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Speeches, 9/17/2009

Speech by Secretary of State Pertti Torstila on OSCE and European Security seen from Finland Government Report on Security and Defence Policy 2009

Forum for Security and Co-operation in Europe
16 September 2009

Exactly twenty years ago, in September 1989, I came to Vienna and the CSCE to witness the fall of the Iron Curtain and opening of the borders between the confronting blocs. In November of the same year, the Berlin wall was torn down, and the Cold War ended. The Helsinki Process and the CSCE which was designed for bridging the East-West divide and not sanctioning it, had played its part. The CSCE - today's OSCE - not only survived the Cold War but also contributed greatly to its demise.

Those events created a momentum where the participating States worked in consensus and agreed on an ambitious framework of commitments creating new institutions and new missions. The Charter of Paris for a new Europe confirmed the common values among the participating States. The CSCE transformed to an organization and a forum combining security dialogue with a wide range of tools for
the promotion of democracy and human rights.

Today, twenty years after the historic events of 1989, the OSCE continues to have a key role in fostering stability, prosperity and respect for human rights. The international security environment has been in flux during the past two decades and Europe is fundamentally different from those times. The world is becoming ever more dynamic, interconnected, complex and unpredictable. We all need to ask ourselves: do we have the required tools to adapt and respond to new challenges? Is the OSCE still relevant?

In April this year, the Government of Finland published a White Paper on Finnish Security and Defence Policy. This White Paper assesses the changing global environment and defines Finland´s policies on security and defence. The White Paper underlines the importance of the comprehensive security concept, reflecting both the old and the new threats and the rapid pace of change.

I'm grateful for this opportunity to present you the Finnish security model. I would begin by mentioning some key conclusions of the White Paper:
1. Effective multilateralism is needed. Our interests are best advanced through active participation in international multilateral cooperation.
2. Not belonging to a military alliance, Finland maintains its defence system based on national defence and credible defence capability.
3. EU membership is a fundamental security policy choice for Finland. With our EU partners we can effectively respond to complex global security threats.
4. NATO has a special role as a transatlantic defence and security organization. Finland will develop our PfP with NATO and retain the possibility of applying for NATO membership.

European security is based on a combination of several interlocking organizations. Each of them, the European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe or the OSCE fulfill their own, vital roles. The Finnish thinking aims at genuine and broad European cooperation and integration. There should be no "zero sum games". A stronger EU with its diverse set of policy and security instruments is of value for the future development of the OSCE. The EU is committed to strengthening the OSCE, and will continue to contribute substantially to it both politically and through financial and human resources. The OSCE and Council of Europe together advance stability, security, rule of law and human rights. A closer EU-NATO cooperation helps in crisis management and works in favour of us all. The resources of NATO's partner countries in the many crisis operations are needed in addition to the resources of the Alliance. The NATO-Russia Council allows Russia to engage in a regular dialogue with NATO and further Russia-NATO relations would improve and promote stability in our region.  

For Finland, membership in the European Union is also a security policy choice. Membership fosters  Finland´s security, and it is further strengthened through deepening integration, enlargement and good neighbourhood policies.

The strength of the European Union lays in the wide range of instruments at its disposal. They range from political tools, crisis management, to human rights, development and trade policies. Since the Helsinki European Council in December 1999 the development of the European Security and Defence Policy has been remarkable. Over 20 crisis management operations have been undertaken by the EU,
both civilian and military, among them one maritime mission off the Somali coast. The EU is a well networked power. Combining both hard and soft measures, it is well equipped to be active in a truly globalized world. The EU puts its efforts to do all that better; managing various kinds of conflicts, combating banditry and piracy, international crime including terrorism and, as a newer phenomena, questions like cyber terrorism.

The question is how much the Union can deliver in terms of action and influence. Challenges are many. The need for crisis management capabilities is steadily growing. Civilian crisis management has developed remarkably, and here the EU is clearly a front runner. Finland continues to develop interoperable, versatile and high-quality civilian and military crisis management capabilities with the aim of being able to meet the requirements of today.

Our White Paper notes that NATO's objectives, tasks and responsibilities are compatible with the foreign and security policy goals of Finland. NATO's impact on security and stability is positive. Today's NATO is not the NATO of the Cold War years. And it shouldn't be that. The Cold War is over. Military alliances are not confronting each other, there is no Warsaw Pact, there is no more communism. NATO plays a
key role in crisis management in Afghanistan and Kosovo, develops its relations with other international organizations and Russia, and is working on a new Strategic Concept to respond better to new security challenges. NATO enlargement has significantly increased stability in post-Cold War Europe, not least in our vicinity around the Baltic Sea. These are all questions of great importance for Finland.

Modern security threats are multidimensional - and I repeat - they call for multilateral solutions. Enhanced cooperation between the EU, NATO, UN, Council of Europe, OSCE and others is called for. During the past years, the division of labour in the international security framework has improved. In crisis management, the UN runs massive peace-keeping operations in Africa, with troops provided largely by developing nations. The UN relies on regional actors such as NATO or the EU for support by providing key enablers or to conduct demanding crisis management operations under a UN mandate. The UN, European Union and NATO are not competitors in crisis management, they assist and complement each other.

In the Istanbul Summit we adopted the Platform for Co-operative Security to strengthen this kind of cooperation. This Platform has not lost any of its relevance. New threats emerge while old threats are taking new shape. And many longstanding conflicts remain unsolved. Our political environment is far from risk-free. The OSCE can contribute to these international processes. The particular value of the
OSCE lays in its values, norms and commitments, in its field operations and election observation. The permanent dialogue in the OSCE and its peer review mechanisms involving the civil society makes our organization unique.

Field operations are often small but they can make a difference in supporting the host countries to implement the OSCE acquis and build capacity to this end. The extremely valuable work of election observation deserves all our support. It is in the interest of every Participating State to be fully engaged in election observation. The OSCE should extend its scope of activities with the changing demands. More activities to supporting democratic processes inter alia in partner countries such as Afghanistan
would be worth considering. When all the 56 Participating States can agree on a meaningful mandate the missions bring benefits. And when the job is done, we should be able to agree to pull out.

Our organization is valuable in mobilizing its participating States to utilize global and other international instruments related to arms control and countering terrorism. The work of the OSCE, UN, NATO - or NATO-Russia Council is interlinked. Commitments in the politico-military field, notably the Vienna Document, the Open Skies Treaty and the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) have been crucial parts of stability and security on our continent. They are cornerstones of the politicomilitary architecture of Europe. Europe of today is different from the times when these decisions were taken and one may ask is there still value in the arms control commitments that were made in the OSCE framework? Are such obligations and treaties becoming obsolete?

My answer is clearly no. These arms control achievements are part of the security acquis established in and for Europe. We should build on them, adapt them as needed, and demonstrate through effective implementation our support for co-operative security in the changing security landscape. The implementation of the agreed confidence- and security-building measures contributed immensely to military openness and predictability and promoted military-to-military contacts. That is still the case. CSBMs and treaty based arms control commitments are important and the OSCE remains a unique platform for security dialogue among all the 56 participating States.

The initial purpose of the CFE Treaty was to eliminate the threat of a large-scale surprise attack between the two military alliances of that time. Finland didn't belong to these alliances, was not part of the negotiations and didn't become a party to the Treaty. But we always saw the value of the Treaty, including its verification regime and the flank regulations. We hope that the present difficulties related to the CFE Regime will soon be overcome.

Dear Delegates,

I have been closely involved in the work of CSCE/OSCE ever since the start of the Helsinki Process in early 1970s. The Helsinki Process has contributed markedly to the security and stability in Europe and has also opened perspectives for change. The CSCE grew into a full fledged organization, and I hope that it will soon get a legal capacity to further consolidate its role.

Since the December 2008 OSCE Helsinki Ministerial Council, there is in this organization a lively discussion about the European security architecture. This discussion demonstrates that the OSCE is the best and most suitable forum for this debate. There seems to be a shared willingness to enhance dialogue on the basis of a comprehensive concept of security and across all three OSCE dimensions. That is a good basis to build on. The Helsinki Final Act and its ten Principles remain an excellent rule book guiding the interaction of participating States in all instances. Despite the many changes in the security environment, the original CSCE/OSCE fabric - the three pillars or "baskets" of the Final Act - building security comprehensively with military, economic and human components, are today equally important as they were 34 years ago. So are the principles, be it respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of every participating state, the commitment to non-use of force or the peaceful resolution of conflicts. We have solemnly agreed that everyone of us has the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance and that none of us will regard any part of the OSCE region as its sphere of influence. These are principles that are still in force
and no signatory State has renounced them. Let us remain loyal to these commitments.

The debate on European security architecture took an important step forward when a concrete preparatory process for the Athens Ministerial meeting was launched at Corfu. There are many topics to be covered under the guidance of the Greek CiO here in Vienna before we get to Athens. The main question for the OSCE continues to be how effectively it can act in preventing the escalation of conflicts such as the one in Georgia last year. The OSCE had an important role in both the negotiation process and the monitoring on the ground. We must work harder to prevent such conflicts and to make it possible for the OSCE to play its role. Responding to this challenge requires innovative thinking and improvement of existing mechanisms. I hope that the process following Corfu Ministerial will help restore trust and generate common ground for the adoption of a political declaration in Athens.

Every organisation has its strengths and weaknesses. The OSCE is not an exception. It is important to evaluate them seriously. But replacing the carefully designed principles before commitments to the Organization are fulfilled, is not a successful way forward. What we may need more is the "Helsinki spirit". This is a process of 56 participating States in which all should feel more secure. This should continue to inspire us in working together at the OSCE.

Thank you.

This document

Updated 9/17/2009

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