Finland is due to finalise a bilateral defence cooperation agreement with the UK, according to Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö. The minister told the regional news consortium Lännen Media that the agreement, which seeks to deepen and strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries, has been in the works since last year.
"We are aiming to increase stability and to send a signal in our region that Finland is intensifying its cooperation with the West," Niinistö said.
Niinistö is due to sign the bilateral accord with his British opposite number Michael Fallon in the coming weeks, possible as early as during a NATO summit scheduled for July 7-8 in Warsaw, Poland.
Britain is leaving the EU but they want to increase bilateral defence cooperation with selected partners, including Finland,” the minister added.
The agreement is essentially a framework document, which contains no legal obligations to provide military assistance to another country in a crisis situation. Political leaders from both sides will provide their civil servants and military with guidelines for developing and deepening bilateral cooperation. The goal is to create mechanisms to strengthen their ability to work together. The precise details of the agreement are classified.
Bilateral cooperation with USA also on the cards
The UK already brokered a bilateral defence cooperation agreement with Sweden in 2014. In June 2016 Sweden signed up to a 50-point cooperation programme with Britain and a five-point cooperation plan with the United States.
Niinistö said that Finland intends to borrow from the Swedish playbook and also wants to step up its military relations with the United States. He added that Finland that the US may seal a bilateral defence cooperation pact before the US general election due later this year.