President Niinistö met with the North Atlantic Council (NAC), composed of ambassadors from NATO member countries, and its Chairman, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday, 25 October 2021 in the Presidential Palace.
The visit began with bilateral discussions between President Niinistö and Secretary General Stoltenberg. Topics of discussion included Finland’s partnership cooperation with NATO, new technologies and cooperation between the EU and NATO.
“We have a common understanding about how we can guarantee that most important thing for ordinary people – peace,” President Niinistö said at a press conference following the bilateral discussions. The President stated that Finland’s partnership cooperation with NATO has developed over the past decade, and continues to develop.
Threats of new technologies
President Niinistö highlighted the threats posed by new kinds of weapons that are facilitated by developing technologies such as artificial intelligence, space technology, drones and robots. Unlike traditional weapons, they are difficult to trace. “In order to manage the new elements, we urgently need some kind of minimum level of basic trust,” the President said, also recalling that during the Cold War, it was possible, despite everything, to achieve a minimum level of trust.
On NATO membership, President Niinistö stated at the press conference: “Finland’s position is – as we all know – that we do not close our door.”
The President and the Secretary General also discussed the European Union, NATO’s Strategic Concept and the EU’s Strategic Compass. “I don’t believe that we will have any problems developing both. Once again, the word behind this is peace. If we all want to build peace, we are heading in the same direction.”
Following the press conference, the President held discussions with the North Atlantic Council in the Hall of State.
The two-day visit continued with Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto meeting the North Atlantic Council for a lunch discussion. Minister for Foreign Affairs Haavisto and Secretary General Stoltenberg also had a bilateral meeting.
During the day, the NATO ambassadors will visit Parliament, where they will meet with Speaker of Parliament Anu Vehviläinen and representatives of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees. The programme also includes a visit to the Guard Jaeger Regiment, hosted by Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen and General Timo Kivinen, Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces.
At the end of the evening, Prime Minister Sanna Marin will meet with Secretary General Stoltenberg bilaterally and host dinner for the NATO ambassadors.
On Tuesday, 26 October the programme includes a meeting with Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo and a review of the activities of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats.
From Finland, the North Atlantic Council and the Secretary General will continue on their journey to Sweden, which they will visit on 26–27 October.