Foreign Minister Soini's speech in the GICNT Plenary

Opening remarks by Mr Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) Plenary, Helsinki 16–17 June 2015.

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to welcome you to the Plenary of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Earlier this year Finland hosted Northern Lights Workshop and Exercise here in Helsinki. Today I am pleased to address the Plenary Meeting.

The Plenary is the highest policy making body of the Global Initiative. It is tasked to give guidance to the initiative at the level of senior officials.

We have had strong support from our Partners in organising this meeting. I want to thank the two Co-chairs, the United States of America and the Russian Federation, for good cooperation. And let me thank all of you and your Governments for being active GICNT participants.       

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finland has a new coalition government. The Strategic Government programme sets tough but much needed reforms for the Finnish society.

The Finnish foreign and security policy continues to be based on consensus. Key foreign policy decisions are made jointly by the Government and the President. The joint decision making and well established parliamentary oversight ensures that Finland has only one foreign and security policy. As a Foreign Minister I will continue to pursue an active foreign policy, strengthen national defence and deepen international cooperation.

We regard treaty based international organisations as the backbone of global governance. In the nuclear field the United Nations, the IAEA and Interpol are such institutions. In our view the Global Initiative and other similar processes are very valuable in complementing the work that is done in universal organisations.

The current environment underlines the need for practical cooperation. We have common interests, so we must continue our joint efforts to combat nuclear terrorism. This is certainly an area where we can – and must – find common ground.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) took place last month in New York. I was disappointed to learn that the Conference was not able to agree on an outcome document.

Finland had invested heavily in its success. Under-Secretary Jaakko Laajava of Finland was the facilitator for a meeting on a Middle East that would eventually be free of Weapons of Mass Destruction.  So far it has not been possible to convene this Middle East Conference but a lot of progress has been made in the course of preparations. I have conveyed sincere thanks of the new Government to Under-Secretary Laajava for his tremendous effort and able leadership.

Let me briefly reflect on what does the lack of NPT consensus mean for global cooperation on nuclear issues.

We need to put things into perspective. The NPT failed to reach an agreement but the Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation continues to be in force. And so does the 2010 Action Plan. Now we need to look forward. NPT remains one of the key pillars of international security.

Practical cooperation and other political initiatives will be more important than ever.  One example is the Nuclear Security Summit to be held next year. Finland is an active member of the Nuclear Security Summit process. The series of these Summits has provided an opportunity to promote nuclear security at the highest political level worldwide.

Finland is committed to preventing nuclear terrorism and that is why the Global Initiative is very important for us. We know that combatting nuclear terrorism starts at home. Necessary legislation has to be in place. And what is needed most is hard work, where different authorities strive for a common goal. I believe seamless inter-agency cooperation is one of the strengths of the Finnish system.

We all need to make better use of international cooperation. Finland has ratified the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. And we contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1540. We continue to provide support to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund. Just to mention a few examples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This Plenary meets to enhance international cooperation and to support national capacities in addressing nuclear threats. These threats are growing more complex than before. In order to protect our countries and our societies, we need to recommit ourselves to an open dialogue and an effective cooperation.

I wish you a successful meeting and a pleasant stay in Helsinki.