|Updated: 22-Jan-2003||NATO Speeches|
22 Nov. 2002
President Tarja Halonen of the Republic of Finland
I extend my warm thanks to President Havel and the Government of the Czech Republic for their invitation and for hosting this historic meeting in Prague.
NATO has just made the decision to invite seven applicant countries, among them our neighbours Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, to begin negotiations for membership. Finland wishes to congratulate the forthcoming new members and NATO.
This historic step reaffirms the Alliance’s open door policy in Europe. Simultaneously the European Union is preparing for enlargement. These two separate but parallel enlargement processes will build a more stable and secure Europe.
Finland hopes that the EU and NATO can agree on their mutual co-operation without delay. While emphasising the independent roles of the EU and NATO it will be necessary to avoid constructing double military structures in Europe. The European Union is shouldering its responsibility for both European and international security, but is nevertheless first and foremost a civilian power. Any major military crisis-management operations undertaken by the Union must be done in close cooperation with NATO.
Finland values Partnership for Peace cooperation with NATO. The experience gained so far is a good basis to build on. Finland welcomes today’s decisions on the future of the Partnership. Because of new kinds of threats and challenges, especially international terrorism, new forms of cooperation must be found. Finland will contribute to further developing partnership activities and will continue to participate actively in crisis management in the Balkans.
The unanimously adopted UN Security Council resolution 1441 on Iraq is an important demonstration of the strength of international cooperation. Iraq must unconditionally comply with the demands of the international community. It is in everyone’s interest to peacefully deal with the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. Similarly, military actions would be the last resort in maintaining international peace and security.
Our common goal is to strengthen security, in all its aspects, in Europe and everywhere in the world. In this endeavour, we need concerted efforts of all nations and all organizations.