Archive and Chronology of Finnish Foreign Policy

Remarks by Mr. Heikki Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to European Journalists

As Europe changes, Finland's environment does, too. Nevertheless, there are many elements of continuity in the Finnish situation and policies pursued by Finland.

The Finnish application for EU membership was a decision of historic proportions. But at the same time, it should be seen as a logical step in our long-standing integration policy.

The economic interest was a point of departure in 1991. In addition, and more importantly, gaining and using influence in matters of major concern to us was a key motivation for membership. Through membership, we can assert our sovereignty and, in effect, national identity.

We intend to defend our interests as members of the Union, as all others do. We always ask ourselves: what is in there for Finland? Down-to-earth pragmatism is characteristic for Finnish behaviour; we may not be outspoken about our visions, but we have ideas.

* * *

New Nordic members, if and when they join, will bring with them a whole new northern dimension to the EU. We have a huge land area but not too many people. The Baltic Sea and arctic areas, including the Barents region, are relevant concepts. The implications of the northern dimension to the Union are gradually being recognized in Brussels and EU capitals.

There is also a direct contact with Russia: 1,300 kilometres of common land border. For Finland, Russia is and will be a crucial question. The post-election situation in Russia is uneasy and volatile. On the level of social institutions, the communist period is finally over. However, new democratic structures have not yet established a firm foothold. Economic difficulties accumulate.

We and others experience a lack of authority in Moscow. We continue to believe that, despite difficulties, Russia must be kept in continuous dialogue with its European partners. It must not be isolated. Finland's bilateral relations with Russia, it must be emphasized, are correct and in order.

In our immediate neighbourhood, the Baltic countries are new and important partners. In good co-ordination with other Nordic countries, we have extended considerable support to sovereignty structures in the Baltic states: police, customs, border guards, legal system.

Our trade and economic co-operation with the Baltics is picking up. Finland is Estonia's largest trading partner. It is important that we can continue our free-trade arrangements with the three countries as EU members.

* * *

The European Union is an anchor of stability in the continent. Membership of the Union has an inherent security aspect as well.

However, Finland is not seeking added military security, i.e. security guarantees, through EU membership. Our point of departure is military non-alliance and an independent, credible defence.

We subscribe to the Common Foreign and Security Policy as outlined in the Maastricht Treaty and do not exclude any future options. Provisions of the Treaty will be reviewed at the 1996 conference. We want to participate in it as a Member and will seek to enhance our security.

The NATO Summit in January took major decisions. The European pillar within the alliance will be strengthened.

A Partnership for Peace was offered to former adversaries in Eastern Europe. Besides them, Finland and the other non-allied were invited as countries likely to make a contribution. We believe we can facilitate the process by training personnel for peacekeeping operations. Details are being studied by experts for the Government to take appropriate decisions later this spring.