Security Challenges and Enhancing Defence Cooperation
The growing bilateral cooperation was demonstrated when President Sauli Niinistö in September 2016 hosted a State Visit for King Harald V and Queen Sonja. This was their third State Visit to Finland, and with the largest delegation to any country. An important part of the state visit was Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide’s opening speech at the Defence Industry Seminar; "Norwegian–Finnish cooperation – a driver for Nordic defence industrial restructuring and armaments cooperation."
When looking at our changing security environment, Norway is in many ways a maritime nation, and the North Atlantic is our key strategic economic area. Maritime transport, fisheries and the extraction of oil, natural gas, and minerals are all of vital importance. Having the world’s second longest coastline and a maritime economic zone of two million square kilometres provides opportunities, but also responsibilities. As for Finland, Norway has a long land and maritime border with Russia.
During the last decade, we have seen Russia change its security policy and priorities, vastly modernise its defence forces, and in recent years start to use military power aggressively. Close to our borders, Russia is developing new high-end military capabilities, including submarines, aircraft, and long-range, high-precision missiles that can target all of Europe, as well as vital transatlantic lines of communication. For our region this has long-term security and defence consequences.
The Russian military capabilities on the Kola Peninsula with new strategic nuclear submarines with Bulava missiles, and new submarines with dual capability missiles, are becoming operational. Highly accurate long-range cruise missiles designed for land, sea, and air platforms have been introduced, and have been used in the Syria Conflict.
The fielding of such capabilities, combined with advanced exercises, makes Russia increasingly capable of conducting Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) operations, and can establish a Forward Bastion Defence in the North Atlantic. This makes it vital that NATO can safeguard sea lines of communication during a crisis or conflict. Safety, security, freedom of movement and operation across the North Atlantic is of great importance to all of Europe, and especially for the northern parts of the Alliance, and the Nordic-Baltic Region.
With new Russian long-range capabilities and a more challenging security environment, we view the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea as a seamless Security and Defence Region. This underlines the importance of the growing Norwegian and Finnish Defence Cooperation.
Finland has an excellent "Comprehensive Defence Approach" and Norway a "Total Defence Concept". These links our National Civilian Capabilities and Defence Industries to our Defence Forces, and are crucial for having the ability to focus all resources in time of crisis and conflict.
With Finland and Norway facing the same security challenges, we need initiatives for getting greater effects out of our defence budgets. This should not only be about buying the same equipment, but also about seeking common solutions for logistic services, and sustainability and endurance for handling crisis and conflict.
By having the partnership of Patria, KONGSBERG and Nammo, we have an excellent basis for enhancing defence cooperation between our countries. This should also be an opportunity for strengthening our Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO), and for the export market.