Finland takes steps to increase defence cooperation with Norway

Finland is working on ways of increasing defence cooperation with Norway, Finnish Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen told the media here on Saturday.

Military cooperation with Norway is one of the goals in the programme of the current Finnish coalition government.

Kaikkonen said the fact that Norway is a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is not an obstacle to wider cooperation. “It is true that Norway’s NATO membership separates us, but it does not prevent cooperation as such,” Kaikkonen told Finnish national broadcaster Yle.

Finland and neighbouring Sweden have deepened their military cooperation in recent years. Unlike Norway, the two countries are militarily non-aligned, but have an enhanced partner status with NATO.

Kaikkonen singled out the North Cape area as an obvious scene for joint efforts for Finland, Norway as well as Sweden. He noted that the air forces are already training jointly in the skies over the three countries in the area.

A report by Defence Ministry staff on developing Nordic operation, also including Norway, will be submitted to the Finnish parliamentary defence committee this coming week. Kaikkonen said there are no details “to publish now, but perhaps later this year.”

Kaikkonen noted the three Nordic defence ministers meet regularly. The last meeting about cooperation was on Wednesday over secure video connections.

The existing Nordic cooperation between Finland and Sweden does not constitute a formal alliance. In the “military strategic concept” the two countries signed late last year for deepened cooperation, Finland and Sweden defined “the ability to conduct operations together both during peace and war” as the core of the cooperation, but operations would be subject to “separate national decisions”.