and
the Finns believe the May EU-Russia summit was very

12. (U) Representative Watson voiced concern that the
phenomenon of global warming has still not received the level
of intensive research that it deserves, and said she hoped
that nations can come together on a common approach.
Representative Issa, referring to cooperation within the
Arctic Council, asked whether Lipponen thought the U.S. was
doing enough to protect the Arctic. It sometimes seemed,
Issa remarked, that U.S. legislators think of the Arctic only
in terms of its oil reserves. The Speaker urged the U.S. to
do more in the area of energy efficiency and diversification.
Issa, who chairs the Subcommittee on Energy and Resources of
the House Government Reform Committee, noted that if the
United States had built every nuclear power plant that had
been on order at the time of Three Mile Island, we would be
Kyoto-compliant today. Lipponen agreed that one cannot say
"renewable energy is good, nuclear energy is bad." Finland's
experience shows that nations can safely produce nuclear
energy. Critical rhetoric is sometimes hypocritical: the
Swedes "made a big deal" of closing two reactors, but at the
same time raised capacity in existing reactors, so that
overall Sweden now gets seven percent more of its power from
nuclear sources than before.

Meeting with the Eduskunta's Foreign Affairs Committee
--------------------------------------------- ---------

13. (U) The CODEL met with the Foreign Affairs Committee of
Finland's unicameral parliament, including Committee chair
Liisa Jaakonsaari (SDP), Vice Chair Kimmo Kiljunen (SDP),
Eero Lankia (Center), and Ulla Anttila (Greens). In
welcoming the CODEL, Chairwoman Jaakonsaari noted her
Committee's belief that enhancing U.S.-Finnish cooperation
and the U.S.-European dialogue is a matter "of paramount

14. (U) Chairman Hyde asked what issues the CODEL should
raise with counterparts in the Duma. Jaakonsaari said the
Delegation should ask how Russia sees the future of its
neighbors, including Ukraine and Moldova. MP Kiljunen
commented that a major transformation is taking place in the
former Soviet Union -- in the case of Ukraine, Georgia, and
Kyrgyzstan a real revolution. This welcome change has not
extended to the frozen conflicts, however, and these
conflicts could be dangerous to all of Europe, particularly
since Russia is distancing itself from the OSCE. Jaakonsaari
also said it would be useful for the Delegation to seek
Russia's views on NATO enlargement.

15. (U) The Chairwoman wen ton to say that Arctic issues and
the environment are among the biggest challenges in dealing
with Russia. Russia currently chairs the Arctic Council, but
its politicians have not shown much interest in the
environment. Representative Issa agreed that Russia clearly
puts exploitation of energy resources ahead of clean air and
water. How can the West break through this mind set?
Jaakonsaari said that the Northern Dimension has been one
instrument. Its most successful project to date may be the
St. Petersburg Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant. MP
Anttila remarked that local Russian environmental groups have
been quite active, despite the great difficulty getting
funding from Moscow.

16. (U) Chairman Hyde said that the global movement to
nuclear power and alternate sources of energy is inevitable,
particularly with China and India becoming major industrial
powers. China has serious problems it is not beginning to
address. One of the flaws of Kyoto was that it has different
impacts on different nations. Jaakonsaari agreed, but
cautioned that scaling back industrial production in order to
lower pollution can have a disruptive effect on living
standards. To reach fair agreements, governments have to
show good will as well as the readiness to take unpopular
steps. Representative Issa said that the Montreal Protocol
taught the West a lesson: it lowered pollution in the
developed world, but at the cost of a dramatic increase in
the Third World, as production shifted. The United States
supports the objectives of Kyoto, but the Protocol is flawed
so badly that it is impossible even within the CODEL to
debate it without the debate disintegrating into stalemate.

17. (U) Anttila asked what in the U.S. view should replace
Kyoto. Issa stressed that the U.S. would like to work toward
Kyoto compliance, noting however that the standard should be
pollutants per output, and should cover total emissions --
without exempting, for example, New Zealand's home burning of
wood. The nuclear debate must be part of any future
international agreement. Anttila argued that many nations
cannot reach the energy efficiency of a Finland. Issa
countered that plenty of nations use "we can't" as an excuse
for bad priorities. The United States can and should do
more, granted. But Western nations should also get credit
for the cleanup technology that they transfer to others for
the common good, since air and water are global, not
national, resources.

18. (U) Representative Lantos, who co-chairs the House Human
Rights Caucus, thanked MP Anttila for her work as chair of a
similar caucus in the Eduskunta. Representative Lantos then
said that disagreement over Kyoto seems to be just one issue
on a larger agenda of problems Europe has with the U.S. We
are deeply puzzled by the anti-Americanism we have witnessed
in Europe in recent years. Although the United States makes
mistakes, it has been a constructive influence, and all our
European friends should be glad the U.S. is the sole
remaining superpower. Lantos also commented that it is a
mistaken judgment for Finns to oppose NATO membership. (MP
Jaakonsaari -- whose support for Alliance membership is an
open secret -- interjected her hearty agreement with a
thumbs-up, to general laughter.) NATO might not lose much if
Finland stays out of the North Atlantic Alliance, but Finland
could lose a great deal, not least the protection of Article

19. (U) MP Jaakonsaari declared that there is no
anti-Americanism in Finland. "Trade is booming, and everyday
contacts are becoming more vivid." There was criticism of
Operation Iraqi Freedom, certainly, but the U.S. should be
more concerned about the reactions of Arab nations, not the
Nordics. She recalled the Committee's recent visit to Egypt,
where she was "infuriated" to find open support for Osama bin
Laden among some segments of the population. As to NATO, she
said that persistent Cold War attitudes make it difficult for
some Finns to adjust. On the other hand, other Finns
question NATO's relevance for the future of trans-Atlantic
relations: "If it is not so interesting to the United States,
it becomes less interesting to us."

20. (U) Chairman Hyde acknowledged that NATO was formed to
respond to a Soviet threat. But an organization that brings
the U.S., Canada, and the nations of Europe into a single
unit still has merit. The Chairman supposed that the Finnish
people believe NATO membership would diminish their
neutrality toward war. Representative Issa added that NATO
is still relevant, whether the instability is in Sarajevo or
Saudi Arabia -- it is the only bloc where all have a seat at
the table, and can work together to prevent a World War II
from happening again.

21. (U) MP Kiljunen said many in Europe are averse to
superpowers in general. As for Finns, they feel "the black
pages of our history were those where we were a front-line
state in wars among the big powers." Representative Lantos
countered that the issues of the 21st century will not be
global war but the global war on terrorism. If a conflict
begins it will be the fault of a nation like North Korea. If
Finland does not share in the effort to prevent that, it is
shirking its responsibility. Kiljunen protested that Finland
is an active member of the United Nations. Lantos said any
idea that the UN can substitute for collective defense is
"unacceptable" to the U.S. Congress and people.

22. (U) Turning to the French referendum, Representative
Watson commented that the "no" was an expression of
discontent with the Chirac government. MP Kiljunen agreed,
and added that it also seemed to be a vote against the EU in
general -- which is ironic, since if there is one nation that
has been synonymous with European integration and the
Constitution, it is France. Chairwoman Jaakonsaari added
that all the old colonial nations but France seem to realize
that they are no longer world powers. There was also the
Union's expansion to the east, which has caused anxiety on
both the left and right. Representative Watson asked what
the Europeans will do now. Kiljunen said it might also be
possible to adopt parts I and II of the Constitution Treaty,
and set Part III aside for a new referendum in the autumn of
2006. Renegotiation of the Treaty is "impossible."
Jaakonsaari said that no referendum is planned in Finland;
instead the Treaty will be submitted to the Eduskunta later
this year, with approval expected this autumn.

23. (U) Jaakonsaari, noting that her Committee had recently
visited China, asked for the Delegation's thoughts on the
EU's arms embargo. Representative Lantos said that the
United States is primarily responsible for maintaining a
place in the Taiwan Strait, and "we find it appalling that
the Europeans want to sell arms that could be used against
us." The U.S. is attempting to quiet the more aggressive
forces on both sides of the Strait, and it is unacceptable
that those nations to whose aid we gave in World War II
should take such a step. The arguments for it are based on
"crass commercial reasons." Representative Issa compared the
situation to China's admission into the WTO. Once the
Chinese gained the prize they wanted, they began to backslide
on their commitments. The same would be true if the EU
lifted the arms embargo in return for a Chinese commitment to
improve human rights or moderate its stance toward Taiwan.

Meeting with Foreign Minister

24. (U) FM Erkki Tuomioja thanked the CODEL for its visit,
saying that when the EU ministers meet, one key issue is
always how to encourage U.S.-European contacts. Our
societies think they know each other well, he said, but he
would feel better if there were more contacts at all levels,
and particularly Americans traveling to Finland.

25. (U) Commenting on the Constitution Treaty, Tuomioja said
that even today perhaps a third of Finns do not like the EU
-- but Finland's membership is not an issue. Finland sees
the Union as "the primary vehicle for our multilateral
engagement," and the conduct of a common foreign and security
policy has the support of government and opposition alike.
Moreover, there is strong public and official support for the
European Security and Defense Policy, "which isn't a military
alliance. For that kind of security, NATO is there," and
Finland agrees with Berlin Plus. The Finns don't see any
security reason for joining NATO, Tuomioja said, and although
Finland will keep the option open, he still doubted that the
matter would come up even in the next parliamentary session

26. (U) Tuomioja said the EU should "let the French decision
be, and not take any panic decisions." Some negotiation of
the treaty may be necessary, but the "no" was about the
French government, about Turkish membership, and about the
service directive for a single market. The latter two can be
decided with or without the Constitution, but still, the
voters have made a point that must be taken seriously.
Europe must become more transparent, and governments "more
humble about things European when addressing our own

27. (U) Asked by Representative Lantos about anti-Americanism
in Finland and Europe generally, the FM said that the Finns
have something of a love-hate relationship with the U.S. Yet
Finland has been called the most Americanized country in
Europe, and even the Finnish left has been influenced by the
American left. One problem is that the memory of World War
II is fading, which he as a professional historian regrets.
Another is that the two countries have different social
models. But "multilateralism, in order to be effective, must
have the U.S. on board." Tuomioja expressed apprehension
about perceived American unilateralism. "To Finns, the UN is
the basis for international legitimacy."

28. (U) Representative Lantos said he supported the United
Nations, but it does not have the kind of legitimacy that the
Finns' "idealized, textbook view" would confer upon it.
Granted, the Finns would like to see such an organization
emerge, but the United States does not necessarily believe
that a military operation is ipso factor legitimate if
endorsed by the UN and illegitimate if not so endorsed --
particularly when the Oil-for-Food scandal suggests real
questions about the under-the-table financial dealings of
people close to Chirac. The FM argued that Finland does
recognize the UN's faults, but such an organization is needed
to strengthen the rule of law. The UN has to be the source
of legitimacy, and it "has gotten its act together better in
recent years." The world has to move beyond the concept of
sovereign nation states. All must be have an open human
rights record, and be subject to monitoring and sanctions if
necessary. GoF itself has been taken to the Strasbourg Court
from time to time, and on occasion forced to change Finnish
laws. Incidentally, he added, Finland also supports the
International Criminal Court as an important step in
spreading the rule of law.

29. (U) Representative Watt asked what issues the CODEL
should raise with the Duma. Tuomioja urged the Delegation
not to shy away from discussion of human rights and
democratization. He noted that Finland has worked hard on
promoting a common strategy within the EU -- "If we're to
have any influence on Russian developments, we must speak
with one voice." This does not exclude the importance of
bilateral relations, but there are no real Finnish-Russian
issues right now. Finland is expecting a clear reply and an
apology from Moscow regarding repeated violations of Finnish
airspace, but the GoF does not see this as a military threat
and does not believe it was instigated at the highest level.
The FM also commented that the Finland-Russia frontier
represents a sharper drop in standard of living than the
U.S.-Mexico border, which brings its own problems. More and
more, Finland is having to take on sole responsibility for
these, as the Russians shift their border police to the
south. The FM added that the Northern Dimension is all about
EU-Russia relations; the Finns also are interested in and
appreciate e-PINE, and look forward to further cooperation

30. (U) Representative Issa raised the question of the China
arms embargo. Obviously, the U.S. position on lifting it is
a resounding no. What are the FM's views? Tuomioja said
that there is a "unanimous" feeling within the EU that the
embargo has outlived its purpose. This does not mean Finland
wants to see a surge in the arms trade. But the embargo "is
either on or off, and if it is off, there is nothing to
discuss." The GoF's position is that the Code of Conduct
should be strengthened and made legally binding. The Finns
believe that this would give the EU greater leverage, since
human rights issues become an explicit basis for denial of an
export. Finland is aware of U.S. and Taiwanese concerns and
certainly does not want to upset strategic stability in East
Asia. But the Finns are also aware of the high-technology
exports that the arms embargo has failed to stop. "We need a
better way to influence China."
31. (U) In closing, Representative Watson said she was
impressed with the FM's reaction to the French referendum.
Clearly his views were well thought-out, and not a knee-jerk
reaction. It will strengthen everyone if these problems can
be resolved. In the meantime, she hoped Tuomioja would
continue to work on bringing the nations of the Nordic-Baltic
region closer together.

32. (U) The CODEL has cleared this message.

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