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Defence minister, top general address Finland's security policy

Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen commented that Finland already meets the criteria for Nato membership and will strengthen the alliance.

Defence minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) said Finland could join Nato by the end of the year, if there are no complications in the ratification process. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Over the past six months, major decisions have been taken in Finland's security policy as the country has charted a course to join Nato.

Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) estimated that Finland's Nato compatibility — which has been built up for a long time — will help the country adapt to Nato membership.

"You could say that we are fully Nato-compatible. We meet the criteria for Nato membership," Kaikkonen said at the onset of the 240th national defence course at the House of the Estates in Helsinki.

Designed for military personnel and civilian leaders in business and politics, the course aims to offer an overall view of foreign, security and defence policy.

Kaikkonen said that in the best case scenario, Finland could become a full member of Nato by the end of this year.

"Naturally, we will do our part to ensure that membership can be actualised as quickly as possible," Kaikkonen emphasised.

Finland is currently an observer member of Nato rather than a full member.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron signed Finland's Nato membership protocol. On Saturday, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö released a video with US President Joe Biden and Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson in which Biden confirmed the US' commitment to the security of the Nordic countries.

General Timo Kivinen, Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, added that Nato membership strengthens Finland's security. According to Kivinen, the defence forces will be developed in the future from the perspective of Nato cooperation.

"It is important to fulfil the joint defence obligations of the alliance," Kivinen said.

Kaikkonen: Finland does not support terrorism

The defence minister calculated that to date 23 out of 30 Nato countries have confirmed Finland's Nato membership. The decision of the seven remaining member states' parliaments is still being awaited.

Among the seven is Turkey, which Kaikkonen recalled had its concerns about terrorism, but those were addressed in the document signed in Madrid at the Nato summit in June.

"And you can say it out loud, as everyone in Finland knows: Finland does not support terrorism. Certainly not," Kaikkonen pointed out, adding, "Our authorities are working every day to fight terrorism. And I think it is fair to say that they are doing so quite successfully."

Finland's defence capabilities strengthen Nato

According to Kaikkonen, Finland already has a credible national defence capability that is highly compatible with Nato.

"We are well prepared for various security threats," Kaikkonen assured.

Kaikkonen continued to praise Finland's excellent defence capabilities and crisis tolerance, which he said would strengthen Nato's defence throughout the alliance.

"As a member, Finland will join Nato's common air and missile defence system, we will participate in the exchange of common air and maritime situational information and in deeper intelligence cooperation," the defence minister said.

Kaikkonen noted that with membership Finland will have the ability to deploy Defence Forces troops to assist another Nato member state and, if necessary, to receive personnel from other Nato member states in Finland.

According to Kaikkonen, professional soldiers and volunteer reservists would be used in principle for any mission outside Finland's borders.