There are few countries with which Germany maintains such close ties as with Sweden and Finland. Whether in the European Union, the United Nations, in the Council of the Baltic Sea States or in the OSCE, we coordinate closely, consult one another, adopt similar approaches – for we share the same values. The countries in northern Europe are often a small step ahead of us when it comes to progressive ideas and innovative concepts. When they think of Sweden and Finland, many people immediately think of a modern society, high standards in social and education policy, environmental protection and determination in tackling the climate crisis. Yet the Nordic countries are also role models and pioneers when it comes to their comprehensive understanding of security.
During my trip to Helsinki and Stockholm I intend to build on this and make clear that we need a holistic security concept. Of course, security in one sense means defensive capabilities in the form of military strength and alliances. We want to work together to strengthen these defensive capabilities – in the Baltic Sea region and beyond. For Stockholm and Helsinki, too, Russia’s attack on Ukraine has been a defining moment, and there, too, it has brought about a real watershed. After 80 years of Finland‘s and 200 years of Sweden’s policy of non-participation in military alliances, the two countries have decided to join NATO. We are continuing to work towards this goal, as I will underscore in Finland and particularly in Sweden.
Yet security means much more than just military defensive capabilities. Security also means being in a position to defend one’s own people on a day-to-day basis – whenever and wherever necessary. Finland is impressively demonstrating this principle with its civil protection concepts. And security also means keeping the lifeline that is the Baltic Sea safe and open for everyone. With our current Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States we want to generate momentum to use the vast potential that the Baltic Sea offers, for example in the area of renewable energies. For with every wind turbine that we build in the North Sea or the Baltic Sea, we boost Europe’s strength and sovereignty. As the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union, our partners in Sweden have a key role to play as we work together to make our Europe fit for the future.