Finland’s Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö (Finns Party) announced that Finland will be give humanitarian aid to the 60-country strong anti-Isis coalition.
Niinistö will announce the size of Finland’s contribution at the anti-Isis coalition meeting, which takes place in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday.
The US, which leads the coalition, has asked Finland for financial aid to be used for humanitarian work and rebuilding.
“Finland will respond positively to this request for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction aid,” said Niinistö on Tuesday morning. “The UN simply does not have the funds for this work and the areas liberated from Isis require stabilisation, so this financial support is necessary,” he said.
In April, Finland decided in April to increase the number of soldiers who provide military training to troops in Northern Iraq. Finland currently has approximately 50 soldiers in Northern Iraq who are training Kurdish Peshmerga troops and in September the number of soldiers will rise to 100.
The US has also asked Finland for armed assistance. Officials are currently looking into the matter, which is not expected to be decided on at this week’s Washington meeting. The decision regarding armed assistance is a difficult one, says Niinistö.
“This is rare and it is something that we will have to very seriously debate,” he said, pointing out that Finland’s traditional stance is that it does not supply weapons to warring countries.
Now Finland is considering whether to depart from that official stance.
“The question is about a fight against terrorism,” said Niinistö. “In that sense the situation is slightly different than a traditional warring country situation.”
Finland’s best weapon is training
On his Washington trip, Niinistö will gather information about where the anti-Isis coalition is headed and what the situation is regarding the areas no longer under Isis control.
“We know that recently liberated areas require stabilisation and peaceful support. We don’t want a situation to arise where a barbarian group like Isis takes control,” said Niinistö.
According to Niinistö, Finland’s best weapon against Isis is training.
“The information available indicates that this type of assistance has been effective and should be continued,” he said, emphasizing that Finland does not participate in military action, but trains Kurdish fighters to fight against Isis.