During his official visit to Washington D.C., the Finnish Defence Minister Jyri Häkämies told in a speech held for an audience at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies that "The three most important security challenges from Finland's point of view are Russia, Russia and Russia."
Since then the Finnish president Tarja Halonen, and the Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen have both been apt to publicly take distance from the defence minister’s comment. Even though the presidents’ chancellery actually had received a copy of the speech held by the Defence minister a week in advance it was to be held, the president’s chancellery obviously now seems to either have been pressed for time in order to attend to more important issues of the state or just considered the defence minister’s speech not important enough to bother to read through. The former Finnish foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja also expressed his opinion about the mentioned statement “showing a lack of judgement”.
The defence minister Häkämies refuses to step back on his statement insisting that he does not see where his views differ from those held by the President and the Prime Minister.
Well this probably is true, but even I who am not a Finn do know that these things are not spoken about in public. Everyone who has been living in Finland for some time realises that the threat for Finland’s security in any way does come from the west, nor from the south. And this is how it traditionally has been for centuries ever since Finland was a part of the Swedish kingdom, before it became an autonomic part of the Russian empire or got its’ independence in the early 1900’s. So what is new?
It just seems that this really is a question of lacking plain common sense and severe lack of judgment, there is of course the always prevailing of marking your territory, which politicians seem to have even a greater need to do than ordinary citizens have, especially when having fairly recently stepped into office as the defence minister just has earlier this spring which might just have taken the upper hand.
This all seems quite small and is of no important at all in a hundred years time, as everything does, but what surprises me is the lack of the Russia’s reactions, especially now with the presidential elections being held in a year’s time. What will they say, how will they say it and when?
Anyway, at least it now has been stated by and official Russian source that Russia really were considering selling Carelian back to the Finns in the 1980’s and even a price was mentioned but the proposition just never left the planning stage and was never presented to the Finnish officials at the time.