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Govt pushes ahead with bill to allow overseas military ops

The Foreign Ministry is moving forward with the preparation of new legislation that would allow Finland to participate in military operations abroad. The reform comes in the wake of a request for assistance by French officials following deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last autumn.

Ilmakuva HMS Kullen -laivasta Ruotsin saaristossa 19. lokakuuta.
Current legislation meant that Finland was unable to provide assistance when Swedish authorities launched a search for a mysterious submarine thought to be prowling in its territorial waters. Image: Marko Säävälä / EPA

The government is forging ahead with reform existing laws to allow Finland to engage in military operations overseas. Current legislation restricts Finnish participation in military activities overseas to crisis management operations.

As a result of existing laws, Finland was unable to participate in a hunt for a submarine believed to have been detected in the waters near Stockholm last year.

Finland was also unable to provide military assistance to France when it invoked the EU’s mutual defence clause, following deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last autumn.

Soini: Legislative reform "unavoidable"

On Friday Foreign Minister Timo Soini was handed a hastily-prepared white paper on the matter by the Foreign Ministry. Soini said that updating the legislation is unavoidable.

"The attacks in Paris showed that the legislation needs to be clarified. The world is such that the legislation needs to be in order," Soini added.

The Foreign Minister stressed that the new law would not be invoked automatically to involve Finland in every operation for which it receives a request to participate.

He said that such decisions will continue to be made by the President and the government. If the case involves the use of military force, the Parliament would also have to give its blessing.

Soini said that an essential aspect of the ability to provide military assistance would be that Finland in turn could request such support from other countries.

A draft bill is likely to come before lawmakers in April.

Finland is not a NATO member, but is an active participant in the military alliance's Partnership for Peace programme.

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