Keynote speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs in Oslo on 10 October 2022,

President Sauli Niinistö

[…] We are now benefiting from the fact that we never let our guard down in the past decades. Our defence is in good shape and we are increasingly investing in it. NATO membership does by no means mean that we could start neglecting our own national defence. Just the opposite.

Finland’s membership will double the border NATO currently shares with Russia. For both Finland and NATO, it is of utmost importance that Finland will continue to primarily take care of defending its own territory. When coordinated with the joint planning of the Alliance, fulfilling this task has a stabilising effect that will enhance security in Northern Europe as a whole. […]

Also as NATO members, we want to advance further our bilateral and multilateral partnerships, in Europe and across the Atlantic. As was recently announced, we are opening negotiations on a Defence Cooperation Agreement with the US – a similar agreement to the one that Norway has. I have been delighted to see how steadily our bilateral defence cooperation with Norway has developed, with a particular focus on the North and the Arctic. The importance of that cooperation will only grow with our NATO membership. […]

Finally, as I mentioned in the beginning, Finland and Norway share one particular element that will always be a major factor for our security. We have a common neighbour, Russia. And I believe we also share a common approach to that neighbour.

As for Finland, we have never been naïve about this. Neither have you. Our idea has been to maintain as functioning a relationship with Russia as possible at a given point in time. Simultaneously, I have always repeated the old Finnish wisdom that the Cossack takes everything that is loose.

At this point in time, any kind of functioning relationship with Russia seems like a very distant prospect. Instead, we need to focus on fixing anything that may still lay loose.

But we also need to remember that Russia will not disappear. It will continue to be our neighbour, even if there is no turn for the better. Finland can never afford to ignore it. NATO membership will not change that reality. In this, too, I think there is a lot Finland and Norway can learn from each other. Läs talet