Finland was late to acknowledge its needs, without preparing for the evacuation of Afghans, researchers tell YLE

Minister of Defense Antti Kaikkonen (In the middle) on Saturday repeated On YLE TV1 that the operation had been successful in the light of challenging circumstances.

“It was probably about what we could do in the circumstances. We had to draw a line somewhere, and it was estimated that just over 400 could be evacuated over time. And that’s what we did,” he said.

YLE asked however, earlier in the day, whether the country fulfilled its obligations to the locals bound to Finland. Did not visit, replied Charly Salonius-Pasternak, researcher at the Finnish Institute of Foreign Affairs and Ilmari Käihkö, Professor of Military Research at the Swedish Defense University.

Restrictions imposed by the government to determine those in need of evacuation were arbitrary, according to the researchers: for example, former employees whose employment had ended in 2016 or later were included in the list of evacuees, while those whose employment had ended earlier were not.

“The time limit is perfectly agreed,” Salonius-Pasternak replied.

Unlike Finland, Sweden had recognized the difficult position of interpreters assisting its troops years ago, Käihkö emphasized. Many other countries also decided to evacuate everyone who worked in their Afghan embassies or defense forces, including local interpreters and security personnel.

Some countries even offered protection to journalists, human rights activists and NGO workers. However, Finland has not yet added such persons to its lists.

Foreign ministry officials told YLE that discussions on the situation of local workers in Afghanistan began in March and April, although it had been clear for some time that other countries would follow if the United States withdrew. When Finnish soldiers left Afghanistan in June, France, Norway and certain other countries had already begun to offer asylum to locals working in Afghanistan.

According to YLE, Finland could not make the same decision for several reasons.

It has no laws or residence permit mechanisms appropriate to the situation. At the beginning of last summer, it was decided that, in the absence of a better legal instrument, the situation would be approached through section 93 of the Aliens Act, which allows the government to resettle aliens for humanitarian reasons solely on the basis of political considerations.

The section is also inflexible and its implementation will require a joint effort by the three ministries.

Another reason for the delayed evacuation decisions was that the government was cautious in sending a message of no confidence in the Afghan government.

The third reason, according to YLE, was excessive optimism about the situation in Afghanistan. Several officials confirmed to the broadcaster that they felt little real pressure to make politically and administratively unprecedented decisions until the Taliban had made rapid progress.

“Perhaps it was necessary to see concretely the possibility that a worst case scenario or something even worse would happen,” he analyzed Matti Keppo, Foreign Ministry Group Leader, Afghanistan.

“How you see successes depends on starting the timer,” Salonius-Pasternak summed up. “If you do it two weeks before [the evacuations], yes it then went well. But if you do it two months or two years ago, then no. “

At Ykkösaam, YLE asked Kaikkanen if Finland had taken action too late.

“I think you can use hindsight to think about whether we should have taken a different approach. Finland, on the other hand, certainly thought with others that Kabul and the Afghan administration will last longer,” he said.

He stressed that evacuation decisions and actions were the responsibility of the State Department. The Defense Administration was responsible for the flights, evacuation capacity and military dimension of the operation.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Source: The Nordic Page





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