Statement by the President of the Republic of Finland on the anniversary of Finland’s membership in NATO and the 75th anniversary of NATO’s founding

Finland joined NATO on 4 April 2023, exactly one year ago. Today we celebrate the anniversary of that occasion. At the same time, NATO celebrates its 75th anniversary.

NATO is in a state of transition. After the start of the Russian war of aggression, the alliance brought its focus back on deterrence and defence. It has firmly increased efforts to respond to the deteriorated security environment. The member states have increased their investments in defence and committed to allocating at least 2% of their GDP to defence in the future. This is the right direction. However, strengthening the defence capability is a long process.

Internal political unity is a key precondition for the functioning of NATO. In recent years, progress has also been made in this respect. The Russian war of aggression has brought the members of the alliance even closer together. As a result of the decisions made over the past few years and the commitment of the member states, NATO is now, at the age of 75, stronger than ever.

Finland is currently building its own profile in the alliance. We will show our allies that we are a reliable, responsible and loyal member state that produces security. We may be located on the outskirts of Europe, but we operate at the institutional heart of the organisation.

Article 3 of the Washington Treaty obliges NATO member states to develop their national defence capabilities. Finland has acted in an exemplary manner in this respect. We have consistently maintained our defence capability even after the end of the Cold War. At the same time, we have strengthened our comprehensive approach to security. These issues are also appreciated by NATO.  In the alliance, we are not a small actor. We are a medium-sized member state.

In Finland, the change that our joining the military alliance brought about was minor on the one hand, and revolutionary on the other hand. We had already developed our interoperability with NATO countries and intensified our defence cooperation with the key partner countries.

At the same time, the change is significant. When Finland is integrated into NATO, its structures and processes, we are adopting a new way of thinking. We will make a transition from national defence to collective defence, both militarily and mentally. This is new for us Finns, even though our experiences of defence cooperation and the EU have provided foundations for this.

Integration into NATO is a long process. It means deploying staff to NATO structures and participation in NATO tasks. It means defining policies on key defence issues, ranging from nuclear deterrence to comprehensive defence. We have already made good progress on this path.

Finland’s great strength as a member of the alliance is national unity. Nine out of ten Finns support the membership. We will continue to operate in a manner to ensure that the alliance will develop in a way that enhances the security of Finland and its allies. Finland shoulders its responsibility for security both in our neighbouring areas and, if necessary, further away.

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