Relations with Finland
NATO and Finland actively cooperate on peace-support 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 Opportunity Partners’1) that make particularly significant contributions to NATO-led operations and that support 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 political dialogue, including at the highest levels, 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. Both partners participate in the enhanced NATO Response Force (NRF) in a supplementary role and subject to national decisions, as well as hold regular consultations with NATO on security in the Baltic Sea region.
In 2017, Finland established the Helsinki European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats. The centre is supported by NATO and the European Union (EU), and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg and EU HR/VP Mogherini attended the inauguration in October 2017.
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 USD 14.5 million to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund. Finland also contributes to a project aimed at training counter-narcotics personnel from Afghanistan and other Central Asian partner countries.
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’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. Among other forces, Finland has declared one mechanised infantry battalion group and one combat engineer unit, a coastal mine hunter and a number of fixed-wing and rotary-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. In the area of strategic airlift, it participates in two initiatives: the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) programme and the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS).
On cyber defence, Finland and NATO signed a Political Framework Arrangement in 2017 to provide a common framework for cooperation in this area. The country also participates in the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, NATO cyber defence exercises, such as Cyber Coalition, and all cyber-related ‘Smart Defence’ projects.
Furthermore, Finland is 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. It 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 issued a new defence report in 2017, which provides new directions for the development of the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF). In line with the report’s conclusions, the FDF continue to increase their readiness, and are now assigned with a new role, the reception and provision of international assistance. Finland continues to assign troops to participate in NATO-led operations, activities and exercises, and provides regular contributions to EU Battlegroups. 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, as well as supports a range of NATO’s defence capacity building (DCB) efforts. Currently, it is supporting the DCB Trust Fund, and projects in Georgia, Jordan, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine as well as the Building Integrity Programme and the NATO-UNODC Counter-Narcotics Training Project.
Civil preparedness continues to be a major area of bilateral cooperation. The baseline requirements for national resilience provides valuable structure for cooperation and form a central part of Finland’s engagement with NATO and its Civil Emergency Planning Committee. Finland also cooperates with NATO Allies in the field of regional assessments, security of supply, critical infrastructure protection, and 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 NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) and Finland has nominated several civil experts to NATO’s pool of experts. In addition, Finland has provided valuable civil preparedness training to Allies and partners, and has sent a national expert to work as part of the Civil Preparedness Section of the International Staff.
Security-related scientific cooperation
Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, scientists and experts from Finland have participated in numerous advanced research workshops and multi-year projects on a range of topics. Key areas of cooperation include cyber defence, explosives detection, identification of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents, resilience capacity building, and security-related advanced technology. Finland (Ministry of Social Affairs and Health) has also participated in a multi-year project co-led by experts from NATO Allies Romania and the United States together with Moldova and Ukraine. The project established a multinational telemedicine system, enabling medical specialists to provide real-time recommendations to first responders at emergency scenes or in combat zones.
- Enhanced Opportunity Partners: Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden
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 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.
16 February 2017: The Political Framework Arrangement on cyber defence is signed between NATO and Finland.
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.
11 June 2017: At the invitation of President Niinistö, NATO Deputy Secretary General Gottemoeler attends the Kultaranta talks on the future of European Security.
October 2017: NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg and EU High Representative/Vice President Mogherini attend the inauguration of the Helsinki European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which is supported by NATO and the EU.