Remarks by Mr Jaakko Blomberg, Under Secretary of State, at the 46th Atlantic Treaty Association General Assembly
It is a special pleasure for me to address the Atlantic Treaty Association General Assembly today: the Atlantic Council of Finland has been established this year and will now, here in Budapest, become an Associate Member of your Association. The new Finnish Atlantic Council will not only provide a new, active forum for security policy discussions in my country, but also a forum for sharing information and views about the Atlantic Alliance. Its inaugural session was held in March in Helsinki, and was addressed by Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Ambassador Balanzino.
NATO and its Partnership activities remain an issue of interest for my country. Even if Finland does not seek membership at NATO, we value high the crisis management function of NATO, and its cooperative approach in security issues. This aims at improved security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area, a goal shared by all of us.
Through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the Partnership activities, it is possible for us and a number of other countries to participate in this work. The Partnership framework offers opportunities for very practical and real crisis management cooperation between NATO and Partners like Finland. All this, in turn, has enabled our substantial participation in NATO-led crisis management tasks, SFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina and KFOR in Kosovo.
The Partnership and our participation in these crisis management tasks also enjoy firm support of the Finnish public opinion, which has always looked favorably at our involvement in peacekeeping. About 75% of Finns have expressed their support for PfP co-operation in opinion polls. This kind of domestic public opinion gives the Government a comfortable point of departure in further Partnership work.
The changes that NATO has gone through in the course of the 1990’s have indeed been deep. The Alliance has adapted itself to the entirely new constellation in Europe. The new NATO got a written expression in the 1999 Strategic Concept of NATO. The organisation has been able to develop from the security needs of the Cold War era into a modern, wider and more flexible security structure, reflecting current needs and tasks in Europe. The work to change some of the structures is still going on. The profound change is very clearly reflected in the fact that in KFOR, more than 30 nations participate in a large scale Nato-led peacekeeping effort in Kosovo.
Finland appreciates the choice made by the Alliance Summit in Washington to include both crisis management tasks and the Partnership among the fundamental security tasks of the NATO.
It is important for us, and I believe also for the Alliance and other Partners, that NATO continues to be active in crisis management and to provide security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area also in the future. And it is important that its Partners are able to participate in this work as closely as they can, since we are talking about shared security in our continent.
In the Balkans, active support of the entire Transatlantic community is needed for quite some time to safeguard and strengthen the process of change towards stability, democracy, rule of law and respect of human rights, as well as towards economic prosperity. Inputs from various international organizations are needed also in the future. While the new situation in Belgrade offers new possibilities, this does not mean that the work of the international community in the region can be finished soon. Quite the contrary, now it is time to work hard to get the entire area into close interaction with Euro-Atlantic structures and bring a democratic Jugoslavia back to the international community.
My country has actively worked to develop the Euro-Atlantic Partnership even further. On the practical crisis management side, there are many useful PfP activities, such as planning of military resources within the PARP-process, or the Political-Military Framework for NATO-led PfP-operations. The latter provides increased consultation and decision-shaping between NATO and those Partners, which send their troops to NATO-led operations. It reflects quite right the thinking that a national contribution to a particular crisis management operation should be matched with sharing of information and views among participating states on the task they are carrying out together.
The EAPC, the political forum bringing Nato Members and Partners together, was only established in 1997. It has already proved to be a useful forum for consultations on various security issues. Yet it continues to look for a proper role in the middle of a process where large number of EAPC Partners are in fact seeking Alliance Membership and therefore focus their participation on the Membership Action Plan, MAP.
The EAPC should be developed further in order to be an even more relevant link between the Alliance and the Partners. In my view, the EAPC is not an independent arrangement on its own right. Its raison d’etre does not come from interaction among Partners only: it will remain interesting and relevant only if the Alliance itself uses the forum for sharing ideas, deliberations and real issues with its Partners.
Due to recent developments within the European Union, my country has also worked with NATO from a slightly different angle. In order to develop its crisis management capabilities and common security and defence policy ESDP, the EU has engaged into cooperation with the Alliance for the first time. The aim is to share information and ensure support of the Alliance for possible EU-led crisis management tasks, where the Alliance as a whole is not engaged.
Finland supports this dialogue aiming at transparency and better overall preparedness for European crisis management. We find it important not to create twice such capabilities and mechanisms which already exist, and which can serve any crisis management mission in and around Europe, no matter which organization is tasked to carry it out. As an illustration of this, the military resources Finland maintains and develops, can be used both for NATO-led and EU-led crisis management – and for UN peacekeeping as well.
After this brief introduction to the national policies of my country, I would like to conclude by expressing my appreciation for the opportunity to address your Assembly today. I wish you every success in your challenging work to bring together national organizations and various national approaches to Transatlantic security.