Speech by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö during the appointment and promotion ceremony for cadets at the Presidential Palace on 30 August 2012

Esteemed cadets!

I congratulate you on successfully completing the degree of Bachelor of Military Science. I promote cadets with the rank of Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant and appoint cadets to positions as officers and temporary junior officers.

The international security threats of a globalising world are multiple. In recent years, the global financial crisis has also brought economic factors into the debate on security policy. Moreover, many so-called “new threats” – the effects of climate change, potential food crises or cyber threats – make the headlines nearly every day.

The rise of these new threats has not excluded the more traditional security threats from the debate. The recent violent events in Syria and the long-standing tension in the Middle East are examples of crises that could potentially have an abrupt and significant military impact. Traditional military threats have not been replaced by the new threats.

The most important task of the Finnish Defence Forces is to prevent military threats against Finland and to defend Finland militarily as necessary. Although military threats against Finland seem remote at present, we must ensure the long-term development of our defence capability. Our credible defence capability is based on decades of work. If run down, it will be impossible to restore that capability rapidly. Prevention must be based on a genuine ability to defend the country.

The reform of the Defence Forces has been the target of extensive public attention for some two years. The public debate around the reform often focuses on withdrawals and budget cuts. It is my opinion that the reform of the Defence Forces should be viewed from the perspective of safeguarding the operational preconditions and ability of the Defence Forces. Without the reform, the credibility of Finland’s defence capability would begin to crumble in the near future. The aim of the reform is to ensure a balance between operations and defence appropriations over the long term. The ultimate aim of the reform is to ensure that wartime troops are provided with the training and materiel required by the duties assigned to them.

Compulsory military service forms the core of our defence system. A highly skilled reserve with a will to defend the country ensures a sufficient capacity for preventing threats and for defending the entire country in the event of a crisis. The ongoing reform of the Defence Forces has demonstrated once again that future decades will still see the military defence of Finland based on the reserve created through compulsory military service. Following your graduation, your role as trainers of conscripts is an important one in strengthening the will to defend the country, and in creating a skilled reserve – in both the Defence Forces and the Border Guard.

Rector, directors and teachers of the National Defence University,

Thank you for a job well done. The success of these graduates is a demonstration of your success in your task. You have given these young officers the prerequisites for practising their demanding profession. Your efforts ensure that the expertise of the Defence Forces and the Border Guard remains at a high level.

Young officers,

Heartfelt congratulations are in order today. You have reached an important goal in your military career. This day is sure to be an unforgettable one for you and your loved ones. The support of loved ones is invaluable – remember to thank them for it.

I wish you all the best of success in your duties.