Evidence of meeting #116 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was nato.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Chair  Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.)
David Barber  Professor and Canada Research Chair, University of Manitoba, As an Individual
Leona Alleslev  Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC
Frank Baylis  Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.
Stephanie Pezard  Senior Political Scientist, RAND Corporation
Abbie Tingstad  Senior Physical Scientist, RAND Corporation
Pertti Salolainen  Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland
Tom Packalén  Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland
Paavo Arhinmäki  Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland
Ilkka Kanerva  Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland
Simon Elo  Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland
Stefan Wallin  Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland
Maarit Feldt-Ranta  Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

5 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

This is navy, though, maritime security.

5 p.m.

Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

Tom Packalén

The Baltic Sea is a different issue, but we don't see that kind of threat. We try to be more peace builders than anything else. I think we are in a pretty good position there, anyway.

5 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

Right.

Go ahead.

November 26th, 2018 / 5 p.m.

Paavo Arhinmäki Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

Thank you. If we take the history of Finland, during the 1980s, somebody in the States asked our foreign minister, “Is it difficult to have such a long border with the Soviet Union?” He answered, “We'd rather see the border than no border.”

Since the Second World War, we have had a very close relationship economically and culturally, and the trust between the countries is most important for our security. From our perspective, Finland is a non-alliance country, as well as Sweden, in the Nordic area.

5 p.m.

Ilkka Kanerva Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

Military non-alliance....

5 p.m.

Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

Paavo Arhinmäki

Yes, I think we're talking about the military.

5 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

Yes, NATO.

5 p.m.

Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

Paavo Arhinmäki

It means that when Russia can trust, can see Finland land and air not being used by any other states aggressively against them, that's our best way to secure our own security.

5 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

Fair enough. If I could just close that part of the conversation, you're not feeling as though there's an increased pressure or activity as a result.

5 p.m.

Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

5 p.m.

Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

Pertti Salolainen

I would like to add to this that these last two days' events in Ukraine, in the Azov sea, haven't made us more comfortable.

5 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

Okay. Thank you very much for that.

5 p.m.

Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.)

The Chair

That's your time. Thank you.

We're now going to—

5 p.m.

Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

5 p.m.

Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.)

The Chair

Yes, sure. Finish off, please.

5 p.m.

Simon Elo Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

May I add this, because this is a highly political question as well? We represent different parties, so obviously we also have different views on this. Of course, the consensus is that when it comes to the Arctic area and discussing the Arctic Council, of course we don't accept the militarization of the Arctic area, whether it be Russia or whether it be China.

One instance we had was this military exercise in which we partnered with NATO, Trident Juncture. We had a case of GPS jamming done by Russia, and we all said we knew it was the Russians. They denied it, but we know they did it. It also came from Norwegian sources as well, so we do have these kinds of incidents. I do agree that we don't see any direct threat or that kind of situation, but these kinds of certain incidents happen occasionally, which we have to address.

5 p.m.

Stefan Wallin Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

Maybe I can just add one thing.

5 p.m.

A voice

As a defence minister....

5 p.m.

Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

Stefan Wallin

Yes...well, maybe as an MP nowadays.

Because we have a good relationship with Russia, because we are good neighbours, we can have a frank discussion, a frank dialogue with each other. When Finnish airspace is violated—that's happened on several occasions—and we had this GPS disturbance a couple of weeks ago, we're able to publish what's happened and also to tell the Russians exactly what we think about it, because we are good friends. It would be a bigger problem if we could not have this kind of dialogue. That would be a problem.

When it comes to the Finnish relationship with NATO, of course we have the partnership agreement. Since 1994 we have had a partnership, with enhanced opportunity nowadays. We also, in our national strategies for foreign security policies, say clearly that we're not a member country, of course, but the possibility to apply for full membership remains in the Finnish tool box—as an option, so to speak.

5:05 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

That's excellent.

5:05 p.m.

Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.)

The Chair

Are there any last thoughts on the matter?

5:05 p.m.

Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

Ilkka Kanerva

It's a hot topic.

5:05 p.m.

Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, CPC

Leona Alleslev

And an important one, a very important one....

5:05 p.m.

Member, Parliament of the Republic of Finland

Ilkka Kanerva

Just to add a few words to my what my colleagues have said, it's good to remember that we have three fundamental elements in our politics today that concern our military capabilities.

The first is absolutely huge investments. We are just now going through this period. Throughout our history, Finland has never made these kinds of huge investments, especially for the navy, and for fighters as well. It's around 10 billion euros. At the same time, we are making remarkable investments in our ground troops. It means that Finland will reach the level of 2% of GDP. You know what that means for us. These are huge investments.

Second, Finland is increasing very rapidly our international military networks, mainly with Sweden and Norway, as well as under NORDEFCO. The second element in this sector is that Finland's bilateral relations with the U.S. have been increasing also very rapidly, and on a tripartite level, there's co-operation with Finland, Sweden and the U.S. at the same time.

We are also co-operating with the U.K., within the framework of JEF activities, especially given the Brexit situation. Then there's Germany, as well, and also France, with the idea of intervention troops being suggested by President Macron. We also have a lot of bilateral relationships with different European countries, especially around the Baltic Sea area.

The third basic element of the investments and international co-operation is, of course, our legislation reforms. We realized after 2014 that it is necessary to do these kinds of reforms, and it has made a huge difference in our military capacity in terms of our readiness to react to threats to Finland in various ways.

These three elements mean that we are also paying a lot of attention to these activities, and what is interesting is that in our case, almost all the political parties are on board, so our national consensus is very strong concerning our foreign security and military defence activities.

Thank you.

5:05 p.m.

Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.)

The Chair

Thank you very much.

We're now going to move to MP Saini.