Speech by Mr Jukka Valtasaari, Secretary of State at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland: European Security at the beginning of the 21st Century, at the India International Centre, New Delhi 16th January 2001

Venue: the India International Centre,
New Delhi, 16th January 2001

Mr Jukka Valtasaari,
Secretary of State,
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

European Security at the beginning of the 21st Century

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour to have been invited to speak to this distinguished audience at the India International Centre. Before addressing my topic, 'European security at the beginning of the 21st century', I would like to share with you a thought concerning India, Finland and Europe. India is a subcontinent in itself, an ancient civilisation with a great diversity of cultural traditions. Yet there is a remarkable degree of political cohesion and a commitment to democracy and the rule of law as the organizing principle of social order and civil society. Finland, on the other hand, is a small Northern European nation, among the most homogeneous of all nations. Yet, its cultural tradition is diverse, too, with influences from East and West and its social order based on universal values of freedom, democracy and equality. Europe's politics was for many centuries based on the principle of absolute sovereignty of nations as agreed in Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. In the years following World War II, it was divided into two ideological camps. Later, by adopting the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and the Paris Declaration of 1999, Europe agreed on common codes of conduct, based on democracy and rule of law, which are now being implemented throughout the entire continent. Thus, the tenets of the societies are similar and in the age of globalisation this is a good thing.

Europe's definitive order has not yet emerged, it needs a long time to take shape. Yet the fundamental historical currents are clear. Europe's development will be decided far into the future by two contrasting processes; firstly, former Western Europe is reaching toward the East in its pursuit of bigger units and coalitions needed to achieve its geopolitical and economic objectives. And, in contrast, former large units in Eastern Europe, in particular the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, have split up into some twenty separate states on the map of Europe. Both processes underline the strategic importance of EU enlargement as a method for projecting stability eastwards, somewhat as the Marshall Plan did in the post-war years - albeit eastwards across the Atlantic. Thus, the forthcoming EU enlargement is a different proposition altogether compared with the previous one, when three economically advanced and socially stable nations, namely Austria, Finland and Sweden, joined the EU as contributors to the club.

I am emphasizing the role of economic integration to point out the change in the European paradigm in the post-cold war years. Since the end of WW II, and on through the 1980s, stability was produced by a combination of economic integration in the West and a power balance between East and West based on nuclear weapons. In the course of the 1990's, this old familiar figure of cold-war jeopardy grew several new heads. Sometimes he appeared as the greenhouse effect, sometimes as the threat of a nuclear power plant disaster, sometimes as over-population or immigration or epidemics or drugs or crime, and sometimes as a multiplicity of ethnic conflicts.
What these problems have in common is that they ignore borders, they are not limited to Europe and they do not merely affect the security of whole nations but also the sense of security of the individual. They all form a part of the external relations of the EU and their handling requires a horizontal approach, much deeper institutional cooperation and pooling of sovereignty. Europe does not become a superpower in international relations just by declaring that it is one. The adoption of such a role requires that one moves away from the concept of the 1990s of dealing separately with different areas of external relations.

The time when Europe's big challenges could be dealt with in an insular fashion is over. Not even security questions can be treated in isolation. This became abundantly clear when Europe engaged in crisis resolution in the Balkans. And it is even clearer now that the EU has decided to extend its integration from the single market and European monetary union into the field of foreign policy and security, by agreeing on headline goals for joint crisis resolution capability, in the Helsinki Summit in December 1999, and by committing 60,000 troops for this purpose at the Brussels Conference last November. In this domain, too, there are two contrasting developments at play; challenges affecting European security are no longer restricted to Europe, yet the resources available for crisis management are increasingly limited. The Finnish conclusion is that there is no political or practical need for parallel arrangements at crisis resolution in NATO and in the EU. This is our answer to the burning question, which is currently discussed at ministerial and other levels of the Union and NATO.

But European security is not only about political reform of the structures of the European Union. Future developments in the Russian Federation are a key part of the picture. The Russian President recently visited your country. Since assuming office he has multiplied international contacts at the highest level. I do not think anybody doubts that the political leadership in Russia has fully grasped the challenge of making the country stable and competitive in Europe and elsewhere. Neither does anybody harbour illusions about the size of the practical task, which involves human rights, the rule of law, the economy and democracy. The goal is clear but present trends of development seem to go at different speeds, often in a variety of directions, and sometimes in contradiction with each other. For instance, elections are routine, but officials are appointed to oversee elected leaders. Economic growth is rapid but poverty is undefeated. Civil society develops apace, but attempts are being made to curb the freedom of the press.

It remains a truth of history that no generation of political leaders can choose its challenges. In the global age, the choice is even more restricted. For Russia, one consequence of the eastern European disintegration was that it became a more western and northern nation than its predecessor, the Soviet Union. Close to half of its exports go to the area of the EU and a major part of that transits through Finland and the Baltic States, creating an interdependence of economic and, ultimately, other interests. In the Finnish view such an interdependence is the best guarantee for stability.

This development changed the Finnish political environment, the Baltic Sea region, in a radical way. It is now a region of about 80 million people, its economy is developing fast, the diversity of the economic development "from Stockholm to Kaliningrad" produces an abundance of new opportunities, the region remains a theatre for Russian economic engagement, and the list goes on. The EU is involved because the only border it has with Russia is the Finno- Russian border.

Moreover, globalisation manifests itself on a screen larger than the Baltic region or Europe. For those who get to reap the benefits of international investments, the possibilities seem boundless. But those left on the sidelines may feel that the exercise of power is slipping away from governments into the invisible hands of market forces. The benefits glitter on everybody's horizon but the minuses of inequality and unemployment remain a daily burden on many lives. The problem, as governments see it, is that development is very rapid. The capacity of information technology to process, forward and store information doubles every other year. Those who are able to hook themselves onto development in the fast lane will do well, while others will be left behind. This forces individuals, national governments big and small, as well as international institutions to face an entirely new situation, as we saw at the WTO conference in Seattle over a year ago, and thereafter during the meetings of international financial institutions in Washington.
Policies will have to be defined in such a way that new opportunities can be grasped, while social cohesion remains tight enough to prevent alienation and, meanwhile, information channels such as the Internet offer new opportunities for individuals and the entire civil society to express their views efficiently. A complex mixture indeed.

If these were some of the challenges, what about the responses, governmental and intergovernmental, at the beginning of the 21st century? The following are the Finnish conclusions. To Finland, history and geography offer only a limited number of benefits. One of them, however, is that we learned how to identify our national interest in a way that it is understandable to others and to promote it within the context of, rather than outside, European, and now global, historical currents.

A reality of the global age is that external relations are increasingly outside the grasp of governments. Information flows freely, as does capital; and now goods and services, too, move increasingly unhindered. This emphasizes the importance of competitiveness and the ability to remain in the fast lane of development. As you know, Finland did well in the late 1990s. International institutes rank us very high, some place us at the top of international competitiveness. Our formula has been to concentrate on our own resources, most importantly on the people. Conscious improvements in education, research and development, particularly in the technological field, have been, and remain, the Government's strategy since the eighties. The results speak for themselves. The story of Nokia is probably the best known, but there are others.

For some time now the Finnish philosophy has been based on active and constructive engagement in European affairs. For this one needs a vision and a policy to go with it. Our policy is that while, in the short term, many things can be improved, in the longer term the European Union needs reforms which will enable it to deepen and enlarge at the same time. Union jargon has long exposed the difficulty of blending the deepening with the widening. Among the more visible products of recent deepening of European integration are EMU and the soon-to-be-launched euro, which represents by far the most important step in the pooling of sovereignty in Europe and, in my opinion, also the most important step in the external relations of the Union.

One of the more interesting and perhaps unexpected results of the launching of the euro a year ago is that it produced - even before the currency's physical existence - a large new financial market. The rapid increase in the flow of investments across the Atlantic proves the point. The euro has generated a dialogue among other currencies in the world, albeit somewhat hesitantly, as the fluctuation of its exchange rate indicates. Institutional decision-making lags behind the market forces, but the new requirements of coordinating macro economic policies among Governments loom large.

What is going to happen over the next few years in the Union itself?

Firstly, the Union is already in the process of moving to the final stage of integration, from monetary union to a common security policy. What this means is that Europe is going to take a bigger responsibility for its own security and that it considers European security an important part of global security. Headline goals for a common European (military) capability have been agreed already and troops committed. What will follow in the months and years to come is a structure, at European level, for the political and military decision-making relating to the use of that capability. In practice, we are talking about a crisis resolution capability roughly of the size that was used in Bosnia few years ago. As in Bosnia, the organisational model will be such that allows for close cooperation between NATO and the EU as well as cooperation with other parties interested in crisis resolution in Europe. The S-For operation in Bosnia had more non-NATO than NATO members.

Secondly, the EU will be enlarged within two to four years. Enlargement is not a matter of declaration. On the part of the applicant countries, it is a commitment to transition according to the economic and political criteria set by the Union in the 1990s. On the part of the Union, it is a commitment to support that transition. Enlargement is not only an important political step towards unity in Europe. In the economic sense it adds diversity, and thus opportunity for growth, in the entire area. Our experiences of the Baltic Sea Area prove that point.

And finally, Europe, once enlarged, needs new decision-making structures. Some decisions were made already in the Summit of Nice. They concerned the future functioning of the Commission, the role of its President, the introduction of a new system of weighting votes in the Council and the venue for future Summits. However, in the longer term the Union needs deeper reforms if it wants to be an effective player on the global stage in its enlarged form. It needs in particular a dramatically expanded area where qualified majority voting is applied, the definition of new rules for pooling sovereignty on the supranational level and the demarcation of competences among the Union and its member states.

For some of you, these decisions may seem technical. Not so for us Europeans. Pooling sovereignty and implementing subsidiarity are very difficult indeed. We talk about a real turning point in European developments. Those of you who followed the international press after the recent Summit in Nice, in southern France - reading how victors were declared, losers identified and judgements pronounced - will understand that we not talking about technical decisions but about fitting together different philosophies of governance. This will not be easy, it will take time, yet it is necessary.

The commonly declared goal of the unification of the continent, and the strategy to achieve that goal, include the enlargement of the Union and the adoption of institutional reform as a tool kit for making the enlarged and unified Europe an effective player on the world stage.