Finlandâ€™s government said cuts to its defense forces wonâ€™t hamper the countryâ€™s ability to defend itself as the likelihood of an extensive military conflict has lessened.
â€œInternational networking and closer cooperation are a priority,â€ Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen said at a briefing in Helsinki today after the government published its security and defense policy report. â€œFinlandâ€™s borders and sovereignty will be defended and a strong domestic defensive ability will be upheld.â€
Finland, together with neighboring Sweden, isnâ€™t a part of any military alliance. It shares a 1,340 kilometer (833 miles) border with Russia after fighting wars against the Soviet Union in 1939-1940 and 1940-1944. Norway and Denmark, as well as the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Finland is shuttering garrisons as its aging population and technological improvements mean fewer recruits need training each year. The cuts will also help reduce its budget deficit.
Finland retains the option of seeking NATO membership, even as the government isnâ€™t preparing an application, the report said. The government has engaged in training and exercises within NATOâ€™s Partnership for Peace program since 1994. Its defense forcesâ€™ equipment is increasingly compatible with the blocâ€™s, as it has participated in NATO-led peace-keeping missions.
Finland has taken part in United Nationsâ€™ peace keeping missions since 1956 and currently has 177 troops in Lebanon and 141 in Afghanistan, according to the defense forcesâ€™ website.
Its conscription-based defense forces will have war-time reserves of 230,000 troops by 2015 to defend a population of 5.4 million and Europeâ€™s fifth-biggest land mass, about the size of Germanyâ€™s, according to the CIA Factbook. The report, published approximately every three to four years, sets out the guidelines for Finnish security policy.
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