Comprehensive Security – Foreign and Security Policy

40th Special National Defence Course for Ambassadors National Defence University Helsinki 7-8 December 2011 Secretary of State Pertti Torstila/MFA

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to present the foreign and security policy part of the Finnish Security strategy for society (2010). The strategy is a decision of the Government and provides guidelines for and harmonises preparedness in various administrative branches. It describes the areas for which different ministries are responsible as well as who is responsible for directing activities if and when a crisis occurs.

International activity and cooperation form an essential part of the functions vital to society.

In the 2010 security strategy for society the international dimension has been given even more attention and emphasis than in the previous strategies. We live in a globalizing world, and our preparedness may begin at the other end of the world. Internal and external security are two sides of the same coin.

Along with today’s security challenges, such as climate change, radicalisation, terrorism, organised crime, cyber threats and natural and man-made disasters, it is difficult to secure modern societies without effective international cooperation. Events and decisions far beyond our borders affect the security and well-being of the Finns. Responding to security challenges of our time more security through wider international cooperation is needed.

Prime Minister Katainen’s Government Programme (June 2011) represents continuity with the previous government programmes in all the main areas of foreign and security policy: the European Union, neighboring areas, global theater, trade policy and development assistance. The motto of the Programme is “internationally active European Finland”.

On security policy, the preparations of a new Government Report on Security and Defence Policy have just been launched along with the structural reform of the Defence Forces. The Government Programme gives guidelines for the preparations of the Report. Like the previous report, it will be based on a comprehensive concept of security. The report will be submitted to Parliament before the end of the year 2012.


In the Security Strategy for society the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has four strategic tasks:

  1. Maintaining contacts with foreign states and key international actors,
  2. Protecting and assisting Finnish citizens abroad
  3. Securing Finland’s foreign trade, and
  4. Participating in the comprehensive crisis management.

Maintaining contacts

In ensuring crisis preparedness, foreign and security policy is the outer sphere of activities. Finland’s missions abroad are the forward defence of foreign and security policy. They form a globally comprehensive network of service points. Their task is to promote Finland’s interests, serve our citizens, listen and communicate. But the international dimension is an integral part of great variety of vital functions, and it is not only a Foreign Ministry business. The Government Programme underlines the importance of enhancing cooperation between various Finnish players, Ministries and agencies conducting activities abroad. The Government wants to centralise Finland’s international operations on the basis of the House of Finland concept, channeling resources to the Finnish Embassies and Missions.

The Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden - form a main reference group to Finland, our traditional “inner circle” . The Nordic cooperation is extensive in a broad range of activities. It builds upon our common history, views, values and interests. In recent years, the cooperation has intensified also in the fields of security and defence in spite of our different memberships in the EU and NATO.

As a response to the request made in June 2008 by the Nordic foreign ministers, Thorvald Stoltenberg, the former foreign minister of Norway handed a security report to the ministers in February 2009. The report contained 13 concrete proposals ranging from air surveillance, maritime monitoring system, military cooperation, arctic cooperation to cooperation between foreign services, crisis preparedeness and disaster response unit for strengthening Nordic security cooperation. The ministers in their turn pointed to six areas, where they considered immediate attention to be appropriate. Officials examined the feasibility of implementing the proposals and at the meeting in Helsinki last April the ministers agreed on a declaration of solidarity.

The declaration which does not supercede the Nordic countries’ own security commitments states that “on the basis of common interest and geographical proximity the Nordic countries will cooperate in meeting the challenges in the area of foreign and security policy in a spirit of solidarity.” The ministers also discussed potential risks inter alia natural and man-made disasters, cyber and terrorist attacks. “Should a Nordic country be affected, the others will, upon request from that country, assist with relevant means.” The ministers pointed out that the Nordic declaration on solidarity will be followed up through practical measures, such as intensified cooperation in the field of cyber security, as a first step, into concrete measures, for example by building a Nordic Resource Network against cyber attacs.

Cyber security has become a topical issue in many international fora, UN, EU, NATO and  OSCE. Leakages or attacks affecting information security is a continuous, everyday threat also in Finland. There have been several examples of cyber attacs on countries. In 2007, civil infrastructure in Estonia was the object of an extensive attack, and in 2008 cyber weapons were used in connection with the conflict in Georgia. The current threat picture in the field of information and communication technology is complex and unpredictable.


Thus, the Finnish Government has launched development of a national Cyber Security Strategy. The task force in charge of the strategy started its work in 2011 and the strategy, including the implementation plan, will be completed by the end of 2012. The Government Programme sets the target that Finland will be one of the leading countries in enhancing cyber security. Obviously, we will continue our Nordic and other international cooperation in this field.

Stoltenberg proposals are to be seen in a wider framework of existing European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation, stressing the importance of involving other nations, the Baltic states in particular. We think that the Nordic cooperation can be a useful reference point for the development of cooperation structures also in other regions.This year Finland has acted as the coordinating country of the cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries (NB8). With Russia, our neigbouring country in the east we will further strengthen close and wide-ranging relations. We will also contribute actively to the development of relations and increasing cooperation between the EU and Russia. We find especially important to increase people to people links and mobility of persons across border lines.

The next level of cooperation is Europe. Membership of the European Union is integral to Finland’s security policy and a key channel for strengthening our international influence. In the context of national preparedness, the EU and its future development have a strong impact. Many of the new threats are such that the Union, acting in common, can counter them more effectively than each Member State, acting on its own.The European Union is needed as an effective global actor, and we want to strengthen and develop the EU’s international role and security of the union through Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). There is demand also from the citizens’ side for the EU’s role in crisis management.

At the moment a lot of attention and activity is focussed on the current financial and debt crisis. Hopefully, the crisis provides an opportunity to strengthen the Union in the end. We need more Europe, not less.The political consequences of the crisis should not be underestimated. We face the phenomena of increasing nationalism, populism and protectionism in many European countries.

The EU Report on the Implementation of the European Security Strategy which was drawn up in 2008 takes note of new challenges, such as the information network and energy security, but a lot has already happened since then. In Finland’s view, a new strategy for the EU Foreign and Security Policy should be prepared.

The Lisbon Treaty reinforces the solidarity between the Member States. The Treaty includes two new solidarity articles, which have not yet been analysed sufficiently by the Member States.

-       The solidarity clause states that “if a Member State is the object of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster the Union shall mobilize all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the Member States.”:

To start with, Member States have their own national preparedness for terrorism attacks and disasters. In practice, the solidarity clause is based on Member States’ capabilities and national decision-making. The work on analyzing the different possibilities of the solidarity clause has only started among the EU countries. The Finnish Government has examined the prerequisites for implementing the solidarity clause and we are ready to implement these obligations, when needed.

-       The mutual assistance clause states that “if a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation to aid and assist it by all means in their power”.

The mutual assistance articlebinds the Member States directly. Its activation does not require a decision by the Union, taken in common. The clause binds all Member States equally. If the clause is activated, each Member State decides for itself, what it will provide in terms of assistance. There is a wide array of options, ranging from political support to military aid. It is important to note that no debate at EU level has been initiated on how the assistance obligation will be implemented. Nor have Member States given much thought to the meaning of the mutual assistance clause.

The Lisbon Treaty does not mean moving to a collective defence of the EU. The EU will not become a defense alliance on the basis of these clauses. But the Union, through its external action will turn into an increasingly integrated security community, internally and externally, The EU’s capacity to act is being strengthened through the Common Security and Defense Policy. The Lisbon Treaty lengthened the list of possible tasks. Civilian and military capabilities are developed in view of humanitarian and rescue tasks, too.

Finland gives strong support to the CSDP and the current important initiatives gathered under the so-called Weimar initiative. The Weimar initiative consists of strengthening the civil-military planning and conduct capabilities, the EU Battlegroups, pooling and sharing of European capabilities, and the EU-NATO cooperation.

Last week the EU foreign ministers and ministers of defence had a strategic discussion about the current state of CSDP. The member states made some progress towards developing EU’s planning and conduct capabilities, which Finland has very much advocated. There are growing demands for EU crisis management. For example, the EU Operations Centre could be activated on an ad hoc basis for the Horn of Africa operations. The setting up of a permanent civil-military planning and conduct capability should not be seen from an ideological point of view. It is needed for very practical reasons and all EU instruments should be used in a coherent manner. This couldbe done without needlessly duplicating existing structures. The current planning and conduct structures for EU operations were agreed at a time, when the EU did not run several simultaneous military operations and civil crisis management missions. The EU needs a more efficient way to plan and conduct operations and missions.

Another area in which progress is needed is pooling and sharing of European capabilities. The current economic situation compels the defence forces to intensify their cooperation in pooling and sharing. With regard to military capabilities, the EU needs to develop robust, flexible and interoperable capabilities. These are needed for the CSDP in order to improve operational effectiveness in the EU crisis management operations. Examples of projects for pooling and sharing are: helicopter training, air to air refuelling and maritime surveillance. Efforts are being done at EU-level, bilaterally and on the basis of regional arrangements, such as Nordic Defence Cooperation, Nordefco. There is also cooperation between the EU and NATO on pooling and sharing and so-called Smart Defence/Multilateral Approaches initiatives, in order to ensure coherence and non-duplication. 

Finland emphasizes the role of the European Defence Agency as a facilitator in pooling and sharing work.We are the leader in one of the pilot projects, namely maritime surveillance. Here we can offer expertise and a model of flexible cooperation between the national authorities. Finland also supports increasing the flexibility and usability of the EU Battlegroups.

The Lisbon Treaty also introduced the possibility of Permanent Structured Cooperation.

Those Member States whose military capabilities fulfil the criteria and which have made more binding commitments to one another in this area can establish Permanent Structured Cooperation within the Union framework. This means that Permanent Structured Cooperation could enable States participating – able and willing – to increase at a quicker pace their national level of ambition in terms of deployability and sustainability. The Member States would be able to field more capabilities for the full range of operations in all frameworks in which they engage: CSDP, NATO, the UN, and others. This mechanism has not yet been used.

We give our full support to High Representative Catherine Ashton in her work and the build-up of the European External Action Service. We wish to see a strong and efficient EEAS having a close cooperation with national MFAs. National Foreign Ministries and Embassies will not become obsolete with entrance of the EEAS but their tasks can be considered in a wider context. For a small country with a limited ability to maintain a vast diplomatic network, the EEAS is an opportunity. As a concrete benefit one could mention crisis management tasks and other consular services. Hopefully in a not too distant future our citizens can turn to the EU Embassies, should any of the possible threat scenarios, demand for emergency services or citizen evacuations materialize.


Nato is an essential part of the European and global security environment. It has projected security and stability in Europe, including the Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea, over the past six decades. We all – the EU and Nato members states alike - belong to the same security community. Nato’s strategic concept defines tasks which also involve partner countries; crisis management and cooperative security. The Nato strategy will have an impact on the development of the various partnership formats in the years to come.

Finland’s cooperation with Nato includes a wide range of activities, from crisis management, cooperation relating to military capabilities and interoperability to civil emergency planning and regular political dialogue. For instance, the Civil Emergency Planning cooperation has been very open to partners and we find it useful in sharing information and best practices. I will say more about the crisis management later in my speech.

Coming to the global level, Finland aims to strengthen the capacity and legitimacy of the United Nations which is the cornerstone of the global multilateral system and cooperation. Finland has an interest in improving management of globalisation. We have a proactive UN policy with special attention to crisis prevention, peace-building, human rights and rule of law. We promote ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development in all our international cooperation.

As you know, Finland is campaigning to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the term 2013-14. We have a fundamental interest in promoting a well-functioning system of collective security based on the UN Charter that guides and binds all Member States. The Security Council is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. Finland has a good track record in history having been twice before in the Security Council (1969-70 and 1989-90). In peace-keeping operations we count some 50 000 Finnish peacekeepers in the field since 1956. Our commitment to disarmament is strong, and we are a considerable partner in development cooperation in many parts of the world.

Protecting and assisting Finnish citizens abroad

Our population is only about five million people, but Finns make approximately seven million trips abroad every year. About one million Finns live permanently abroad.

It belongs to the MFA’s responsibilities to assist and protect these people abroad. Through its network of diplomatic and consular missions Finland is capable of assisting Finns travelling or living abroad. We need to provide sufficient and effective consular services and well-functioning on-call and alert systems. Our embassies deal with over 40 000 consular cases per year. The number of consular cases has doubled between 2004-2009. Consular tasks of the Foreign Ministry are especially important and visible during the times of crises when the basic security of the citizens is in danger.

During this year we have dealt with many large-scale crises, uprisings around the Northern Africa and Middle East, the Arab awakening, as well as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The crises times are critical moments for Foreign Ministries – during these times the citizens consider whether the Foreign Ministry is useful and the embassies worth keeping. Elements that have been improved in our system include contingency planning, alert systems, travel advice, consular rapid deployment teams, use of social media, and close cooperation especially with other Nordic and EU Member States.

According to the Lisbon Treaty, the EU citizens can have assistance from any Member State’s diplomatic or consular service if their own country does not have a mission in that place. It means that assistance will be provided on the same grounds both to Finnish and other EU citizens. Also, Finnish citizens can turn to an EU or Nordic mission. Growing challenges, emergency services, citizen evacuations and crisis response call for special attention on the part of the EU External Action Service.

Securing Finland’s foreign trade

As part of the Security Strategy for society, foreign trade must be safeguarded - also in the event of crisis. Import and export are vital to the security of supply and the functioning of the society and its economy. Regulating foreign trade is part of the European Union’s trade policy, in which the Member States exercise joint jurisdiction. A Member State can take action which it deems necessary for its key security interests. In exceptional situations, which include possible disturbances in the EU’s trade policy, the responsible authorities co-operate to safeguard the consistency of decisions relating to trade policy, foreign trade and the Single Market.

As a new policy document, the Government will prepare an action plan on Finland’s economic external relations. The aim is to adapt a new approach to advancing Finland’s economic interests in a world where we see the economic focus shifting to developing markets and Western countries struggling with the debt crisis. The action plan will be ready in the beginning of 2012. The role of the Foreign Ministry and embassies will be central in carrying out the action plan.


Comprehensive crisis management

Comprehensive crisis management is today an agreed concept. We have learned our lessons from the Balkans, from Afghanistan and from every modern crisis management operation. The objective is clear – to combine political, military, civilian crisis management and development efforts into an integrated, comprehensive set of crisis aid. But implementation in complex situations with several actors remains a challenge. How to strengthen coordination between various organizations and players? How to make best use of various endeavours – civilian and military crisis management, development aid, humanitarian aid or other political efforts? And how to build a better link between international efforts and local actors? International community can organize itself better and combine different methods, but prospects for success are dim if the local government and local people are not engaged. Local ownership is the key to a successful transition. That is perhaps the most challenging dimension of comprehensive crisis management. KFOR in Kosovo and ISAF in Afghanistan are good examples that prove why we need to focus on this.

Finland will continue its active participation in both military and civilian crisis management.

Currently, we are taking part in seven military and thirteen civilian crisis management operations. We have 250 soldiers in military crisis management operations and 140 civilian experts in the field. We have participated in almost all of the EU crisis management operations, both civil and military.We have also participated in the EU Battlegroups ever since their beginning. We are planning to take part in UN’s UNIFIL-operation in Lebanon with some 200 soldiers next year. This will raise our military crisis management participation to some 450 soldiers.

Finland continues cooperation with NATO in crisis management in ISAF and KFOR. At the present time we have 195 soldiers in Afghanistan and we will move our emphasis to development cooperation, civilian crisis management and training of Afghan security authorities in the years to come.

Finland has been working very actively to develop the civilian crisis management within the EU. This is an area where the EU has shown its strength as an instrument to promote democracy, human rights, rule of law and good governance in fragile states. At the moment, we are in relative terms the biggest contributor to EU civilian crisis management operations. We have about 140 experts in civilian operations out of which 130 in EU operations. We have consistently emphasized the role of women in crisis and conflict resolution. Thus, we have also increased the number of women in operations. In civil crisis management operations 1/3 of our experts are women.

Dear Ambassadors,

Finland’s strengths include mutual trust of people, our educational system, readiness to develop and use technology, good governance, nature, including vast forest reserves and healthy attitudes toward work and leisure time. These strengths should compensate the weaknesses such as the age structure, poor productivity development in the public sector and undeveloped nature of incentives. I believe that the weaknesses can be won. We cannot lower the bar in terms of our own national readiness and the need to develop national means and capabilities to secure the functions vital to society. But national preparedness measures are increasingly tied to international cooperation and further integration. Finland’s security and welfare are highly dependent on the events in the rest of the world. Therefore you can be sure that Finland will continue to be an active player in international cooperation and give her contribution in favour of common security.