NATO is determined to strengthen its partnership with Finland to better address security challenges to the east and south, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during his visit to Helsinki on Thursday (5 March, 2015). Mr. Stoltenberg thanked Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb for his nation’s close cooperation with the Alliance, calling Finland “one of our most active and closest partners.”
The Secretary General stressed the vital role partnerships with countries like Finland play in building peace and stability. He commended Finland’s commitment and contribution to NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as exercises such as the ongoing crisis-management exercise CMX15, and discussed ways to strengthen political dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO and Finland for the future.
The Secretary General and Prime Minister Stubb expressed their concern about the situation in Ukraine, caused by Russia’s aggressive actions. Mr. Stoltenberg said: “we now see a different Russia.” He stressed that NATO strived for a more cooperative and constructive relationship with Russia for many years, and continues to do so, but “Russia has to respect its neighbours and the borders of its neighbours.”
The Secretary General called for full implementation of the Minsk agreement, including a withdrawal of heavy weaponry, full access for OSCE monitors, and a halt to Russian support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine. He warned that any attempt to expand separatist-held territory would be “unacceptable to the international community.”
The Secretary General also discussed strenghtening NATO’s partnership with Finland in discussionw with Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, Defence Minister Carl Haglund, Speaker of the Parliament Eero Heinäluoma and other leading members of Parliament.
Leopold James De Rothschild
OSCE NATO Section