Opening Remarks by Pertti Torstila, Secretary of State, at NATO/ PFP Trust Fund Workshop

Helsinki, Finland
13-15 May, 2009

Thursday 14 May; Opening Remarks

Deputy Assistant Secretary General of NATO, Friends of the Trust Funds, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to wish you all welcome to Helsinki to NATO's annual Trust Fund workshop organized jointly by Finland and NATO. Last year the workshop took place was in Baku, and now in Helsinki. NATO Trust Funds really bring you to different corners of our continent.

Finland is a close partner to NATO and we are very pleased to host this workshop. We joined the NATO Partnership for Peace Programme right after its creation in 1994. Since then, we have developed this partnership in many ways. The Finnish thinking aims at broad European cooperation and integration. Active participation in cooperation and crisis management open to NATO partners develops Finland's own military capabilities and interoperability, thus increasing our security.

What is crisis management? In its very essence crisis management is about responsibility and participation in international cooperation. There has been a tremendous change in crisis management over the last 50 years and since 1956 when Finland sent first peacekeepers to the UN operation in the Suez Canal. The content and environment of crisis management have changed and operational requirements dramatically increased. The operations have increased in numbers and they have become more demanding, risky and often dangerous. Many organisations - EU, NATO, UN, OSCE, OECD, IOM, NGOs etc - operate in the same areas.

A Comprehensive Approach is a key word in today's crisis management. Combination and coordination of military and civilian activities as well as cooperation in development and humanitarian aid is essential - and often very challenging. Cooperation and coordination between many the various actors need to be strengthened and enhanced. Therefore I'm very glad to see such a broad representation of different organisations in this workshop today.

The implementation of the Comprehensive Approach needs a wide toolbox. Instruments such as Trust Funds have an increasingly important role.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today our biggest challenge is undoubtedly crisis management in Afghanistan. Here the international community has a long-term order. Finland with others is actively involved in stabilisation and reconstruction of the country. We emphasize the Afghan ownership, comprehensive approach and the regional approach in the efforts to tackle the problems in the country. Finland contributes to the international efforts in Afghanistan through the ISAF, EU, UN and our own bilateral cooperation. EU is a key actor in Afghanistan in supporting the reconstruction and development of the country.

In ISAF, Finland has one hundred soldiers and we will increase our participation by doubling the number of Finnish troops during the period of Afghan elections. Part of our work is to help Afghans build their own security structures, army and police. We are stepping up our efforts to support this work.

Another major operation for us is KFOR in Kosovo where we currently act as the Framework Nation for the Multinational Task Force Center with 450 soldiers.

Past years have witnessed a rapid growth of civilian crisis management, and this trend is likely to continue. Finland will increase its participation in civilian crisis management operations through various organisations and international cooperation mechanisms. In addition to EUPOL, EU's operation supporting national police and criminal justice system in Afghanistan, Finland has made a significant contribution to EU's rule of law mission EULEX in Kosovo. These operations require smooth cooperation between the EU and NATO.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The recently published Government's White Paper on Security and Defence, speaks of Finland will to intensify its participation in NATO activities that reinforce stability and security sector reforms in partner and other cooperation countries.

Over the years, Finland has participated in over ten Trust Funds in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Central Asia, Jordan and in the recently established horizontal Trust Fund on Reducing Corruption Risk in Defence Institutions.

Origin of the PfP Trust Funds was in demilitarization. The funds were established for destruction of surplus and obsolete landmines, weapons and munitions and improving the ammunition storage security. Later on they expanded to wider Security Sector Reform support for partner countries, for instance through retraining of former military personnel.

The results are impressive. Millions of ammunitions and landmines, and over 160 000 small arms and light weapons have been destroyed. Thousands of former military personnel have been retrained with the support of the Trust Funds.

On the operations Trust Fund side, Kosovo Trust Funds have helped to implement the Ahtisaari plan in the stand-down of the Kosovo Protection Corps and in the stand-up of the Kosovo Security Force. Afghanistan Trust Funds provide substantial and vital support to the Afghan National Army.

Last year the Finnish contribution to different NATO Trust Funds was at a record level (€ 990 000). Our major contributions went to Kosovo and Afghanistan. We were also supporting the Jordan Trust Fund and the Anti-corruption Trust Fund.

It is our sincere hope that in spite of the current worldwide financial crisis the Trust Fund cooperation will continue to attract the attention and support it deserves from NATO allies and partners.

I wish you a very successful and fruitful workshop.