Social Democratic Party chairman Antti Rinne and Centre Party chairman Juha Sipilä commented in MTV3’s live Prime Minister Debate (15 April) on a joint text published by Minister of Defence and Swedish Peoples’ Party chairman Carl Haglund together with his Nordic counterparts.
It its video archives MTV3 entitle a section of the debate: “Sipilä and Rinne reprimand Haglund about the Russia text.”
During the debate Rinne and Sipilä refer to the contents of the text. Rinne states, among other things: “I would not have said that Russia is a military threat”. As the journalist asks Sipilä for his view, he refers slightly more moderately to “mentioning of a common threat”.
The claim is wrong.
The text does not contain such statements. According to both the unofficial translation by Helsingin Sanomat of 12 April and the official Ministry of Defence translation of 16 April, these expressions, considered stronger foreign policy rhetoric, have not been used. An excerpt of the translation into English:
“The Nordic countries meet the present situation through solidarity and enhanced cooperation. Our cooperation is built on shared values and a determination to address our challenges together. With differing organizational affiliations we cooperate closely within the framework of the EU and NATO. Our approach is defensive. We want to strengthen the stability in Northern Europe and distance ourselves from threats and the use of military force. Closer cooperation among the Nordic countries and our solidarity with the Baltic States contribute to enhanced security in our region, as well as raising the threshold for military incidents to take place. By acting together in a predictable and consistent way, we contribute to peace and security in our part of the world. At the same time we strengthen cohesion within the EU and NATO while also maintaining the transatlantic link.” The summary part of the article states the following: “We assume our part of the responsibility for our region during unpredictable times. The Nordic cooperation complements already existing cooperation within the EU and NATO aimed at increased security in our region. Our shared ambition is to increase predictability, contribute to a peaceful development and avoid military incidents and conflicts.”
The experts who watched the live broadcast of the Prime Minister Debate together with Faktabaari made specific note of the innacurate quotations as erroneous quoting of the contents of the letter ahead of the elections has provoked discussions about the need to consult all foreign and security policy decision makers about the contents of the letter.
In addition to their erroneous quotes, Rinne and Sipilä did not mention other causes for reprimand in the letter.
Faktabaari aims at promoting a more fact-based pulic debate.
A recording in Finnish of the debate is available here and contains the following (translated into English here) which has been checked for its factual content.
Journalist Merja Ylä-Anttila: But what would you have left out of it (the article written by Nordic ministers of Defence)? Rinne: I would not have said that Russia is a military threat. Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (National Coalition Party) quietly from the side: Surely that was not said… Ylä-Anttila: And then Sipilä! Sipilä: It is surely clear to all that Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula are condemned, and we are part of a united western front. This surely is not unclear to anyone. And how this text, the part about Nordic cooperation, there’s surely nothing new, but what was new was this mentioning of a common threat.… Ylä-Anttila interrupts and sums up: The mention of a threat… Good, and now we will take a short breather and continue.
Link to the complete recording of “Sipilä and Rinne reprimand Haglund about the Russia text” (MTV Katsomo is can apparently not be viewed with all browsers without special settings.)