Sunday, August 20, 2006

Finland's Reservists Say No

It looks as though there may be some difficulty in sending a Finnish peacekeeping battalion to take part in the proposed U.N. force in South Lebanon. Although Finland's former chief of defence General Gustav Hägglund has publicly stated his view that Finland should join the force, Finland's military reservists are of a different opinion, and are opposed to the move.

The Finnish Reservists' Association (Suomen Reserviläisliitto) has issued a statement that concords with the widely held view that Israel is responsible for the death of a Finnish UN observer when the UNTSO post at Khiam, South Lebanon, was hit during an Israeli airstrike on Hizballah positions in late July. The statement, issued by the association's chairman, Osmo Suominen, considers that the attack on the UNTSO post was intentional.

Finland's Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet writes that
Suominen expressed surprise at the Finnish decision-makers' toothless approach to the issue and wondered why the incident did not lead Finland to give Israel a diplomatic note or why the [Finnish] ambassador was not recalled for discussions with the foreign minister.

According to Suominen, as Finland currently holds the EU's presidency, it should have demanded that those responsible be held to account and that the EU should discuss a trade embargo or other sanctions against Israel.

The Reservists' Association has 33,000 members divided among 359 member groups.
Such hostile attitudes towards Israel are widespread in Finnish public opinion. The reservists' statement is all the more remarkable coming from an organization which has as its main aim "the strengthening of the national defense will".

See also in this blog: Finland and the War in Lebanon
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