Russia, Russia, Russia

Defense Minister Jyri Häkämies (National Coalition Party) caused some controversy with his speech (video) at the Centre for Strategic International Studies in Washington.

Mr Häkämies had said in the speech that while Finland was privileged to be located in one of the safest regions in the world, the country's three main security challenges were "Russia, Russia and Russia".

"It is clear that Russia is, supported by the huge revenues it is reaping from oil and gas, on its way of becoming a world player again. According to the Russian worldview, military force is a key element in how it conducts its international relations," Mr Häkämies had added.

Reactions came swiftly. Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre Party) has "different points of emphasis". Former Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja (Social Democratic Party) thinks Häkämies's evaluation was one-sided and presented in the wrong forum, i.e. in the United States. President Tarja Halonen (Social Democratic Party) expressed her mild disapproval and said that she hadn't seen the speech. It had been given to her office for vetting, but apparently it never got to her.

There are two points here between which we should distinguish: First, what Häkämies said is true. Second, it wasn't a very smart thing to say. There was no reason not to talk softly, with regard to both diplomatic and domestic political considerations. In the case of the latter, Häkämies will now stand accused of turning up his rhetoric to impress the American audience, which will be tied to his party's pro-NATO leanings.

No comments: