On January 23, 2014 Pentagon Assistant Press Secretary Carl Woong, released the following readout of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s Meeting with Finland’s Minister of Defense Carl Haglund
“Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with Finnish Minister of Defense Carl Haglund today at the Pentagon to discuss a range of issues, including Afghanistan, Syria, Nordic cooperation, and the Arctic.
Secretary Hagel conveyed gratitude for the strong U.S.-Finnish bilateral relationship and noted that Finland is also a valued North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partner and an important leader in addressing regional and global challenges.
Secretary Hagel praised Finland’s contributions to NATO operations in Afghanistan and its willingness to join the international efforts to destroy the chemical weapons removed from Syria.
Secretary Hagel also applauded Finland’s leadership role in enhancing Nordic regional cooperation, including through increased emphasis on joint training and exercises.
Secretary Hagel is thankful for the Finnish commitment to global security, and he looks forward to working together in advancing our mutual security interests to meet future challenges. He also looks forward to seeing Minister Haglund at the NATO Ministerial in February” (source: DOD http://www.defense.gov/Releases/Release.aspx?ReleaseID=16501).
Of important note is Secretary Hagel affirmation of U.S. Finnish bilateral relationship and Finland’s NATO commitment in Afghanistan where at least two Finnish soldiers were killed in that country and at least 10 soldiers have been wounded supporting America’s longest, most expensive war in the history of modern warfare.
“A Finnish soldier in the NATO-led ISAF peacekeeping forces was injured by gunfire in Afghanistan late Sunday… in Aybak district in North Afghanistan”
Finnish peacekeeper injured in firefight in Afghanistan // «Helsingin Sanomat» 2 October 2006.
Four Finnish peacekeepers were wounded on Saturday after their RG-32 armoured patrol vehicle hit a roadside bomb in northern Afghanistan
Four Finnish peacekeepers wounded in Afghanistan // «Xinhua» 3 October 2009. “A Finnish soldier serving as a peacekeeper in Afghanistan was wounded from an accidental shot in the leg on Tuesday.”
Finnish peacekeeper accidentally wounded on base in Afghanistan // «Helsingin Sanomat», 25 August 2010
“Two Finnish and one Swedish peacekeeper were wounded in a rocket launcher attack in Afghanistan on Friday… The peacekeepers’ vehicle came under attack in the village of Temorak, about 45 kilometres west of Mazar e Sharif… Finnish Defence Minister Jyri Häkämies expressed regret over the incident. He said for the time being it will not, however, lead to the rethinking of Finland’s role in Afghanistan. Since joining the operation in Afghanistan, one Finnish peacekeeper has been killed and eight more have been wounded.”
19.11.2010 Two Finnish Peacekeepers Injured in Afghanistan
“One Finnish peacekeeper in Afghanistan was wounded slightly in a grenade attack on a patrol on Sunday. The incident took place some 40 kilometres west of Mazar-e-Sharif.”
Sadly Finland also has a spotty record on human rights that in many ways leads a lot to be desired.
Also unfortunate is Finland’s support and involvement in the CIA’s illegal rendition program, its imprisonment of “objectors to military service”, and its systemic societal discrimination against Romani people and members of other ethnic and linguistic minorities in that country.
Also troubling is Finland’s support of Saudi Arabia.
Thus far around €100 million weapon exports of Finnish manufacturer to Saudi Arabia and was that country’s third largest weapons export deal of the 2000s.
Saudi Arabia is, of course a undemocratic country (supported by the United States) with no parliament and the autocratic government run by the Saudi royal family.
Political parties and trade unions in Saudi Arabia are banned. Freedom of assembly and freedom of association does not exist as such in that country.
Saudi Arabia has sent troops against Bahraini pro-democracy demonstrations, leading to what many consider brutal repression and very serious human rights violations. Not to mention Saudi Arabia’s support of Sunni terrorism world wide in places like Afghanistan where Finnish soldiers have bled and died fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Did mention you could be whipped for saying Jesus Christ is Lord.
Also disturbing is the Finish Ministry of Defense also granted licenses to export “sniper rifles and ammunition” in October 2011 in Kazakhstan. There is no press freedom in Kazakhstan and there are indications of human rights violations.
Why the U.S. would affirm relations with a country that doesn’t respect human rights and support repressive dictatorships and monarchies like Saudi Arabia is beyond me – except to say that the U.S. also does the same – which for me as a U.S. citizen is extremely embarrassing to say the least.