Esteemed war veterans and lottas, ladies and gentlemen,
“Finland is a good country. It is the best for us Finns. It is a country worth defending, and its only defender is Finland’s own people.”
In these words, Infantry General Adolf Ehrnrooth emphasised the calm but unwavering national feeling. Its message is timeless: We are, in all circumstances, responsible for defending our country. This will continue to be the case, although as a member of a defence alliance we would receive support from allies.
An important foundation for Finland’s defence is the strong will of citizens to defend their country. It is now at a higher level than before. Interest in refresher training and voluntary national defence is growing. This will, and the preparedness and capability based on it, must continue to be nurtured. In this work, the Defence Forces and voluntary national defence as well as the civic activities supporting their preparedness have an important role to play.
Part of preparedness is the effort to maximise one’s own security. This is without detriment to anyone. This is how Finland has acted this spring when it decided to apply for NATO membership. The increased national will and debate over our security solution during the spring have shown the strength of Finnish democracy. This creates a strong foundation for the future at this uncertain time for the world.
As Finland seeks protection, it is also ready to provide it. A defence alliance is a commitment in which one accepts responsibility for the security of all allies. Finland does not shy away from this principle; we take it seriously. At the same time, we can expect a similar understanding of our vital security interests.
Our defence, which is based on conscription and extensive reserves, is now of global interest. We have decided to invest in fighter aircraft and to significantly increase the defence budget. These important decisions will further strengthen our defence to meet the demands of our changed security environment. Resources must continue to be secured.
For many years, our Defence Forces have intensified international cooperation. Diverse training and exercises and the development of equipment compatibility have laid the foundation for the direction we have now taken towards NATO membership. Our actions are valued worldwide. We are a familiar and reliable partner. In this sense, applying to NATO is not a big leap for Finland, but the next, natural step. I am convinced that a reliable partner will be even more reliable as a NATO member.
I would like to thank Finnish Defence Forces and all those serving in the Defence Forces for the valuable work that you do for your country. I also want to thank all Finns for the fact that our preparedness to face any efforts to undermine our security is so high today. We know and remember that Finland is a country worth defending. Together, we have ensured our security to date, and together we will also do the same tomorrow.
I wish you all a very good Defence Forces’ Flag Day.