Former Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja (Social Democratic Party) and current Defense Minister Jyri Häkämies (National Coalition Party) are having a bit of a row over giving about 100'000 surplus AK-47s to the Afghanistani military. On his recent visit to that country, Häkämies met with President Hamid Karzai, who asked for the assault rifles. Häkämies said that the matter could be taken into consideration. Tuomioja, during whose term as Foreign Minister Finland had declined a previous request for the rifles, bounced on the answer. Writing on his website (fi), he accused Häkämies of going at it alone and thus showing a severe lack of foreign policy judgment.
Finland's foreign and security policy is based on lines drawn jointly by the president and the government as well as on Parliament's wide support. It has not been standard practice in these parts for individual ministers to break ranks by opening matters on which decisions have already been made and where nothing new that would warrant a change has happened.Häkämies defended himself by noting that he hadn't promised anything more than an answer, which is fair enough, and attributes Tuomioja's comments to "bad will".
[...] But the assault rifle is not the item in which the country has the shortest supply and which Finland should be sprinkling about in a theatre of military operations.
It's difficult to tell how much of his procedural case Tuomioja believes, but his main motivation for speaking out isn't impossible to figure out: he thinks Finland shouldn't donate rifles to Afghanistan and thus doesn't want to see the previous decision reconsidered. His argument, put forth in Helsingin Sanomat, is that "guns may end up in anyone's hands over there." He advanced the same theme when he described donating the rifles to the Afghanistani government as "sprinkling" them about a war zone. Assuming that the Afghanistani military currently has weaponry, it would be interesting to know how often their weapons have ended up in the wrong hands.
When the previous decision was made, it was reported that Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre Party) and then Defense Minister Seppo Kääriäinen (Centre) were in favour of sending the rifles to Afghanistan. Tuomioja and President Tarja Halonen (Social Democrat) were opposed and Halonen's position naturally won. Any reconsideration will probably end in the same result as before unless Halonen has reconsidered her position, which I consider to be unlikely. I'd evaluate that the odds of the previous decision being overturned are small.