EVOLVING SECURITY POLICY
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs,
Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Although on the periphery, Finland has felt the
power shifts and political convulsions in the European security landscape
in a tangible way. History is witness to the reason for this paradox:
contiguous to Russia - Europe's Eastern great power - Finland lies in
a strategically sensitive location. As Finland seeks its way through the
transformation of the European security order in the aftermath of the
end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there are
significant but mixed lessons to be learned.
Weak or strong, pursuing an expansive and adversarial
policy or collaborating in a concert of great powers, Russia (the Soviet
Union) has been a key factor in determining the fate of European peace
and stability. Finland has had to adjust its policies to broader arrangements
as a result of this situation.
For centuries, Finland was part of Sweden. In the
19th century, having become an autonomous grand duchy within the Russian
empire, Finland went through a successful period of nation-building and
benefitted from economic and cultural contacts with Russia. But Russification
pressures around the turn of the century inspired Finnish resistance,
which, in the aftermath of the October Revolution, led to Finnish independence.
Between the world wars, Finland was one of the
new small democracies that fell victim to the failure of the League of
Nations to prevent the fascist and Communist dictatorships from undermining
the collective security system. A workable neighbourly relationship between
Finland and the Soviet Union was never reached. Finland's effort to anchor
its security to joint Nordic neutrality was of no avail against Soviet
aggression in 1939 that resulted in the Winter War, November 1939 to March
1940, with the loss of one-tenth of Finnish territory. In the Continuation
War, 1941-44, Finland again fought its Eastern neighbour, to correct the
injustices and defend its independence.
The Second World War left Finland in a position
imposed by the balance of power and the Yalta security order. While forced
to conclude an onerous peace settlement by the preponderant adversary,
Finland emerged from the war unoccupied and with her Western democratic
institutions intact. Although the Soviet Union began to pursue an expansionist
foreign policy, Finland managed to negotiate with it a workable, treaty-based
relationship that ensured Finland's independence and provided it with
a position of neutrality. Now, for the first time, a democratic Russia,
with a new domestic order and foreign policy, is emerging as Finland's
Other external factors affecting Finnish security
also appear in a new light. Moscow-Berlin-Stockholm is traditionally viewed
as the triangle where Finland's fate is cast. Today, relationships among
the countries on the Baltic Sea constitute a complex and dynamic framework
for Finnish foreign and security policy.
A Nordic nation
As a result of centuries of Swedish rule and Finland's
subsequent achievements as an independent democratic country, it is, above
all, a member of the Nordic family of nations. Common interests and parallel
aspirations in the changing Europe have opened up new possibilities for
Nordic cooperation, not only in terms of integration but also in security
Finland also has special bonds of language, culture
and history with Estonia and has felt close to Latvia and Lithuania as
well, although their histories have not followed the same path. Finland
supports the reconstituted independence of the Baltic states and their
democratic development, a process which is a key factor of stability in
the whole Baltic Sea region.
Unification has re-emphasized Germany's northern
identity and accentuated its role as a major Baltic rim country. Finland
expects a growing German contribution to cooperation and reform in the
region. Concurrently with German unification in September 1990, Finland
unilaterally declared obsolete the stipulations of the Treaty of Paris
of 1947 which had imposed restrictions on Finland's peacetime armed forces
and acquisition of defence materiel. By nullifying these limitations on
its sovereignty, Finland, as a co-belligerent of Germany, closed the book
for its part on the Second World War.
The Cold War had brought a new factor into Finland's
security environment: the US-Soviet strategic confrontation in the North.
Finland's security has been greatly affected by the strategic game of
superpower doctrines, weapons and deployments that was played out around
the Kola base complex and in the northern waters and airspace.
Despite the implemented and forthcoming deep reductions
in strategic and tactical nuclear weapons by the United States and Russia,
Northern Europe retains its strategic significance for the residual forces
of the superpowers. The political confrontation has evaporated but the
destructive capabilities remain.
During the Cold War, NATO became an important part
of Finland's security environment. Swedish neutrality and Norwegian and
Danish membership of NATO - with unilateral restrictions on the peacetime
basing of allied military forces - were essential preconditions for the
functioning of Finland's neutrality as a viable security stra-tegy in
the bipolar world.
It was up to Finland to give sufficient reassurances
to the Soviet Union that Finland would not let its territory become a
basing area or transit route for military aggression against the Soviet
Union. At the same time, Finland had to fend off Soviet efforts to turn
the bilateral treaty relationship essentially into an alliance with military
integration and political coordination.
Although the Soviet Union did not fully recognize
it until 1989, Finnish neutrality was functional and gained a broad international
standing. In this context, it was important to convince Finland's neighbours
to the West and the Western powers that Finland would ensure the inviolability
of its territory in all possible circumstances.
A national defence capability commensurate with
the security environment was a necessary element in a policy that aimed
at neutrality in the event of war. Although Finnish neutrality was not
predominantly based on military deterrence, Finland built up, by a consistent
long-term effort, a national defence that was, and continues to be, up
to the task as a denial capability. The Finnish people have demonstrated
both in times of war and peace a strong resolve to defend their independence.
Neutrality provided Finland with an instrument
for promoting an active policy of regional and European détente
and security, and Finland aspired, through such efforts, to alleviate
the effects of international tension on its own position.
Within the CSCE process, Finland, together with
other neutral and non-aligned countries, helped to overcome the repercussions
of the East-West division and contribute to its peaceful transformation.
At the same time, neutrality gained in legitimacy and esteem as a choice
of policy and a line of action in Europe. By the time the Cold War came
to an end, Finland had established itself as an equal among the European
Stability in the East
As a Western democracy, Finland welcomes the fact that
Europe is unifying around a set of common values and principles. Yet, the
end of the Cold War is affecting Finland's foreign policy and international
position. Stabilizing the democratic transition and economic restructuring
that are under way in Russia are essential to Finland's security and well-being.
And a stable security environment is an important factor for such a peaceful
transformation in Russia. Finland can best contribute to this process -
which is very much in its own national security interest - through transfrontier
cooperation and by promoting the development of the neighbouring regions.
To this end, Finland is an active proponent of more efficient coordination
and allocation of international support and assistance to Russia.
Respect for the sovereign equality of the Baltic
states is also indispensable for stability and progress in our subregion.
Finland will do its utmost to support a fruitful development of Baltic-Russian
relations on this basis. In this context, we encourage the use of CSCE
instruments for fact-finding and the settlement of disputes.
As the withdrawal of Russian forces from Central
Europe and the Baltic states has increased - at least temporarily - the
numbers of Russian troops and materiel near our borders, we have started
a dialogue with Russia on increased transparency and openness. We shall
also be active in using the CSCE forum for a new kind of security cooperation
on European and regional levels.
Together with other traditionally neutral countries,
Finnish neutrality is going through a process of fundamental change. With
the end of the political and ideological division of Europe and the introduction
of the community of values inherent in the CSCE principles, the basis
for neutrality has largely evaporated. Finnish policy and actions in the
new Europe are based on the realization that the course of international
relations will be determined by the extent to which these common values
and principles are respected.
The most evident consequence for Finland of the
new spirit is, of course, the fact that the wide gap in values and ideology
that existed in our relations with the Soviet Union is disappearing. Now,
for the first time, Russia is committed to the same international values
and principles as Finland in the community of European states. The new
bilateral agreement of 1992 on relations between Finland and Russia is
thus based on these common CSCE principles.
At the same time, as a result of the growing interdependence
and internationalization of the market economies, Finland's society and
economy are going through a deep restructuring process together with other
comparable Western countries. In this situation, Finland has decided that
it can best secure its national interests and further its international
aspirations by joining the European Community.
Although the immediate motivations for Finland's
decision to apply for membership were economic, the fundamental implications
for my country's security policy in the changing world were fully appreciated.
Its membership application in March 1992 has launched a new phase in Finland's
foreign and security policy. For the first time, it is aiming at full
participation in the process of European political and economic integration.
By joining its core, Finland would be in a stronger
position to support peaceful change in Europe towards a unified area of
democracy, prosperity and equal security, which the Paris CSCE Summit
of 1990 established as the common goal. At the same time, Finland's security
will be placed in a new framework. As an EC member, it would support the
independence and security of the Community and its members in a spirit
of loyalty and mutual solidarity, and would expect similar support in
return for its own independence and security.
The precise security and defence implications of
EC membership for Finland are, however, difficult to predict with any
accuracy. As a member, Finland would participate constructively in the
common foreign and security policy of the developing European Union and
accept its objectives concerning defence policy and common defence as
determined in the Maastricht Treaty.
In the ongoing European transformation, Finland
is not seeking new arrangements to improve its military security. While
applying for EC membership, Finland maintains the essentials of its neutrality:
military non-alignment and independent defence. In negotiating for membership
on the basis of the Maastricht Treaty, Finland recognizes that its national
defence may become part of a broader common arrangement as integration
proceeds further. But such a change would be up to the unanimous decision
of the Union members, among which Finland would be an equal participant,
possibly in 1996 or thereafter.
The Western European Union (WEU) has invited member
states of the future European Union to accede to the WEU or become observers.
As the WEU is an integral part of the development of the European Union,
Finland will accordingly, and in due time, consider the question of establishing
a relationship with this organization. In any case, membership of the
European Union would bring into being new types of responsibilities for
Finland in international security cooperation. The most immediate and
challenging among these may be the need to contribute to a joint capability
of the Union for crisis management, peacekeeping and peace enforcement.
The basis for Finland's role would be our long-standing and widely recognized
record in UN peacekeeping.
Irrespective of its future defence arrangements,
Finland is prepared to accept greater responsibility for sustainable and
equitable security in Europe, which is an urgent and compelling task.
Finland is a consistent supporter of the strengthening of the capability
of the UN and the CSCE.
The commitments and decisions of the Helsinki CSCE
Summit in July 1992 (1), enhanced by
the decisions of the Stockholm Council meeting in December 1992, outline
the functioning of cooperative security for the region among the CSCE
and other mutually reinforcing European and transatlantic institutions
and organizations. This security architecture provides a workable basis
for the common task of preventing, managing and settling conflicts and
promoting a peaceful transition to democracy and a market economy. The
main challenge concerns the political will for concerted action and the
efficiency in using the instruments made available by the joint decisions.
It is vital for a small country's security that any
new international structures in Europe be inclusive and prevent any new
division of the continent. Changes in the framework of alignments should
promote common security and stability.
Zones of political and economic instability and
under-development, as well as zones of insecurity, will undermine security
for all of us, not least for a country bordering on the present socio-economic
welfare gap. As President Mauno Koivisto declared in his remarks to the
College of Europe on 28 October 1992, Finland wants "to keep the areas
immediately around us as politically and militarily stable as possible".
It is our assessment that Finland can, in the foreseeable future, best
promote stability in its subregion by remaining militarily non-aligned
and by maintaining a credible independent defence. We believe that this
policy can be reconciled with accession to the European Union on the basis
of the Maastricht Treaty. We are also convinced that our interests vis-à-vis
Russian developments are compatible with, and similar to, those of NATO
and the wider Western community.
During a meeting between President Koivisto and NATO Secretary General
Manfred Wörner in Brussels on 28 October 1992, it was stressed that
contacts between Finland and NATO are a natural part of the intensifying
European dialogue. Finland recognizes and appreciates NATO's role as a
significant contributor to stability in Europe. Particularly timely are
the new forms of security cooperation such as peacekeeping within the
CSCE framework or military transition which is being promoted among the
countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union by
the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC).
As the evolution from the Cold War to cooperative
security is also a key element in promoting stability in our security
environment, Finland applied for, and was granted, observer status within
the NACC. We look forward to benefitting from information on the military
changes in our subregion by means of the NACC. Furthermore, such military
transition issues as defence planning, democratic reform, conversion,
and defence-related environmental hazards are of great interest to Finland
and the NACC's recent emphasis on peacekeeping could make a valuable contribution
to security in Europe.
Finland has a lot at stake in the building of cooperative
security and is ready and willing to contribute to this process in full.
(1) See "The July CSCE Helsinki
decisions - a step in the right direction", Victor-Yves Ghebali, NATO
REVIEW, No.4, August 1992, pp. 3-8.
© Copyright by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation