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Wikileaks: US Embassy Urged Finland To Join NATO

Diplomatic cables provided to YLE by the Wikileaks organisation reveal that officials from the American Embassy in Helsinki tried to corral Finnish politicians into supporting NATO membership over the past decade.

Image: YLE

The embassy has also carefully tracked Finnish opinions on the NATO issue. According to the Wikileaks material, politicians from the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) have claimed that they would lead Finland into NATO if they head the government after elections in April.

In diplomatic reports written throughout the past decade, leading Finnish politicians were evaluated on the basis of their approach to trans-Atlantic cooperation.

For instance, in his final report before leaving the post of US Ambassador in Helsinki, Earle I. Mack provided the following evaluation of President Tarja Halonen and then Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen just before the 2006 Finnish presidential election:

"Halonen leads the left-wing of Finland's largest left-wing party and in the past has spoken out occasionally against U.S. policies. Prime Minister Vanhanen shares some of Halonen's concerns, but has been less outspoken and is a committed trans-Atlanticist.”

Regarding NATO, Ambassador Mack described the Finnish NATO climate as follows in October 2005:

“Shifting public opinion on NATO membership will be a long, arduous task, but we should reach out to those Finns who view greater participation in European security initiatives as a stepping stone to NATO membership.”

Ware: No NATO Membership in Halonen Era

Mack’s successor, Ambassador Marilyn Ware summed up her views in her own “Thoughts on Finland as I Depart Post” in April 2008, writing:

"Finland did not become a member of NATO on my watch, and it will most likely not become a member until at least 2012 when President Halonen has left office, if at all. However, the US has no better friend outside the NATO Alliance, and the US-Finnish military-to-military relationship is arguably the single strongest bond we have in an already strong bilateral relationship.”

In the same memo, Ware commented on the alliance’s rapid-reaction force, the NATO Response Force (NRF):

“We have gotten the GoF [Government of Finland] to the point where we are confident it will be among the first non-NATO allies to formally signal its intention to participate in the NRF.”

Report: NCP Promised to Take Finland into NATO

The rise of the National Coalition to a leading position in Finland’s government and foreign policy has clearly pleased American diplomats in Helsinki.

They took careful note of the wording on NATO in the Finnish government’s quadrennial defence security report, issued in early 2009.

A cable sent soon afterwards reported “the impression that Halonen has somewhat softened her stance on NATO, at least somewhat, likely due in part to the election of Barack Obama.”

The end of the same cable quotes Jori Arvonen, Senior Political Adviser to Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, regarding prospects following the next Parliamentary elections.

“Acknowledging that a majority of Finns currently oppose membership, Arvonen pointed out to Polchief [the head of the Embassy’s political department] that the public is well aware of NCP's support for NATO membership, and yet the party's popularity is rising. NCP currently tops opinion polls, and Arvonen told Polchief that its leadership sees the NCP leading the next government and taking Finland into NATO.”

Links to cables [in PDF format]:

Subject: Finland: My thoughts as I depart post (Mack)

Subject: Thoughts on Finland as I depart post (Ware)

Subject: Finland: New Defense Policy inches toward Nato membership

More on this subject:

Cables Show Close US-Finnish Contacts

Halonen Dismisses Wikileaks Worries

Wikileaks Revelations Discussed in Parliament

Wikileaks: Halonen's Sharp Words for Russian Leaders

Katainen Tight-Lipped Over Wikileaks Furore

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