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Home NATIONALFinnish, Swedish PMs underline defense cooperation
Mon, 11 Jan, 2016 12:07:02 AM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, Jan 11

Finnish and Swedish prime ministers said the two Nordic countries are prepared to further increase defense cooperation, and meanwhile underlined the importance of the countries remaining outside military alliances.

In a jointly undersigned article published on Sunday, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, noted that being outside military alliances "contributes to stability and security in Northern Europe on the whole."

The article was published in Finnish language by several Finnish newspapers, and in Swedish by Dagens Nyheter in Sweden.

The prime ministers said Finland and Sweden will be able to act together "in the event of a crisis or armed conflict," provided necessary political decisions are taken in both countries.

In the article, the duo recalled that Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in his New Year speech said it would be logical to develop cooperation between Finland and Sweden in foreign and security policy.

Lofven and Sipilä listed recent enhancements in Finnish-Swedish military cooperation. They included joint maneuvres, increased exchange of information and mutual use of airfields and ports in both countries.

They mentioned the biggest security threat for Finland and Sweden now is the increased military activity in the Baltic Sea area.

 Lofven and Sipilä said the security situation in the area has worsened since Russia started what they described as "unacceptable measures" against Ukraine. They described the Russian incorporation of Crimea as "illegal annexation."

 The article also referred to the war in Syria and the actions by ISIS as security factors. The prime ministers also mentioned that Finland and Sweden belong to those EU countries that have admitted the most asylum seekers per capita.

 "Against this background, we both note the importance of following a long term strategy for peace and stability in Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea region," they wrote. They also said the military non-allignment of Finland and Sweden has a high credibility.

 They added that Finland and Sweden pursue no policy of isolation. "We are active members in the European Union. Cooperation with the other Nordic and Baltic countries has a special importance."

 "Even though we are not members in NATO, we cooperate with the organization. We have also a strong transatlantic link," Lofven and Sipilä wrote.

 The publication of the article coincided with the beginning of the annual security policy seminar in Salen, Sweden. It is an important think tank for security policy at a high level of political discussion.

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