Analysis: NATO's plate dispute is still alive: “It would be strange if the president sat at the NATO meeting”

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According to information from Iltalehti, the “Nato plate dispute” between the president and the prime minister is still alive, writes Kreeta Karvala. yhauml-it-would-be-strange-if-the-president-was-sitting-at-a-nato-meeting-c2933a9.jpg” alt=”Analysis: Nato's plate controversy lives onä yhä: ”It would be strange if the president was sitting at the NATO meeting” ” />< /p>According to the President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö, the representation at the NATO summit belongs to the president. Elle [email protected] at 12:03

President of the Republic Sauli Niinistörepresented Finland at the NATO summit in Madrid in June. Instead, for example, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Norway were represented at the same meeting by the prime ministers of the countries.

It is about the fact that the constitutions of different countries define in different ways who leads the country's foreign policy. In Finland, according to Article 93 of the Constitution, foreign policy is led by the President of the Republic in cooperation with the Government.

No constitutional law expert or enlightened citizen would hardly question the fact that the president leads Finland's foreign policy.

However, according to the same constitution, Finland is represented by the prime minister at EU summits and other events related to the union that require the representation of the top state leadership.< /p>

The traditional interpretation in Finland is that the president represents Finland in international organizations other than the EU. However, the Constitution does not contain an actual provision regarding this interpretation.

The complexity of the situation was described by University of Helsinki constitutional law professor Tuomas Ojanen to STT (April 25) by stating that: “the regulation of the constitution is unfortunately difficult in terms of where to draw the line between traditional foreign and security policy and, on the one hand, the European Union's between foreign and security policy”.

Iltalehti caught up with Professor Ojanen, who is on summer vacation, who stated that he has nothing new to add to the comments previously given to STT.

At the NATO summit in Madrid, other Nordic countries besides Finland were represented by the prime ministers of their countries. TPK

In the current model, the role of the prime minister, who leads the government and Finland's EU policy, is a bit lacking in NATO, when Finland is represented in the alliance by the ambassador and his team. In addition, the foreign and defense ministers hold their own NATO meetings, and the president has represented Finland in meetings of the heads of state of NATO countries.

According to some government and official sources interviewed by Iltalehti, the prime minister's minimal NATO role would seem special in the future, especially because the EU and NATO are getting closer together.

According to the EU's founding treaties, NATO is the basis of the Union's defense . The line received fresh confirmation in the spring (March 11) in Versailles, when EU leaders Prime Minister Sanna Marinincluding (sd) stated in their joint declaration that the EU complements NATO, “which is still the basis of the common defense of its members”. Finland also supports this line.

NATO's European influence will also be strengthened when Finland and Sweden join as members of the alliance, because after that 23 of NATO's 32 member countries are EU countries.

Of the government and official sources interviewed by Iltalehti, some support presidential-led and some prime-minister-led NATO decision-making.

– The NATO summit should have the same leader who is also at the EU summit, because NATO and the EU are getting closer together. It is also in line with the spirit of parliamentarism, one source says.

The question is how power and responsibility will be distributed when Finland joins a significant new multilateral system. Does Finland's NATO membership strengthen the president's power, which over the years has been tried to be lightened in favor of parliamentarism. Or do we want to strengthen parliamentarism and democracy based on multi-party power with the prime minister's leadership.

– I think it would be very strange if the president sat in NATO meetings, one source commented.

The president's powers began to be narrowed in the 1980s, when Finland headed for parliamentarism after Kekkonen's long reign.

In 2000, the constitutional reform significantly reduced the power of the president, and in 2009 it was stated that EU matters no longer belong to the president.

The background of the statement was the so-called plate controversy, which culminated in the question of who will cover the plate for the EU: at dinners of summit meetings, for the president or the prime minister.

In this race of institutions, the prime minister finally pulled the longest. At the same time, the prime minister became the most important person in Finnish politics.

However, the most significant power of the president is still related to foreign policy, and those who support the president's central role in NATO appeal above all to the fact that the president leads Finland's foreign policy and is also the commander-in-chief of the Defense Forces.

– President's role in NATO meetings is in accordance with the constitution, one source commented.

– In principle, I would not see that the authority relations of state bodies would change dramatically here, or that we would return to a very presidential-led world, Professor Ojanen told STT.

Those who defend the position of the president also remind us that although NATO is a political organization, it is above all a military organization. Another point that is invoked is that NATO deals with relations between states and not EU policy.

In the same context, it is also reminded that the most important member country of NATO is the United States, which does not belong to the EU, just like Britain, which is a major military power in Europe and an important defense partner of Finland.

The prime ministers of Sweden and Finland have met a lot during the spring. In the photo, Sanna Marin and Magdalena Andersson visited Germany together. Tanja Huutonen, Embassy of Finland in Berlin

President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö himself stated in an interview with Ilta-Sanomi (April 30) that in his opinion the representation at the NATO summit belongs to the president.

< p class="paragraph">Niinistö reminded that he has already participated in NATO summits as a partner country's representative during several governments.

– We have a fairly clear rule regarding foreign policy, the president leads it in cooperation, and on top of that, the president is the commander-in-chief, Niinistö reasoned.< /p>

However, Prime Minister Marin has hoped for an open discussion on the matter with all parties and between institutions.

In an interview with Ilta-Sanomie (April 22), Marin stated that if and when Finland becomes a member of NATO, then it will be necessary to consider in parliament whether the president or the prime minister would participate in NATO meetings.

If the political will in Finland would lead to the fact that the prime minister is wanted to represent Finland at NATO meetings, then the Ministry of Justice should start preparing a constitutional amendment.

If, on the other hand, the president sits in NATO meetings in the future and leads NATO decision-making, then he must negotiate issues in good cooperation with the Government. The parliament must also be kept well informed about issues related to NATO.

Problems are unlikely to arise if cooperation goes well and personal chemistry works. However, this is not necessarily always the case.

As the Prime Minister stated, there is still a need to have an open discussion with all parties and institutions in order for the management of Finland's foreign policy to run smoothly in this current era, where Russia, managed by the president, -relationships practically no longer exist, and where the cooperation and role of NATO and the EU will be emphasized in the future.

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