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President Niinistö: European defence force necessary – but will take time

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö says European countries will likely have to relinquish their dependence on NATO and US defence assistance in future and take steps to maintain security themselves. The Finnish leader predicts it will be a long time before a common EU defence force becomes a reality, however.

Ajankohtaistoiminnan päätoimittaja Riikka Venäläinen toivotti tasavallan presidentti Sauli Niinistön tervetulleeksi Ylen Ykkösaamun vieraaksi Helsingissä 2. syyskuuta.
President Niinistö arrives at Yle for his interview on September 2. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö says the development of a common European defence force will require a great deal of patience and time. He nevertheless senses that movement in this direction is already underway.

"EU defence is still a long way off, in terms of an objective. It will require substantial changes in attitude, and long-term advancement towards the goal in small increments," he told Yle in a Saturday morning interview.

When asked about the US propensity to help Finland in defending itself, if a situation so required it, Niinistö said that Finland's defence and security principles have never been founded on the idea that the US would arrive to offer help.

"It seems to be the case that Europeans will perhaps slowly have to forsake the notion that NATO and the US provide security, and do something about it themselves. Fortunately, Finland has already made quite a bit of progress in this area," Niinistö said in the interview.

Tenacity in the face of terrorism

The Finnish President also commented on the stabbing attack in Turku two weeks ago that took the lives of two women and wounded eight others. He said that terrorism has now arrived on Finland's shores and that the country must find the strength to ward off wickedness.

"We've gotten so used to living amidst peace and goodwill, that when evil like this shows its face, we don't know how to respond. It is outside of our realm of understanding," the President said.

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