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The threat of terrorism is on the rise and the complexity of threats and risks is growing, and the relationship between Russia and the West is now characterised by mistrust and the prospects for cooperation have deteriorated.
These are some of the highlights of a review, compiled by various ministries, on Finland’s security cooperation which was received by President Sauli Niinistö and the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy on Friday.
While Finland hopes for an improvement in relations, the current problematic situation may continue for a long time.
Russia’s action poses significant challenges to Europe’s security system as a whole.
The uncertainty is also seen in Finland’s neighbourhood, the strained situation is manifested in the intensifying military readiness activities in the entire area of the Baltic Rim and Northern Europe.
Also the situation in the Middle East and North Africa has become more unstable.
Security strenghtened continuously
Finland, in every situation, is responsible for its own security.
The fundamental purpose of Finland’s foreign and security policy is to secure the conditions for the preservation of Finland’s independence and freedom as well as peace and for the growth of the citizens’ well-being.
That is why Finland’s international position and security must continuously be strengthened by means of foreign and security policy, and through national defence.
Finland is recognised as a democratic state, abiding by the rule of law, which pursues good relations and cooperation with its neighbours, and all other countries, through an active stability policy.
The goal of Finland’s defence policy is to maintain and develop Finland’s military defence. This calls for intense international cooperation and networking.
The primary purpose of the resources allocated to military defence is to establish a credible defence capability which will act as a deterrent against military pressure or attack.
The same capabilities are also used for the international military crisis management missions in which Finland participates.
Participation in crisis management tasks and other international cooperation directly and significantly benefits the development of Finland’s national defence.
It also strengthens Finland’s international status and creates mutual benefits.
In addition, participation in civilian crisis management consolidates the practical experience base and competence of Finnish actors.
EU membership the most important decision
International cooperation is founded on international law, a shared value base and mutual benefit.
By bearing international responsibility Finland can provide input to the promotion of peace and security, from which Finland also benefits.
Cooperation on different fora is important from the standpoint of Finland’s security policy position.
From the perspective of Finland’s international position and its security, the membership of the European Union has been its most important decision.
In recent years the Union has also developed as a foreign and security policy actor, especially with regard to its active involvement in international crisis management.
Neither the union nor its member states could idly standby should one of the states be threatened.
When needed, the union has a variety of instruments available, such as sanctions, for the purpose of exerting political influence and pressure in defending the interests of its allies.
Finland supports developing the common security and defence policy and the European Union as a security community.
Nato cooperation flourishes
The majority of the EU member States are also members of Nato, through which they primarily carry out their defence cooperation.
Since 1994 Finland has actively engaged in cooperation with the military alliance.
The alliance has since reformed its partnership policy several times – most recently at the Wales Summit in 2014.
From Nato’s standpoint its partners play a significant role in generating stability and security, and their input is valued.
Partner participation has been of particular importance in crisis management operations.
Finnish military personnel and civilians have been able to utilise and improve their skills in Nato operations, which is very important from the standpoint of Finland’s national defence and to the credibility of its defence.
In addition, the significance of international exercises to Finland has grown.
The Finnish defence forces are highly interoperable with Nato standards, and the alliance respects the professional skills of Finnish military personnel.
Considering the future, Nato’s evolving partnership programme continues to provide excellent opportunities for Finland to deepen its participation in the activities of the alliance, as appropriate, and to utilise all available capabilities and Nato’s structures in the development of Finland’s national defence.
Finland also pursues a political dialogue with Nato.
Finland, if it so wishes, can participate in exercises or other projects that serve the development of Finland’s national defence, and to which the alliance wishes to invite its partners.
The development of Nato partnership does not result in a membership; there is an altogether separate process in place for that.
US one of Finland’s biggest weapon suppliers
Bilateral cooperation with the United States is important to Finland.
Much of Finland’s most modern defence materiel originates in the United States.
When it comes to military technology the primacy of the US is uncontested, and technology cooperation with it may make it possible for Finland to gain access to projects which would otherwise be completely out of reach for smaller countries due to, among other things, their sheer scale.
It is in Finland’s interests to strengthen the dialogue with the US.
Deep cooperation with Sweden
Traditionally, the roots of bilateral Finnish-Swedish defence cooperation are deep and strong.
The cooperation has materialised through, among other things, acquisition programmes, joint crisis management participation, and training and exercises.
The close and confidential foreign, security and defence policy dialogue has become an important part of the wider bilateral relationship.
Defence cooperation between Finland and Sweden will be separately addressed in the near future, the review concludes.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs wrote up the review and comments and expert assistance were provided by the Office of the President of the Republic of Finland, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Defence.
Source: The Office of the President of the Republic