Foreign Minister Tuomioja: Finland is not a passive bystander
"Finland is not a passive bystander in the union's defence cooperation issue", said Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja at a press conference on Monday morning, 9 June. "The European common foreign and security policy should be developed in a way that strengthens the EU's credibility and capacity to act". According to Tuomioja one should steer away from divisive issues within the union, and the reinforced cooperation would inevitably become a dividing factor. The minister doubted that the developing of a defence nucleus would even materialise. "Our assumption is that there will be no reinforced defence cooperation", he said.
Distinct articles referring to civil crisis management should be incorporated in the common security and defence policy, said Tuomioja. The EU should also increase coordination in the sector of defence industry. In Tuomioja's view the strength of the EU's crisis management lies in the broad coalition. "There are no tasks left that could justify reinforced defence cooperation among certain member states". If the union's defence policy were to be revised, then all member states should be involved in cooperation.
Tuomioja emphasised the active role Finland has had in the debate on the EU's security policy. A memorandum explaining Finnish views has been distributed by Tuomioja to his European counterparts, and it has had a positive feedback. Great Britain shares the same opinion on defence cooperation with Finland. Sweden agrees as well, and so do most of the new member states-to-be. "I dare say that the majority of members share our views", said Tuomioja.
When talking about the European Convention, Tuomioja pointed out that referring matters of the gravest disagreement to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) is not disadvantageous for Finland. "Firstly, decisions at the IGC are made unanimously. Secondly, we participate in the IGC with a politically more powerful delegation", Tuomioja listed. He also pointed out that despite the contradictions the Convention has done a remarkable job in rewriting the treaties into a coherent constitutional form. Tuomija said that problems might arise in the double role of the envisaged EU foreign minister as the High Representative and as the External Relations Commissioner: "Mixing institutional roles is dubious".
The Helsinki Process on globalisation and democracy launched last year is taking steps ahead. A high level Helsinki Group is to be nominated in September. "It seems that there are great expectations and hopes for the Helsinki Process", Tuomioja said. "This process is a kind of bridge between participants that are interested in globalisation and that operate from different starting points". Both the World Economic Forum and the World Social Forum take part in the process: different views are well represented.
On 10-11 June the Foreign Ministers of the Council of the Baltic Sea States gather in Pori which marks the ending of the Finnish presidency. During its chairmanship Finland has focused on environmental issues and interaction with NGOs. The most recent initiative is a seminar with labour market organisations from the Baltic Sea region. The CBSS also provides a platform for direct contact between regions and provinces.
When asked about the infamous Iraqi leak Minister Tuomioja said the Foreign Ministry had assisted and would assist the police as best as it could, but the minister himself "did not need to know how the police operates". He also expected the new Secretary of State to be appointed by August this year.