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Cablegate: Finland Looks to Afghan Prt Leadership in 2009

VZCZCXYZ0028
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHHE #0715/01 2611329
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 181329Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3758
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0058

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000715

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/17/2017
TAGS: PREL MOPS MARR EAID PGOV AF FI
SUBJECT: FINLAND LOOKS TO AFGHAN PRT LEADERSHIP IN 2009

Classified By: POLCHIEF GREGORY THOME FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva and other
senior GOF officials told PDAS Volker and Ambassador Ware
that Finland's Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security
Policy (UTVA) gave a green light to PRT leadership in
Afghanistan in 2009. The move will likely involve
"alternating" leadership at Mazar-al-Sharif with Sweden;
will require an additional 50-60 Finnish troops, which
should be deployed in late CY 2008; and comes as part of
what Kanerva called a coordinated "Nordic crisis
management approach" in Afghanistan. Kanerva and others
also said that Finland will offer an OMLT and additional
humanitarian assistance. As of PDAS Volker's visit, the
UTVA did not approve additional development assistance;
not surprisingly, it rejected a lethal weapons donation
to Afghan security forces. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On Sept. 15, the GOF's Cabinet Committee on
Foreign and Security Policy (UTVA) held discussions that
appear likely -- from early signals -- to result in
increased Finnish participation in Afghanistan. Earlier
in the week, the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs
and Interior had submitted to the UTVA a wide-ranging
report that examined the current security situation in
Afghanistan and presented a range of possible ways in
which Finland could increase its civilian and military
crisis management presence there (see reftels). The
UTVA is made up of the Prime Minister and the Ministers
of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Interior, Finance, Labor,
and Development. It is chaired by President Halonen,
and its consensus decisions on foreign policy and
security become the basis of all national security
policy.

Moving Toward "Yes" on OMLTs, a PRT and Humanitarian Aid
--------------------------------------------- -----------
3. (C) The UTVA meeting coincided with PDAS Kurt
Volker's Sept. 13-15 visit to Finland, and senior MFA
and MOD officials who participated in its deliberations
briefed he and Ambassador Ware on what was decided and
what next steps might include. Foreign Minister Ilkka
Kanerva said that he was very pleased with the direction
the talks took. A staunch proponent of greater Finnish
contributions to NATO/ISAF, Kanerva reported that the
UTVA had generally reached consensus on PRT leadership,
an OMLT, and more humanitarian assistance. Regarding
the PRT, Finland will begin negotiating with Sweden to
take the lead at Mazar-al-Sharif, beginning in 2009.
Thereafter, the GOF's plan involves Finland and Sweden
"rotating" leadership of that PRT on a regular basis
(details TBD). According to senior MOD sources, PRT
leadership would require Finland to increase its 100-
troop presence to 150 or 160 -- a process that could
begin as early as the last quarter of CY2008 (if
military plans and political processes proceed according
to plan).

4. (C) Kanerva and others said the GOF also hopes to
work with Sweden and Norway to introduce a "Nordic
approach" to PRT operation in Afghanistan; from
Finland's point of view, this would involve an effort to
help Norway and Sweden adopt aspects of the GOF's PRT
model, which has won praise from ISAF for the way it
integrates civilian crisis management and development
experts directly into the PRT's military structures. In
addition, Kanerva noted, the concept of a "Nordic PRT
approach" has become a key to selling troop and other
increases to Finnish public opinion and, more
importantly, to skeptics within the UTVA. Volker and
Ambassador Ware thanked Kanerva for his efforts to press
for these increases, and commended him for finding
creative ways to convince the Finnish public of the
importance of doing more. Kanerva was also pleased to
report that the UTVA tentatively approved an increase in
Finnish humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, as well
as a proposal for the GOF to begin offering training to
Afghan security forces through an (OMLT).

At Present, "No" on Lethal Weapons and "Perhaps" on
Development Aid
--------------------------------------------- ------
5. (C) As expected, the UTVA unanimously rejected
long-standing requests from the Afghan and US
governments for lethal weapons to be donated to Afghan
security forces. Although the Defense Minister
reportedly argued in favor of the donation, he and
Kanerva dropped their demands in order to gain consensus
on PRT leadership and humanitarian assistance. At the
time of the Volker meeting there was not full consensus
on increasing development assistance. Opposition came
from a group within the Center Party and its Development
Minister, Paavo Vayrynen. On September 17, Markus Lyra,
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, told
Ambassador Ware that Pertti Torstila, Secretary of State
at the Foreign Ministry, will be working to gain
Vayrynen's support over the next month. President
Halonen is expected to be amenable to an increase.

NEXT STEPS
----------
6. (C) Kanerva described next steps as follows: First,
the MFA will draw together a detailed analysis of the
resources necessary to take PRT leadership in 2009; to
increase Finland's troop commitment by 50-60%; to staff
an OMLT; and to bump up Finland's humanitiarian aid
donations. Within eight weeks, this will be combined
into a single package and presented for final government
approval, after which it will go to Parliament for
discussion. Kanerva and others were hopeful that
Parliament could wrap up its scrutiny of the proposal in
4-5 weeks, and that the policy could then move forward
by year's end.

COMMENT
-------
7. (C) The initial signals coming out of the UTVA's
discussion are quite positive. Those within the GOF who
support Finland's doing more as regards NATO/ISAF were
clearly pleased with what they viewed as a green light
on PRT leadership and the troop increases that will
require. As one participant in the deliberations
quipped, "We didn't get everything we wanted, but we did
better than we thought we would." That said, Kanerva
and other officials have been quick to note that a tough
political discussion within the GOF on Afghanistan
policy still looms. "Security policy will dominate the
fall political discussion," Kanerva told Volker and
Ambassador Ware, adding that there are still
"divergences of political opinion even within the
government." In any case, we are cautiously optimistic
that the outcome will be positive, especially in terms
of PRT leadership.

8. (U) PDAS Volker has cleared this cable.
WARE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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