Defense Minister Downplays Swedish Report Citing Risks of Defense Cooperation with Finland

Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö and CHOD Gen. Jarmo Lindberg, July 11, 2016Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö says that a recently-released Swedish security policy report provides no reason to re-evaluate defence cooperation arrangements between Sweden and Finland. Released last Friday, the report said that defence cooperation between the two countries would create risks for Sweden.

Long-serving diplomat Krister Bringéus authored the security and defence policy report commissioned by the Swedish government. In it, he said that defence cooperation with Finland would present Sweden with some risks. According to Bringéus, it would shift Swedish defence policy further east to the Russian border.

Speaking at the opening of the National Defence Course on Monday, Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö downplayed the analysis, but said that Finland should closely follow the ongoing discussion in Sweden.

“The view of the situation is from a single analyst, albeit a seasoned ambassador. It is good that Finland also understands that Sweden thinks this way, but in spite of this defence cooperation between Finland and Sweden is progressing like a steam engine,” Niinistö declared….

Niinistö said that he was not concerned about any surprises from Sweden on the NATO question.

“Information exchange between Finland and Sweden is proceeding. The kinds of mistakes that happened at the beginning of the 90s with applying for membership in the European Union won’t occur. Nowadays ties are much closer and this matter has been dealt with. It’s no trauma in the relationship between Finland and Sweden,” Niinistö remarked….

“We aren’t relying on any assistance; rather we are preparing to defend ourselves alone. But we will work towards being able to accept assistance if it is offered. Whether or not we are non-aligned, we will get help if it’s in the interest of the assisting party,” he noted.

Image: Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö and CHOD Gen. Jarmo Lindberg, July 11, 2016 (photo: Jussi Niinistö)