Finnish cabinet said to be split over participation at Ämari exercise (4)
After last week's Finnish-Estonian dilplomatic tempest in a teacup, the weekend brought some more turbulence, with a leading Finnish daily saying that Helsinki was split over allowing the officially neutral country to participate in an upcoming exercise at Ämari Air Base in Estonia. But the Finnish prime minister denied any rift.
The PM, Alexander Stubb, told the Finnish public broadcaster YLE on Sunday that there was an "attempt to overdramatize" the topic, and the other politicians named by the Helsingin Sanomat paper declined comment.
Today, Finnish Defense Minister Carl Haglund told YLE that Finland would decide on whether to participate once it received an invitation from the US, the co-organizer along with Estonia, and that it has not yet received such an invite.
The FInnish paper had asserted that Stubb and his Defense Minister Carl Haglund were bullish on participating at the Ämari exercise in spring, where US forces will also be participating, and that Finnish Prtesident Sauli Niinistö and Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja were opposed.
It was the second time in nearly as many days that Tuomioja's name had come up controversially with respect to Estonia. He set off a controversy last week when he told a Swedish-language paper that the Baltics had been too "nationalistic" on policy toward their Russian minorities. That caused the Estonian foreign minister, Keit Pentus-Roosimannus, to summon the Finnish ambassador. Pentus-Roosimannus's move was in turn criticized by the opposition for being an overreaction. Tuomioja, considered a dove, has also ventured such opinions in the past.