President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö participated in a panel discussion on arms control at the Munich Security Conference on 16 February 2019. The panel discussed the termination of the INF Treaty, which bans intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
President Niinistö noted that the recent developments have consequences beyond the treaty itself. “What concerns me the most is the notion that international treaties are dismantled without even thinking of an alternative to replace them. If we end up in a situation where diplomacy no longer works, we will all have a big problem in our hands. Are we now witnessing the end of diplomacy? Without diplomacy, there is no dialogue. It makes things difficult, not knowing what the other side is thinking,” the president said to the Finnish media after the discussion.
A unified voice to the Europe
President Niinistö reminded the audience that the demise of the INF Treaty represents a problem for Europe even if the continent is not a signatory to the agreement itself. He presented a thought in a panel that the United States and Russia could agree alternative arrangements to ensure that nuclear weapons subject to the INF Treaty are not positioned in a way as to represent a threat to Europe.
President Niinistö also mentioned that Europe should be able to act together with determination and credibility. “How do we create a strong Europe that remains a respected? We must find a way to speak with one unified voice. You can’t have influence if there is always someone disagreeing,” he said.
The Arctic, an exceptional region
President Niinistö also delivered the keynote address at the Munich Security Conference discussion on the security of the Arctic region. According to the President, the region’s exceptional character must be preserved. “The Arctic remains an exceptional place. We have not witnessed the sort of tensions between nations there that we see elsewhere in the world. Let’s keep it that way,” he said. President also added that it was now time, not just for calls for dialogue, but for tangible on ideas on what that dialogue should cover. Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council will continue until May 2019.
President Niinistö attended the Munich Security Conference on Friday and Saturday, 15–16 February 2019. In conjunction with his visit, he met with Rose Gottemoeller, Deputy Secretary General of NATO, Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and United States Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Chris Coons.
Organised since 1963, the Munich Security Conference is an independent discussion forum seeking to promote resolution of conflicts, international cooperation and dialogue. Nearly 500 representatives of foreign and security policy from around the world will participate in the conference.