NATO’s relations with Finland

  • Last updated: 04 Mar. 2015 10:30

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.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland


  • Finnish cooperation with NATO is based on its longstanding policy of military non-alignment and a firm national political consensus.
  • Cooperation has been reinforced over the years since Finland joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace in 1994 and became a member of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997.
  • Finland is a valued contributor to NATO-led operations and missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan.
  • An important priority for cooperation is to develop capabilities and maintain the ability of the Finnish armed forces to work with those of NATO and other partner countries in multinational peace-support operations.
  • Finland also actively supports the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and participates in several NATO-led Trust Funds aimed at promoting defence and security reform in partner countries.

More background information

  • Key areas of cooperation

    Security cooperation

    Since 2002, Finnish soldiers have been working alongside Allied forces in Afghanistan – first, as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which completed its mission at the end of 2014, and currently as part of the follow-on mission (known as Resolute Support) to further train, assist and advise the Afghan security forces. Since 2007, Finland has contributed over USD 9.4 million to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund. Finland also contributed to a project aimed at training counter-narcotics personnel from Afghanistan and other Central Asian partner countries, which was conducted under the NATO-Russia Council.

    Finnish forces have played significant roles in securing peace in the former Yugoslavia. Finnish soldiers are currently operating with the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) and, 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 and took part in Exercise Steadfast Jazz in November 2013, an exercise which inter alia was designed to test the different components of the next NRF rotation. Specific participation or involvement in any particular NRF operation requires 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 recognised the Finnish Defence Forces International Centre (FINCENT) in Tuusula as a Partnership for Peace (PfP) Training Centre. This centre provides training on military crisis management for staff employed by international organisations such as NATO, the United Nations and the European Union.

    Finland also regularly participates in NATO and PfP exercises, such as Iceland Air Meet in February 2014. Among other forces, Finland has declared one mechanised 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. Maintaining operational interoperability at the end of the ISAF mission is not only crucial at the military level, but also at the political level. At the political level, NATO is enhancing consultation and dialogue with particularly active partners such as Finland.

    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 several 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 on a multinational cyber defence capability development project with NATO, which will improve the means of sharing technical information and promote awareness of threats and attacks. It is also participating in the establishment of a multinational joint headquarters in Germany, a harbour protection system and a deployable system for the surveillance of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents. Finland is a member of the Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) and is participating in the Air Transport, Air-to Air Refueling and other Exchange of Services (ATARES), as well as the Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE).

    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 the Operational Capabilities Concept Evaluation and Feedback Programme by the end of 2016.

    Finland is contributing to the development of the EU Battlegroup 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 is an active supporter of Partnership Trust Fund projects in other partner countries and has contributed to nearly a dozen so far. Currently, it is supporting a project for the repacking, centralising and destruction of chemicals in Moldova; ammunition stockpile management in Tajikistan and the Building Integrity Programme. Finland has also shown an interest in supporting an upcoming Trust Fund project focused on multiplying the possibilities for women to work in the Jordan armed forces.

    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 Euro-Atlantic 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 Bulgaria.

  • 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 PfP programme is to develop and enhance interoperability between NATO and partner forces through a variety of PfP instruments and mechanisms. Finland joined the PfP programme at its inception in 1994.

  • Milestones in relations

    1994 Finland joins the Partnership for Peace (PfP).
    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 Defence Forces International Centre in Tuusula becomes a PfP training centre.
    2002 Finnish forces begin their contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
    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 NATO Response Force (NRF) participation.
    2009 Finland and the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) (currently known as the NATO Communications and Information Agency or NCI Agency) 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 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 (currently known as NCI Agency) in November to discuss the details of a multi-year programme of work for cooperation on advanced technology.
    2012 In March, Finnish fighter jets take part in a NATO exercise over the Baltic region aimed at practising air policing skills.
      In November, Finland takes part in Exercise Steadfast Juncture, an exercise organised at the Amari Air Base, Estonia, focused on the command and control of a fictitious crisis-response operation involving the NRF; and the Cyber Coalition procedural exercise, focused on cyber defence capabilities.
      NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visits Helsinki on 15 November.
    2013 In November, Finland takes part in Exercise Steadfast Jazz.
    2014 Finland and Sweden participate in Iceland Air Meet 2014, under the command of Norway. This occurred during Norway’s deployment to Iceland to conduct NATO’s mission to provide airborne surveillance and interception capabilities to meet Iceland’s peacetime preparedness needs.
    2015 In January 2015, following the completion of the ISAF operation in Afghanistan in December 2014, Finland starts contributing to the follow-on NATO-led mission (“Resolute Support”) to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions.
    In February, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in the margins of the Munich Security Conference.
      On 5 March, NATO’s Secretary General visits Finland for meetings with Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja and Defence Minister Carl Haglund, as well as the Speaker of the Parliament, Eero Heinäluoma.