Finland Is Waiting for NATO’S NRF Decision

Posted in NATO | 24-Sep-07 | Author: Jukka Aminoff

Interview with Pertti Salolainen

Finland has reacted positively to the NATO Response Force (NRF) and was ready to take steps toward participating in the NRF, but NATO has decided to take a time out regarding this body. The form and principles of the NRF are not yet fully clear. The United States is frustrated with European NATO members because they are not participating at a level that would be desirable.

The following interview by WSN’s Jukka Aminoff is with Pertti Salolainen, member of the Finnish Parliament and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

WSN: Do European NATO countries not want to take part in burden sharing?

PERTTI SALOLAINEN: The US believes that European countries should contribute much more to the NRF and NATO. It is important to sort out this problem because NATO’s inner challenges are making decisions more difficult also to non-members of the Alliance.

WSN: Are Finland and Sweden ready to join the NRF?

PS: Finland and Sweden have shown an interest in NATO’s NRF Forces. Finland is participating in the European Union Battle Groups (EU BGs) and is also interested to join the NRF because there are synergies between EU battle groups and the NRF.

WSN: So Finland the superpower of peacekeeping is waiting?

PS: Joining both groups also provides a way for Finland to develop its crisis management capabilities. Finland has lots of experiences in peacekeeping. Finland is the superpower of peacekeeping and crisis management missions. It contributes more peacekeepers and crisis management forces per capita than any other country in the world.

WSN: What influence can a non-NATO state have?

PS: As a non-member of NATO’s decision-making process, Finland finds itself in a waiting position. Finland cannot directly influence NATO’s decision-making process. So all Finland can do is wait and see what decisions are made.

At present, Finland has no detailed idea as to how it could contribute to the NRF.

WSN: Are options open?

PS: The total concept of the NRF will determine Finland’s contribution to the NRF. Finland is keeping its options totally open.

Finland’s is likely to provide supplementary troops for the NRF. It wants to see what the NATO doesn’t have, look at Finland’s resources and then make a decision on what to give to the NRF.

WSN: So will we see a positive approach from Finland?

PS: The previous government of Finland and then Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja made it clear that Finland is interested in joining the NRF. The most important thing when founding any group is that common principles must be clearly stated. NATO’s decisions concerning the NRF will determine Finland’s future decisions.