France has asked EU countries for military help in the fight against terrorism, but according to the chair of a parliamentary defence committee Finland won’t be able to assist militarily.
Finland won’t be able to assist France militarily in the fight against ISIS, according to the chair of parliament’s defence committee, Ilkka Kanerva. According to Kanerva, such military moves are prohibited in Finnish law.
“Finnish law allows crisis management operations, but military assistance is currently prohibited in law,” Kanerva told Yle’s Ykkösaamu radio show on Tuesday.
“The law’s assistance clause prevents direct military assistance with Finnish soldiers in this kind of situation,” said Kanerva. “Finland can offer softer support: Official assistance, police co-operation, investigation help.”
France announced yesterday that it was invoking clause 42.7 of the European Union treaty, which mandates member states have an “obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power” to help states which come under armed attack on their territory.
France chose not to use a different treaty article which specifically mentions terror attacks, article 222, in favour of the one intended for states who come under armed attack by a foreign power. This is the first time the mutual assistance clause has been invoked by a member state.
The attacks last Friday which killed more than a hundred people have been claimed by the Islamic State grouping, which is based in Syria and Iraq. France has already launched bombing raids on the so-called capital of the group’s territory, Raqqa in Syria.
Kanerva was surprised at France’s decision to ignore the solidarity clause, which is specifically for terror threats.
“Now that’s been bypassed and they’ve gone to the mutual assistance clause, which immediately commits member states direct bilateral assistance,” said Kanerva. “This is the first time this has been done.”
“It would have been logical to seek support for France’s actions from Nato as well,” said Kanerva. “That would have been the first model for example when there were attacks on the twin towers in New York in 2001. But now France has taken another route. And that’s why the issue has to be dealt with immediately by the EU.”
France is set to present its request for assistance at a meeting of EU interior ministers today. Finland will be represented by the Finns Party’s Jussi Niinistö. He’ll be presenting the government’s line on the issue, according to kanerva.
“The government has to have a unified line,” said Kanerva. “You can’t go to the EU as an individual presenting your views under the Finnish flag, you have to have the government’s Foreign Affairs committee’s view on things like this. And if I was the Defence minister, I would have spoken to the President as well.”