Relations with Finland
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 one of NATO’s most active partners and a valued contributor to NATO-led operations and missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan – it is one of five countries that has enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with NATO.
- 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.
- In the current security context with heightened concerns about Russian military activities, NATO is stepping up cooperation with Finland and Sweden in the Baltic region.
- Finland’s role in training the forces of NATO partner countries is greatly valued as is its support for several NATO-led Trust Fund projects aimed at promoting defence and security reform in partner countries.
- Finland actively supports the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
More background information
Finland is one of five countries (known as ‘Enhanced Opportunities Partners’) that make particularly significant contributions to NATO operations and other Alliance objectives. As such, the country has enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with the Allies.
In the current security context with heightened concerns about Russian military activities, NATO is stepping up cooperation with Finland and Sweden. This means expanding exchanges of information on hybrid warfare, coordinating training and exercises, and developing better joint situational awareness to address common threats and develop joint actions, if needed. Also underway are talks on how to include the two partners in the enhanced NATO Response Force (NRF) and regular consultations on security in the Baltic Sea region.
Moreover, at NATO’s Wales Summit in September 2014, Finland and Sweden signed a memorandum of understanding on Host Nation Support, which addresses issues related to the provision of civil and military assistance to Allied forces located on, or in transit through, their territory in peacetime, crisis or war. The agreement was ratified by the Finnish parliament in 2015.
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 and institutions. 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 auspices of 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 participates in the NATO Response Force – a highly ready and technologically advanced, multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces (SOF) components that can be deployed quickly, wherever needed. Beyond its operational role, the NATO Response Force also serves to promote greater cooperation in education and training, increased exercises and better use of technology. 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 (EU).
Finland also regularly participates in NATO and PfP exercises. 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.
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. A related initiative, the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS) leases Russian and Ukrainian Antonov transport aircraft.
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 and is participating in the Air Transport, Air-to Air Refuelling and other Exchange of Services (ATARES), as well as the Air Situation Data Exchange.
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 Battlegroup.
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 the country’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.
The country is contributing to the development of the EU Battlegroup concept. It is cooperating with Estonia, Norway and Sweden, among other countries, in the development of a multinational rapid-reaction force for EU-led peace-support operations.
Finland is an active supporter of 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 the Republic of Moldova; ammunition stockpile management in Tajikistan; the Building Integrity Programme; and a project focused on increasing opportunities for women to work in the Jordanian 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. Finland has also participated in a multi-year project to establish a continuous monitoring and risk assessment system concerning munitions dumped in the Baltic Sea, which pose a serious environmental and security problem.
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.
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.
2008: Finland hosts the June 2008 Uusimaa civil crisis-management exercise.
2009: Finland and the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NATO C3 Agency) – 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.
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.
March 2012: Finnish fighter jets take part in a NATO exercise over the Baltic region aimed at practising air policing skills.
November 2012: Finland takes part in Exercise Steadfast Juncture, an exercise organised at 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.
15 November 2012: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visits Helsinki.
November 2013: Finland takes part in Exercise Steadfast Jazz.
February 2014: Finland and Sweden participate in Iceland Air Meet 2014 under the command of Norway, which had deployed to Iceland to conduct NATO’s mission to provide airborne surveillance and interception capabilities to meet Iceland’s peacetime preparedness needs.
September 2014: At the Wales Summit, Finland is identified as one of five countries that make particularly significant contributions to NATO operations and other Alliance objectives, which will have enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with the Allies. Along with Sweden, Finland signs a memorandum of understanding on Host Nation Support, which addresses issues related to the provision of civil and military assistance to Allied forces located on, or in transit through, their territory in peacetime, crisis or war.
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.
February 2015: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in the margins of the Munich Security Conference.
5 March 2015: 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.
1 December 2015: The Secretary General has talks with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, along with Finnish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Timo Soini, on the margins of NATO’s meetings of foreign ministers in Brussels. They discuss ongoing work to expand exchanges of information, including on hybrid warfare, coordinating training and exercises, and developing better joint situational awareness to help NATO, Finland and Sweden more effectively to address common threats and develop joint actions, if needed. Also underway are talks on how to include the two partners in the enhanced NATO Response Force and regular consultations on security in the Baltic Sea region.
20 April 2016: Finland participates in two days of air exercises in the Baltic region alongside NATO and partner air forces, practising emergency responses and sharpening cooperation.
25-26 April 2016: The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, visits Finland for discussions with the President, Foreign Minister, Defence Minister and the Chief of Defence about regional security and NATO-Finnish military cooperation and interoperability.
19-20 May 2016: The Finnish foreign minister participates in a meeting with NATO foreign ministers devoted to NATO-EU cooperation.
8-9 July 2016: At the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the Allies underline the importance of further strengthening cooperation with Finland and Sweden, including through regular political consultations, shared situational awareness, and joint exercises, in order to respond to common challenges in a timely and effective manner. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö joins Summit discussions on current security challenges in Europe and on sustaining support for Afghanistan.
1 September 2016: NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow outlines the vital role that partners play within NATO in a keynote speech at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. While in Helsinki, he meets with the Finnish President as well as officials from both the foreign ministry and the defence ministry.
9 November 2016: President Niinistö visits NATO HQ – the first Finnish President ever to do so. Discussions with the Secretary General cover a wide range of issues, including the situation in the Baltic Sea region.
11 April 2017: Several NATO Allies and European Union members come together for a ceremony in Helsinki to sign a memorandum of understanding on establishing a European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in the Finnish capital. Nine nations sign the Memorandum: Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States; other NATO and EU nations are expected to join the Centre in the near future. While not signatories themselves, NATO and the EU will participate actively in the Centre’s activities.