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News, 9/29/2008

Secretary of State Teija Tiilikainen: Building Finnish security starts outside Finland

Why does a small country like Finland invest so much in international crisis management is a common question in Finland. Secretary of State Teija Tiilikainen’s answer is that Finland stated more than 50 years ago that building peace and maintaining stability must start in time and outside Finland. Tiilikainen gave a speech at the Readiness seminar of the Security and Defence Exhibition at the Lahti Fair Centre, focusing on the crisis readiness of the Finnish society, on Friday 26 September.

Secretary of State Teija Tiilikainen. Photo: Tiina NikkinenFinland is a superpower when it comes to peace-keeping and crisis management, Tiilikainen said. She thinks that taking action only when an international crisis has already entered Finland is both selfish and too late in terms of maintaining the stability of the society.

Participating in international crisis management with different actors, such as the UN, the EU, NATO and the OSCE, benefits directly the regional security, as well, and provides our own country with defence know-how and training.

Even a small country can have a crucial role in the international crisis management since the world changed radically after the cold war and thereby, traditional peace-keeping changed drastically.

Earlier, peace-keeping operations had had a clear mission: to guarantee peace as agreed between two states. Now, crises and conflicts are far from school book examples, Tiilikainen pointed out. Nowadays, crises and conflicts are often about non-governmental parties that have different political, ethnic and ideological objectives. The range of crises is so wide that an organisation like the UN cannot adjust to different situations fast enough and that is why crisis management rests more and more in the hands of NATO, the EU and other regional organisations and requires armed intervention.

Secretary of State Teija Tiilikainen discussed international crisis management at the opening of the Security and Defence Exhibition in Lahti. Photo: Tiina NikkinenClimate change brings new risks

Actors of international civilian and military missions are often in a key position when it comes to conflict prevention. “Prevention means being active and that is something Finland knows how to do”, Tiilikainen said. As one of the biggest challenges of the future she mentioned the security political consequences of the climate change, whether a lack of water, energy or food.

According to Tiilikainen, participating in crisis management operations is not making Finland a target for terrorism. After all, Finland is a scarcely populated country and therefore not a main target for terrorists.

In Finland there has been criticism over the fact that the country is participating in several operations instead of focusing its efforts on one specialised area. Tiilikainen says that in the EU, for example, the responsibility is shared among as many participants as possible. The main focus of crisis management carried out by Finland, the EU and the wider international community is at the moment in Western Balkans, Afghanistan and in Africa.

Secretary of State Pertti Torstila visited the stand of the Foreign Ministry and talked to former peacekeeper Esko Heikkinen. Photo: Tiina NikkinenMost extensive Security Exhibition so far

The most extensive Finnish Security Exhibition so far was opened on Friday in Lahti. The earlier security exhibitions, mostly focusing on defence administration, have been organised since 1992. The Foreign Ministry presented crisis management and travel safety at the exhibition.

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Updated 9/29/2008

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