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Speeches, 2/19/2008

Speech by Minister Kanerva at the Clingendael Institute

Speech by Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva at the at The Clingendael Institute in The Hague on February 19, 2008.

European Ambitions and Global Challenges

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Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to start by thanking Director Jaap de Zwaan and The Clingendael Institute for inviting me to speak to you today. For me, it is a pleasure to see the famous institute and share my thoughts in front of this audience.

Let me congratulate The Clingendael Institute on its 25th anniversary. Your mission - to promote the understanding of international affairs - is today more essential than ever. It is impossible to see how any country could succeed without properly being aware of the world beyond its borders. We need research communities like this in all EU countries.

The Netherlands has been a close EU-partner for Finland ever since we joined the Union. We have similar approach in many issues. We continue to regard the Dutch as our natural collaborators. The Netherlands is an active player and a large contributor. In formulating the EU's foreign and security policy the Netherlands has the prominence of a large member state.

Today, I want to share with you some thoughts about our European ambitions and global challenges seen from the northern part of Europe.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

When EU foreign ministers visit different countries, they regularly hear the wish that Europe should be more involved. The Union should take a greater role in many places - in our close neighbourhood, in the Middle East, and in Asia. Europe should address more actively the problems of today's world, and work to prevent or resolve conflicts. These are the expectations that not only others, but also our own citizens, have of the European Union.

The EU enjoys a good reputation worldwide. "Europe" is a good brand. It conveys our European values and ideas based on our own experience of integration. It also provides us with a great deal of "soft power".

Europe has become a major player in the world economy. The euro is a leading currency that ensures stability in markets. The relevance of enlarged Europe is growing as the economies of the new member states expand. Europe is more dynamic. A serious ambition is still needed to meet the challenges we face around the world. We should build a strong and capable Union that can pursue Europe`s interests.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We must seize fully the possibilities of the new treaty reforming the EU. After many years of internal pondering it is now time to look outward and forward.

The Lisbon treaty lays the basis for a more active union. It introduces significant changes in the field of common foreign and security policy by strengthening its leadership. The High Representative and his staff will provide continuity in the EU's action as well as coherence in overall external policies.

In our view it is important that the High Representative has adequate resources and structures to carry out the tasks entrusted to him or her. Therefore, the external service should be strong. Financial restrictions should not water down the objective of making a qualitative change in the EU's foreign policy.

The President of the European Council is another actor that the Lisbon Treaty will bring to the field of external relations. We expect that the future president will play an important role in conducting the EU diplomacy at his or her level. The roles of the President and the High Representative should have a clear basis from the start.

In addition to strengthened leadership, we also need to use fully the provisions of the new treaty. In past treaties, too many articles were not followed in practice.

This is the case of qualified majority decision-making in the Common Foreign and Security Policy. Already the existing treaties widened the scope for enhanced decision–making, but these modalities have not been used. I wonder, why not? The majority could show the way also in foreign policy. It goes without saying that when important national interests of a member state are at stake, unanimity shall prevail.

The EU should not only complement what member states do, nor should the CFSP be based on a smallest common denominator. However, the qualitative change will not happen with legal changes only. More is demanded from us, from the Member States. The EU should be able to make decisions and speak with one voice. Reformed structures and a stronger political will on the part of the Member States are two sides of the new CFSP coin.

Too often the EU is obliged to carry out its tasks with insufficient resources and slow implementation. We must improve our decision-making and internal procedures so that, for example, police officials sent to Afghanistan will have their armoured vehicles in time. We need to see that our ESDP operations are functioning properly from day one. We need to guarantee that operations have sufficient manpower to fulfil the tasks decided by us. This is extremely important when preparing for new and even more challenging operations.

Our activities in military and civilian crisis management cost money. Securing adequate funding is about matching our decisions and ambitions with real deeds. I am now talking about the CFSP budget, which is the source of civilian crisis management financing. But I am also referring to the national budgets that are the cash source for our military crisis management operations. We cannot meet our own commitments, nor can we act rapidly, without opening our purse to a broader common funding. This is an absolute necessity in the field of military crisis management.

The prevailing state of affairs is not fit for a global player. Increased funding for the CFSP is indispensable.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finland sees a need for a stronger EU in security and defence.

We agree that the EU's security strategy should be updated. It is a major policy document that merits more attention. The EU has long had common policies in various sectors, but only in 2003 was the Union able to draw up a strategy that identifies threats to our common security and defines also the means with which to address regional and global challenges.

Crisis management is the right response to many of today's security challenges. The EU must enhance its capabilities to participate in civilian and military crisis management operations far from Europe as well. One example is the operation that is beginning in Chad and the Central African Republic. The EU is assisting the UN and the African Union in their efforts to find ways to settle the conflict in Darfur and protect refugee camps. Finland is sending troops to Chad.

The difficulties involved in assembling troops and equipment such as helicopters demonstrate that the EU must do more. Otherwise, the EU's credibility will be undermined. This relates also to the issue of funding that I raised earlier.

All member states, big and small alike, should do their share in the EU field operations.

Multinational cooperation is the key to the EU's military crisis management. A multinational approach is the way for smaller member states to participate in EU battle groups. Finland is currently on stand-by for the second time. Last year we comprised the first battle group together with the Netherlands and Germany. This cooperation will continue in 2011.

In the future some flexibility will be required so that the EU´s battle groups are used for the benefit of international crisis management. We Europeans need to develop our rapid response capabilities further and that is why both the EU battle groups and the NATO Response Force are such important endeavours. Finland has a long tradition in peacekeeping. We have sent troops to many conflict areas. We want to be among countries able to contribute to demanding operations. Therefore, we are considering Finnish participation also in Nato Response Force.

The EU is cooperating, not competing, with NATO or the UN in military crisis management. There are more demands for international involvement in crisis situations than the various organisations can fulfil. On the ground, working relations between the EU and NATO are good. More discussion about strategic choices would be welcome to better address the challenges in Afghanistan and in Kosovo.

Afghanistan is a case in point. The Netherlands is contributing significantly, around 1600 soldiers, to the ISAF operation in the south. Finland, as a partnership country, has around 100 soldiers in northern Afghanistan. Our intention is to participate also in the training of the Afghan army.

Is Europe doing its share? Europeans are providing half of the troops to ISAF and contributing more than half of the development assistance. Military engagement is through NATO and therefore global policy towards Afghanistan cannot be formulated by Europeans alone. However, it is important to develop a longer-term commitment of the EU towards Afghanistan, combining efforts of the member states, the Commission and the Council. Bringing stability and prosperity to Afghanistan is very much a European matter. It is our shared responsibility.

The workload in the field of security and defence policy is increasing. It should be discussed whether the EU Defence Ministers should establish regular contacts covering security and defence issues with their colleagues in countries with whom we have political dialogue, e.g. the US, Russia, and Canada.

The EU should continue to be in the lead in developing civil-military coordination in crisis management. I agree with my UK colleague that the next step should be to set direction for integrated operations. Unfortunately, foreign ministers seldom focus on civilian crisis management in their monthly meetings.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Enlargement has arguably been one of the most successful policies of the European Union. Without it, we simply would not have been able to respond to post-Cold War challenges on our continent. What kind of Europe would we have now? It would be divided, weaker and lighter on a global scale.

It is absolutely necessary to stick to our confirmed enlargement policy. The EU cannot take back promises made to the Western Balkan countries and Turkey. Neither should we rule out further enlargement even if that is not on the table at the moment. By carving the definite borders of the EU in stone we would only tie our own hands. This would be a mistake on a grand scale.

On the other hand, we need to stick to our established criteria. Lowering the accession standards would bring unprepared countries into an unprepared Union. This would greatly undermine public support, which is vital for this policy.

Last few days have seen a major event in Europe. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. Most EU countries, including my own, are now moving ahead with the recognition.

For Kosovars, independence is the fulfilment of their dreams. For Serbs, it seems to be a national tragedy. For the EU, the situation is a multi-dimensional challenge.

First, the EU needs to make sure that independent Kosovo will develop in to the right direction. There is a heavy agenda before the Kosovo government. The rule of law, human and minority rights as well as economic sustainability are at the top of the list. In order to support the achievement of these goals, the EU will launch its biggest civilian crisis management mission so far. We will also contribute substantially to economic development.

Second, Serbia should not be forgotten. Serbia belongs to Europe, and the door to the EU must remain open. For a long time, democratic Serbia has been held hostage by the past. Loss of Kosovo causes political pain in Belgrade, but I hope Serbia will soon take decisive steps to overcome its past and focus on the future - its European ambition. These steps should include achieving full co-operation with the ICTY. The only right place for war criminals is The Hague!

The third challenge for the EU is to make sure that the rest of the Western Balkans remains on the right track. This is by no means automatic.

Failure with any of the Balkan challenges would spell serious trouble for our ambition to become a strong global player. The EU that cannot succeed in Europe can hardly succeed anywhere else either.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Russia is heading towards presidential elections on 2 March.

The new president will inherit a Russia that is not what it used to be. Contrast with the 90´s is clear and many of the news are good. However, two aspects - the development of democracy and foreign policy – are more controversial from the EU´s point of view.

It is fair to say that the state of Russian democracy has caused concern among us. Centralisation and control have prevailed over pluralism and competition. The ongoing presidential election campaign is not free of these features. The fact that the election monitoring by ODIHR cannot take place mainly due to limitations set by the Russian authorities only illustrates this point. Is Russia trying to reach the democratic destination via different route? Or has its destination itself changed?

In my view, it is quite understandable that Russia´s journey towards democracy has not been a smooth ride. It takes time for a democracy to take root even in the best of conditions. The key question is, does a more sustainable political, economic and social basis for a stronger democracy now exist in Russia? Is the leadership ready to use the achieved consolidation as a stepping stone for further democratisation?

I believe that a stabilised Russia has a significant potential to build its democracy further. Economic and social conditions are better than before. In addition to potential, there is also a need to strengthen democracy in Russia. I do not believe that any European country could truly modernise its economy and society without a functioning democracy and the rule of law. Russia has announced that it should follow the European orientation.

Of course, serious political will is needed to transform potential into reality. It is up to Russian leaders and the people to decide what kind of a democracy and society they want.

Does such a political will exist in Russia? I hope Medvedev´s speech on 22 January gave us some indications. The rule of law, democracy and civil society were emphasised.

Russia is building itself as a regional and global superpower. We should not be surprised that Moscow pursues its goals and defends its interests with a new sense of strength. Political stabilisation, economic growth and a position as Europe´s main energy supplier have given Russia more leverage. As High Representative Javier Solana put it: “Russia is back”.

Political relations between the EU and Russia are going through difficult times as we speak. The difference of opinion on Kosovo divides us sharply. There have been other bumps on the road as well. Forced closure of the British Council offices or the events followed by the relocation of Bronze Soldier statue in Tallinn are recent examples.

These recurring troubles prevent us and Russians from realising the great potential of our relations. Instead of meeting global challenges together, we are constrained to use considerable political capital to troubleshoot our relations. This situation can only harm the vital interests of both sides.

Ultimately, the EU´s relations with Russia should be defined by the word "ambition", not "challenge". The EU and Russia should share a joint European ambition. This would be a project aimed at building a wider European space,

• where goods move freely
• where investment and businesses operate according to transparent rules
• and where, eventually, people could also move freely.

As a first concrete step we need to launch negotiations on a new comprehensive agreement. I hope this could take place in the recent future. And as soon as Russia completes its WTO accession, the road will be open for a modern free-trade agreement. We should start walking along that road.

I do not have to remind you about the economic potential of Russia. The Dutch companies are already working actively in and with Russia. For the EU, Russia is a huge economic opportunity. For Russia, the EU could become the key partner in overcoming structural weaknesses and modernising the economy. Together, the EU and Russia would be in a much better position to meet the global economic challenge that is emerging outside Europe.

Dear friends,

I would like to conclude my lecture by saying that one should not complain that the EU is not respected by our partners. It is up to us to decide whether we want the EU to be taken more seriously!

Member states and EU institutions need to work together in order to establish a more significant global role for the EU. In order to achieve that, we need a better-functioning foreign policy as well as more capabilities and global contribution.

Europe means more democracy, prosperity and rule of law - and the world needs more Europe. This is our challenge and it should also be our ambition.



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Updated 2/19/2008

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