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Finnish Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö at the opening session of the National Defence Course at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on September 10, 2018. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The opening session of the National Defence Course at the House of the Estates on Monday morning gathered high-ranking officers in the Finnish army to receive an update and overview of Finland’s foreign, security and defense policy.

Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö (Blue Reform) said in his opening remarks that the government proposal to amend the Act on the Defence Forces and the Act on the National Defence University has taken major steps forward during the summer. The amendments mean that appointments to military and officer posts in the Finnish army and the defence university would be available to persons with Finnish citizenship only. In short, dual citizenships are prepared to be banned from military posts in the defense adminstration. (Exemptions granted only if deemed necessary.)

At the beginning of 2017, there were media reports of, for example, the Finnish army starting to decline applications of Finnish-Russian citizens when applying for work in the forces. It was also reported that Finnish-Russian citizens were rejected from training to positions of high-security.

Defence Minister Niinistö said previously in an interview with YLE that there were no guidelines in the Finnish army on treating dual Finnish-Russians differently.

In addition, according to Kim Mattson, a brigadier general in the Finnish Defence Forces, any kinds of limitations for dual citizens would be illegal.

But that’s now about to change.

According to Niinistö, the proposal has been finalized in response to feedback. “The basic solution has remained the same. The idea is to present the amendments to the parliament as soon as possible and get them into effect from the beginning of next year,” Niinistö said.

Tony Öhberg