The defence ministers of Finland, Sweden and Norway held a meeting on Wednesday (23 September) in the town of Lemmijoki in northern Norway to discuss “Nordic defence cooperation and matters related to regional security”. According to analysts, however, the meeting was more than meets the eye as it was significant for two reasons.
Firstly, the choice of the location on the shores of the Arctic Ocean carries relevance. It signals the worry about the growing strategic importance of the Arctic Area and the increased presence of not only Russia but also of China.
Secondly, the meeting is yet another step towards closer cooperation between the non-aligned Finland and Sweden and NATO-member Norway.
Nordic defence cooperation is already well-established under the umbrella of The Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) which was put together in 2020 with the purpose of strengthening national defence capacities, and to explore and facilitate synergies and common solutions between Denmark, Finland, Island, Norway and Sweden.
It has been argued that Norway’s interest in Nordic cooperation has grown.
Norway has been building a more independent defence system as it has been facing potential threats up north which may have eroded the trust in other NATO members.
Meanwhile, the focus of NATO seems to be shifting more towards the Mediterranean.
In Finland, while there is broad consensus on the benefits of a joint Nordic defence. However, according to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, some MPs on the left see the buddy-buddy bonding with a NATO country somewhat risky. If ever an East-West conflict were to occur, the non-alignment position of the country might be compromised.
(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)