Cablegate: Scenesetter for Assistant Secretary Jones Visit To

Published: Thu 4 Nov 2004 05:05 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/04/2014
Classified By: Ambassador Earle I. Mack for reasons 1.5(B) and (D)
1. (C) Your visit to Helsinki, coming just days after the
U.S. election, will be an excellent opportunity to review our
bilateral and multilateral agenda with Finnish leaders, and
to stress the value of our close relationship with Finland
and Europe. Finnish President Halonen has sent a telegram
to the White House offering President Bush her "heartfelt
congratulations" on his re-election and expressing her
confidence that the "excellent cooperation" between the two
presidents will continue in the future. In a similar message
PM Vanhanen stressed the "great responsibility and worldwide
trust" connected with the U.S. Presidency; in earlier
comments he had underlined the importance of the
trans-Atlantic partnership in facing issues of global
2. (C) The Finns will use the opportunity to ask what changes
in U.S. foreign policy may be in the wings. They will also
want to hear your assessment of events in Russia after
Beslan. They will expect you to ask about their new White
Paper on foreign and security policy, which reaffirms
Finland,s nonalignment but keeps open the NATO option,
supports the EU's rapid reaction force, and commits the GoF
to signing the Ottawa Convention by 2012. We recommend you
thank the Finns for their support for reconstruction in Iraq
(including a commitment of one million euros for the UN
protection force), and for their multiple contributions in
Afghanistan. End Summary.
Assessing the Election
3. (SBU) On November 3, before the result of the U.S.
Presidential election was known, Finnish President Halonen,
PM Vanhanen, and Speaker of Parliament Lipponen all said they
did not expect the outcome of the election to affect
bilateral relations, which Halonen termed "stable and good."
Halonen (who was attending an EU meeting in Brussels, and may
have felt the need to speak guardedly) added, however, that
if President Bush were returned to office she hoped the
Administration would re-visit its Iraq policy. PM Vanhanen
spoke in broader terms: "Issues such as worldwide
cooperation, general stability, terrorism, and global
development continue to feature on the agenda ... and here a
good partnership between Europe and the United States is
needed." On November 4, Halonen and Vanhanen both sent
congratulatory telegrams to the White House. Halonen offered
President Bush her "warm greeting and ... heartfelt
congratulations," as well as "my anticipation that our
excellent cooperation will continue in the future." In his
message PM Vanhanen stressed the "great responsibility and
worldwide trust" connected with the U.S. Presidency. An
editorial in the "Helsingin Sanomat," Finland's leading
daily, argued that "it takes two to build bridges, and
Europeans would be wise to do their part. The result of a
democratic election has to be respected. Creating more
conflicts across the Atlantic does not on this side of the
ocean serve anybody's true interests."
4. (C) The Finns, with their strong preference for
multilateral action and their commitment to the
trans-Atlantic relationship, will want to know if any gesture
to Europe will be forthcoming from a second Bush
administration. FM Tuomioja may also express to you the hope
that the second administration will adopt a more
"multilateralist" strategy during its second term (ignoring
the fact that the first administration spent months working
for unity in the UNSC before Operation Iraqi Freedom). The
PM and FM may ask whether Russian ratification of the Kyoto
Protocol will make a difference to the USG, or whether any
new initiatives can be expected in the arms control area.
5. (C) The GoF -- FM Tuomioja in particular -- was critical
of OIF, which began only days after the Finnish general
election in March 2003. Then, in the weeks that followed,
new Center Party PM Anneli Jaatteenmaki was forced out of
office over allegations that she had released classified MFA
documents regarding conversations with the U.S. on Iraq.
Center's Matti Vanhanen took over as PM, and since then has
sought to calm the domestic political waters roiled by
"Iraq-Gate." In March 2004, two Finnish businessmen visiting
Baghdad as part of an exploratory trade delegation were
killed, further decreasing GoF interest in Finns
participating in any mission inside Iraq for the foreseeable
6. (C) Nevertheless, the GoF has sought and found ways to
assist in Iraqi reconstruction. They made an early
commitment of one million euros to help fund the UN
Protection Force (reiterated by President Halonen in her UNGA
speech); the Finns have provided ten instructors for the
police academy in Amman; and they are prominent as one of the
small donors (five million euros) to the IRFFI. In your
conversations with the PM and FM, they will be interested in
your assessment of how reconstruction in Iraq is proceeding,
including the prospects for free and fair elections.
7. (C) Finland has been a solid partner in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is now one of the largest recipients of Finnish
development assistance (10 million euros this year), and
approximately 70 Finnish troops are serving under ISAF
auspices, including CIMIC troops in Kabul and twenty soldiers
with the UK/Finnish/Norwegian PRT in the north. Several
Finnish politicians have visited Afghanistan, including the
Parliamentary Human Rights caucus. We recommend you thank
the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister for Finland's early
contributions to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
8. (C) The stability of political and commercial relations
with Russia -- and therefore the stability of Russia itself
-- will always be of vital importance to the Finns. In
recent conversations, they have said that while day-to-day
interactions with the Russians continue on track, Finns are
concerned about long-term trends. FM Tuomioja told the
Ambassador September 15 that "the signs are less encouraging
than they have been for some time." (Ref A) It is
understandable that "the appalling events in Beslan have
affected Russia seriously," said the FM; "we only hope they
draw the right conclusions." He worries that Putin seems to
be relying more and more on people who are not by inclination
natural democrats. Your Finnish interlocutors will be very
interested to hear your own assessment, and likely will quiz
you about the atmosphere you encountered in your most recent
trip to Moscow.
The White Paper
9. (C) The GoF's long-awaited white paper on national
security policy was completed and sent to Parliament for
their review in September. In it the government reaffirms
Finland,s nonalignment, although "applying for membership in
the Alliance will remain a possibility ... in the future."
The White Paper has since been criticized by some of the
nation's most committed trans-Atlanticists for being too
timid in its treatment of Finland,s need for allies. One
commentator said the White Paper was "born old" in failing to
note modern realities in Russia. MP Liisa Jaakonsaari, the
SDP's chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, criticized
Finland,s foreign policy as lacking direction.
10. (C) The White Paper probably represents the limits of the
possible insofar as NATO membership is concerned, given that
public opinion remains strongly against membership. (One
recent poll showed 80% opposed.) Foreign Minister Tuomioja
told us last year that he did not expect the NATO question to
arise during this Parliamentary term (2003-2007). But that
does not change the reality of Finland's position. The Finns
see NATO as the foundation for trans-Atlantic security. They
have made NATO interoperability one of the guiding principles
of their armed forces, they are strong supporters of PfP, and
they welcomed the Baltic nations' entry into the Alliance.
(MFA PolDir Lyra worried, though, that NATO planners were
pressing the three new members too hard to shift capabilities
away from territorial defense to crisis management.) The
White Paper does state that "Finland considers a strong
trans-Atlantic relationship to be important for the security
of Europe;" Finland will foster that relationship on a
bilateral basis with the U.S., as well as through the EU and
the PfP.
11. (C) The White Paper restated that territorial defense is
the fundamental mission of Finland,s armed forces, but
commits the nation for the first time to providing combat
troops to EU rapid reaction forces. It mentions repeatedly
the need to combat terrorism, but does not provide much
information on how the GoF is organized to do that. And in
one of its most controversial decisions, it commits Finland
to signing the Ottawa Convention by 2012, and destroying its
anti-personnel landmines by 2016.
The Finnish EU Presidency (July-December 2006)
--------------------------------------------- -
12. (C) The Finns may be the last EU president under the old
system, since the Constitution Treaty is scheduled to take
effect during their tenure. The Finns are acutely aware of
this, and have already started preparations to make the most
of the opportunity. (We are told, for example, that one of
the reasons for FM Tuomioja's surprise choice of Pilvi-Sisko
Vierros-Villeneuve to succeed Markus Lyra as Political
Director was her past experience in Brussels during
Finland,s last presidency.) The Finns have said that
strengthening trans-Atlantic relations will be one of the
themes of their presidency.
China Arms Embargo
13. (C) We have heard that there is a split within MFA
between those (including Vierros-Villeneuve, currently
Nonproliferation chief) who genuinely believe that the Code
of Conduct can and should be made to function efficiently to
stop the kinds of high-tech exports that the Chinese most
want, and those in the human rights section, who agree with
the U.S. that lifting the embargo would send the wrong
signal. The Embassy recommends that you stress to the FM
that lifting the EU arms embargo sends the wrong message at
the wrong time to China, and may give the Chinese Government
the impression that it can act with impunity with regard to
serious violations of human rights.
14. (C) In conversations with the Ambassador reported in Refs
C and D, MFA Under Secretary Laajava and Presidential Chief
of Staff Kalela both agreed in principle with the reasoning
behind the U.S. position. The Ambassador asked whether a
call from Secretary Powell to President Halonen would be
useful, caveating the question by saying we would not want to
embarrass either President Halonen or the Secretary by
putting them in an awkward position. Both Laajava and Kalela
said that such a call might be useful, although neither could
guarantee it would change Finland's position.
War on Terror
15. (C) Finland is an ally in the fight against global
terrorism, but Finns believe the possibility of an attack on
Finnish soil remote. FM Tuomioja in particular is concerned
that civil liberties not be lost in the rush to investigate
and prevent terrorist attacks. For example, he has been
critical of U.S. policy regarding the Guantanamo detainees
and the Abu Ghraib scandal and may raise these with you.
16. (U) Tuomioja may complain to you about Finland's Tier 2
ranking. We recommend that you thank the Finns for hosting
the September OSCE/ODIHR conference on the rights of
trafficking victims, and note the passage of new legislation
making trafficking a separate legal offense -- but stress
that a better record in prosecution and victim assistance is
The "Helsinki Process"
17. (SBU) Tuomioja is the co-chair (with the Tanzanian FM) of
the Helsinki Group, the steering committee for the Helsinki
Process that was launched in 2002 to promote a more just and
equitable globalization process. Tuomioja and President
Halonen are interested in the negative effects of
globalization and deeply committed to fostering a North-South
dialogue aimed at ameliorating these effects. To that end,
the Helsinki Process sponsors regular conferences and
seminars about global problem solving, the global economic
agenda, and human security in all of its forms. President
Halonen's speech before the UNGA in September centered on
globalization, its inherent inequities, and the urgent need
for the developed and developing world to work together to
redress these. (On the same day Halonen suggested to the
press in New York that an international tribunal be formed to
determine the legality of OIF.) For his part, the Foreign
Minister's bilateral meetings in New York during the UNGA's
opening week were all related to the Helsinki Process. It is
possible the Foreign Minister will raise this during your
meeting. You may wish to ask him about the Helsinki Group's
upcoming report on globalization, due to be released in the
spring of 2005.
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