Finnish minister proposes defense spending rise or joining NATO

Finnish Defense Minister Seppo Kaariainen has said Finland should either significantly increase its defence spending or join the NATO, Finnish media reported on Thursday.

Kaariainen said at a defense course on Wednesday that the rising prices of weapons and equipment had threatened to shrivel the Finnish Defence Forces. The existing defense system manages to work today, but will be hardly able to do so by the end of the next decade, he added.

To meet ever-changing security situation, the country was "acquiring material that is becoming more expensive at an amazing rate. According to some estimates, prices will double in only seven years," said the minister.

Given the current resources and the price-rising trend, Finland would not be able to "maintain the defence forces of 2006 in the future," he said.

Kaariainen noted that a NATO membership could be an alternative to increasing defence spending, though he explained that to save money was not the end for seeking a membership with the alliance.

Finland still needs to boost its defense budget even after joining the bloc, he said.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---