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Cablegate: Finland: Let's Talk Detainees, Just Not Uighurs

R 201441Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO NSC WASHDC
SECSTATE WASHDC 5130
DIA WASHINGTON DC
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000312


STATE FOR S/GC/AMB FRIED
NSC FOR J.HOVENIER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/19/2019
TAGS: PREL PREF PHUM FI CH
SUBJECT: FINLAND: LET'S TALK DETAINEES, JUST NOT UIGHURS

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Michael A. Butler for reasons
1.4(b) and (d)

1. (C) In an August 18 meeting with CDA Butler, Prime
Minister Vanhanen's Senior Advisor Esko Hamilo expressed the
Finnish Government's willingness to discuss the possibility
of accepting detainees from Guantanamo. Hamilo welcomed the
prospect of a visit from Special Envoy Fried in September.
He said during Fried's visit they expected to receive a list
of detainees to consider, and added quickly that they hoped
the list would contain no Uighurs. The Finns are concerned
about their relations with China; Hamilo said that Chinese
diplomats in Helsinki have repeatedly warned them about the
damage to bilateral relations should Finland accept any
Uighurs. (NOTE: Hamilo's comments followed Special Envoy
Fried's phone conversation with Foreign Minister Stubb on
August 11 about a September visit to Helsinki, and after the
Cabinet's Foreign and Security Committee took up the question
of detainees on August 14. END NOTE.)

2. (SBU) China is extremely important to Finland's ailing and
export-driven economy. As Finnish Minister of Trade and
Development Paavo Vayrynen pointed out to a 240-strong
Chinese business delegation in Finland in July, China is
Finland's largest trade partner in Asia, and its fourth
largest globally; approximately 240 Finnish companies have a
permanent presence in China, and Finnish companies have
invested roughly seven billion euros there. Also, as Nokia
CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo stated in an August 18 globalization
seminar in Helsinki, China is Nokia's largest market.

3. (C) COMMENT: Finnish officials have for months considered
the possibility of accepting detainees, though they balked at
any bilateral discussions before the EU arrived at a common
position regarding Member States' acceptance of detainees.
In the spring a Stubb senior advisor told P/E Chief that he
thought a consensus in the four-party coalition to accept
detainees would prove very difficult. With the EU having
arrived at a common position and some Member States agreeing
to accept detainees (and the more transatlantic National
Coalition Party in a stronger position in government after
better showings than Prime Minister Vanhanen's party in
recent elections), the atmosphere in the Cabinet may have
changed. In reporting on the Cabinet's August 14 discussion
of the "detainee question" the main Finnish newspaper
Helsingin Sanomat cited "unofficial assessments" that the
government would likely offer asylum to a small number of
detainees. Whether acceptance is "likely" is unclear, but
undoubtedly the Finns will give serious consideration to a
(Uighur-free) list of detainees. END COMMENT.

BUTLER

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