Finland Joining In NATO Response Force
Finland has decided to participate in a NATO Rapid Response Force. The matter was approved by the President and the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy on Friday. The decision does not alter Finland's relationship with NATO.
Under the joint decision by President Tarja Halonen and the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy, Finland's Ambassador to NATO, Aapo Pölhö, has been empowered to deliver a letter to NATO confirming Finland's participation in an auxiliary role.
In practice, this means that Finland will decide on a case-by-case basis whether to take part in NATO operations. Finland will also not provide standby forces for the NATO Rapid Response Force. A separate decision is to be made on that issue at a later date.
Parliament is expected to discuss a report on the decision this coming Tuesday.
Some cost worries
Before the final decision, President Halonen had expressed doubt that Finland has sufficient resources to participate. The government parties did not consider that this is a problem.
In an interview on YLE's Aamu-TV morning programme, Chairman of the Foreign and Security Policy Committee Pertti Salolainen said he does not believe that the costs of participation are out of reach.
"It seems that the costs are not overwhelming. Two percent of our entire defence force budget is devoted to international operations, and this would also benefit our national defences," he added.
Jaakko Laakso, a member of the Defence Committee said that the costs are difficult to estimate because government has no detailed information about the operation.
"The question of participation is in practice still open because of the cost factor. We don't know what kind of operation is involved or how Finland will participate," he explained.
The NATO Response Force (NRF) is a technologically advanced crack force comprising land, air, sea and special forces that can be quickly deployed wherever needed.