In its report to Parliament on foreign policy, the Government has emphasized the significance of open communication and varied discussion of foreign policy. In rapidly changing circumstances precise information and sound judgement based on it are needed.
Public discussion serves both ends. It is vital to have such discussion now in Parliament, which is the highest authority of the state. International politics are now in a phase which could well be termed historic; the old international order is yielding to the new. If our policy is to succeed, we must be able to
decide what aspects of the old system will remain, and what is essential in the new.
Finnish foreign policy has always enjoyed the strong support of the people and of the overwhelming majority of the Parliament that represents it. In times of change it is essential to maintain and enhance the already effective interaction between the Government and Parliament.
Recent developments in international politics have been favourable from Finland's point of view. The Government's report seeks to describe the diverse developments taking place in the environment in which Finnish foreign policy is pursued; profound changes in various directions, conflicts and confrontation and closer co-operation. The field of action of our foreign policy has expanded and taken on new content. We have good prospects for
promoting our national interests in these changing conditions.
Stability in northern Europe has been a permanent objective of Finnish foreign policy; it is linked directly to our own security. The situation in northern Europe has been traditionally affected by the proximity of the Soviet Union, strategic relations between the superpowers and the security policy constellations on the European Continent.
Finnish neutrality and the required defense capability have proved to be a functional solution for security policy. Finland's own security will be improved when the threat of a major war diminishes and disarmament progresses. We ourselves have reason to reflect stability and continuity through both our foreign and our defense policy.
Changes in our neighbouring areas are posing new challenges for us but also opening up new opportunities. Under these circumstances, Finland must both actively shape its environment and adapt to it. Considering the areas adjacent to Finland, the following are the principal themes in our foreign policy at present:
1. The completion of new agreements with the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation, including the establishment of co-operation for the development of the Murmansk, Karelia and St. Petersburg regions.
2. Development of all aspects of relations with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, a thorough restructuring of Nordic co-operation on the basis of the "Mariehamn declaration", and the establishment of co-operation in the Baltia and Arctic areas.
3. Strengthening and development of the architecture of Europe, particularly through the CSCE, the Council of Europe and the UN European Economic Commission, the ECE.
4. Participation in European integration.
The basic premise underlying our relations with our Eastern neighbour has traditionally been the development of good, neighbourly relations and their adaptation to changing conditions in the Soviet Union and the new Europe.
From Finland's point of view it is extremely positive that we have been able to conclude talks on a new treaty of co-operation and neighbourly relations with the Soviet Union. This agreement will replace the 1948 Treaty on Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance.
The new treaty meets the objectives set by Finland, as has been stated in the report. It is based on the principles of the new Europe. In it, the security
guarantees between the two countries rest on rejection of the use of force and on commitments by the two countries not to allow the use of their
territory for armed attack against the other party and to refrain from assisting an attack against the other party, in accordance with the UN Charter and CSCE Final Act.
The treaty also provides that the frontier between the countries will remain a border of good neighbourly relations and co-operation in accordance with the CSCE Final Act, respecting inviolability and the territorial integrity of both states. Thus the prevailing situation will in no way change as a result of this agreement. As the Finnish Government has previously stated, we do not have territorial demands, although the contracting parties can, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE, alter their frontiers by peaceful means and by agreements should they so desire. What is essential here is that the prospects for cross-border co-operation would be rapidly improved. The new Europe, a Europe of co-operation, will advance on the basis of its natural needs, in a peaceful process.
Our relations with Russia will now be emphasized in practical co-operation. Talks with the Russian Federation concerning three treaties - a general agreement, a trade agreement and a framework agreement concerning co-operation with areas adjacent to Finland - will begin in the next few weeks. It is our hope that these agreements will accelerate trade and co-operation between Finland and Russia. The areas adjacent to Finland are of particular concern. As authority is decentralized and regional self-determination expands, direct links between areas, companies, organizations and individuals will become increasingly significant. We must exploit these new opportunities for co-operation to the full.
Independence for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania restores our historical connection to the Baltic region. Estonia is an especially close partner for Finland. Finland seeks to encourage positive developments in the Baltic countries through bilateral and multilateral co-operation.
There has been lively discussion of Nordic co-operation in Mariehamn this week. Suffice it to say at this juncture that the Finnish Government is pleased to acknowledge concensus among all the Nordic countries concerning the need for a thorough reform of our co-operation. I hope that the Mariehamn declaration will open a new era in the development of Nordic co-operation. The response to Finland's initiative has been good, and we will continue to work actively in this respect.
Finland has also begun active promotion of co-operation in the Baltic region. In our opinion, the scope of co-operation should not be restricted in advance, although the emphasis could be on economic co-operation, improving transport and cultural exchange. Co-operation in environmental protection should also be stepped up. A Baltic Council could be set up for broad co-operation of this kind, as Finland has proposed. Initiatives concerning co-operation are at present under consideration by the countries of the region.
Finland is also seeking to develop co-operation in the Arctic region. Significant progress in environmental co-operation among the Arctic countries was achieved when agreement was reached on the goals of co-operation and on a programme for action at the ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi last June. We are prepared to extend Arctic co-operation to other peaceful spheres of endeavour such as culture, research, utilization of natural resources and
transport. The future prospects for Arctic co-operation are considerable. Closer co-operation will of course require mutual understanding among all the Arctic countries, and also the participation of the inhabitants of these area in channelling this effort.
The architecture of Europe is being reshaped. Finland has been especially active in this process. We consider it essential that the CSCE be confirmed as the single security system for this continent. The CSCE would afford the beat forum for discussion of new threats to security. It could also serve as a venue for discussion of the special security concerns of northern Europe.
It is Finland's policy to strengthen the unity of Europe. The prevention of a new division in Europe which would cause instability is especially important and timely. Such a division will emerge unless the gap in standards of living between east and west can be narrowed. Finland is seeking together with other countries to avoid this situation with various means, in the CSCE, the ECE, the Council of Europe and other forums.
The Government will report separately on Finland's policy vis a vis integration. This is not the purpose of the present report. As we know, the EEA agreement will be initialled in the next few days, and signing will probably take place next year. As far as Finland's possible membership in the EC is concerned, we are now in the process of preparing our position. Our intention is to complete this work before the end of the year. The Government
will then be able to take a stand on the question of membership.
Although our surroundings offer considerable foreign policy challenges at present, we should not forget that problems common to all mankind are becoming more urgent. The environment for Finnish foreign policy is nowadays the entire world. International relations must be seen as global. Apart from the problems of security, issues concerning the environment and development are coming to the fore.
New structures for maintaining contacts and co-operation - in other words a new world architecture - will be needed to confront and solve global problems. It is the permanent policy of Finland to support the United Nations and other international organizations in their efforts on behalf of a more just world order. Finland will remain interested in questions of development and will participate actively in international development co-operation. The report underscores the importance of UNCED, the UN Conference on the Environment and Development in 1992, which we hope will represent a turning point in the treatment of worldwide problems of development and the environment. The theme of this conference will be securing sustainable development for mankind and its agenda will stress production and consumption in the industrial countries and poverty and population growth in the developing countries; all development has an impact on our environment.
The basic aims of Finnish foreign policy - the development of good relations with all countries and particularly with our neighbours and the promotion of international peace and co-operation - will remain constant. Profound changes in our environment pose challenges both for us and for other countries, and we must overcome them. However, they will also provide us with new opportunities.
Finland has sought to respond to new challenges both by maintaining continuity and by reacting to the needs for change. We have played an active role in shaping the new architecture of co-operation, seeking to assure that it corresponds to our national interests and ideals and also to those of the entire international community. We have adjusted to change in the same manner and at the same pace as other countries in comparable positions.
The report concerning current foreign policy issues now being presented to Parliament will provide members of this body with an opportunity to evaluate the work of the Government. The Government is pleased to accept both justifiable criticism and positive feedback. Moreover, the Government is prepared to answer any questions that the worthy members of Parliament see fit to pose.