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Speeches, 3/4/2010

Minister Stubb's speech at a seminar on the drafting of Nato's new Strategic Concept

Nato´s New Strategic Approach – Comprehensive Approach to Crisis Management
Helsinki, 4 March 2010

Introductory remarks by Mr. Alexander Stubb Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland

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I would like to warmly welcome you all to this seminar. As an introduction I will briefly tackle three topics: 1) Why the strategic concept matters to us all? 2) Why comprehensive crisis management – the main topic of today´s deliberations – is a must, but so difficult to achieve and finally 3) I will say few words on Finland´s evolving relations with Nato.

Why the Strategic Concept matters to us all?

We are pleased to be involved in the process of shaping the contours of Nato´s new strategic concept. This process matters greatly not only for members of Nato, but the rest of us as well. Why?

First, Nato is an essential part of our own European and global security environment. It has projected security and stability in Europe, including the Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea, over the past six decades. The alliance also continues to serve as a bedrock of Transatlantic co-operation. Nato and the EU are the most successful peace movements of the western world.

Second, we all – the EU and Nato members states alike - belong to the same security community. The EU is asserting itself in foreign policy as well as security and defense policy fields. Together we are seeking ways to respond to multiple challenges, both old and new. We have to tackle all our security challenges hand in hand.

Third, the new Nato strategy will have an impact on the development of the various partnership formats in the years to come. Being an ambitious partner for Nato we expect an ambitious partnership with it. This is a serious outcry from a serious partner – don´t forget us.

Why comprehensive crisis management is a must – but so difficult?

Comprehensive crisis management is today an agreed concept. We have learned our lessons from the Balkans, from Afghanistan and from every modern crisis management operation.

The objective is clear – to combine political, military, civilian crisis management and development efforts into an integrated, comprehensive set of crisis aid. But implementation in complex situations with several actors remains a real challenge.

I believe we need to see the overall concept of comprehensive crisis management through three lenses:

The organizational challenge: How to strengthen coordination between various organizations, UN, EU, Nato, AU, and Non-Governmental Organizations? Each organization is different - membership, decision making, procedures, funding regulations - and, yet, we should be able to work better together.

The functional challenge: How to make best use of various efforts and tracks – civilian and military crisis management, development aid, humanitarian aid, as well as political efforts? There may still be mental allergy between crisis management and development actors. However, we should put aside unnecessary doctrinal constraints.

The challenge of local ownership: How to build a better link between international efforts and local actors? International community can organize itself better and combine different methods, but prospects for success are dim if the local government and local people are not engaged. Local ownership is the key to a successful transition. That is perhaps the most challenging dimension of comprehensive crisis management.

We can make real progress towards real comprehensive crisis management only by improving our action on all three fronts. I think KFOR in Kosovo and ISAF in Afghanistan are good examples that prove why we need to focus on this.

Finland and Nato

MEP Liisa Jaakonsaari once described Nato as Finland´s secret lover or mistress. I would rather argue that our partnership with Nato is like “a common-law marriage”. We have been committed and reliable partners for a long time, almost two decades.

Our White Paper on security policy confirmed last year that Finland will further deepen its co-operation with Nato. This will include a wide range of activities, from crisis management, co-operation relating to military capabilities and interoperability to civil emergency planning and regular political dialogue. There is a strong national consensus on developing our relations with Nato in a dynamic way. Every government coalition in the recent past has done its share to advance this co-operation.

There is also an ongoing debate on Finland´s possible membership in Nato. Some support our membership, some oppose – and some are somewhere in-between, seeing both benefits and downsides linked with this choice. I am a firm advocate of frank and open discussion and therefore I respect all different views.

Our government´s position is clear. Time is not ripe for a decision, but “strong grounds for considering Finland´s membership” continue to exist. Whether or not we will join depends mainly on a broad political consensus at a national level. At the moment it does not exist. Therefore, it is not likely that any decision will be taken in the course of next couple of years. But the option is and remains on the table.

I sincerely wish that today´s seminar will provide some food-for-thought for all different camps of opinion. As our former ambassador to Nato, Mr Antti Sierla, once put it: “The opponents of Nato have a right to know what they oppose!” I would add that those who support our Nato-membership also have a right to know what they support.

We are proud to host this seminar together with Sweden here in Helsinki.

Thank you!


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Updated 3/4/2010

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