Suomen ulkopolitiikan asiakirja-arkisto ja kronologia
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Ms. Elisabeth Rehn at the Diplomatic Association's lunch meeting October 27,1993

WHAT IS IMPORTANT IN FINLAND'S DEFENCE POLICY

Ladies and gentlemen, Distinguished diplomats,

There is, I believe, a widely shared view that we all have to earn our meal. So please let me earn mine by making some brief remarks on Finland's defence and security policy. You will have earn yours by listening to me.

Some of you who first heard of your posting to Finland, must have thought of being displaced to one of the far ends of our globe where time, space and daylight have a different meaning from the customary.

And how right you were!

Actually, I am convinced that Finland is professionally not a hardship
place for a diplomat. For a member of the
government it can be today. However, being an incurable optimist
by nature, I am sure that there is not only light at the end of the
tunnel, but also a brighter future for Finland.

During your careers you must have learnt that every country is a
special case, every nation has its own characteristics, its particural
flavour that one has to learn to savor. So it is with national
defence policies and defence.

We in Finland have learned to rely on our own defence. Our
defence policy, our doctrine, planning and procurement are all
geared to that end. And there is great unanimity behind the policy.
This is not to say that it would be deprived of imported ingredients
to make a sturdier stew.

Since our defence posture is purely defensive it, in our view,
generates stability in Northern Europe. We are determined not to
let the difficult economic situation we find ourselves in today erode
this basic feature of our policy. The purchase of F-18 aircraft is a
visible proof of our commitment to keep Finland and its airspace
apart from any crisis. The message we want to convey is that we
do take our national defence seriously.

The second premise of our defence policy - and indeed of the
security policy - is its predictability and consistency. We believe
that false impressions or unwarranted expectations do not add to
national credibility.

In geographic terms, Finnish security policy can be divided into
three interdependent successive circles: the neighbouring areas
i.e. Northern Europe, the rest of Europe and the remaining world.
While this kind of rigid division can be seen as being artificial, it
gives a working foundation for the definition of policy priorities. I
will only deal with the first set questions to save time for the main
item on today's agenda - lunch and discussion.

What then are the important issues in our neighbourhood?

First, there is a great need for political, social and
economic stability in our southern and eastern neighbouring areas,
the Baltic states and Russia. Success in any of these sectors
could well lead into favourable developments in our part of Europe.

Secondly, the relative strategic importance of the remaining
nuclear weapons in the Kola peninsula after the implementation of
the START-treaties will continue to sustain the area's significance
as a key component in the central nuclear balance. The enhancement
of the strategic stability remains therefore in Finland's interest.

The third important aspect concerns the fate of the CFE treaty. I
personally feel that the implementation of the this treaty as signed
in 1990 and modified in 1992 by the Tashkent agreement by the
CIS-states is essential for the future stability of Europe, including
the Northern flank of our continent.

Fourthly, there are environmental problems that have to be dealt
with. These include the potentially dangerous hazards tied to the
safety of the nuclear power plants in our vicinity.

Lastly, I would like to stress one important point that I feel is one
of the foundations of future security - and this is the question of
open and straight forward dialoque on all relevant issues related
to defence and security. This kind of dialoque is part of the daily
work in various international fora, not least in the CSCE. This
dialogue is all the more important as Europe tries to shape its
future security structures.

In my own work I have endeavoured to emphasize the meaning
of sound analysis also in questions of national defence. In short,
my aim has been to "demystify" defence. I think I have had some
success.

Open exchange of views solidifies stability in many ways. Connections
at various levels also consolidate favourable relations. It
was in this spirit that I received defence minister Pavel Gratshov
in Finland last week. And I can tell you that our conversations
furthered common understanding on the present situation and
developments on both sides of the border.

Russia is going through a remarkable period of transition, which
requires time, effort and even external help. The future of Russia
is the key determinant to the future of Europe and indeed a key
factor to global stability.

I think that you as foreign diplomats based in Helsinki have a particularly
good appreciation of the situation in our part of Europe.
Sensitivity to existing challenges and firmness in chosen commitment
will pave the way to a better future. Your participation in the unfolding discussion in not only welcomed, it is a necessary contribution to our common destiny.

Thank you and please let us enjoy our well deserved lunch.

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