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Vanhanen Disagrees With Rhetoric On Russia

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has described comments on Russia by Finnish Defence Minister Jyri Häkämies made in Washington on Thursday as "rhetoric", and said he does not agree.

Vanhanen said Friday that Defence Minister Häkämies had used personal rhetoric to raise questions. According to Vanhanen, the challenge to Finland's security is broader than Russia, which he believes was used as a rhetorical device.

According to the Prime Minister, he and Häkämies have different points of emphasis in the issue.

Speaking the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on Thursday, Defense Minister Häkämies said, "The three most important security challenges from Finland's point of view are Russia, Russia and Russia."

Tuomioja: lack of judgement

Former foreign minister and Social Democratic MP Erkki Tuomioja reacted to Häkämies' comments by saying that they displayed a lack of good judgement.

It is Tuomioja's view that the security evaluation by Häkämies was one-sided and presented in the wrong forum. He also wondered to what extent this had been prepared within the cabinet and with the president.

Tuomioja told YLE that he himself does not see a threat in Russia, and said that Finland continues to its follow policies contained in the most recent government report on security and defence policy. At the same time he said that he hopes that the policies of the National Coalition Party, of which Defense Minister Häkämies is a member, are not Finland's position.

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