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Hufvudstadsbladet (Finland’s main Swedish newspaper)

Is Nato option a restraint for Finland’s détente politics?

Letter to the Editor

Being convinced of their quantitative and especially their qualitative superiority in weapons and military forces both Nato and US leadership today are objecting all motions towards disarmament and arms control. This concerns nuclear weapons – Nato has taken a strong negative attitude toward the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) – robotweapons, missile defence, weapons placed to space etc. Finland has in many occasions chosen the same line. Bilateral agreements with the US, co-operation with Nato and the option to seek membership in Nato are referred. These shall not be endangered at any cause, even though in the program of the current government there is a statement that Finland will work for an agreement to prohibit robotweapons.

Is it thus so, that Finland has no freedom for motions in its foreign policy. Are we bound to continue to screw the tension in Northern Europe by intensifying the military co-operation with Nato and the US and buy expensive weapons and offensive capacity and so on? We argue here with the nuclear weapons ban treaty as a barycentre that Finland could run an active détente and disarmament policy preserving the Nato option.

Nato has no nuclear weapons of its own, but three member states, Great Britain, France and the US have. The public opinion in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany, where the US has placed its nuclear weapons, is strongly for withdrawal of these weapons. Denmark and Norway have refused to hold nuclear weapons in their soil in times of peace.

Concerning TPNW the governments of Belgium, France and Spain have been expressing a milder line, and the new governments in the Netherlands, Norway and Germany seem to be doing the same. Norway recently stated that the country will take part of the ban treaty’s meeting of state parties as an observer. Several veteran politicians from Nato countries, among them the former Nato’s secretary generals Willy Claes and Javier Solana have requested their countries to sign the TPNW.

On the capitals of Nato countries Amsterdam, Berlin, Oslo, Paris and Washington have signed the ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) cities appeal and thus supported the ban treaty. Parliament and government parties have shown interest in accession in the treaty, and e.g. the government of Norway stated, that signing the treaty is in line with the Nato membership. A clear majority of the people in Nato countries think that their country should sign the TPNW. The same thing applies also to the prohibition of robot weapons.

This internal discussion in Nato countries is thus not in line with the strong negative line Nato leadership encompasses. Actually, Nato could as well see TPNW as a considerable way to seek global security. It is totally possible, that some Nato country will join the TPNW. The treaty does not presume an immediate nuclear disarmament but requires a process plan and a binding timetable

From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs it has been performed to us, that the Nato option is an obstacle for Finland to join the TPNW. But why should we adopt the most negative attitude towards the ban treaty. Does this mean in cleartext, that Finland would like to crawl under the nuclear arms umbrella the western countries seem to hold straight up but on which they don’t give any guarantees.

To align with the nuclear weapon powers would actually mean that our security situation will worsen. We would be one playchip in the superpower’s playground. Disarmament and détente are in the interest in all small countries, also Finland’s. Nato option may not be an obstacle for Finland to be once again an active actor for détente and disarmament. This would mean among other things that we join the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons and that we work actively for a prohibition on robotweapons.

82 percent of Finnish people support signing the TPNW. The city of Helsinki has signed the ICAN Cities Appeal. Finland should now make a roadmap on how and when the joining ban treaty will happen. Finland will be an observer in the TPNW state parties meeting, but we shall not stop in halfway.

Kati Juva, Physician, University lecturer, ICAN Finland coordinator,
Claus Montonen, Physicist, University lecturer, ICAN Finland coordinator. 

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