Defence Minister Says Finland Exports Protection to UAE, Not Guns
(Source: Finnish Broadcasting News, YLE; issued Sept 19, 2018)
Jussi Niinistö says Finland will honor the export of defence vehicle refurbishment parts to the UAE despite reports that the carriers are being used in Yemen.
The Defence Minister’s comments come after a Finland-based news site reported on video footage of Finnish Patria vehicles filmed in Yemen en route to battle in the port of Hudaydah on the Red Sea coast. The UAE is involved in the war against the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen.
Two years ago, Patria sold 40 AMV 8x6 personnel carriers to the United Arab Emirates, adding to the five carriers the Finnish state defence contractor exported there in 2008.
This year the government granted Patria license to export maintenance parts for these vehicles.
Government sees no problem
Niinistö told YLE that Finland has granted Patria license for carriers, not assault vehicles.
“Finland exports protection, not weapons,” he told YLE, adding that he doesn't see a problem in exporting refurbishment parts to vehicles under an old agreement.
The Defence Ministry handles export licenses for minor defence equipment deals while the government handles significant contracts. Parliament has, however, outlined that Finland does not export defence materials to parties at war or states that do not respect human rights.
“Of course, we’ll have to carefully weigh orders from that part of the world,” Niinistö said, adding that Spain recently made a U-turn on laser-guided bomb sales to Saudi Arabia, choosing not to walk away from a lucrative deal with the kingdom.
Meanwhile Social Democratic MP and former Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja says he would like to see Finland suspend all defence business with Gulf countries.
According to the United Nations Human Rights Office, Saudi Arabia is leading the coalition against Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels--a conflict that has killed more than 6,600 civilians and injured some 10,000 since 2015.
Export License Practices and Background of the UAE Deal
(Source: Patria; issued Sept 19, 2018)
Export license practices are a topic of a vivid discussion at the moment in Finland. It seems that export license practices are rather difficult to comprehend.
The basic principles from Patria point of view are issues such as:
-- All defence related products need an export license
-- All technology export related to them need an export license
-- All integrations, partly or entirely, need an export license.
In practice that means that all Patria activities with a foreign government is cooperation between governments and therefore need approval from government officials.
Finland complies with the national legislation and international commitments. A decision to grant an export license is made on a case by case basis with the big picture in mind and one of the prerequisites is a reliable end user of the materiel. Also, possibilities of a misuse of the materiel are considered. Granting a license is based on the EU criteria and consultation with other EU countries. The Finnish practice is in line with the general EU line.
In addition to the evaluation of the end user reliability the product properties are assessed. Defence materiel has categories which in connection with the licenses may mean that one category products may be exported but at the same time another category is off the list. In certain situations, one may for example export vehicles but not weapons or ammunition.
Patria leans on the government officials’ capability to evaluate the end user reliability and other export prerequisites when assessing the possibility of export in complex situations and circumstances.
Deliveries to the UAE
Patria has agreements on vehicle deliveries to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces signed in November 2007 (5 vehicles) and November 2015 (40 vehicles). In 2007 Patria showcased a Patria AMV vehicle with a Russian BMP-3 weapon system at the international defence event IDEX in Abu Dhabi, and Patria gave technical support in the integration of the system. The same vehicle was showcased also at IDEX events in 2011 and 2015.
In connection of the 2015 vehicle deliveries Patria has not given technical support in integration of any weapon systems and has no knowledge of the weapon systems the customer has integrated. Patria has contractually committed to deliver spare parts as well as technical support to the UAE Armed Forces.
There has been some footage of Patria vehicle possibly in the Yemen war in the media. Patria is not able to confirm the origin of the footage i.e. where and when the photos are taken. The vehicles in the footage are Patria AMV 8x8 vehicles.
Patria has also published news in February 2009 concerning Nemo mortar systems to the UAE Navy acquiring 12 new patrol vessels and re-equipped its 12 old ones. Nemo mortar systems was chosen as the weapon system to be assembled on some of these 25 meters long vessels originally designed in Sweden. This agreement also included spare part delivery.