Cablegate: Update On Finland's Fall Security Policy
DE RUEHHE #0817/01 3061135
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 021135Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3887
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0065
RUEHNJ/AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA 0017
C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000817
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/30/2017
TAGS: MARR PGOV PREL MOPS FI
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON FINLAND'S FALL SECURITY POLICY
REF: A. HELSINKI 715
B. HELSINKI 753
Classified By: PolChief Gregory Thome, Reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).
1. (C) SUMMARY: The GoF's Cabinet Committee on Foreign and
Security Policy (UTVA) met with President Halonen Oct. 26 to
continue internal deliberations regarding Finland's next
steps in relation to Afghanistan/ISAF, EU Battlegroups, and
the pending EU operation in Chad. Finland appears ready to
send small numbers of trainers to Afghanistan to staff a
"Nordic OMLT," as well as about 55 troops to Chad. At
present, no concrete decisions on expanding other support to
Afghanistan have yet been reached. Political movement on
Afghanistan, in particular, remains somewhat difficult, as
the main players within the governing coalition (as well as
the President) are still not fully of one mind regarding
exactly how much or how quickly Finland should ramp up its
participation in peacekeeping and other security operations.
UTVA Approves OMLT Participation and Troops for Chad
2. (C) The Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy
(UTVA), which is responsibility for approving all major
government foreign and security policy decisions, met with
President Halonen Oct. 26. According to MFA and MOD sources,
the UTVA produced three recommendations:
-- The UTVA identified the necessary financial resources and
gave its approval for sending 10 military trainers to
participate in a Nordic OMLT in Afghanistan, beginning in
early 2008. Finland is eager to develop a "Nordic approach"
to OMLTs by staffing them alongside Swedish and Norwegian
trainers (Reftel B), and we view this as a good first step.
-- The UTVA identified resources and gave its approval to
Finland's 221-troop contribution to the Nordic EU Battle
Group, which will stand up January 1.
-- The UTVA identified resources and gave its approval for
Finland to send 40 forward-deployable infantry peacekeepers,
plus an additional 10-20 headquarters/logistics and support
staff to Chad as part of the EU mission there. Current EU
planning calls for troops to begin arriving by the end of
November, but Finland's contributions will probably not
arrive until December or early January.
3. (C) According to Finnish law, these UTVA recommendations
must now be submitted to parliament for consensus, and then
returned to President Halonen for her final approval. While
parliamentary and presidential approval for all three
recommendations is likely, it could take up to six weeks.
No Other Decisions on Afghanistan
4. (C) According to foreign ministry contacts, the UTVA did
not reach consensus on any other issues pertaining to Finnish
participation in NATO/ISAF operation, aside from the OMLT.
The GoF is engaged in a vigorous, unresolved internal debate
over a series of recommendations from the Ministries of
Defense and Foreign Affairs regarding possible increases to
Finland's military and development assistance contributions
in Afghanistan. The UTVA discussed recommendations for
increasing Finland's troop contributions in 2008. However,
while the UTVA discussed possible Finnish troop increases and
the question of leadership of the Finnish-Swedish PRT at
Mazar-al-Sharif (reftels), it reached no conclusions.
Conservative Party members of the UTVA (i.e., the Ministers
of Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Finance) have for months
been urging greater contributions, but their coalition
partners (including the Prime Minister and the Foreign Trade
and Development Minister) remain unconvinced about both the
size of the recommended increases and the suggested timelines
for implementation. As one senior MFA official with direct
access to the UTVA's deliberations told PolChief, "The UTVA
has no vision on this. The Foreign Minister has a vision,
and others may. But the UTVA as a whole, no." He added
that, in simplest terms, the Conservatives see it in
Finland's national interest to do more in Afghanistan, while
others feel the existing contributions are largely adequate.
5. (C) Even though the UTVA did not reach a decision this
time on PRT leadership or on a troop increase, these
questions remain under active consideration, and neither has
been ruled out (as the local press mistakenly implied). The
final decision on both issues will be subject to a drawn out
process that depends heavily both on the domestic political
climate and on how bilateral negotiations with the Swedes
proceed (Ref B). However, the OMLT concept has caught fire
here -- as evidenced by the UTVA's relatively quick Oct. 26
decision -- and we hear clear hints from within the
Ministries that this is an initiative of great potential.
And as we have reported previously, the Embassy believes that
Finland will ultimately find a way to make greater
contributions in Afghanistan -- these painstaking internal
political machinations notwithstanding. END COMMENT.