Helsinki on 4 June 2023
Russia’s cruel invasion of Ukraine has reminded us Finns of the immeasurable value of peace and freedom. No one wants war, but the wise prepare for the worst. We Finns have an inherent desire to live in peace and to be resolute in protecting what is ours.
Throughout their history, the Finnish Defence Forces have carried out their mission bearing in mind their most important duty – to secure the livelihoods of the Finnish people and the independence of our country. Conscription forms the basis for our defence and our will to defend our homeland. It has anchored the Finnish Defence Forces in Finnish society and made every Finn an unwavering defender of their country. We will continue to build on this foundation.
Joining NATO marks the beginning of a new era in our country’s history. While Finland will continue to be primarily defended by us Finns, from now on we will be doing so together with our Allies. The defence of our own territory will be Finland’s most significant contribution to NATO’s collective deterrence and defence. At the same time, we will bear our responsibility for NATO’s common obligations and actively participate in developing the Alliance.
The Finnish Defence Forces will continue to work relentlessly for Finland’s security in the future. Extensive work is under way to integrate our defence as part of NATO’s collective defence. It will take time, but we can face the future with confidence.
Finns have always understood that freedom and security cannot be taken for granted. We cherish, with gratitude and respect, the legacy of our veterans and the generations that rebuilt our country. That legacy has given us the privilege of living in a country that is good in every way. We want to leave the same legacy to our future generations.
As Commander-in-Chief, I am proud of the responsibility and commitment shown by the Finnish Defence Forces and by all Finns who have participated in national defence work. May the same sense of responsibility and commitment continue now that Finland is a member of NATO.
Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Defence Forces
President of the Republic of Finland