Alivaltiosihteeri Jaakko Laajavan avauspuhe Atlanttiseurassa

Alivaltiosihteeri Jaakko Laajavan avauspuhe Atlanttiseurassa

Alivaltiosihteeri Jaakko Lajava 29.11.2002

Thank you very much for your kind invitation for me to welcome everyone to this important seminar.

Nato Summit in Prague last week was a success, no doubt. The overall theme was the transformation of the Alliance - and indeed many important decisions to that effect were in fact taken. I assume that my colleagues who follow these things on a daily basis will deal with the topics related to Nato enlargement, new Nato missions and new capabilities in more detail.

Let me therefore say just a few general words of welcome from a Finnish perspective.

Finns take matters of security very seriously - perhaps sometimes even too seriously. But as you all know, Finland was dramatically tested as to her will of independence during the Second World War. I believe we passed that test with flying colors. Yes, to some degree, we may still today cherish some myths but the truth is that Finland's security situation has been quite challenging, to put it mildly. Security therefore has always been Finland's national interest No. 1.

Neutrality was for us a method, not a philosophy but a means to achieve maximum amount of security and stability in the existing akward and at times frightening circumstances. The policy of neutrality was never ment to be some kind of compromise as to our fundamental Western values of democracy, freedom and human rights. We pursued our interests, particularly economic ones, maximally in order to survive and succeed as a Western democracy and market economy.

Times have changed. Today, Finland is an active and constructive member in the European Union. We look forward to a developing Union, a union that is internally strong but also shoulders its share of responsibility on the global arena. The Union is naturally as interested in global stability, security and overall predictability as is the United States. We may differ on the two sides of the Atlantic as to the respective value hierarchies and methodologies in international affairs but we both certainly want to see a world where democracy flourishes and human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected and promoted.

In the new security environment it is vital that the EU and Nato find sound methods to cooperate with each other. The Union is fundamentally a civilian actor with a vast array of conflict resolution assets at its disposal - and increasingly also military assets for crisis management. Together, the Union and the Alliance should avoid duplicating precious military structures and assets. Unfortunately, the draft agreement on this, the so-called Berlin + has not yet received full approval by all. Yet, I think, everyone recognizes the need for such an agreement.

A solid EU-Nato relationship is all the more important because security can no longer be seen only in the light of actions of states. 9/11 is of course a tragic demonstration of precisely this. Old threats have subsided - although not disappeared. New ones have emerged. We must understand security as a much wider concept that what was the case a decade ago. Our policies, methods and institutions must change accordingly.

We are pleased with the fact that, in Prague, seven nations were invited to begin accession negotiations to join the Alliance. We would like to congratulate both the candidates themselves and Nato. The process of enlargement - the fulfilment of the aspirations by the applicant countries and peoples - will enhance stability and predictability in Europe. This also applies to the Baltic Sea area which has changed considerably in the last ten years. We welcome this development.

Although she has not applied for membership in the Alliance, Finland does not shy away from her responsibilities. Finland is no free rider. Yes, we have succeeded and we recognize that we must seek to promote chances of our neighbors to do the same. Our resources are of course limited but initiatives and smaller actions do matter. And that is what we in fact do. We believe that we contribute to common security first by taking care of our own defense in a credible and non-threatening way. Secondly, we participate actively and constructively in international crisis management efforts, often by fielding peace-keeping troops and sending other assets to troubled areas. We also take an active part in the conceptual and institutional development work in this area. For example, General Hägglund leads the EU's Military Committee. And the Finns are known as sound partners in these endeavours, with excellent capability to act together with Nato forces.

In the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Finland and Sweden have acted as major contributors to the development of the content and purpose of the partnership. Some of our ideas for closer Partner-Alliance cooperation have been incorporated in the newly adopted partnership action plan. Our aim is to help Partners to cooperate more fully with Nato. Finland and Sweden - outside of the Alliance itself - have lended a certain value added to these endeavours and given it a wider perspective.

As to the question of membership in the Alliance, I will only refer to the programme of the Finnish Government which mentions the option for Finland to join Nato but does not propose to apply for membership. There will be a security policy review in 2004.

As to the near-term future, I would like to emphasize the importance of EU-Nato cooperation. We simply cannot fail to achieve it. We should not waste our resources but use them wisely and seek synergies whereever possible. This will be especially important in view of being able to respond to new emerging challenges to our common security and stability. Working together to counter new threats is also one of the most important safeguards against the trend of Europe and the U.S. drifting apart in the post-Cold War environment.

Let me, on behalf of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, congratulate the organisers of this seminar and wish you all an enjoyable day of fruitful discussions in Helsinki.