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NATO Secretary-General Wants to Maintain Cooperation with Finland

The Secretary-General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says that he hopes that Finland will continue its cooperation with the alliance as part of the Partnership for Peace. The Secretary-General arrived in Finland on Thursday.

De Hoop Scheffer emphasised that Finland is an important partner for NATO; he singled out the Finnish forces in Kosovo for special praise.

“The Finnish forces have acted very well. We saw this in March, when ethnic violence broke out in Kosovo.”

The host of the visit, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, said that Finland also wants to hold on to the present cooperation, and to take part in operations led by NATO.

Secretary-General de Hoop Scheffer emphasised that decisions on the future of Finland’s land mines and the country’s possible application for NATO membership are in the hands of the Finnish Government and Parliament; he noted that NATO does not have an official stand on the land mine question.

Finland has come under a good deal of criticism for continuing to deploy anti-personnel land mines. De Hoop Scheffer said that it is his personal hope is for as many countries as possible to join the Ottawa Treaty banning infantry land mines.

In addition to Foreign Minister Tuomioja, the NATO leader met with President Tarja Halonen and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen on Thursday.

Finnish News Agency