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Long-term perspective in foreign and security policy creates stability
Opinion piece by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, published on Sunday the 10th of January 2016 in Swedish in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper and in Finnish in the newspapers of Lännen Media.
Today, it is more obvious than ever how dependent our countries – Finland and Sweden – and our citizens are on the developments in the world surrounding us.
Right now, the most pressing issue is the refugee crisis. The war in Syria, the tensions in Iraq as well as instability in Afghanistan and many African countries have prompted millions to flee, many of them to Europe. Finland and Sweden belong to those EU countries that have lately admitted the most asylum seekers per capita.
The events in Paris were shocking testimony of the need to further strengthen the fight against international terrorism. Both Finland and Sweden have had to step up preparedness for possible threats and incidents against our own countries, too.
The cruel bombings of civilians by Assad's regime continue to claim innumerable human lives while at the same time also ISIL continues its heinous attacks.
In our own neighbouring areas, the security situation has worsened due to Russia's reprehensible actions against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea. Military activity in and around the Baltic Sea Region has increased.
In the light of all these events, we are faced with the most serious threat against European security since the end of the Cold War.
Against this background, we both want to highlight the importance of following a long-term strategy for peace and stability in Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea Region.
Both Finland and Sweden are outside military alliances. We believe military non-alignment serves us well. This experience should also be taken into account when assessing today's challenges. Military non-alignment also contributes to stability and security in Northern Europe on the whole.
However, this does not mean that we have adopted a policy of isolation. We are active members in the European Union. Collaboration with other Nordic countries as well as the Baltic countries is particularly important to us. And while we are not members in Nato, we work in close collaboration with the Alliance. We also have a strong transatlantic link.
Finland and Sweden have recently made further significant advances in defence cooperation, such as joint exercises, increased exchange of information and mutual use of airfields and ports in both countries. Provided the political decisions necessary are taken in both countries, Finland and Sweden will in the future be able to act together also in the event of a crisis or armed conflict. As the President of the Republic of Finland said in his New Year's speech, it would be logical to continue extending the foreign and security policy cooperation between Finland and Sweden.
We stand united in defending the respect for international law and the right of each country to make their own choices in security policy. Dialogue, diplomacy, confidence-building and prevention of conflicts are important tools in our efforts to strengthen our common security together with others.
Both Finland and Sweden are active in the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). We joined the EU at the same time and often promote the same policies in the Union. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, both Finland and Sweden - along with the rest of the EU countries, in line with the EU treaties - decided to contribute strongly to the joint fight against ISIL.
We are living in times where our existing world order, our fundamental values and our open societies are being challenged from many directions. In times like these, it is imperative to act responsibly and from a long-term perspective.
The military non-alignment of Finland and Sweden enjoys high credibility. We do not believe in rapid policy changes in security policy – they are especially poorly suited to matters that concern our countries' security. Finland and Sweden drive their security policy with a long-term perspective, in good cooperation and in ever closer contact with each other.
Prime Minister of Sweden
Prime Minister of Finland