Finnish Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" that according to Finland's understanding, EU member states should aid a fellow state if attacked, not ruling out military aid. Asked if Finland would allow NATO forces coming to aid Estonia onto Finnish soil, however, he answered rather in the negative.
The Finnish minister is currently visiting Estonia in relation to the large-scale annual Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) exercise Spring Storm, in which 66 members of the Finnish Defence Forces — including reservists, who are not typically sent to exercises abroad — are taking part this year. He said that it must be clarified what in fact the EU's internal agreement to aid other member states in case of attack in fact entails, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."
"What the EU's Treaty of Lisbon means needs to be discussed," said Niinistö. "There are different understandings of it among EU member states. Finland's understanding is that an EU member state must be aided if it fall into trouble and Finland expects that other EU countries would help Finland too. What kind of help, exactly, still needs to be determined. But military aid shouldn't be ruled out in this regard."
Asked whether Finland would allow NATO forces coming to Estonia's aid on Finnish territory, Niinistö replied, "Finland is preparing to defend its territory and will not allow in any strangers. Estonia's defense solution is NATO; NATO is Estonia's security provider. Finland does not have such security guarantees. In security policy it is not worth responding to questions that begin with 'if' at all. According to the situation, Finland will defend its territory and fulfill its obligations as a member of the EU."
Finland is not currently planning on joining NATO, however it wants to keep the door open to the opoprtunity. Finland has, however, decided to increase its defense spending, strengthening its navy and air force and expanding its wartime personnel. Niinistö admitted that the security environment in the Baltic Sea region has changed.
"We must always be prepared for the worst and developments in recent years have shown that the threat of war is no longer an impossible idea even here in our region," said the Finnish minister.
Finland has plans to purchase four new corvette warships for its navy and replace 62 Hornet-type fighter aircraft in its air force with new ones.
Editor: Aili Vahtla