Finland´s Security Policy from Koivisto to Niinistö

President Mauno Koivisto often referred to the words on the Kings Gate of the Suomenlinna fortress: “Posterity, stand here upon your own ground and never rely on foreign assistance.”, when summarising the foundation of our security policy. He emphasised that for a small country it is vital to keep friends close and enemies far away, rather than other way round.

Koivisto stated that progressing towards détente and good relations does not entail the surrendering or the diminution of other relations. “The sum of good and bad relations is not constant. Finland has consolidated its position in the West when relations with the East have been good.”

Moreover, Finland´s territory should not be used for hostile purposes against other countries. A state border is only safe when seen as such by both sides. Therefore, Finland should avoid military alliances, in which it could become involved in confrontations between the great powers.

When the Cold War divisions disappeared, our policy of neutrality lost its relevance. New security threats demanded participation and influence rather than avoidance. The most important change was joining the EU in 1995. Participation in the Union’s common foreign and security policy undermined further our own traditional policy of neutrality. EU membership provides Finland, and other members, security of cohesion due to closer political and economic cooperation.

Tensions between the great powers escalated in 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula and participated in war in eastern Ukraine. According to Russians, confrontations increased as NATO bombed Belgrade in 1999 and separated Kosovo from Serbia. They regarded it as a threat that NATO expanded into the previous regions of the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly, Russia’s neighbours had equally strong memories of the Russian military threat to the West.

President Niinistö has sought to achieve a balance between East and West, highlighting that all actions that increase stability and mitigate confrontation in our vicinity, will reinforce Finland’s security. He has also tried to rein in parties supporting NATO membership because, then, Finland would no longer be able to remain outside superpower crises. Niinistö has said: “The Russians have made it very clear that when they now look across the border, they see Finns. If Finland were in NATO, they would see enemies.”

Military alliances are problematic security structures since they are a part of military confrontation. One´s military force is another´s threat. The enlargement of NATO or the strengthening of the U.S. military presence in the Baltic Sea would not enhance stability, nor would Russia’s rearmament. Sustainable safety is guaranteed only by shared structures, in which all parties are involved.

Finland´s membership in a military alliance can only be judged from one standpoint: would it strengthen the security and stability of our country and its neigbourhood. The fundamental security is founded in international law and in the world of multilateral cooperation, while security thinking based on arms has its inevitable limits.


Kimmo Kiljunen – MP 

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Finnland’s president Niinistö reacts to Navalny poisoning

In a Statement by the President of the Republic of Finland on the case of Alexei Navalny published on the official website of the presidents office yesterday, President Niinistö states that: “The news coming from the German government today on Alexei Navalny are worrying. The use of a chemical weapon is shocking. It is important for the whole international community to get as full a clarity as possible of what happened.”

Retweeting the statement, Carl Build, previous prime minister of Sweden and the Co-Chair European Council on Foreign Relations at the moment, among other duties, praised President Niinistös comments for being “probably” the first European leader to react to the news of Navalny’s poisoning. 


German Chancellor Angela Merkel also gave a statement on September 2, 2020 at the Chancellery in Berlin after tests carried out by the German army on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny provided “unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok family.” – The German government said that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent — the same type of chemical used in Britain against ex-double agent Sergei Skripal, dramatically ramping up tensions with Moscow. Navalny, 44, fell ill after boarding a plane in Siberia last month. He was initially treated in a local hospital before being flown to Berlin for treatment. 



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