STETE organised an event on Crisis Management and Terrorism on Wednesday, 9th of February at the Parliament´s Kansalaisinfo (Annex Building, Arkadiankatu 3) at 10-12.
Topics discussed included Finland's participation in crisis management, its future prospects and potential consequences, such as the possibility of a terrorist attack in Finland (e.g. comparable to the December attack in Sweden).
Speakers included: Head of Unit Mari Eteläpää from the Ministry of Defence, Researcher Teemu Sinkkonen from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and Chief Inspector Tomi Portaankorva from the Finnish Security Intelligence Service.
The following political party representatives voiced their partie's views on the topic: Erkki Tuomioja (Social Democratic Party), Annika Lapintie (Left Alliance), Juha Korkeaoja (Centre Party), Johanna Sumuvuori (Green League), Sari Palm (Christian Democrats), Olli Nepponen (National Coalition Party), Jussi Niinistö (True Finns).
You can find the summary of the event here.
The event was part of STETE´s Parliamentary Election series. The second part was held on 02.03.2011.
Election Series: Crisis Management and Terrorism
The Finnish Parliamentary Elections were held in April 2011. In view of the elections, STETE organized a two-part election seminar series, in which the major Finnish political party representatives voiced their parties’ views on the topics discussed. The first part on 9 February was about crisis management and terrorism, in particular Finland's participation in crisis management, its future prospects and potential consequences. Could terrorist activity, and an attack comparable to the 2010 December attack in Sweden, take place in Finland?
The seminar began with expert introductions. First, the Head of Unit, Mari Eteläpää, from the Ministry of Defence gave an overview about the future trends of Finland’s crisis management from the military perspective. She emphasized the comprehensive nature of Finland’s crisis management strategy, in which different actors complement each other. According to Eteläpää, the NATO-led ISAF-operation will continue until 2014, but the emphasis is on the training and supporting of the Afghani security forces. As a possible new operation for Finland, Mari Eteläpää mentioned the UN operation in Lebanon. Finland could participate to the mission together with Ireland. However, at the time the countries had not yet officially agreed upon the mission. According to Eteläpää, after the parliamentary elections in the Spring, the new government should review the efficiency of the current crisis management strategy of Finland.
Researcher Teemu Sinkkonen from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs explained the process of how an individual becomes involved in a terrorist activity, as well as the way how to abandon the radical activities. Sinkkonen pointed out that in reality, the leap from supporting an extreme ideology to an actual terrorist activity is enormous. He emphasized that an individual becoming involved in terrorism is a complicated process. The mere involvement of a state in crisis management activities cannot be the sole trigger factor to incite a terrorist act. Sinkkonen considered the December 2010 attack in Stockholm a “borderline case” as to whether or not it should be called a terrorist attack. In his presentation, he described the path to becoming a terrorist and divided the steps to four phases. According to this, the first step is the individual’s risen awareness and sensitivity to politics. A catalytic event, such as the infamous “Collateral Murder” video from Iraq, disclosed by Wikileaks, may work as a trigger for further radicalization. This radicalization accumulates and leads eventually to the third phase; identification with a specific ideology. The fourth phase usually includes the gradual involvement with likeminded people and then, there is seldom turning back. Sinkkonen also raised an argument according to which two-party systems seem to more attractive grounds for the birth of terrorism than countries with multi-party systems, the latter ones having wider and stronger democratic elements.
Chief Inspector Tuomas Portaankorva from the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) reviewed the current situation with respect to a potential terrorist threat in the Nordic and European countries. He remarked how radical Islamic terrorism is often thought as the greatest threat, albeit most of the victims ensue from secular ethnic or separatist attacks. Although the threat of terrorism varies country by country, Portaankorva acknowledged that the regional focus seems to have shifted from the Mediterranean towards the north. Germany, France and the United Kingdom have already been identified as potential terrorist targets, and recently also Denmark and Sweden. Several terrorist crimes and plans were disclosed in the Nordic countries during 2010, according to Portaankorva. Decisions, such as the Danish “offensive” cartoons’ publication, the French headscarf ban, or the Swiss moratorium on minarets can all be regarded by some as insults, and thereby act as a stimulus for terrorism. In February 2011, there have so far not been similar incidents in Finland and partly for this reason: Finland differs from Sweden and Denmark. At the time there is no major threat of a terrorist attack said Portaankorva. On the other hand, acts of an individual are hard if not impossible to foresee, as in these cases there are often psychological issues involved as well.
After the introductory presentations, each political party representative gave brief comments on the theme. The UN operation in Lebanon referred to by Mari Eteläpää gained support across the party lines. Erkki Tuomioja of the Social Democratic Party reminded about the changed nature of crisis management and threats. For instance, traditional military means are not adequate in tackling terrorism and new threats, such as human trafficking and cross-border criminal activity. For her part, Johanna Sumuvuori from the Greens emphasized the role of civilian crisis management rather than military crisis management. According to Sumuvuori, the resources directed to civilian crisis management should be on the same level with military crisis management. She also proposed responding to new cyber-threats should be adopted as part of Finnish military service.
Olli Nepponen of the National Coalition Party stressed Finland's role in peace mediation and suggested that development cooperation resources could be allocated also towards these activities. According to Nepponen, terrorism can best be prevented by successful integration of migrants, as well as preventing entry from anyone with possible terrorist connections. Just like Tuomioja and Sumuvuori, Annika Lapintie from the Left Alliance Party made a case for investing in civilian crisis management. She also stressed the importance of development cooperation and, instead of supporting mostly police operations, Lapintie would rather contribute more to the educational and social sectors.
Juha Korkeaoja from the Center Party contemplated the change from peacekeeping to military crisis management and whether we have achieved the objectives and best results in this way. He also considered that non-military measures should be included alongside. Representatives of other parties, like Jussi Niinistö from the Finns Party supported Finland’s participation to the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon and an orderly retreat from Afghanistan. He also pointed out that Finland is no longer a safe haven and saw immigration as part of Finnish security policy. Sari Palm from the Christian Democrats cited Dag Hammarskjöld in, that although crisis management is not a job for soldiers, they may sometimes be the only ones who can do it. According to Palm, military crisis management is needed to ensure the safety of other actors. She stressed, however, also the importance of civilian crisis management and development cooperation.