American Institute in Ukraine (AIU) Applauds Finnish President Tarja Halonen’s Comments on Her Country’s Example of Military Neutrality and its Relevance to Ukraine

May 19, 2009
-Finnish President Halonen Correctly Placed Strong Emphasis on the Fact that Membership in a Security Alliance Must Reflect the Choice of its Citizens –

KIEV, UKRAINE -- American Institute in Ukraine (AIU) Deputy Director James George Jatras issued the following statement:

“The American Institute in Ukraine welcomes the comments of President Tarja Halonen of Finland regarding her country’s example of military neutrality and its relevance to Ukraine. As President Halonen noted prior to her meeting with Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko, that model is one of demonstrated effectiveness, not only for Finland but for fellow European Union members Sweden, Ireland, and Austria. As she pointed out, the EU and its member states have a great opportunity in helping to develop a European security umbrella that suits the needs of both NATO and non-NATO countries. This also presents a great opportunity for Ukraine as a non-NATO country. President Halonen’s views coincide exactly with those of Thomas Graham, former adviser to ex-President George W. Bush, who recently called for Ukraine to adopt a policy of “Finlandized” neutrality, as recently reported by AIU.

“President Halonen correctly placed strong emphasis on the fact that membership in a security alliance must reflect the choice of its citizens. It is clear to all that Ukrainians favor joining the EU but the large majority of Ukraine’s citizens oppose NATO membership. It is a simple function of democracy that no foreign alliance should be present in any country without the consent of its citizens. This should include not only formal membership but military exercises, extension of basing rights, military “reform” plans, “education” programs, or other veiled efforts to link Ukraine into NATO without any decision of the public to do so. It would be beneficial for Ukraine, as well as for the U.S. and other NATO countries, if President Yushchenko follows President Halonen’s wise counsel regarding Ukraine’s security options.
“In addition, while not publicly reported to have been part of the discussion, AIU suggests Finland’s enlightened language policy also is worthy of attention. While native speakers of the Swedish language constitute only about five percent of the country’s population, Finland’s constitution places both Finnish and Swedish on an equal footing as official languages. This contrasts with Ukraine’s denial of official status to the native language of its Russian-speaking citizens, who make up a far larger percentage of Ukraine’s population than do Swedish-speakers in Finland.”

About the American Institute in Ukraine

The American Institute in Ukraine is a privately funded U.S. nonprofit organization. AIU's purpose is to address questions relating to American policy toward Ukraine, particularly with respect to security issues such as Ukraine's possible accession as a member state of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance.
AIU strives to bring to the people of Ukraine a sense of the diversity of opinion that exists among Americans regarding NATO and other relevant issues. Such diversity is not apparent from the presence of other American organizations active in Ukraine, many of which are funded by the U.S. government and actively promote Ukraine's entry into NATO at the earliest possible date, despite the fact the the majority of Ukraine's population is opposed to NATO accession. AIU is not committed either to agree or to disgree with any official U.S. policy as such but seeks to provide a perspective guided by the American national interest as it relates to Ukraine and to other countries, such as our NATO allies and Russia.