Chiefs of European Navies, Participants of the Seminar, Ladies and Gentlemen
The effects of the Ukraine crisis are felt also in the Baltic Sea region as both NATO countries and Russia have become militarily more active. During this spring, Russia has more and more actively attempted to show its military power in the air and at sea in the Baltic Sea region while NATO has clearly expressed concern for the Baltic states and the entire Baltic Sea region. All the Baltic Sea states have responded to the changed security environment by increasing their defence budgets.
All of us seem to agree, in the military perspective, the operating environment in the Baltic Sea region has changed and tensions have increased.
The Baltic Sea has always been an important sea route for the Baltic Sea littoral states including Russia. As to Finland, the Baltic Sea lines of communications are vital as both our exports and imports depend on well-functioning commercial shipping. Interference with commercial shipping and blocking Finland’s sea lines of communication to the west would impact the whole of society.
The Baltic Sea’s changed security environment and Finland’s dependency on sea lines of communications require versatility, flexibility and high readiness from the maritime defence. Finnish maritime defence will be developed for higher-tempo and more mobile maritime operations. New capabilities such as the four multi-role corvettes of the Squadron 2020 will maintain the Navy’s high operational capability also in the future. Through maritime defence, the integrity of Finland’s territorial waters and the vital sea lines of communication will be protected and attacks from the sea will be repelled.
International cooperation shall be even more important in future. Recognised maritime picture cooperation in the Baltic Sea region is an excellent example of concrete, security enhancing cooperation even on the global scale. Exercises are another good example of territorial cooperation, for example Northern Coasts or Aurora exercises. There is every reason to continue this type of cooperation. I am pleased to say that in 2021 Finland will organise an extensive international JOINT exercise that is naturally linked with the Baltic Sea and its sea lines of communication.
Admirals, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Security in the Baltic Sea region is part of the overall security in Europe. I have the great pleasure to welcome you to Finland and I wish you all a fruitful seminar: The Baltic Sea can be kept secure only through cooperation!