Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö at Finland-Australia Defence and Security Industry Seminar in CanberraYour Excellency Mr. Ambassador, Distinguished Representatives of the Defense and Security Industries and Administrations, Ladies and Gentlemen
At first, I would like to warmly thank Minister Michael McCormack and all our Australian hosts for the very kind welcome we have received.
I also wish to thank Ambassador Patokallio and his staff for helping us arrange this possibility to enhance both administrative and industrial defence and security cooperation with Australia. I really do appreciate this effort.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The past couple of years have brought hard security to the forefront. As a result of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the defense planners all over Europe are looking at old and familiar threat scenarios. Russia’s actions in Ukraine have made Europe rethink its defences.
Over many decades of peace and calm, Finland did not change its defence doctrine. The doctrine is based on general conscription and territorial defence. This approach enjoys a wide support of the society. We believe that strong and credible national defence of Finland will also contribute to regional security and stability.
We are not consumers of security. We produce security for our neighborhood.
The measures to strengthen our security are also stated in our Government program. It states that in the weakened security situation in Europe and the Baltic Sea region, Finland will pursue an active foreign policy, strengthen the national defence capability and deepen international security and defence policy as well as material cooperation.
Our Government Program acknowledges that growing risks and new threats demand a new kind of readiness and contingency planning.
Despite the long distance between our countries Finland and Australia have good and close bilateral relations and cooperation.
This occasion is an excellent possibility to deepen the defence materiel and armament cooperation between our countries and industries. I am pleased to see so many representatives of defence industry companies from both countries present here today.
In Finland we had parliamentary elections in April last year. The parliamentary programme with budgeting for the ongoing four year period reflects the challenges, common to most European countries.
In the coming years, public funding for all government sectors is likely to remain tight.
In Finland however, we have been able to increase the defence materiel budget to correspond with the challenges of our changing security environment.
The Finnish assessment is that a balanced defence budget means spending one third on procurement - including life-cycle support, one third on personnel and one third on operational activities.
To reach this balanced structure, we will increase our investments in the coming years.
Finland cooperates bilaterally with several high-tech countries. This cooperation is vital for us; not only in the fields of defense policy, capabilities development and international operations, but also in the fields of procurement, research and development.
I hope this will be more and more the case also in the future. Cooperation and joining our interests benefits us all. We get better quality and save money when procurements and life-cycle support can be done together.
When discussing defence materiel and armaments policy, one should keep clearly in mind the role of the industry. The White Papers in both our countries testify for the importance of domestic industry as a tool for keeping up the defence capability.
Today the technological and financial imperatives steer us towards consolidation and cooperative procurement programmes.
Operational requirements, increasing costs and strained defence budgets make an equation which is difficult to solve without multinational cooperation. Spending smarter is, in essence, spending together. Networking is the key element.
The crises we have seen over the last couple of years erupt very fast. This poses a challenge also to the availability of Defence and security materiel. The time span from development to production must be minimized. I believe this challenge can only be solved by deeper cooperation with the industry.
The Finnish defence, aerospace and security industries are well known for their high quality and innovations. The products are in use in over 30 national armed forces.
The companies have Focused Expertise. Probably the best known articles are logistic solutions and products, armoured wheeled vehicles and turreted mortar systems, ammunition and light combatant vessels.
There are also a number of Small and Medium Enterprises with focus on high-tech solutions for C5I including cyber domain and cyber security. This is one of the areas where there is a lot of potential for increased cooperation.
We have to be able to maintain situational awareness. In today’s rapidly changing environment we need state-of-the-art C5I -capabilities to do it.
There are also needs for cost effectiveness and smallest possible logistic and maintenance footprint. These demands are essential to the Finnish defence administration – and our industry has truly been able to meet these requirements.
To sum up,
From the defence point of view certain trends remain: serious financial constraints will continue, global interdependency will grow and the future will be more and more difficult to predict. The world is interlinked, also in defence, and we need to cooperate.
I see a lot of opportunities in expanding defence materiel related cooperation between our countries − both on administrative and especially on industrial side.
That is, I believe, the most important issue why we have gathered here today − to enhance cooperation by strengthening already existing relationships, opening new contacts and discussing future possibilities.
Finnish companies are well known as manufacturers of premium products with long life-cycle performance and new innovations on how to utilize technology. The products are built for Extreme Conditions. Due to harsh Finnish climate, various conditions in international Operations and the requirements from international customers the products are built to function in arctic environment as well as in heated conditions.
The No-Nonsense attitude of Finnish companies speaks for itself - They deliver. I personally hope that we can further enhance the good cooperation already existing between Finland and Australia.
As my last point I would like to thank the Association of Finnish Defence and Aerospace Industries (AFDA), the Australian Industry and Defence Network Incorporated and the Australian Industry Group for arranging this Seminar.
I wish you all a good Seminar which hopefully leads to new contacts and rewarding cooperation. Thank you!