Suomen ulkopolitiikan asiakirja-arkisto ja kronologia
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Defence Minister Elisabeth Rehn Opening of the NOAS 91-SEMINAR

Turku 22 August 1991

Dear Participants to the NOAS 91 Conference

When I was asked to give the opening address of this seminar no-one
suspected the turn of events in the Soviet Union on Monday, the 19th
of August. Whatever has been said about the changesin Kremlin, they
demonstrate - as did the events in the Persian Gulfa year ago -
that unpredictability and uncertainty are among theimportant factors
of international politics.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It was a pleasure to accept the invitation for at least two reasons.
Namely, the theme of the conference, "0R= (Operational Research) in
Business" touches upon me personally through both my academic training
and my work experience.
Furthermore, the organizer of this conference, The Finnish Operational
Research Society, has had many points of contact with out
National Defence in the course of years. The term operational research
has received its origins through its use by the armed forces
in various countries. In fact the beginnings of operational research
can be traced to the work of many military staffs around the world.
Being presently the defence minister I therefore have what one might
call a natural affiliation to the theme of this conference.
When I pursued my studies at the Helsinki School of Economics and
Business Administration, the subject of operational research could
not be found on the curriculum. My knowledge of it is based more on
self-learning. In this light I am inclined to believe that the
significant ongoing political, military and economic processes in
Europe really could provide a marco level case study for operational
The dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the realigment of defence policies
in Central Eastern Europe, the possibly growing importance of
NATO in the light of the very recent developments in the Soviet
Union, the future role of the Conference of the Security and
Co-operation in Europe - the CSCE-process - with its newly created
institutions, economic integration in Europe and societal problems
particularly in the newly emancipated former allies of the Soviet
Union and the strategic withdrawal of the latter to its own territory
all necessitate re-evalution of interests in times of rapid change
- and of course I have only mentioned some of the most relevant
factors in play today.
It is clear that all states participate in these developments both
as actors and as objects of expectations. The task is to safeguard
national interests in this very fluid situation. Besides solid analysis
of the factors at work, wise decisions must be quided by a
proper framework and a sound vision of the future ahead.
Finland has actively taken part in the CSCE-process to enhance not
only its own security but also that of the other participating
states. This has well suited our neutral status. Our work has been
closely coordinated with the Neutral and Non-aligned states, our
natural refence group. We have a strong invested interests in the
success if the CSCE.

One of the most thorny questions today is of course the evolvement
of European economic structures. The issue is not without security
political consequencies either to the member states or those aspiring
to become new members of EC.
The European Economic Community (EEC) has become the European Community (EC).
It is moving towards becoming a closer political union
(the EPU). Though the union agreements have not yet been completed,
the EC is already now striving to carry out its own foreign policy.
The possibility of the EC exercising its own common foreign and
defence policy naturally raises questions regarding what will become
of the policy of neutrality, should Finland decide to apply for membership
in the community. As we know Austria and Sweden have applied
full membership in EC.

It is clear, that as a result of the changes that have taken place
in the international environment, our own ideas concerning neutrality
could also be subjected to change. It has likewise been said that
the Europe of the 1990's leaves no room for our traditional type of
neutrality. For example, it has been stated that the contents of
Finnish neutrality are crystallized in the form of a military non-
alliance as well as the maintenance of good neighbourly relations.
In submitting its EC application in June Sweden acted under the
supposition that membership in the EC would not reguire it to take
part in any EC defence alliance, nor could it be obligated to conform
to possible collective security measures.

This statement by Prime Minister Carlsson is based on the fact that
Swedish neutrality still has an important place in the overall
architecture of security in Europe. It helps to maintain a predictable
and stable northern Europe and thus promotes stability throughout
the continent. The same applies to Finnish neutrality.

Any appraisal of EC membership is made more difficult owing to the
fact that we still don't know, what kind of common EC defence policy
is to be formulated, and how binding it will be. This information
will not be forthcoming perhaps until 1996 when the EC summit conference
is scheduled to decide, how the common defence policy is to be
implemented and what it should contain.

However, the EC is but one part of the so-called new architecture of
Europe. The former socialist countries have stated their desire to
obtain both EC and NATO membership though the latter organization
has responded negatively to this idea. The disbanding of the Warsaw
pact has also forced changes upon NATO.
Nearly all if not indeed all organizations are redifining their
tasks and responsibilities. In such a period of transition the
adaptation of existing bilateral commitments necessitates careful consideration.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I have made allusions to the importance of maintaining
national interests in a complex and often difficult
international environment.
Interests naturally do not carry equal weight. Geopolitical
conditions are among primary factors dictating
the hieracrcy of any nation's objectives. Finland's
geostrategic situation is well known and understood. Structural
changes in international organizations, re-alignment of
security policies or European economic integration will not
change this basic fact. It remains the bottom line of any
- if you will - operational analysis of Finland's security political situation.
However, I don't propose that you should change the
programme of your seminar and take up for consideration
the Finnish case in a new Europe, which in the last few
years has experienced profound changes and is clearly
in a historically important transitory phase.

I can see from your programme that even without it this
seminar will be highly interesting. I wish you all productive seminar days.

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