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Articles and Columns, 3/25/2007

Nato: Address by Mr Pertti Torstila, Secretary of State, to the Macedonian Diplomatic Bulletin

March 25 2007

To the Macedonian Diplomatic Bulletin
Article by Mr Pertti Torstila
Secretary of State
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Helsinki
Finland

Finland and Nato

A lively national debate about Finland's NATO membership has been going on for more than a decade. Government Programmes and security political "White Papers" keep the NATO option open. Neutrality went into history in 1995 when Finland joined the European Union, but Finland still remains militarily non-allied. Finland, a small nation situated next to giant Russia, having suffered severely in the II World War against the Soviet Union but never occupied by it, sailed succesfully through the stormy waters of the Cold War. A deeply western democracy which rose from the ruins of the II WW and built a welfare state belonging to the world's richest, "the Nokia-land" Finland is still outside of NATO. How to explain this?

Since her independence in 1917 Finland has been a democracy. War years 1939-1944 were hard but nothing has shaped the Finnish identity more than the fact that we survived, that the Finnish defence held and that the Finnish Army stopped the Red Army twice, in 1939 and 1944. Finland emerged from the war a crippled nation, exhausted and having suffered serious losses. Hundred thousand dead, 12% of the territory lost and the rest seriously damaged. 500 000 Finnish Carelians out of a population of 4 million were evacuated from the lost territory and resettled inside Finland. But the Finns had not surrendered, the country was not occupied, the nation was free and ready to start to build and develop a free nation. These experiences strengthened the Finnish sense of independence and the long standing tradition of relying on one's own capabilities only.

The primary objective in Finland's security and defence policy is the promotion of security and stability in Northern Europe. The line of action is based on a credible national defence, the functioning of society, a consistent foreign policy as well as a strong international position. The Finnish defence is based on general conscription and a modern territorial defence system. Due to conscription, the obligation to defend the country can be met equally throughout society. This has created the foundation for the strong will of the Finns to defend their country. Consequently over 60% of the population wish to see Finland remaining militarily non-allied. Less than 30% are in favour of a NATO membership today.

But Finns have not wanted to close the door to NATO either. The Government Security White Book from 2004 states that "applying membership of the NATO alliance remains a possibility in Finland's security and defence policy also in the future". Finland considers NATO to be an organization of key importance for military security policy and security cooperation. Europe needs NATO and Finland is a strong supporter of the Euro-American transatlantic link. A key relationship is between the European Union and NATO. We should seek more efficient cooperation and coordination of activities between the two and try to avoid duplication in capabilities or actions. Recently advances in this regard have been made. There are, furthermore, good examples of well functioning cooperation between EU and NATO for example from the Balkan area. Clear division of responsibilities and intensified cooperation will enhance the efforts to overcome the challenges and threats as well as to tap the opportunities that globalization and ever changing security environment present to both EU and NATO. Finland is confident that progress will be achieved in these relationships, since the advantages are prominent.

We welcome the enlargement of NATO. We see the NATO membership of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia contributing to the stability of the Baltic Sea region. But there is no sufficient support among the public or the political parties to take the initiative for a Finnish membership. Finns are satisfied with their defence solution which includes a close and workable partnership with NATO.

How does the Finnish NATO partnership materialize, how does it work and form itself?

A trusted NATO partner, not a free rider

Finland has a long-standing relationship with NATO. We joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) 1992 as observers. We signed the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Framework Document right after its creation in 1994 when also other non-allied countries of Europe joined NATO's partnership activities. Since 1997 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, EAPC, has replaced NACC and nowadays 46 countries including Finland belong to it.

The reasons for Finland's close cooperation with NATO are manifold. NATO, along with the EU, is the leading organization in the field of military security policy and cooperation. We do not envisage the EU turning into a military alliance in the traditional NATO-meaning of the concept. Both institutions continue to adapt to remain relevant. NATO is the main forum for transatlantic dialogue and cooperation and therefore our participation in the PfP Program and EAPC is an efficient way to enhance the transatlantic link. Finland contributes towards strengthening the EU's common foreign and security and defence policy and is developing its cooperation with NATO further by participating actively in Partnership for Peace activities and in EU-NATO cooperation.

We recognize the fact that NATO's enlargement along with that of the European Union has increased stability in our neighbouring areas. Furthermore, PfP activities enable Finland to participate in crisis management tasks in NATO-led operations, improve our national crisis management capabilities and interoperatibility of forces as well as to participate in civil emergency planning.

Finland's active participation in NATO-led crisis management operations is a logical continuation of our long standing and active involvement in the UN operations. Lately Finland has been able to boast that we participate in all major NATO-led crisis management operations. Over 10 000 Finnish soldiers have served in NATO operations and approximately 1000 troops are simultaneously deployed in different peace support operations. Awhile Finland was even ranked as number one troop contributing country, in per capita terms. Today our participation is around NATO's average.

Currently Finland has some 400 peacekeepers deployed in KFOR in Kosovo. Earlier Finland was also responsible for the coordination and command of a KFOR brigade. In Afghanistan there are slightly more than 100 Finnish peacekeepers in ISAF at present. The focus of Finland's participation in ISAF operation has been gradually shifted to Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Northern Afghanistan. Besides the PRTs, which are located in Maymana and Mazar-i-Sharif, Finland also retains a presence in ISAF headquarters in Kabul. In connection with the other PRT, there is a civilian component of Finnish civil crisis management experts.

In military cooperation Finland's interests are especially in crisis management and interoperability of forces. During the last two years development with regard to the military aspect of NATO PfP activities, as well as the possibilities for participation of partners, has been favourable. Development has taken place both with regard to content, quality as well as the possibility to participate. One of the latest development in the military cooperation is the possibility for capable and willing Partners to supplement in the NATO Response Force (NRF) in non-article V contingencies.

Partnership for Peace (PfP)

Both Finland and Macedonia participate actively in the Partnership for Peace programme and consultations in the EAPC. In this context, the next EAPC Security Forum which Macedonia will host later this year, should be mentioned as a prime example of the active and constructive participation of Macedonia through which it has consolidated country's esteemed position in the Euro-Atlantic community.

The NATO Partnership cooperation has been practiced for about 13 years. No doubt, the stability and democracy in the whole Euro-Atlantic area and beyond has been strengthened through it. However, during those years security threats and challenges have been becoming increasingly transnational. Also the PfP landscape has changed significantly due to the last enlargement in Prague and decision in Istanbul to enhance Partnership cooperation especially with the Central Asian, Caucasus and the Mediterranean-dialogue countries. The latest Summit in Riga last year invited the three Balkan countries, namely Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, to join the Partnership for Peace programme. The importance of NATO-Russia relationship should not be left behind in the ongoing reforms. The Riga declaration states that the NATO-Russia partnership remains a strategic element in fostering security in the Euro-Atlantic area. It is also in Finland's interest that this partnership will be further developed and strengthened.

New threats to security demand also new approach and instruments from the Alliance. A cold war defence Alliance has evolved into an organization whose main function is to carry out crisis management tasks. The ongoing partnerships' reform is one way in which NATO is responding to the new global challenges. At the moment, the attention of the Alliance in the PfP cooperation is on making the Caucasus and Central Asian countries more committed to the Euro-Atlantic values and structures by means of improving their defence and security sectors. At the same time NATO is examining how the present mechanisms of all Partnerships could be reformed e.g. in the field of military crisis management or fight against terrorism. As its agenda and activities are becoming more global, NATO needs to cooperate more closely with all countries and organizations that share its values and interests.

Finland has a strong interest in how NATO’s Partnership policy is developing, especially regarding the cooperation with troop-contributing countries. From the beginning, the Partnership has been a reciprocal exercise for Finland. We hve contributed to NATO-led missions in the field, emphasizing more recently expertise in such capabilities as civilian-miltary cooperation and command and control. Our cooperation has helped us prepare our troops for common tasks with NATO and partners, and also for EU missions. Moreover, we have benefited from our contacts with NATO as the leading military organization in puruing defence transformation, which is vital for ou national defence.

We are pleased with the decision made by NATO to improve the conditions for partners' involvement in NATO-led crisis management operations. We have recently seen concrete improvement in this regard as NATO met for the first time in Foreign Ministers' level with troop contributing nations to ISAF operation and other international organizations working in Afghanistan. The idea of using additional and flexible formats for discussions on specific issues of relevance to NATO-members, concerned Partners and other non-NATO nations, is sure to enrich the dialogue and complement the present work in the EAPC. The needs of the partners must be taken into account in further development of the PfP and NATO´s widening and transforming tasks should be reflected in the development of PfP as well.

From the point of view of the development of the interoperability needed in crisis management operations, the most important and extensive PfP work programme is the Planning and Review Process (PARP). At present we are actually already in a situation where making use of the Programme's scope and efficiency depends more on the initiative and national decisions of each Partner than on NATO. No doubt the work on enhancing interoperability between Allied countries and the Partner forces has been one of the most important practical achievements of the Partnership. As a result, the NATO-led operations have performed well and included wide participation.

Conclusion

The basis of the Finnish national security policy is described as "military non-alliance, an independent defence, and membership of the European Union". Geography still matters, in its old as well as in its new forms. Far from being isolated from the rest of the world, Finland and its neighboring areas are an integral part of the wider entity. Finland has always been sensitive to strategic changes and realities. We are a small nation but we have never been isolated from world politics. We have felt the effects of power politics, but we have also benefited from peaceful developments. Finland operates actively in PfP and EAPC. We contribute to NATO operations in the Balkans and are called a member of a limited class of "advanced non-Allies", who has ambition to be seen as "giver not taker". By being an active partner Finland contributes to the promotion of regional and global peace and stability acting as a useful and responsible member of the international community.

Updated 5/15/2007

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