Uutinen 29.8.2008

Finland hopes for a common EU position on the crisis in Georgia

Government Communications Unit
Press Release 241/2008

On Friday 29 August, the joint meeting of the President of the Republic and the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy, and the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on European Union Affairs discussed the crisis in Georgia. The issue will be addressed at the extraordinary European Council meeting scheduled for 1 September in Brussels.

In Finland’s view, the use of military force should have no part in the foreign policy of any country. The universally approved principles for conduct in international relations continue to apply. No country may have a sphere of interest extending to other countries.

For Finland, the point of departure is the preservation of Georgia’s independence, right of self-determination and territorial integrity. Consequently, Finland cannot approve the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia.

Finland finds it necessary that the ceasefire agreement is followed to the letter. At the same time, efforts should be made to promptly initiate international negotiations concerning the region.

It is important for the European Union to determine a common policy in respect of Russia. Finland does not support any sanctions against Russia. Such a line of action would trigger a vicious circle of counter-measures that would be hard to break.

In Finland’s view, the European Union should develop and expand its relations with Georgia and other eastern neighbours, particularly Ukraine. A greater EU presence within a short timespan is an important message of support to Georgia. The EU should discuss more substantial efforts to stabilize the situation throughout Caucasus and promote reconstruction.

The EU will provide EUR 6 million to improve the humanitarian situation in Georgia with the Member States promising to contribute an additional EUR 10 million. Finland is committed to humanitarian aid up to EUR 1 million. Finland calls for an EU-led conference of aid givers in support of the reconstruction efforts in Georgia.

In Finland’s view, an international peace-keeping operation with a UN mandate would be required to stabilize the situation in Georgia.

Memorandum of the Cabinet Committee on European Union Affairs

Enhancement of cooperation in the area of recognized maritime and air pictures

Additionally, the joint meeting of the President of the Republic and the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy reviewed further cooperation in the field of international recognized maritime and air pictures in relation to the surveillance and control of Finnish territory.

Finland seeks to make an active contribution and be closely involved in the on-going international development projects on sea surveillance. As part of these efforts, Finland seeks, together with Sweden, to expand the bilateral cooperation related to recognized maritime and air pictures into multilateral cooperation in the Baltic Sea region.

Finland will also participate in the inter-Nordic recognized air picture cooperation scheme being prepared within the framework of the Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE) programme offered by NATO to PfP countries. Accession to the ASDE arrangements will permit air situation data exchange in the Nordic and Baltic area; this will improve aviation safety and guarantee Finland an internationally compatible solution of a sufficient life span to develop this cooperation further.

Finland hopes that all the Baltic Rim countries participate in these cooperative arrangements.

Additionally, the meeting addressed Finland’s action programme for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The objectives of the Resolution and programme are to strengthen women’s roles and decision-making powers in the efforts to prevent conflicts, enhance crisis management capabilities, promote peace and stabilize society in the aftermath of conflicts. The action programme will give an added boost to Finland’s efforts to promote the objectives of the Resolution.

Further information: Georgia: Pilvi-Sisko Vierros, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 5032 and Kare Halonen, State Secretary for EU Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, tel. +358 9 1602 2180; Territorial surveillance: Kari Aapro, Senior Staff Officer, Ministry of Defence, tel. +358 9 1608 8143; and Resolution 1325: Sofie From, Head of Unit, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 6551.