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Finland’s participation in Mediterranean crisis management operation, Ukraine as well as Syria, Iraq and ISIL discussed by the President of the Republic and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy

Government Communications Department
Publication date 23.10.2015 12.52
Press release 563/2015

On Friday 23 October, the President of the Republic and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy decided that Finland would increase its participation in an EU-led military crisis management operation in the Mediterranean to counter trafficking in human beings (EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA). Currently there are eight Finnish staff officers deployed in the operation. Finland's contribution will be increased by deploying a Boarding Team consisting of at most 20 soldiers.

In addition, the situation in Ukraine was discussed at the meeting. Continued intensive dialogue and refraining from unilateral action are essential for solving the conflict. It is positive that the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine has held since the beginning of September. Weapons must be withdrawn from the line of contact as agreed, and OSCE observers must be granted full access to monitor the situation. Finland deems it important that the local elections in Ukraine are conducted in conformity with Ukrainian law and the OSCE principles. Finland considers the report of the Dutch Safety Board into the downing of Flight MH17 to be impartial and comprehensive. Those responsible must be made accountable in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution on the issue.

The situation in Syria, Iraq and Turkey was also discussed at the meeting. The escalation of fighting in Syria in the course of the autumn raises cause for concern with regards to a solution to the crisis as well as the humanitarian situation. The escalation of hostilities has also contributed to the growth of migration flows. The international community must promote efforts to find a peaceful solution in Syria. Finland stresses that the conflict in Syria can only be resolved by means of political negotiations. Russia’s military activities must be in line with the framework set by the UN. To counter the threat posed by the terrorist organisation ISIL, perseverance and a wide range of measures are needed, from crisis management to mitigation of the consequences of the conflict by means of development cooperation. Finland is participating in the international cooperation to counter ISIL, such as the training of security forces in northern Iraq. Having received over 2 million Syrian refugees, Turkey has assumed great responsibility for the management of the refugee situation. The EU and Turkey have deepened their cooperation in managing the migration flows heading to Europe through Turkey.

Closer defence cooperation between Finland and Sweden was also discussed at the meeting. Discussions on bilateral cooperation will continue between the ministries of defence of Finland and Sweden.

Inquiries: Jukka Salovaara, Director General, tel. +358 295 350 636, Terhi Hakala, Director General, tel. +358 295 351 300 (Ukraine), Jarno Syrjälä, Director General, tel. +358 295 351 300 (Syria, Iraq, ISIL), Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Esa Pulkkinen, Director General, tel. +358 295 140 300, Ministry of Defence.

English translation of the press release published on 26 October 2015