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Home NATIONALPresident envisions regional security cooperation: Analysts
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Sat, 02 Jan, 2016 01:04:06 AM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, Jan 2

 In his New Year's address on Friday, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö underlined the importance of the cooperation between Finland and Sweden on the Northern European security.

     Analysts said the president did not mention possible Finnish membership in NATO at all, nor the defence cooperation within the EU. Instead, he mentioned the vision of regional confidence building measures and said it would be logical to build further cooperation in foreign and security policy.

    Niinistö specified what he described as "a special position" of the two countries outside military alliances. "Together they have strong ties both to the East and West and that raises them to a special position", Niinistö said. "This creates possibilities for important work for promoting Northern European security and stability."

     He said it is in the interest of both countries to promote "security based on cooperation" that also "includes efforts towards confidence building measures".

     The president recalled the concept of "active policy of stability" that he had defined in his address a year ago. He said it would be substantial to maintain relationship with Russia and Sweden, develope cooperation within the European Union and with NATO countries.

     Commenting on the speech, Teija Tiilikainen, Director of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs, noted that the president starts to widen Finno-Swedish cooperation to cover foreign and security policy. So far the focus has been on defence only.

     Tiilikainen said the speech "had some old echo". "Mutual cooperation and its extent were given a lot of weight."

     Tiilikainen did not see a major new opening. She said she would have expected something about the European defence cooperation, but there was nothing about it - and no mention of the upcoming government statements on foreign and security policy", Tiilikainen commented.

     During the cold war era, Finland was active in promoting measures that would keep the Northern tier of Europe off East-West conflicts. The most notable of them was an initiative to create a nuclear weapons free north in late 1960s.

     On domestic issues, the President called for agreements on economic issues. The government, employers and unions have not so far been able to reach common ground on the future cost structure in Finland.

    Niinistö noted that neighbouring Sweden has already tightened up its immigration policies. He said he saw changes in the Finnish entry criteria as a means to secure that resources be used to help those in greatest need. And the task of those admitted into Finland would then be to adapt to Finnish society, he added.

     The president condemned strongly violence against refugees.

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