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Press Releases, 2/29/2016

President and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy discuss the situation in Syria and Iraq, and Finland's increased participation in security sector training in northern Iraq

Government Communications Department
Press release 78/2016
26 February 2016

On Friday 26 February, the President of the Republic and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy discussed the Syrian conflict and current developments in Iraq.  Finland stresses that the conflict in Syria can only be solved by political means. It is important to continue the UN-mediated negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition. Finland hopes that the parties to the conflict will commit to the nationwide cessation of hostilities and to ensuring humanitarian access.

The President of the Republic and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy outlined that Finland will extend and strengthen its contribution in the security sector training operation in Erbil in northern Iraq by a year after the expiry of the current mandate on 31 August 2016. Finland is currently participating with 50 soldiers in the training activity of the Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), within the framework of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. In the meeting, it was outlined that Finland's overall contribution will be increased from 1 September 2016 for a year to approximately 100 soldiers. This will consist of the continuation of the existing training contribution as well as an additional participation in Advise and Assist (A&A) activities by another 50 soldiers.  The decision comes in response to the request for assistance by France after the Paris terrorist attacks and the US request for additional contributions to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. In accordance with the Act on Military Crisis Management, the matter will be submitted to Parliament. This will also provide an opportunity for a discussion related to the mutual assistance clause.  

In December 2015, the President of the Republic and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy outlined that in response to France's request, Finland will offer to continue and expand its contribution in the training operation in Erbil as well as to expand its contribution in the UNIFIL operation in Lebanon.  With today’s decision, the commitment regarding the training operation is being taken forward. The question of possible wider participation in UNIFIL is still under preparation.

The participants of the meeting also had an initial discussion on the modalities for foreign and security policy decision-making with regard to the participation of Finnish Defence Forces in international training cooperation.

Inquiries: Jukka Salovaara, Director General, tel. +358 295 350 636, Jarno Syrjälä, Director General, tel. + 358 295 351 300 (situation in Syria), Ministry for Foreign Affairs; Hannu Teittinen, Lieutenant Commander, Staff Officer, tel. +358 295 140 317, Ministry of Defence.

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Updated 2/29/2016

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