Speaker of Parliament Vanhanen returns to Åland’s comments

Speaker of Parliament Vanhanen returns to Åland's comments

Speaker of Parliament Matti Vanhanen (Cen) said on Monday that he has not heard a serious debate about the desire to deploy troops in the autonomous and demilitarized island region of Åland, which is a Swedish-speaking maritime province in Finland.

The newspaper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat (ESS) said on Sunday that Vanhanen said he hoped Åland would take the initiative to deploy Finnish troops in the province. He commented on the matter at a public event organized by the Center Party in Lahti on the same day.

The ESS said Vanhanen’s suggestion that a proposal to change Åland’s special status could come in June, when it is to celebrate the century of self-government.

However, he told Yle on Monday that he did not expect such an initiative and added that the Åland government would decide whether it wanted to discuss the matter.

Vanhanen reiterated to Yle that, in practice, owning a military base in the province would make it easier to defend it, but the Ålanders must decide whether they want to change their position.

The province was demilitarized after the Crimean War in 1856. In the same year, the Treaty of Paris was signed, according to which the island must not have military force, but the border guard has stations there.

When asked whether the security situation in Åland should be strengthened at this sensitive time in international affairs, Vanhanen said he trusted the Finnish Defense Forces.

"[Our] the agreements enable Finland to take care of Åland’s defense if necessary. It is up to the Defense Forces to properly assess the necessary capabilities," The old man told Yle.

Vanhanen also stated that Åland’s special status does not prevent Finland from joining NATO.

Prime Minister of Åland Veronica Thörnroos He said on Monday that there would be no discussion in Åland about changing the status of the islands, but he emphasized in Yle ‘s interview that Finland has a duty to defend the province.

Thörnroos visited Helsinki on Monday and met Vanhanen as part of the trip. He said that Vanhanen made it clear that he had no intention of proposing a change to the demilitarized status of Åland.

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Source: The Nordic Page

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