8.2.2023 // Vaaliteemat, Yleiset, Yrittäjyys, Kansainvälisyys, Puolustus, Koko Suomi
Puolustusministeri Mikko Savolan puhe: SecD-Day Conference and Exhibition
SecD-Day Conference and Exhibition, Helsinki 8.2.2023
Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to thank Association of Finnish Defence and Aerospace Indus-tries for a chance to open this conference and exhibition.
In an unstable world, a small country like Finland is increasingly vul-nerable. The unprovoked aggression by Russia against Ukraine has implications for Finland both on a global as well as on a regional level.
This is an attack against the rules-based international order, one Fin-land too has been building, together with other nations, for decades.
Russia’s actions have global implications. However, today I want to say a few words about their regional effects and Finland.
Russia’s aggression is a culmination of years of rising tensions in Eu-rope and Finland’s northern neighbourhood. When Russia did not achieve its objectives with other means, it launched a full-scale mili-tary offensive against Ukraine on several fronts.
So far, Russia has not shown any true willingness for negotiations or a fair and sustainable peace.
Russia’s actions during the past decade and a half have impacted the security situation in Northern Europe negatively. More technologically advanced and higher performance weapon systems have been de-ployed in the vicinity of Finland.
As a reaction to Russia’s actions, the countries in the Baltic Sea region continue to increase their defence expenditure, raise their prepared-ness and strengthen their defence cooperation. Meanwhile, the mili-tary strategic importance of Northern Europe for the security of the entire Euro Atlantic Area has increased.
We also see that the threat level in the so-called hybrid environment has risen as well. There have been some cyber-attacks also in Finland. We have been preparing to different hybrid threats according our whole-society–way of thinking.
I’m happy to remark, that during last years, we have seen great steps in strengthening for example the cyber defence and preparedness both in public and private sectors.
The Finnish word for resilience is fitting: iskunkestävyys, which means being strong enough to take a punch, recover and respond. It is also a state-of-mind, in which we work in order to predict and monitor dif-ferent threats before they are realized.
the war and increasing tensions in Europe have understandably brought the security of the Baltic Sea region into the spotlight.
From a military strategic point-of-view, Northern Europe would con-stitute one theatre of operations in a possible Europe-wide conflict. The North Atlantic, the Baltic Sea and the High North are all linked strategically. So, if something were to happen in one area, it would also affect other regions.
The military situation in the immediate vicinity of our borders remains calm, but the risk of spill-over and escalation cannot be ruled out. Russia has shown that it is able and willing to use military force to advance its strategic interests. We need to stay vigilant and continue to do what we have been doing all these years: to take our defence seriously.
Finland never let its guard down and a strong national defence capa-bility is a key part of our foreign and security policy. We have been investing in our defence capabilities and we have deepened defence cooperation with our closest partners.
Russia’s demands, that seek to restrict the freedom of sovereign states in their choices in foreign and security policy, cannot be ac-cepted. As a reaction to the worsening international security environ-ment, we decided to apply for membership in NATO last spring.
By joining NATO, Finland will further strengthen its own security in the changed security environment. At the same time, Finland’s mem-bership in NATO will also strengthen stability in Northern Europe and in the Euro-Atlantic area.
We are now an official invitee of NATO. The invitee status has helped us to exchange information and start the political and military integra-tion to NATO. However, full integration, from administration, political and military perspectives, will take time.
All in all, the ratifications have proceeded quickly in most member states’ parliaments. I look forward to the process to be finalised as soon as possible, and Finland to become a full member with full rights and obligations.
As a member, we will continue to rely on our strengths, such as strong defence capabilities, regional expertise and high readiness.
Applying for NATO membership has not been Finland’s only response to the changes in our security environment. We have continued to in-vest heavily in our defence and significantly increased exercise activi-ties with our closest partners.
Our key partners, and future allies, have been strong in their support to Finland’s NATO process. This support has not gone unnoticed in Finland and I know that the Finnish public appreciates it very highly.
Many expectations have been placed on Finland's future NATO mem-bership, both by ourselves and by our future allies. Not only is Finland counted as a net producer of security, but there is also positive ex-pectations towards our technological capabilities.
There is certainly basis for this in many fields such as communication technologies, artificial intelligence, machine autonomy and quantum technology. At the same time it is also worth noting that these abili-ties are largely in the possession of private companies and research institutes, and not controlled by the state.
Therefore, the key is to involve these companies with breakthrough technologies in defence industry projects. This is not only a challenge for Finland, but the situation is the same in all Western countries.
NATO is currently establishing new structures such as DIANA and NATO Innovation Fund to support innovation activities. We hope that Finland will soon be able to join them as a full member of the Alli-ance.
Next I would like to talk about the importance of the Finnish and also international defence industry for our materiel policy and the devel-opment of the Defence Forces’ capabilities.
I would like to emphasise three important points here.
Firstly, the key objective of materiel policy is to ensure military secu-rity of supply.
In order to fulfil this goal, the Defence Forces must have at their dis-posal all suitable materiel and the necessary expertise for the use, maintenance and development.
The starting point of the Finnish security of supply system is the net-work model based on cooperation and pre-determined tasks between the public and private sectors.
The war in Ukraine has underlined the importance of ensuring that the armed forces of partnering countries have compatible equipment from the operational and maintenance point of view.
Secondly, international materiel cooperation is a means to develop the capabilities of Finland’s defence system.
Because of our geopolitical position, we have always developed and maintained our defence capability from a national perspective. But we have also recognised that we cannot work alone.
Therefore, during the last decades Finland has actively built a bilateral and multilateral defence cooperation networks and we will continue to strengthen these ties.
Thirdly, a well-functioning domestic defence industry ensures the military security of supply and promotes operational capability of our national defence.
The Finnish defence industry plays an important role, both in the maintenance of key weapon systems and in the development of new capabilities.
We must always be able to maintain our critical weapon systems in a reliable way. Defence industry is an integral part of our comprehen-sive national defence solution.
The Finnish defence, aerospace and security industries are well known for their high quality and innovation capacity and premium products with long life-cycle performance.
At the same time, there is a need for the products to be cost effective and to have the smallest possible logistic and maintenance footprint. This is essential and our industry has truly been able to meet these demands.
Therefore it is important that, the expertise of the Finnish industrial, scientific and research community will be taken into account as early as possible in the Defence Forces’ procurement of materiel.
To sum up,
Almost every western country has increased its defence budget, and all countries compete for the same production capacity of the defence industry. In many cases, demand exceeds supply.
Joint development projects and joint procurements are some means of solving this challenge.
Many countries have recognised the importance of strengthening their own industrial base as part of military security of supply. Finland has always paid attention to this. In increasing joint procurements, we must also ensure that we do not forget our own industrial base.
I have wanted to highlight both Finnish defence policy and the role of Finnish defence industry.
These two are interlinked – our innovations and our industry are shaped by our strategic culture. We have had to be agile and accom-plished to make the most out of what we have. This has led to the mind-set of practicality and high-level expertise.
During this conference, you have an excellent chance to really get to know the Finnish way of thinking and doing things, but to fully im-merse yourself in it may require a visit to a sauna.
I would like to thank Finnish Defence Industry association - AFDA - for arranging this conference. Such events serve as excellent platform and showcase for our defence industry.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all a successful two days at this conference and all the best for the future.
Thank you very much.