Finland has a wide-ranging and enhanced partnership with NATO. Finland has taken part in NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) cooperation since 1994 and been a member of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council since its establishment in 1997. At the 2014 Wales Summit, Finland as an advanced partner was invited to join NATO’s Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) programme, which a useful instrument for Finland in maintaining and developing its NATO partnership.
Finland’s partnership with NATO is guided by the Finnish Government Programme and national foreign, security and defence policy guidelines. In accordance with them, Finland conducts sustained and mutually beneficial cooperation with NATO.
Finland is engaged in political dialogue with NATO on mutually interesting security policy themes with a view to supporting joint security. This dialogue allows Finland to advance its own foreign, security and defence policy goals. Finland participates in discussions within NATO especially in its capacity as an EOP partner. Dialogue takes place at all levels, from expert level to government ministers and heads of state. Finland also takes part in discussions on NATO-led crisis management operations at all stages and levels.
A continual development of military cooperation with NATO is one of the key elements that allow Finland to maintain and build its national defence and capabilities for defending its territory. The priorities of this cooperation include information exchange on developments in the security environment, building a shared situational awareness, and Finland’s participation in NATO exercises and training activities.
Active participation in international cooperation is in Finland’s interest and part of the global responsibility that Finland is assuming. At present, Finland participates in two NATO-led crisis management missions: KFOR in Kosovo and Resolute Support in Afghanistan.
As an Enhanced Opportunities partner, Finland contributes to the development of the defence and security sectors in NATO’s other partner countries. To this end, it has supported NATO’s Trust Fund projects designed to assist partner countries in areas such as the clearance of mines and explosives, destruction of small weapons and ammunitions and reforming their defence sector. Finland also participates in the NATO’s DCB initiative for defence and related security capacity building, launched at the Wales Summit. The initiative is set to support stability and prevent conflicts.
In the process of deepening the cooperation between Finland and NATO it must be kept in mind that partnership cooperation does not include any Article 5 based security guarantees or obligations. Finland will therefore decide, from its own standpoints, in which cooperation forms it participates.
The 2016 Government Report on Finnish Foreign and Security Policy states that Finland is a country which does not belong to any military alliance. The Report notes, however, that interoperability achieved through Finland-NATO partnership cooperation helps ensure that there are no practical impediments to Finland’s possible membership in a military alliance. While carefully monitoring the developments in its security environment, Finland maintains the option to seek NATO membership.