Speech by Margot Wallström at the Swedish-Finnish seminar HAnalys, Helsinki, 6 September, 2017

Nu blåser storm därute, och stänger sommarens dörr,
Det är för sent för att undra och leta.
Jag älskar kanske mindre än vad jag gjorde förr,
men mer än du nånsin får veta
Nu ser vi alla fyrar kring höstens långa kust
och hör vågorna villsamma vandra
En enda sak är viktig, och det är hjärtats lust
och att få vara samman med varandra.

Ja, det blåser storm där ute. Det blåser storm över Östersjön, och det blåser storm över Atlanten. Och till utmaningarna i omvärlden, har vi under det här året fått lägga terrorn, som drabbat våra länder – i Åbo och Stockholm.

Vi måste fortsätta hålla i varandra, om vi ska kunna stå upp, även när det stormar. Därför är jag glad över att vara här idag.

***

When I was thinking about a suitable introduction to these remarks, I thought: "Finland 100 years, the close Finnish Swedish relations; perhaps a Finnish Swedish author has written something appropriate ..."

What came to mind was, of course, Märta Tikkanen's "Love story of the century". But giving it a second thought, I soon realised that it would perhaps not be seen as good diplomacy to use such a comparison of our relationship, which after all has not been that complicated ...

But we have been a kind of a couple for a century. Today's seminar has been one of many examples of this special relationship. I have been listening with great interest during this morning, and let me share a few thoughts about the different thematic areas that we have covered today.

***

The European security order is under pressure, and again, we have a sharpened security situation in our direct neighborhood.

In hard times, close friends like us have to stick together. Luckily, we have the best of possibilities to do so. Sweden and Finland share the same values and interests, and we have a close bilateral partnership as well as practical cooperation.

The Swedish-Finnish cooperation in foreign policy is extensive. Let me put it in concrete terms: Minister Soini and I meet on a regular basis – we have even become travel companions, I am looking forward to going to Macedonia later this autumn. Our foreign ministries have a dialogue on all levels. Our diplomats cooperate closely in all corners of the world. Since September last year, a Finnish official serves in my ministry, and a couple of days ago a Swedish official started a one year service in the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Our cooperation is broad. To mention a few examples, there is conflict prevention and mediation, crisis management operations and our deepened defence cooperation, which now includes planning for scenarios beyond peace-time.

There is a need for diplomacy and confidence building measures in order to prevent crisis and to strengthen common security. Dialogue in the OSCE, including with Russia, is vital. Of course Finland's experience with its eastern neighbor is something we look at as well.
Next week, Sweden organizes the large-scale national military exercise "Aurora". Finland and other partners will participate, which we really appreciate. We have also invited a number of States to a voluntary Vienna document inspection of the exercise. This kind of openness is important for predictability and stability in our region.
• Sweden welcomes the establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid threats, which is an important platform for regional cooperation as well as cooperation between the EU and NATO on hybrid issues. We also welcome the initiative for the Centre of Excellence to assess hybrid threats and risks in the Baltic Sea region, in cooperation with the EU and NATO.

***

Then there is the "little" issue of the EU.
Sweden and Finland came into the EU as a couple more than twenty years ago. I do not have to convince anyone here about the advantages of the European Union. But I think it would be of interest if I listed a few examples of Swedish-Finnish cooperation to strengthen the EU in the area of foreign and security policy.
First, let's not forget that Sweden and Finland actively contributed to shape the Common Defence and Security Policy. It all started with a Swedish-Finnish initiative to bring the so-called Peterberg tasks into the EU, followed by establishing the civilian-military nature of the CSDP at the EU Summit in Helsinki in 1999.
And speaking of initiatives, our two countries more recently took the initiative to develop the EU Global Strategy, which is now the framework for our common security and defence policy.

Also, Sweden and Finland are the initiators of a civilian stabilisation mission in Iraq, which I hope will be deployed shortly and help Iraq in the new post-Mosul phase.

What lies ahead? We now enter a dynamic phase for EU's security and defence co-operation. Sweden and Finland will keep working together to influence it, because Europe needs to assume a greater responsibility for its own security.
At the same time, the EU is challenged both internally and externally. In this situation we must do more to strengthen the common security and defence policy. It is Sweden's intention to join the permanent structured co-operation (PESCO) and to contribute to its success.

***

Now, if we zoom out further – there is the relationship between the EU and the United States.
Let us admit that there are heavy winds over the Atlantic. But let us also admit that both sides of the ocean have, and will have, strong common interests. A simple example is that transatlantic trade creates 15 million jobs in the US and in the EU.
If we care about the security and prosperity of our citizens, we have to have constructive relations with the US. It is as simple as that. Be it on the issue of pandemics or global terrorism or security – we have to work together to tackle global challenges forcefully.
The realization that we still need close ties to the US does not mean that we should not be clear about our core principles. That goes without saying.
To be effective, the EU needs to stand united, speak with one voice, and act in a coherent manner.
Also, let us not forget that Nordic cooperation can complement EU action.

***

Excellencies,
These times are turbulent and unpredictable. But looking back at our century old relation, we can at least say that we have been through tough times before.
In a world disrupted, how can we act as a Nordic block?
First, we need to cooperate to improve the capacity of the multilateral system and the UN to address today's threats and challenges. All Nordic countries strongly support the vision of the UN Secretary-General for a "surge in diplomacy of peace".
We need to move from reactive measures towards long-term political solutions. In the UN Security Council, Sweden has made conflict prevention a core priority. We look forward to continued Nordic cooperation on this agenda during our membership.
Remember what Defence Secretary Mattis said back in 2013: "If you don't fully fund the State Department, I will need to buy more ammunition". Peaceful democracies don't go to war with each other. Yet, money for ammunition seems to be easier to come by, than funds for peace building efforts.
No peace is sustainable without the inclusion of women. I take pride in being a minister in a government that calls itself Feminist, and our endeavours to promote a feminist foreign policy are known by everyone here.
But I am happy that we are not alone. Last year we launched the Nordic Women Mediation Network together with our Nordic neighbours. The goal is not only to bring together Nordic women mediators, but also to create a vibrant global community of international women mediation teams. To date, the Network has made positive contributions to peace efforts in Syria, Afghanistan, Cyprus and Burundi – and several more engagements are being planned.

***

Dear all,
this "Love story of the century" between Finland and Sweden is a world of its own: it has been full of royal visits, high level arrangements and ice-hockey games. Culture and trade. But more importantly, it is made up of millions of Finns and Swedes who speak the same languages, who work together, who live together – or, to paraphrase Tove Jansson; who
quietly, without interruption and with great concentration, carry on with the one-hundred-and-one small things that make up their world.

Thank you, kiitos, tack!