Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has stated that Finland and Sweden have a major, joint opportunity to promote Northern European security. In his New Year’s speech given on 1 January 2016, President Niinistö focused on security as well as the Finnish economy and immigration.
“Sweden and Finland are special partners of NATO. Our intensifying military cooperation is going well and is highly valued in both countries,” the President said.
We only woke up to war when it was upon us in Europe, where Russia’s reprehensible actions in Crimea and Ukraine disrupted our oasis of peace.
“Neither of our countries is in a military alliance. Together, we have strong links with both west and east, which gives both countries a special status. This also creates opportunities for engaging in important work to promote the security and stability of Northern Europe.
Niinistö said that it would be logical to continue extending cooperation between the two countries on foreign and security policy. “It is in the interests of both countries to promote our security on a cooperative basis, with a view to developing confidence-building measures.”
MAP OF HIGH RISK INCIDENTS INVOLVING RUSSIAN MILITARY UNITS
Perceptions of security have changed
President Niinistö stated that Finland’s concept of security has changed. “We only woke up to war when it was upon us in Europe, where Russia’s reprehensible actions in Crimea and Ukraine disrupted our oasis of peace.”
The key issue lies in resolving the Syrian crisis. “The United States and Russia are involved, engaging in combat on the same front, but with somewhat different ideas of who the enemy is. While such a situation is a source of danger, it is also compelling them to seek common solutions. If such solutions can be found in Syria, this will hopefully enable the relaxation of tensions elsewhere.”
Rising international tensions have also been reflected in Finland’s neighbourhood, where both Russia and NATO have increased their military presences. Niinistö reiterated his position that Finland is pursuing an active policy of promoting stability and that this has good prospects of succeeding in the Baltic Region. “The various states have no territorial claims on each other and their internal political situations are stable. Despite the fact that tensions from further afield are having an impact, no spontaneous crises are threatening to break out in the region.”