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Cablegate: Finland Welcomes More, but Not All, Voices In

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DE RUEHHE #0337 2531114
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101114Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5165

UNCLAS HELSINKI 000337

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR OES/OA JGOURLEY AND PCUNNINGHAM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EWWT PHSA PREL SENV FI
SUBJECT: FINLAND WELCOMES MORE, BUT NOT ALL, VOICES IN
ARCTIC COUNCIL

(SBU) 1. In an August 20 meeting with Pol/Econ Officers,
Ministry of Environment Director General (International
Affairs Unit) Jukka Uosukainen shared Finland's interest in
expanding discussion within the Arctic Council on key topics.
Specifically, the Finnish Government (GOF) believes that all
Council discussions should include the eight permanent
members rather than only the five members with Arctic
territorial claims. However, regarding others interested in
a greater role or voice in the Arctic Council, the GOF
remains quite cautious.

(SBU) 2. The GOF feels the European Union (EU) also has an
important role to play in the Arctic Council. Uosukainen is
aware of the concerns of other members regarding Permanent
Observer status for the EU, e.g., Canada's concerns about the
EU's recent ban on seal hunting. He also acknowledged that
accepting the EU as a Permanent Observer could affect the
political dynamic of the Council, and expressed the GOF's own
concerns about the influence of larger EU members
(geographically distant from the Arctic) in Arctic Council
discussions. Finland remains interested in finding an
official status for the EU that suits all Arctic Council
members.

(SBU) 3. Finland is less enthusiastic about other nations -
particularly China - receiving permanent observer status.
China, Italy and South Korea currently hold ad-hoc observer
status allowing them to sit in as observers on select Arctic
Council meetings. The GOF is concerned that their commercial
interests in the Arctic are not aligned with the Arctic
Council's larger mandate to protect the Arctic environment
and its indigenous populations.

(SBU) 4. COMMENT: The GOF's policy in the Arctic region to
date has been environmental protection and support for the
needs of the Arctic's indigenous populations. However,
Finland is also pragmatically considering its own commercial
interests. As the Arctic opens up, Finland sees
opportunities in new shipping lanes and increased icebreaker
services. Although their support for Arctic environmental
protection will remain strong, new commercial interests may
also influence their views on the Arctic Council's future
mandate and composition. END COMMENT.
ORECK

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