April 2011, FINLAND- Helsinki

Committee of 100 in Finland / Peace Union of Finland / Finnish Reserve Officers’ Federatio

“To mark the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, we organized a discussion panel on the Finnish military budget with representatives of most major political parties present. In this way, the theme of the day was linked to the upcoming parliamentary elections. The event, open for all, took place at a central location in Helsinki and attracted some tens of people. The main themes discussed were: 1) Universal conscription in Finland 2) The national defense budget and 3) The issue of national defense vs. international missions. The party representatives were asked to present their views on a number of questions relating to these themes. As to whether Finland should abandon universal conscription for either selective military service or a professional army, most parties still stood behind universal conscription, with only one party representative in favor of a selective system. Regarding future cuts in the defense budget, most representatives acknowledged the need for reductions in national spending. Other issues, such as the contents of military training, women’s role in the army, new military threats and Finland’s role in international military/humanitarian operations were also brought to the fore. In addition, the audience was given the opportunity to present questions in writing to the representatives. During the coming years, changes in the Finnish military system are likely to occur due to a number of issues, e.g. budjet restrictions, population decline and a growing degree of impopularity of the armed service. It is clear that the new parliament will play an important part in these changes and their contents. The Committee of 100 continues to follow up on decisions and developments concerning the military sector in Finland, in line with it’s work for peace and demilitarization.