NATO Secretary General Rasmussen visits “NATO Strategic Concept" seminar in Helsinki
Finnish foreign policy leaders meet with Rasmussen one at a time for a quick chat
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb (National Coalition Party) stand tall in Helsinki’s Kalastajatorppa Hotel on Thursday morning.
A group of journalists sit on the floor, in order for the television cameras further back to be able to catch the bigwigs.
Rasmussen begins by telling about NATO’s new strategy, the purpose of which is to modernise the defence alliance and tighten its cooperation with its partners.
In a Helsingin Sanomat interview a day earlier Rasmussen said that NATO wishes to make its relationship with Finland “politically more significant”.
What does this mean in practice? “The relationship has to become stronger and more dynamic”, is Rasmussen’s reply.
Rasmussen explains that from the beginning of May the NATO Partnership For Peace countries will be consulted more extensively, and Finland, for one, will have a better access to NATO reports.
“In the coming years we will also have an increasing number of ministerial level meetings.”
And how is Finland planning to tend to its NATO relationship?
“The first item is today’s congress that we are hosting”, Stubb replies.
Secondly, Finland plans to deepen its cooperation with NATO together with the rest of the Nordic Countries and Sweden in particular.
“We want to be a special partner”, Stubb outlines.
At 13:30 the President of the Republic Tarja Halonen and Rasmussen held a joint press conference in Mäntyniemi, the official residence of the Finnish head of state.
The agenda of their brief meeting dealt with the relationship between the EU and NATO.
At 15:30 Rasmussen was already posing for the photographers in Parliament, together with Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) before their quick negotiation.
Twenty-five minutes later the meeting is over and Vanhanen confirms that NATO and Finland’s cooperation is in good shape.
“Let us see what the future holds.”
Despite his busy schedule, Rasmussen also managed to squeeze Minister of Defence Jyri Häkämies (Nat. Coalition) in for a quick half-hour chat.
To the traditional question of whether Finland should or could join the alliance, Rasmussen offers up the traditional answer: "NATO's door is open".
Previously in HS International Edition:
NATO Secretary-General wants “more significant” relations with Finland (3.3.2010)
NATO strategy discussed at seminar in Helsinki (4.3.2010)
NATO press release