Nordic Council debates Stoltenberg II

02.09.19 | News
Nordiska rådets septembermöte 2019.

Nordiska rådets septembermöte 2019, försvarsdebatt

Matts Lindqvist

The panel consisted of Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir (Iceland), Kirsti Narinen (Finland), Ulf Sverdrup (Norway) Hans Wallmark (Sweden), Antti Kaikkonen (Finland), Erkki Tuomioja (Finland) and Bertel Haarder (Denmark, out of shot).

“There is good reason to produce a new Stoltenberg report setting out the future of Nordic co-operation on foreign affairs and defence policy,” the Nordic Council was told at its September meeting in Helsinki on Monday.

Ulf Sverdrup, Director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), made the call during a debate held by the Nordic Council on about co-operation on defence policy.

He was invited to provide an update on progress since the Stoltenberg Report in 2009, and explained that much of what Thorvald Stoltenberg called for has been implemented. He added that the main strength of the report was its visionary nature, setting a new agenda for Nordic co-operation and paving the way for discussions of defence and security under Nordic auspices.

Wide remit

Asked directly by Bertel Haarder, a Danish member of the Presidium of the Nordic Council, Sverdrup replied that he would welcome a Stoltenberg II.

“I think there is good reason to produce a follow-up report. I think it should come from the prime ministers or foreign ministers. And I think that it would be good for Nordic co-operation if the group that writes it are creative and innovative. I would want it to have a wide remit,” he said.

Security issues top the agenda

The President of the Nordic Council, Hans Wallmark, said that co-operation on defence and security policy, which had been a taboo subject in Nordic co-operation during the Cold War, is now at the top of the Council's agenda. He used three metaphors to help describe the current situation.

“The first metaphor is that atlases are relevant again – geopolitics is back. The second is that the window is open – it is now absolutely okay to talk about defence and security policy in a Nordic context. The third is that the oven is warm – the time has come to devise different forms of co-operation on security.”

Erkki Tuomioja, chair of the Finnish Delegation to the Nordic Council, highlighted the role of the Nordic Region in conflict resolution.

“The Nordic countries have a unique role in the world. We are not perfect, but many other countries look up to us, so the question is how best to share what we have achieved. How can we in the Nordic Region prevent conflicts?” he asked.

The Finnish Minister of Defence, Antti Kaikkonen talked to the meeting about Nordic co-operation on defence policy within the framework of Nordic Defence CO-operation (NORDEFCO). Kirsti Narinen, former Head of International Relations at the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), also took part in the debate.

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