Responding to Security Challenges of our Time: More Security through Wider International Cooperation, puhe Atlantti-seuran ja Puolan suurlähetystön seminaarissa 17.10.2011

Stronger role for Europe

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As populist and nationalistic sentiments are on the rise across Europe, the benefits of European integration and international cooperation need to be explained again. Continuously deepening integration and numerous enlargements from the original Coal and Steel Community have created unprecedented peace and stability in Europe. The EU is, after all, arguably the most successful peace project in world history, having put to an end the spectre of war between its member states, which had between them started two world wars and countless lesser ones.

Relatively new member states too, like Finland, have already gained greatly from being part of the Union – both economically and in terms of increased influence in international affairs.

Finland has taken an active role in deepening the integration throughout its time as a member state. This has also been significant for security policy. In 1999, EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy was established with the Amsterdam Treaty, entering into force a few months before the first Finnish EU Presidency started. The framework for what currently is the Common Security and Defence Policy, was set up in Helsinki later in the year. Following that, over 20 crisis management operations have been undertaken by the EU. Finland has taken part in most of them. They have included both military and civilian operations and the EU has become a leading actor in civilian crisis management and its development.

The 2003 European Security Strategy and the report on its implementation five years later were forward-looking documents at the time, but a lot has already happened since then. Work has to continue, taking into account the global security environment and developments in the EU itself such as the possibilities brought along with the Lisbon Treaty and the European External Action Service. There is a need for a new, comprehensive foreign and security policy strategy for the EU.

On a more practical level, examples where further progress would be needed in European security and defense issues include establishing a permanent operational headquarters. This has turned out to be a difficult issue among the Member States. The setting up of the permanent civil-military planning and conduct capability is not an ideological isssue. It is needed for very practical reasons; all EU instruments should be used in a coordinated manner. Furthermore, this can be done in a way that does not needlessly duplicate existing structures. As always, Finland wants to see the EU proceed with this at 27. If, at the end of the day, this does not prove to be possible, we should not exclude moving forward even if some countries have to opt-out with constructive abstention.

Another example is improving the usability of EU battle groups. This could be done through more flexibility and through further developing common funding in crisis management, namely the Athena mechanism. Other central issues include comprehensive approach to civilian and military capability work as well as improving the conditions for third countries’ participation in EU-led crisis management operations.

With these positions, it is natural that Finland supports the recent Weimar Initiative by Germany, France and Poland. Work should be carried on all of the three areas covered by the initiative, that is EU-NATO cooperation, Permanent civil-military planning and conduct capabilities for the EU and further development regarding the EU battle groups and European capabilities.

Opportunities provided by the Lisbon Treaty should be considered openly to allow for progress in the EU when and where ever possible.

Good  EU-NATO cooperation is also of vital importance as these organizations in many cases work in the same areas of operations in international crisis management. One recent example of well-functioning cooperation in the field has been EU’s Atalanta operation deterring piracy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before moving on from EU matters I want to make a point. Hard power and military capabilities alone cannot and should not define EU’s role. The EU neither has the need, ambition nor means to become a military Super-Power. The EU as a sui generis kind of organization- less than a federal state, but with a large degree of supranational decision-making and pooled sovereignty – is unique in its capacity to use variety of different instruments in conflict prevention and crisis management including trade and economic and development cooperation. 

This said it also has to be recognized, that what looks good on paper often bears no relation to reality on the ground, where the EU’s efforts are all too often hampered by time-consuming bureaucratic inefficiency, in-fighting, turf wars and member states’ propensity too look after their own national interests at the cost of the European commitment.

In Europe itself, the EU’s most powerful foreign policy tool has the perspective of membership in the Union. Finland has also been able to make important contributions in this area, notably when during the Finnish Presidency in 1999 Turkey was granted the official status as a candidate country for accession. This work has to continue with chapters being opened and closed in the negotiation process on an objective basis, as Turkey’s membership is of strategic importance to the EU.

Widening and deepening Nordic cooperation

 Turning now to another region where active work is underway for closer foreign and security policy cooperation. The Nordic countries have shown the way for wider European integration with its many innovations, starting from passport free travel, a common labour market and votes for Nordic citizens in local elections. Close cooperation continues in many areas but in the last few years, progress has been particularly rapid in the field of security and defence cooperation. In addition to the long tradition of cooperation in UN crisis management, with more recent examples from the UN mandated EU and NATO operations, this now includes also capability work and pooling and sharing.

 At their meeting in Helsinki in April this year, Nordic Foreign Ministers declared their countries intention to cooperate in meeting the challenges in the area of foreign and security policy in a spirit of solidarity. Foreseeable security threats include for example natural and man-made disasters and cyber and terrorist attacks. Should a Nordic country be affected, the others will, upon request from that country, assist with relevant means. The intensified Nordic cooperation will be undertaken fully in line with each country’s security and defense policy and complement existing European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation.

 The tragic events in Utoya, Norway, reinforced the sentiment of communality and solidarity across the Nordic area. Norwegians have showed us the right  example for upholding democracy and the rule of law when these values come under a direct attack.

 Looking ahead, prospects for deepening Nordic cooperation are favorable. As the Nordic countries have opted for different solutions regarding memberships in the EU and NATO, Nordic cooperation, while very valuable as such, can also open additional opportunities at practical level. Furthermore, in my view, the Nordic cooperation could also serve as a model in the wider European and Euro-Atlantic context, also in the area of pooling and sharing.

Developing relations with NATO

 NATO adopted a new Strategic Concept last year, setting out three core tasks for the Alliance: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. The third task includes partnerships with countries and organizations, contributing to arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament as well as keeping the door to membership open to European democracies.

 It is important to notice, also here in Finland, that NATO regards the threat of a conventional attack against it as being low and focuses increasingly on what may be called emerging security challenges. Some of these challenges are more recent than others, and the roles of NATO and other international actors vary depending on the challenge. These challenges include the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, threatening extremism, organized cross border crime, cyber attacks and threats to vital communication, transport and transit routes. I also note that NATO’s Strategic Concept very rightly recognizes climate change among the challenges.

 In terms of day to day work, NATO has focused increasingly on international military crisis management operations in cooperation with other organizations and countries as well as to developing its partnerships.

From the Finnish viewpoint, recent developments at NATO are positive. Today, Finland and NATO work closely on many areas that NATO regards as its core tasks.

 Regarding Finland’s political relationship with NATO, the new government programme reflects the longterm continuity of our security policy. While any preparations for joining NATO are excluded in the programme, the question of how NATO and its various partnerships continue to develop remains important for Finland. We will continue our partnership with NATO on a pragmatic and mutually beneficial basis.

 Finland continues to participate in NATO-led operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and our contributions to EU-led civilian missions in these same countries further reinforce crisis management efforts there. In a very practical way, the partnership goals Finland has set together with NATO make it possible for us to develop our defence forces and crisis management capabilities that may be needed in any international military crisis management operation, be its implementation UN-led, EU-led or NATO-led.

 Contributing to cooperation with Russia

For Finland’s immediate environment, developments in Russia are an important factor. Along with countless economic, cultural and other cooperation opportunities, this also involves some security-related questions such as environmental and nuclear safety concerns. Finland has good and active bilateral relations with Russia, and from the very start of our EU membership, we have actively contributed to enhancing cooperation between the EU and Russia. The Northern Dimension is a good example of new initiatives that have proven to be effective.

At the moment, one of the top priorities in enhancing EU-Russia relations is to conclude the negotiations on a New Agreement. That, along with Russia’s expected accession to the WTO, would provide a comprehensive framework for our cooperation in all sectors. Finland’s focus is also on increasing mobility between the EU and Russia including the common goal of visa free regime in the future, which would have a major impact on the people-to-people interaction, trade and economy. In addition, we would also like to see increased cooperation in crisis management and concluding a framework agreement on Russia’s participation in EU crisis management operations. Finland also welcomes increased NATO-Russia cooperation.

Upholding effective multilateralism

With the European Union, OSCE, Council of Europe, NATO and their various partnership and cooperation arrangements, notably with Russia, Europe has a functioning security architecture. With the global organization of the United Nations, these institutions support the rule based multilateral system that is vital for international peace and security.

The UN continues to be the key forum for cooperation on a global level. Its role in conflict prevention, crisis management, sustainable development, human rights and rule of law remains essential.

Finland has always participated actively in the work at the UN to uphold peace and security. Finns began participating in peacekeeping and crisis management in the UN mission in the Sinai over 50 years ago. At the moment, Finland is preparing to participate, for the third time, in the UNIFIL operation in Lebanon.

When there is an emerging crisis, the UN and its Security Council is the only recognized and legitimate source for the use of force for military crisis management. Consequently, the ability of the Security Council to take decisions is of key importance to the international community. Finland regards highly the role of the Security Council where Finland will stand for election next year for the period 2013-2014.

Responding to global challenges

Ladies and gentlemen,

As I am now coming to the last part of my speech, I will go more deeply into describing the security concerns of our time as well as the required responses.

Security threats have become more complicated and therefore international cooperation needs be wider and deeper too.

In this context, two trends are clear. First, threats to international security are increasingly other than military and this is reflected in the expecations of citizens. Climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, redicalization and terrorism, failed states, cyber threats, natural and man-made disasters, contagious deseases, organized crime and the like require wide responses. Not even active conflicts can be solved with military means alone.

Responding to the current and future security challenges requires, among other things, good transatlantic cooperation. Europe and the United States need continuously to look at ways to build constructive international efforts. While they mostly share common goals and values, their priorities and means of action vary. Europeans are concerned about the American love-relationship with guns, both domestically and in external relations, and would like to see more effors from the US in fight against poverty, in development assistance, in combating climate change and in promoting sustainable development, while Americans sometimes regard us as softpower wimps and wish to see Europeans taking a more active role in crisis management and related capability development. All of these issues need addressing, although each country and organization will continue to focus mainly on the areas of its relative strength.

The EU and US also need to work together with other important actors such as Russia, China, India and Brazil for a more comprehensive responsibility and burden sharing in tackling global challenges. Strive for economic stability and environmental sustainability should be guiding principles for the  international community. Each country needs to make its contribution.

The bottom line is that as economic growth in the world is accumulates in certain areas, and multipolarity increases in world politics, upholding and developing the rules based multilateral system require even more efforts.

Globalization too affects security policy. Not only are security and development inextricably linked, but also, states no longer can claim the monopoly in international politics. The multitude NGOs, social media and phenomena like conscious consumer choises are reshaping international affairs. The concept of absolute sovereignty is becoming a theoretical construction.

One central aspect in globalization and its challenges is world’s population growth. I would argue that it has been gravely overlooked and needs much more focus in international efforts. It has enormous consequences for how mankind interacts with its natural environment.  A world with seven billion people cannot be managed in the same way as when, at the end of the WW2, the world’s population was still only a third of what it its today.

The international community has only very recently become aware of how unsustainably we have managed our natural resources since the start of the industrial revolution a few centuries ago, neither recognizing the depletion of non-renewable resources nor managing renewable resources so as to safeguard their reproduction. This awareness has been largely brought about by climate change, which I consider to be the number one challenge to our security and survival in the world today.

It may be that, even at best, we have only a few decades time in which to adapt our behaviour to the exigencies of ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development. This is centrally relevant to arguments about the relative merits and efficiency of hard and soft power. Therefore, each and all international actors, need to focus more on development assistance, education, gender equality, conflict prevention as well as arms control and disarmament.

Finland continuing as active international contributor

Before I conclude, I wish to say a few more words on the Finnish contribution to joint efforts to match international security challenges.

Finland’s government programme provides for a good basis for engagement as an active member of international community. That means work for developing the EU and its policies, EU’s enlargement, maintaining good international relations, responding to global challenges, participation in crisis management operations and many other things.

As is traditional in Finland, there will be continuity from the previous government in foreign and security policy. Finland prospers when international cooperation is inclusive, wide-ranging and effective. Finland benefits when the Nordic area and the EU are economically competitive, maintain social well-being and comprehensive external relations.

For its own part, Finland is a trusted actor and partner in any international question. Finland continues to make contributions across the comprehensive range of issues but due to our history and model of society, we have certain areas where we can offer a particularly high level of expertise. Timely examples include cyber security, peace mediation, comprehensive approach to crisis management as well as promoting gender equality in the context on international peace and security. Regarding the last example, may I point out that in Finnish civilian crisis management personnel, the proportion of women has reached the level of one third, which is a world class achievement as Finland continues to advocate effective implementation of the relevant UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Finland also intends to present a national action plan to strengthen the Finnish participation in peace mediation work, including the possibility to set up a stability fund, and to update our national strategy on civilian crisis management.

While participation in the NATO-led ISAF operation will be reviewed as cirtically as necessary in Finland this autumn, the long term commitment to supporting Afghanistan will continue as long as we think we can make a positive contribution to stability, democracy and human rights. The focus of Finnish contributions will move more and more from the military to the civilian side.

Transatlantic relations are considered important and to illustrate that a specific strategy will be developed to deepen Finland’s relations with the US and Canada as well as to identify ways for developing EU’s relations with these two countries.

In many very concrete ways, as I have laid out, Finland will continue its active contribution to international security.