Dear colleagues, madam Ambassador, representatives of industry,
It is a great honor for me to bring you greetings to this seminar on behalf of the Finnish Ministry of Defence. Last year I wasn’t able to participate in person to this seminar when it was held in Sweden, fortunately this year I’m able to address you in real life.
Like last year, I am very pleased to see that a great number of – both Finnish and Swedish – companies are attending this important event. This continues to show that there is great mutual interest in cooperation also between our industries.
First, I would like to discuss the current situation in our security and defence environment. Last year, during this seminar, we had just finalized our Government Defence Report, which consisted of three main chapters: operating environment, current status of our defence and guidelines for the maintenance and development of our defence capability for the next 8 to 10 years.
A lot has happened in the security situation and operating environment after that but the foundations for development of our defence capabilities has remained the same. The war efforts against Ukraine show that rapid response, the ability to respond to long-term military pressure and the ability to counter large-scale attacks on several fronts at the same time remain important.
Due to Russia’s attack against Ukraine, we, in the Government, prepared in April a report on changes in the security environment. The report assessed fundamental changes in Finland’s foreign and security policy environment following Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The report gave Parliament the opportunity to have an extensive and fundamental discussion on foreign, security and defence policy. Parliament then notified the Government of its opinion in a parliamentary communication, which meant that the matter was referred back to the Government and the President of the Republic for consideration. As you all know, Finland, together with Sweden applied for membership in NATO on 17th of May. The NATO member countries signed the Accession Protocol concerning Finland's and Sweden’s NATO membership at NATO Headquarters on 5 July, making both countries an invitee of the Alliance.
At the moment, we are preparing for the approaching NATO membership. NATO membership will strengthen Finland’s security in the changed security environment and also improve stability and security in the Baltic Sea region and Northern Europe. Finland’s strong defence capability and resilience to crisis will also strengthen NATO and the collective defence of the Alliance. As a member of NATO, Finland will be part of NATO’s collective defence and decision making and, thus, be covered by the security guarantees enshrined in Article 5 of the Treaty.
The international security situation underlines the importance of national defense. Despite the increasingly tense international situation, we see that Finland is not under any immediate military threat. Nonetheless, Finland must prepare for the threat of using military force against us.
As you well know, the primary goal of maintaining and developing our defence capability is to prevent the use of military force against Finland. Effective prevention is built on deterrence that is created by all of society and administrative branches through different activities and preparations.
I want to highlight three main entities that guide the development of Finland’s national defence in the coming years.
Firstly, maintaining defence requires close cooperation with different actors in our society. In accordance with the principles of comprehensive national defence, we will rely on agreements and joint exercises to ensure that the resources and capabilities of other authorities and our partners are rapidly available when needed. Foresight and preparations by a number of administrative branches, as well as deepening cooperation between public administration actors, the private sector, civil society organizations and international partners is required.
This is closely connected to security of supply, which I will next briefly discuss about. Finland’s security of supply system is well-functioning in terms of its foundations and structures also in the changed operating environment. The starting points of the system are a network model based on cooperation between the public and private sectors, and the determination of the tasks and resources of the security of supply organization according to the needs of society at any given time.
Secondly, the Defence Forces create the military component of our deterrence and it is defensive by nature. The foundation remains in the strong national defence capability supported by the entire society. Conscription, trained reserve, defence of the whole country and high willingness of the population to defend itself constitute the basis for our national defence also in the future.
Demands on our defence capability have increased. For these reasons, we will develop our defence with an accelerated timetable and additional resources to meet the requirements of the operating environment. We are making historical investments in the Finnish Defence Forces.
Finland has identified the need to improve the materiel already in use and to procure materiel and ammunition. Furthermore, we will increase the volume of refresher training and the number of personnel in the defence forces.
Aforementioned measures require additional resources in both the short and the medium-term. To this end, the government has decided to increase the defence budget with 3.2 billion euros by 2027. 2.2 billion euros of the increase will be allocated to defence materiel procurement, in the timeframe from 2022 to 2027. Finland reaches the target to commit a minimum of 2% of their GDP to defence spending during those years.
Our Government’s second supplementary budget for this year directed a total of approximately 669.4 million euros in additional funding to defence. Of this, 490 million was be allocated for newly launched defence materiel procurements.
Defence materiel procurement responds to the requirements of the changed operating environment, ensures the availability of critical materiel and complements deficits that have arisen in the long term.
In addition, we will take into account the normal development of the Defence Forces, which will continue alongside these additional procurements. In addition to materiel procurement, the usability of the Defence Forces’ equipment will be improved by allocating additional resources to maintenance and raising the level of spare parts, among other things.
The appropriations for the defence administration in 2023 amount to 6.1 billion euros in the Government’s budget proposal. This is 1.0 billion euros or 20 per cent more than in the current budget. The increase is mainly attributable to general increases in the Defence Forces’ operating expenditure, in defence materiel procurement and in support for the activities of national defence organisations. The budget proposal includes EUR 1.6 billion allocated to defence materiel procurement, representing an increase of EUR 765 million from the 2022 budget. Most of the increase will be allocated to improving the defence capability with materiel to meet the requirements of the operating environment.
Let me assure you, we will take good care of Finland’s security in every situation.
Thirdly, the role of international defence cooperation is significant. We will continue to strengthen bilateral and multilateral defence cooperation. Especially focusing on situational awareness, development of military capabilities and more demanding exercises.
Because of our geopolitical position, we have always developed and maintained our defence capability from a national perspective. But we have also recognized that we cannot be alone, which is why international cooperation has also played an important role for us.
The defence cooperation network, which has been built in recent years, has shown its importance in the increasingly tense security situation. Before and after the attack in Russia, we have actively exchanged information with the most important partner countries on how other actors assess the development of the security situation and plan their own actions. Building political and military interoperability with partners is a long-term effort. This requires significant investments in, for example, the defence administration’s cooperation structures and exercises.
When it comes to defence cooperation, during the last few years Finland has actively and decisively built a bilateral and multilateral defence cooperation network. The different defence cooperation arrangements complement each other. The focus is on maintaining the defence cooperation network and developing the concrete substance of the cooperation.
This brings me to our bilateral relations. Sweden continues to enjoy a special status as Finland’s closest partner in bilateral defence cooperation, as we together are approaching NATO membership. For examble, I have met my colleague Peter Hultqvist over 60 times. As I already mentioned last year, the cooperation is built on a long historical bond, shared values, multidimensional contemporary ties and the widely integrated economies.
While the defence cooperation between Finland and Sweden focuses on enhancing defence capabilities, interoperability and even in some cases interchangeability, it also improves the operational and economic efficiency of the defence forces in the two countries.
Cooperation is based on mutual trust and long-term work. Finland’s goal is to furthermore create permanent conditions for military cooperation between Finland and Sweden that are in effect in all security situations.
When it comes to defence materiel cooperation, Sweden has been and remains in the future an important partner for Finland. In this area, significant work has been done in the FISE framework, for example in small arms and anti-tank weapons, to increase military effectiveness through interoperability, to reduce acquisition costs and duplication of efforts and to minimize capability caps of our Armed Forces.
I also want to use this opportunity to highlight Common Armoured Vehicle System –program, based on Patria’s 6 by 6 -vehicle. The program enables to develop the mobility of our Land Forces, which is one of our focus areas in the future. Common Armoured Vehicle System –project together with Latvia has been a great success so far. Sweden and Germany recently decided to join this project and we are more than happy to finalize agreements for joining with both respective countries. In the best scenario, the common vehicle platform, used in many European countries operating together, will have a positive effect on life cycle costs in all the user countries.
Despite all the excellent work, I want to see even more possibilities to further increase and enhance defence materiel cooperation between our countries by finding new areas where to cooperate. Hopefully this seminar offers an excellent opportunity for cooperation possibilities and benchmarking between industry and companies from both respective countries.
Coming to our main audience today,
I earlier talked about Finnish security of supply. We cannot forget the role of our defence industry, which has an important role in Finnish national defence and security of supply. We must always be able to function and for example maintain our critical weapon systems in a reliable way. Here the industry truly is an integral part of our comprehensive national defence solution. This cannot be stressed enough.
The Finnish defence, aerospace and security industries are well known for their high quality and innovation capacity and premium products with long life-cycle performance as well as innovative utilizers of state of the art technology. In addition to bigger companies, there is a number of Small and Medium Size Enterprises with a focus on developing high-tech solutions for niche capability areas. At the same time, there is a need for the products to be cost effective and to have the smallest possible logistic and maintenance footprint. This is essential to the Finnish defence administration – and our industry has truly been able to meet these demands.
The knowhow and capacity of Finnish defence industry to integrate, maintain, further develop, supply, repair and decommission key defence materiel plays an important role in securing the material capability of the Defence Forces.
The supply and maintenance activities of the Defence Forces’ materiel are largely the responsibility of the industry, and they are carried out in close cooperation with the Defence Forces. Now, all key materiel capabilities are sustained by the Finnish Industry. Overall, support for the Defence Forces’ key systems must be available in Finland also in the future.
To conclude, I would once more like to highlight that Sweden is the closest partner for Finland when it comes to bilateral defence cooperation. There are no pre-set limits to deepening this defence cooperation. I believe that Nato membership will only strengthen this relationship. Hence, I very much look forward to continue active work in order to find synergies in capability development and to enhance interoperability of our armed forces.
Finally, I would like to thank both countries’ industry associations - AFDA and SOFF - for arranging this seminar and inviting respective representatives of defence administration.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I wish you all a successful industry seminar day and all the best for the future.
Thank you very much.