Security in a Changing Europe: A Finnish View
Minister of Defense of Finland Anneli Taina

For decades, the great city of Warsaw symbolized the confrontation between two powerful military alliances armed and trained to face each other in Europe. Today we live in a different world, one where stark military confrontation no longer divides Europe.

But as the security order maintained by the Cold War system has disappeared, new kinds of threats to the stability of the international system have appeared. What is different about these threats is that we are trying to find solutions to them through cooperation. We are working together to manage conflicts, and we are attempting to build mutual understanding, trust, and confidence, elements that are indispensable in our search for a just and lasting peace for this continent. The XIIIth NATO Workshop is a living testimony to the real spirit of cooperation and partnership that are the hallmark of the new Europe.


Finland was never a part of the confrontational structures of the old Europe. Though we emerged from the two World Wars badly crippled--we lost more than ten percent of our territory and faced the daunting task of resettling the population from those ceded territories--we were never conquered militarily and retained all our political, economic, and cultural institutions intact. Finland was a full Western democracy before the Second World War and has remained one ever since.

During the Cold War, our national security policy could be described as one of adaptation, an obvious necessity for any small country. We chose to remain neutral and sought to stay outside the Great Power conflicts, relying on our own resources rather than on any alliance arrangements. Today, however, Finland's policy can no longer be described as neutral. In today's world, neutrality means closing one's eyes to violations of international law and standards rather than taking a constructive approach to conflict management. Security, too, has new meaning: it encompasses not only political and military factors, but also such issues as economic development, environmental concerns, and respect for human rights. Accession to the European Union marked a historic change in Finland's security policy. As President Martti Ahtisaari said in a major policy speech the week before the Workshop, "We have given up our former policy of Cold War-era neutrality, and we seek to implement the goals of the European Union. "In fact, while we still are not seeking membership in a military alliance--it is well understood in Finland that the European Union is a political union, not a defense alliance--we have committed ourselves to the common foreign and security policy of the Union. We have also indicated our readiness to participate constructively in the framing of a common defense policy.


The European Union is an emerging foreign policy and security actor in world politics. It has introduced strategies and initiatives to support transition and build stability both in Russia and throughout the Baltic Sea region. One of the aims of the Union is to develop its common foreign and security policy in a dynamic and comprehensive manner. Finland welcomes this objective and believes it has considerably improved Finland's international position.

To support this objective, Finland, together with Sweden, put forth at the Intergovernmental Conference a proposal to strengthen European Union's role in crisis management, calling for a more prominent Union role in conflict management situations in which military organizations are used. This new role demands a stronger link between the European Union and the Western European Union. All contributing EU member-states should be able to participate on an equal footing in the elaboration and implementation of joint operations requested by the European Union and conducted by the Western European Union.

While our proposal is a positive contribution to a more extensive European crisis management capability, Finland recognizes the indispensable role of NATO in crisis management. In Bosnia, NATO has shown, in the words of a recent article in The Economist, that "it is the only international organization which can stop a war. "Now that the war has been stopped, peace must be started, and international cooperation is the only way to reach that goal.

It is clear that the success of the IFOR operation is due largely to NATO and to the first lessons in military cooperation offered by NATO through its Partnership for Peace program. Finland has strongly supported PFP from its inception because we saw that it was truly an important means through which NATO and non-NATO countries could work together in crisis management. The lessons learned from the IFOR operation can further help these countries enhance their military capabilities for future crisis management missions.

At the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Berlin in early June, a proposal was put forward that would facilitate participation of non-NATO planners in Combined Joint Task Force operations "at an early stage." We see this measure to increase PFP Partners' involvement in crisis management planning as a major step forward in jointly preparing implementation of future crisis management operations.

We also welcome the broadening and deepening of the PFP Planning and Review Process (PARP), especially the efforts to further develop the Interoperability Objectives. Finland has taken part in the PARP process from its very beginning, and we continue to believe that it is a central element in the effort to accelerate interoperability--which, as IFOR has amply demonstrated, is sorely needed in multinational crisis management operations. The lessons learned from IFOR must be carefully evaluated during the next round of the PARP process later this year.

To improve our own capabilities for military crisis management, Finland has launched a major effort. The Finnish parliament in June debated and accepted the government's proposal to train and equip a special brigade-size Rapid Deployment Force, from which a battalion-size contingent could be sent abroad at any given time. When ready, the brigade will greatly improve our interoperability with NATO and Partner forces.


In addition to continent-wide concerns, Finland believes that there are also important regional security issues. One of them is the reintegration of the Baltic States into the European security system. Since 1991, significant assistance has been provided by several countries to enhance Baltic security and support Baltic sovereignty. Finland has given such bilateral assistance, focusing mainly on Estonia because of its geographical proximity and its historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. To date, Finland has trained nearly 100 officers and NCOs for the Estonian Defense Forces; provided training and material assistance to BALTBAT, the Baltic peacekeeping battalion; and trained most of Estonia's current Border Guard personnel. Finland has also given material assistance, and is ready to sell military equipment on a commercial basis.

In response to Estonia's request for assistance in organizing, training, and equipping their Defense Forces, Finland has sent a team of active-duty officers to Estonia to determine the scope and extent of the assistance needed. Finland is also prepared to assume the role of international donor coordinator for defense assistance to Estonia, in order to mesh Estonia's requirements with outside resources.


Among the factors affecting Finland's security, Russia clearly is one of the most significant. Russia has been a key part of the European security landscape for centuries and continues to be one today. The Finnish-Russian border is 1,300 kilometers long, and we want to keep it a border of peace and cooperation. By integrating Russia into the network of multilateral international cooperation, we will be making a valuable contribution to European as well as international security. For a country such as Finland, this integration is a must.

Finland does not believe that Russia would increase its security, nor make its neighbors more safe, by isolating itself from the rest of Europe. For this reason Finland some time ago supported Russian membership in the Council of Europe. For the same reason Finland is now actively participating in European Union-sponsored assistance programs in Russia.

We also welcome Russia's participation in Partnership for Peace and hope that it will take on a role there commensurate with its importance as a great power. It is also encouraging to see a Russian brigade operating as part of an American division in IFOR, working side by side with peacekeepers from the Nordic countries and Poland. That, to me, is a pragmatic way to work with Russia in an important area where our interests overlap.

I also believe that the first round of Russian presidential elections was a victory for democratic development in Russia. Voter participation was high, and there has been no proof of any systematic foul play. The successful election process in Russia is another contribution to stability in all of Europe. When stability and predictability inside Russia increase, the chances for more intensive cooperation increase as well. For one thing, this means that such open issues as NATO enlargement, the stipulations of the CFE treaty, and Russia's relations with its neighbors, especially with the Baltic States, can be a matter of negotiation, not one of confrontation.


In my remarks, I have tried to emphasize the cooperative efforts in which all of us have been involved in recent years to shape the destiny of Europe. These efforts have been many, but much still remains to be done. And as we work to make our continent a more secure place, some will want to do so by joining a military alliance, and some will want to do so by staying non-aligned.

Finland will remain non-aligned. As President Ahtisaari has said, "The Finnish government has made it clear that in the present conditions we have no cause to abandon our policy of military non-alliance. The reason is that by entering an alliance we would not increase our own security, which rests on an independent, credible defense. Nor would alliance promote stability in our own environment, Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea region. " However, Finland respects every state's right to choose its own security arrangements and as such does not take a stand on NATO membership for any individual country. We also believe that no country should have the right to veto on this matter over the decision of others.

Whether we are members of a military alliance or choose to stay outside, we all have a common job to do. We must work together to uphold democracy, tolerate diversity, respect the rights of minorities, and support freedom of expression. We must work together to develop democratic control of military forces, to be decent neighbors, and to acknowledge the sovereign rights of bordering countries. We must also work together to make our military forces interoperable to be better able to cooperate in crisis management tasks in the future.

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