NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NATO’s relations with Finland

Breakfast meeting between NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the President of Finland, Sauli Niinisto

NATO’s relations with Finland are conducted through the Partnership for Peace framework, which Finland joined in 1994. NATO and Finland actively cooperate on peace and security operations and have developed practical cooperation in many other areas, including education and training and the development of military capabilities.

Finnish cooperation with NATO is based on its longstanding policy of military non-alignment and a firm national political consensus. From this basis, Finland selects areas of cooperation with NATO that match joint objectives. The country monitors developments within NATO and continues to entertain the possibility of applying for membership of the Alliance in the future.

NATO highly values its relations with Finland – an effective and pro-active partner and contributor to international security, which shares key values such as the promotion of international security, democracy and human rights.

An important area of cooperation is the country’s support for NATO-led operations. Finland currently works alongside the Allies in security and peacekeeping operations Kosovo and Afghanistan, and has also indicated its willingness to participate in the post-2014 follow-on mission to train and assist Afghan security forces.

  • Framework for cooperation

    An Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme (IPCP), which is jointly agreed for a two-year period, lays out the programme of cooperation between Finland and NATO. Key areas include security and peacekeeping cooperation, crisis management and civil emergency planning.

    An important objective in Finland’s participation in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme is to develop and enhance interoperability between NATO and partner forces through a variety of PfP instruments and mechanisms.

  • Key areas of cooperation

    Security cooperation

    Since 2002, Finnish soldiers have been working alongside Allied forces as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Currently, some 136 Finnish personnel are deployed in the country, primarily with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in the north of the country. The focus of the Finnish contribution is gradually shifting towards training and capacity-building of Afghan security forces. Since 2007, Finland has contributed 1.7 million euro to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund. Finland also contributes to a project conducted under the NATO-Russia Council aimed at training counternarcotics personnel from Afghanistan and other Central Asian partner countries.

    Finnish forces have also played significant roles in securing peace in the former Yugoslavia. Some 22 soldiers are now operating with the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). In the past, Finland contributed a battalion to the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Finland started participating in the NATO Response Force (NRF) in 2012. Specific participation or involvement in any particular NRF operation would require a sovereign decision by Finland.

    Finland’s role in training the forces of partner countries, particularly in peacekeeping, is greatly valued by the Allies. In July 2001, NATO formally recognized the Finnish International Centre in Ninisalo as a PfP Training Centre.

    Finland also regularly participates in NATO and PfP exercises. Recent examples include the March 2011 Baltic Region Training Event, conducted by NATO Air Command Ramstein, which aimed to enhance interoperability and build capabilities in the Baltic states; the November 2012 Exercise Steadfast Juncture, a command post exercise which took place at the Amari Air Base, Estonia, focused on the command and control of a fictitious NATO-led crisis response operation involving the NRF; and the November 2012 Cyber Coalition exercise, a procedural exercise designed to give participants a better understanding of cyber defence capabilities and to identify areas for improvement.

    Among other forces, Finland has declared one mechanized infantry battalion group and one combat engineer unit, a coastal mine hunter and a small number of fixed wing aircraft as potentially available for exercises and operations.

    Finland plays an active part in a number of multinational projects for the development of capabilities. It has joined the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) programme, participating along with Sweden and ten NATO Allies in the operation of three C-17 transport aircraft based in Hungary. Continuation of a related initiative, the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS), which leases Russian and Ukrainian Antonov transport aircraft,beyond 2012 is being evaluated.

    The country is also working with Nordic NATO Allies and partners on the establishment of a joint multinational headquarters in Germany, a harbor protection system and a deployable system for the surveillance of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents. Finland is a member of the Movement Coordination Center Europe (MCCE) and is participating in the Air Transport and Air Refueling Exchange System (ATARES), as well as the Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE).

    Finland is also participating in the NATO-Russia Council’s Cooperative Airspace Initiative, which is aimed at preventing terrorists from using aircraft to launch attacks similar to those of 9/11.

    Finland’s close ties with its neighbours Norway, Denmark and Sweden have resulted in Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO), a further practical and efficient way for like-minded states to contribute to regional and international security.  In Finland’s case, this activity is pursued alongside the Nordic Battle Group.

    Defence and security sector reform

    Finland has participated in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) since 1995, which – along with participating in the Operational Capabilities Concept – influences Finnish planning and activities. Cooperation in these frameworks is aimed at enhancing Finland’s ability to take part in peace-support operations, as well as allowing Allies and other partners to benefit from Finnish expertise.

    Finland has developed a new military crisis-management concept as the basis for a revised national pool of forces for crisis-management operations. All of these forces should be evaluated under Operational Capability Concept Evaluation and Feedback programme by the end of 2016.

    Finland is contributing to the development of the EU Battle Group concept. It is cooperating with Estonia, Sweden and Norway, among other countries, in the development of a multinational rapid reaction force for EU-led peace-support operations.

    Alongside NATO Allies, Finland contributes to NATO’s programme of support for security-sector reform in the western Balkans, southern Caucasus and Central Asia. It currently contributes to a number of Partnership Trust Fund projects in other partner countries, including a project for the repacking, centralizing and destruction of chemicals in Moldova; the conduct of an Explosive Remnants of War Survey, providing detection equipment, building an ammunition destruction facility and propellant-surveillance laboratory in Jordan; and a retraining and resettlement programme for departing servicemen in Ukraine. In the past, Finland has contributed to six completed Trust Fund projects in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Serbia.

    Civil emergency planning

    Civil emergency planning is a major area of bilateral cooperation. The aim is for Finland to be able to cooperate with NATO Allies in providing mutual support in dealing with the consequences of a major accident or disaster in the EAPC area. This could include dealing with the consequences of incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agents, as well as humanitarian disaster relief operations. In line with this, Finnish civil resources have been listed with the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC). Finland has also provided valuable civil emergency training to Allies and partners.

    Science and environment

    Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, scientists from Finland have participated in numerous advanced research workshops and seminars on a range of topics. Topics have included border security and the fight against terrorism, environmental security in harbours and coastal areas, and bioremediation of contaminated soils.

    Public information

    In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Finland is the embassy of Denmark.

  • Milestones in relations

    1994 Finland joins the Partnership for Peace.
    1995 Finland joins the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP).
    1996 Finland contributes forces to the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
    1997 Finland joins the newly created Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.
    1999 Finnish forces participate in the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo, KFOR.
    2001 The Finnish International Centre in Ninisalo becomes a PfP training centre.
    2002 Finnish forces begin their contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
    2005 Finland hosts a PfP defence policy and strategy conference.
    2006 The mine layer Pohjanmaa passed NATO maritime evaluation (MAREVAL) during Exercise BRILLIANT MARINER 2006.
    2008 Finland hosts the June 2008 UUSIMAA Civil Crisis Management Exercise. Finland decides that it is open in principle to NRF participation.
    2009 The Finnish government publishes a new White Paper on Security and Defence (January).Finland hosts a PfP Trust Funds workshop (May).
    Finland and the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) sign a Memorandum of Understanding on mutual cooperation in key defence technology areas.
    An F-18 squadron, part of Finland’s Rapid Deployment Force passed a full NATO tactical evaluation (TACEVAL).
    2010 Finland presents written opinions to the Group of Experts on NATO's role in crisis management, EU-NATO cooperation and Nordic cooperation.
    Finland co-hosts “NATO’s New Strategic Concept – Comprehensive Approach to Crisis Management” with Sweden in Helsinki.
    2011 Following the signature of an agreement in October, senior Finnish officials visit the NATO C3 Agency in November to discuss the details of a multi-year programme of work for cooperation on advanced technology. The five-year programme of work will address areas such as force support, battlespace awareness, force application, logistics, command and control, net-centric warfare and protection.
    2012 In March, Finnish fighter jets take part in a NATO exercise over the Baltic region aimed at practicing air policing skills.

    In November, Finland takes part in Exercise Steadfast Juncture, a command post exercise organized at the Amari Air Base, Estonia, focused on the command and control of a fictitious crisis response operation involving the NATO Response Force; and the Cyber Coalition procedural exercise, focused on cyber defence capabilities.

      NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visits the capital Helsinki on 15 November to discuss how to further strengthen cooperation.

Last updated: 26-Apr-2013 10:47

NATO Review

Partnership or membership for Finland? 01 Nov. 2008 Finland's Ambassador to NATO and the EU, Aapo Pölhö, discusses the issue of whether Finland is ready - or even interested - in moving from partnership to membership of NATO. 

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