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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Secretary Rice's Visit to Finland,


DE RUEHHE #0541/01 3301505
R 251505Z NOV 08



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/23/2018
DEC 4, 2008


Classified By: Ambassador Barbara Barrett for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY. You will arrive in Finland as the Finns enjoy
considerable international acclaim for their efforts in
international crisis management, not only as a result of
their effective Chairmanship of the OSCE, but also for the
award of the Nobel Peace Prize to former President Martti
Ahtisaari. While Finns are proud of their participation in
peacekeeping operations, and the Government is committed to
its comprehensive civilian-military approach to international
crisis management, there remain divisions within the
government on how to pursue its policies, in particular in
relation to Afghanistan. With the government currently
reviewing its crisis management, development and Afghanistan
policies, your visit provides an opportunity not only to
thank Finnish leaders for the important role they have played
within the OSCE, but also (1) to encourage Finland to
continue to play a constructive role in promoting peace and
security through Euro-Atlantic and other international
institutions; (2) to contribute more military and development
assistance to Afghanistan; (3) and to urge Finnish leaders to
publicly support a common U.S.-EU policy on Russia. END

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Political Overview

2. (SBU) As the head of the Finnish Government, Prime
Minister Matti Vanhanen and his cabinet share
responsibility for the implementation of Finnish foreign
policy with President Tarja Halonen. Vanhanen leads a
center-right governing coalition that has placed high
importance not only on working through the EU, but also on
improving Finland,s partnership with NATO and its overall
relationship with the United States. We share with the GOF
the view that creating global economic wealth and defeating
terrorism require Western nations to engage in international
security operations and use diplomacy to
promote democratic values beyond the borders of Europe and
North America.

Comprehensive approach to crisis management

3. (U) Finnish participation in international peacekeeping
operations dates back to the Sinai in the 1950s. As former
President Martti Ahtisaari has stated, the Finns are
internationally well-regarded because of their longstanding
participation in operations and their reputation as "honest
brokers and fair dealers." Ahtisaari,s receipt of the Nobel
Peace Prize and widespread praise for the Finns,
Chairmanship of the OSCE support his assertion (OSCE
scenesetter septel).

4. (C) The Finns describe their approach to international
crisis management as comprehensive, seeking to utilize all
resources - civilian and military, public and private - to
best advantage. On the military side, the GOF aims to
maintain its international military presence at approximately
680 troops. Its key operations are KFOR (approximately 440),
ISAF (100) and Chad (61). With the expected scaledown of
troops in Kosovo next year, the GOF has stated publicly it
will consider an increase to
operations in Chad and Afghanistan (though in meetings GOF
officials say an increase to the Chad contribution is more
likely). The GOF estimates that its civilian participation
will reach 150. Approximately 60 xperts have been deployed
to EULEX Kosovo, and 2 police experts are expected to
participate in EUPOL in Afghanistan by early 2009.

No unanimity on the comprehensive approach

5. (C) As the GOF pursues this approach, it still grapples
with how to realize it fully, and within the government and
the Parliament there is no unanimity. This in part results
from long-held attitudes. For example, the vast majority of
Finnish military resources are devoted to territorial
defense, with only a relatively small amount for crisis
management operations; this flows from the deeply-entrenched
notion that in war the Finns, always have stood alone. Also,
development policy has not been coordinated with crisis
management policy, a separation due in part from the idea
held by some in the government that security operations
necessarily precede delivery of development assistance. The
GOF has undertaken reviews of its international crisis

management and development policies, as well as Afghanistan
policy (see below), with the results to be presented to
Parliament in early 2009.

Afghanistan: policy deadlock

6. (C) Afghanistan presents the Finns the opportunity to
demonstrate the effectiveness of their approach, and the GOF
has contributed comprehensively, through military and
civilian personnel and development assistance (approximately
12 million euros per year over the next six years). While no
one within the GOF is advocating a troop or assistance
reduction, there are clear divisions in Vanhanen,s cabinet:
One side advocates doing more (mainly within the Conservative
party, Foreign Minister Stubb and Defense Minister Hakamies),
and the other believes Finland is doing enough and that
budgetary realities do not permit troop or aid increases.
Vanhanen,s Center Party is part of the latter group, though
Vanhanen himself may favor doing more. At the NATO Summit in
Bucharest last April, President Halonen spoke about
continuation of Finland,s engagement through ISAF, and made
a broad reference to Finland increasing "her contribution in
Afghanistan." However, Halonen has not offered the Finnish
public a strong voice supporting Finland,s contributions to
Afghanistan. Halonen is part of the camp that believes
Finland is already doing enough. We do not agree.

GOF responds to conflict in Georgia

7. (C) Russia is Finland,s largest bilateral trading partner
and its primary energy supplier, and Finns are proud of the
way they have managed their relations with Russia through the
Cold War and up to the present day. That management
typically involves careful public statements by government
officials calculated not to provoke. Both PM Vanhanen and
President Halonen employed such tactics as the recent
conflict in Georgia unfolded, referring to the events as
"highly unusual" and "unsettling phenomena";
neither offered explicit condemnation. Stubb, who has argued
for a more assertive foreign policy that abandons bland and
ritualistic statements from officials, condemned the Russian
incursion, albeit as OSCE Chairman.

8. (SBU) The GOF has strongly supported both the OSCE,s and
the EU,s role in responding to the crisis in Georgia.
Vahanen was an early opponent of any economic sanctions
against Russia. The GOF supported the decision to undertake
negotiations on a new partnership and cooperation agreement,
saying that such negotiations would provide future leverage.
(NOTE: Halonen has ruled out NATO membership for Finland
during her tenure, which ends in 2012. The Georgia conflict
sparked debate about Finland,s relationship with NATO, and
Vanhanen reiterated the GOF policy to maintain the "option"
of membership. Stubb publicly holds to the GOF policy, but
acknowledged his own support for membership in a speech to
Finnish diplomats last August. A poll in September showed an
increase in the number of Finns uncertain about Finland,s
possible NATO membership, an increase that drew from both
from supporters and opponents. END NOTE.)

Finland seeks JASSM

9. (S) Embassy Helsinki wholly endorses Finland's request for
release and eventual Foreign Military Sale purchase of the
Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) System. They
deem such a system vital to their strategic national defense,
as JASSM provides the Finnish military the means to defeat
advanced air defense networks that would otherwise preclude
the Finns' use of their own airspace to defend their border.
We base our strong support on Finland's clearly articulate
national defense needs, the war-fighting support requirements
stipulated by Commander, U.S. European Command, General Bantz
Craddock, and the importance of continuing the excellent
relationship between the U.S. and Finland (REF). Finnish
leaders have raised JASSM previously with you, as well as
with Vice President Cheney and Secretary Gates. The Pentagon
intends to respond before the Finns, stated deadline, the
end of this year.

Pharmaceutical Pricing

10. (SBU) The Finns tout their "international credentials,"
but those credentials suffered a setback in November when the
Parliament approved a GOF proposal to amend a pharmaceutical

pricing scheme in order to allow the substitution of lower
priced generics for patent-protected drugs. The Health
Minister proposed the change as a cost-cutting device but
reimbursing only at generic drug prices undermines the patent
rights of a number of protected medicines, including those of
U.S. manufacturers. The Foreign Ministry and Ministry of
Economy saw the potential damage to Finland,s reputation and
lobbied against the measure, although parliament passed the
bill unanimously in November.


11. (C) As the Finns end their much-lauded OSCE chairmanship,
they look to other opportunities to act internationally and
employ their brand of crisis management, e.g., a seat on the
UN Security Council (2013-14). The Finns offer a pragmatic
voice and active presence that should not be lost. By
encouraging the Finns, robust internationalism and
supporting strong trans-Atlantic ties we can advance our
common interests in combining civilian and military tools to
address global security challenges. END COMMENT.


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