On Wednesday the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Sweden and the United Nations were in talks about a possible peacekeeping mission to Golan. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt reportedly told the paper in an interview that Sweden could send troops to Golan on condition that they would participate alongside a larger group of Nordic peacekeepers including officers from Finland, Norway and Denmark.
However Tuomioja was very clear on Finland’s position on sending peacekeepers to the region.
“I discussed the matter with the UN Deputy Secretary General Sunday and at the time we agreed that Finland doesn’t have the option of sending troops to replace the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) from Austria or other possible countries,” Tuomioja said.
Option to send observers already on duty
“The cabinet’s Foreign and Security Policy Committee will consider whether we have the possibility to send United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) military observers already stationed in Golan and the wider area. This kind of request has also been put forward,” the Minister added.
Tuomioja said that he was not at all familiar with the comments attributed to Foreign Minister Bildt by the Israeli paper.
“I have no idea what he actually said. I must say that these Israeli papers aren’t always the most reliable sources,” he added.
“What has been discussed and is still only talk, is that if there were a political solution to the situation in Syria, in other words if there was a truce and a period of transition was agreed that would support a strong UN peacekeeping operation, then the Nordic countries would consider such a proposition,” Tuomioja declared.
Analysts believe that a spillover of violence from the internal Syrian conflict into the Israel-occupied Golan Heights has threatened to jeopardise a long-standing ceasefire between Israel and Syria.