Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the Chicago Summit Partnership Event on 21 May 2012

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Mr. Secretary General, thank you for organizing this partnership event. Finland is willing to work closely together with Allies and Partners for a more active and stronger partnership.

The basis of Finland´s partnership with NATO is practical cooperation which is both extensive and mutually beneficial. We see ourselves as an advanced partner with high interoperability and preparedness for operations. We have capabilities to offer to the Alliance, but we also have our specific interests.

Finland shares NATO’s resolve for a safer world. We contribute to NATO-led operations in order to promote common security. Participation in operations is a key element of our partnership. It has also helped us develop our forces and capabilities. Furthermore, we value NATO’s practical tools for capability development, including the Planning and Review Process.

An important part of our cooperation is our contribution to NATO’s NRF Response Forces Pool, starting with chemical and biological protection unit. We welcome NATO’s plans to expand the exercise schedule and focus on NRF.

Difficult economic times pose great challenges to us all. The defence sector is not the least affected. We must do more together, especially by pooling and sharing military capabilities. The importance of multinational capabilities cooperation will keep on growing. The core capabilities can only be safeguarded through enhancing military cooperation – in the EU, in NATO, as well as within smaller groups of nations.

Smart Defence is NATO’s way forward. Finland proposes a close involvement of partners in NATO’s ongoing work on Smart Defence. The Nordic countries’ defence cooperation within NORDEFCO demonstrates how regional cooperation between NATO’s Allies and Partners can be very beneficial. Moreover, it is important to ensure the coherence and mutual reinforcement between EU’s Pooling and Sharing and NATO’s Smart Defence.

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Finland is not a passive observer but an active participant, and will continue to be such. Alongside practical cooperation, an important part of our work is a close and substantive political dialogue which we highly value and are willing to develop further.

NATO’s partnerships have evolved significantly in recent years. We welcome NATO’s willingness and the important steps taken to develop partnerships, such as better involvement of partners in the decisions on NATO-led operations. We will use all partnership tools available for us in the future as well.

NATO’s Strategic Concept has a strong and very positive vision of the future of partnerships. This is the right path. We are in a world where cooperative security is increasingly important. The ties between international organizations, including the UN, EU and NATO, also need to be further strengthened.

Finland sees a high value in enhancing NATO’s partnerships through flexible formats that bring together NATO and interested partners. The development of new flexible forms of work should be guided by substance and pragmatism. Issues of common interest should be subject to both political dialogue and practical cooperation. In our view, cyber security is one potential area where cooperation should be increased between NATO and a number of partners.

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NATO has stressed that “partnerships make a concrete and valued contribution to the success of NATO’s fundamental tasks”. As an active partner today, Finland will do her part to make this statement a reality also tomorrow.