Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the NATO accession ceremony in Brussels on 4 April 2023

Secretary General Stoltenberg, dear Jens, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Finland has today become the 31st member of NATO. The era of military non-alignment in our history has come to an end. A new era begins.

Each country maximizes its own security. So does Finland. NATO membership strengthens our international position and room for manoeuvre. As a partner, we have already long actively participated in NATO activities. As an ally, Finland will contribute to NATO’s collective deterrence and defence.

Membership of the Alliance provides security for Finland. Finland, on the other hand, provides security for the Alliance. Finland, committed to the security of all NATO member states, will be a reliable ally that strengthens regional stability.

Finland’s membership is not targeted against anyone. Nor does it change the foundations or objectives of Finland’s foreign and security policy. Finland is a stable and predictable Nordic country that seeks peaceful resolution of disputes. The principles and values that are important to Finland will continue to guide our foreign policy also in the future.

NATO membership does not change everything. But being an ally requires Finland to adopt new ways of thinking, and some changes in legislation as well. A lot has already been done. For years, we have developed our NATO compatibility. There is still considerable work ahead to integrate Finland’s defence as part of NATO’s common defence. The Finnish Defence Forces are facing new demands and challenges to which we must respond.

At the same time, it is clear that Finland’s most significant contribution to NATO’s collective deterrence and defence is built on the security and defence of our own territory. In this respect, the Finnish concept of comprehensive security retains its value. But we no longer do this work alone.

Last year, Finland applied to join NATO together with Sweden. As I have stressed, Finland’s membership is not complete without that of Sweden. Our persistent efforts for a rapid Swedish membership will continue. I look forward to seeing Sweden join us as the thirty-second member at the Vilnius Summit in July.

I want to thank you, Mr Secretary General, dear Jens, and your people. Your help has been very important, you have been backing us in every moment of this procedure. We really give a lot of value to that and to our partners. Thank you.