Bildt on Nordic defense cooperation

YLE reports (fi) that Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (se) said that defense cooperation between Finland, Norway, and Sweden meets the new types of soft security challenges better than NATO membership. Bildt raised the possibility of also inviting other countries on the Baltic. (Bildt expressed frustration about being unable to find information on the Foreign Ministry's NATO report in languages other than Finnish. Not an aLwNGL reader, obviously.)

Noted NATO membership supporter and parliamentary foreign policy committee chair Pertti Salolainen (National Coalition Party) was asked for comment. He agreed with Bildt on the Nordic approach, but expressed some reservation about including the Baltic countries. Salolainen also admitted a basic fact: "Now it's pretty clear that during this parliamentary term and during this presidency we won't be joining NATO." True, that.

Noted NATO membership opponent and President of the Republic Tarja Halonen (Social Democratic Party) was likewise asked for comment. She, too, agreed (fi). "[Bildt] said that with regards to these new security risks, Nordic cooperation may even be more important than membership in some alliance. With this in mind one can say that he's thinking along Finnish lines. To kid a little, it's nice that Swedes too join in this thinking." The difference to Salolainen was that Halonen was less reserved on the idea of including the Baltic states, mentioning that there have already been talks on cooperation.

The point to grasp here is that Nordic defense cooperation is so inoffensive that both sides of the Finnish foreign policy debate can embrace. A cynic would say this is true because it wouldn't make much of a difference to anything, new threats or no new threats. But it's still nice.

1 comment:

Giustino said...

It makes sense to include Estonia in any Nordic military cooperation. There shouldn't be any "reservations" because the country is already part of NATO -- ie. has an updated military.

Estonia is also the southern border of Finland and the eastern border of Sweden. Earlier political generations of Finns and Swedes decided wisely that it made more sense to invest in Estonia and reinforce its stability than leave it out of the loop and watch it get sucked back into the Russian "sphere of instability."

With NATO at work in Afghanistan, including Estonia in such cooperation would be a welcome regional security development.

Unless, of course, the Swedes and Finns are cowards and scared of Russia :)