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Patria affair: the towel burns between Ljubljana and Helsinki

(Photo credit: Patria)

(B2) Initially, in December 2006, it was a simple contract for the delivery of 8×8 AMV armored vehicles and Nemo 120 mm mortars by a Finnish firm, Homeland, to the Slovenian army.

But doubts arose quite quickly about the clarity of the matter. A commission of inquiry was set up in Slovenia in March 2007, chaired by a member of the opposition. Without any real follow-up…

A banal complaint for corruption...

The matter became complicated when the Finnish police, receiving a complaint, began to investigate acts of corruption (helped by the Austrian and Slovenian police, as intermediaries). It took an even more precise turn in spring 2008. Several Patria employees were first interviewed. Then one of them arrested. In July, it was actually a manager of the company who was imprisoned. Rather embarrassing for a firm largely owned (75%) by the Finnish state. A sum of around 21 million euros according to Finnish media was used for various 'commissions' in the Slovenian ranks.

… turns into a matter of state

Today, it is degenerating into a state affair. Suspicion of corruption now reaches the top of the Slovenian state. A program (Mot) on Finnish public television directly implicated the Slovenian Prime Minister: Janez Jansa who, until a few months ago, held the presidency of the European Union.

Cascading denials

The company sharply denied (see here). A more angry denial from Ljubljana, which is bringing in the heavy artillery: the Minister of Defense, Karl Erjavec, is stepping up to the plate and threatening to freeze the contract with the Finnish company. An extraordinary session in the Slovenian Parliament is devoted to the subject. And a diplomatic note was delivered to Helsinki asking it to kindly intervene with television (in the purest ex-Yugoslav style). It must be said that we are in the middle campagne électorale. The elections take place on September 21. And everything seems allowed. The Prime Minister, Jansa (right-wing liberal), at the head of a coalition of several parties, is not sure of being reappointed.


Finnish television report

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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