An Address by Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland
On 2 December 2022, the Lowy Institute hosted the Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, for an address titled “How a strong Europe can contribute to a more secure world”. In May 2022, Ms Marin’s government took the historic decision for Finland to apply for NATO membership. In this address, Marin spoke about Finland’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Europe’s broader security priorities. After her address Ms Marin spoke in conversation with Executive Director Dr Michael Fullilove and take audience questions.
Sanna Marin was appointed Prime Minister of Finland on 10 December 2019. She has been actively engaged in politics since 2006. In 2015, she was elected to Parliament and has been a member of the Grand Committee, Legal Affairs Committee and Environment Committee. Ms Marin is the third female Prime Minister of Finland and the youngest prime minister in Finland’s history.
Address: How a strong Europe can contribute to a more secure world
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, I am pleased to be here to address the Lowy Institute today.
Relations between Finland and Australia are excellent. We are long-standing, like-minded partners with a strong commitment to our common democratic values and the rules-based international order. Finland also participates actively in shaping the agenda for cooperation between the European Union and Australia.
Both of our countries have built strong partnerships across the world. As the global security environment changes and our common values become increasingly challenged, partnerships based on trust matter more and more.
Finland and Sweden soon will join NATO, which means we will be part of the same network of Alliances linking us with North America. More broadly, we can see how countries that share the same values within the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are finding one another. The changing global security environment is bringing us closer together.
Australia has a unique perspective on the Indo-Pacific region. Here, many of our common challenges and great opportunities are either seized or lost. This has also been well understood by the European Union, which recently held the EU-Australia Summit and is negotiating with Australia on a new Free Trade Agreement. My discussions here in Sydney will also give useful background for our meeting with the leaders of ASEAN in Brussels in December. Importantly, Australia has always been a key global actor with whom we can make the multilateral order a force for good.
Nowhere are our common efforts more needed than in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. Australia’s new ambition and leadership are highly valued and have come at precisely the right time. We need to move away from fossil fuels and develop cleaner energy solutions such as hydrogen together.
We must move forward after the COP27 Climate Conference, as there is no alternative besides keeping the 1.5 degree target alive. Our national aim is to be carbon neutral by 2035 and carbon negative soon after that.
Just when the world should be coming together and taking joint action to tackle the great challenges of our times, Russia’s war against Ukraine has confronted us all with a new and more serious challenge.
Russia’s illegal and brutal war against Ukraine, the killing of thousands upon thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, and the continuing acts of terror require a strong, firm and global response.
When Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, breaches the UN Charter with total impunity, disregards and violates international law and commits war crimes, we all have very much to lose – in Europe, in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere.
The energy crisis, the food crisis and rising inflation are all of Russia’s making. This winter will be hard not only in Ukraine, but also in our societies. However, our hardships come and go. The Ukrainians are fighting for their survival and future as a free nation. We must continue our support. There is no other way.
We must do what it takes so that Ukraine can win the war. There will eventually be a time for peace. But peace has to come on the Ukrainians’ terms. We must step up our efforts to make Russia’s leadership realise that it has only to lose from its war – and lose it will.
Here, I would like to highlight Australia’s strong and clear leadership and its important concrete contributions to helping Ukraine and putting pressure against Russia with sanctions. We are together, shoulder-to-shoulder, working to make sure that Russia loses its war. Your role is highly valued in Europe and certainly most of all in Ukraine.
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic proved that the European Union can act together against major threats, the EU has been both united and very effective in responding to Russia’s aggression.
The European Union is now considering new sanctions against Russia. This will be the ninth package of sanctions since the 24th of February. We will likely find a way to limit the import of fossil fuels from Russia even further with this round.
Finland is pushing for even harder sanctions that would cover the entire energy sector.
Even though we had already diversified our energy sources and built up our security of supply before the war, the energy crisis also hurts Finns, as our most important markets in Europe suffer from supply shortages, higher energy prices and rising inflation.
We must continue to weaken Russia’s ability to finance the war. We must make the sanctions more effective. We should also focus on closing the loopholes in the current sanctions and cracking down on attempts to circumvent them. Here, too, we need partners like Australia.
Finland has been an important transit country and tourist destination for Russians. We have therefore stopped issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens. It had become morally unacceptable to allow the Russian middle and upper class to continue to enjoy their vacations while their army kills, tortures and terrorises Ukrainians. These Russians are largely still insulated from the ugly faces of war.
The freezing of the assets of selected Russians, the oligarchs close to Putin, is an important part of our common actions. We should find legal ways to confiscate these assets and use them for reconstruction in Ukraine. These efforts are ongoing within the European Union, and we expect to discuss our options in some form or another at our next European Council later in December.
The European Union is currently preparing a new package of assistance to Ukraine. This macro-economic assistance will be worth 18 billion euros in total. We are also stepping up our support for Ukraine’s defence forces through the European Peace Facility. The EU will now hold a training mission for the Ukrainian military, in which Finland will also participate.
Finland has just delivered its tenth national package of weapons and military equipment, including heavy weapons, to Ukraine. When our development and humanitarian aid are counted together, we have given over 300 million euros in assistance to Ukraine. More is on the way.
What we need now is the active engagement of the private sector so that Ukrainians can get energy, water and sanitation equipment for the coming winter. New kinds of public-private partnerships and instruments are crucial.
Make no mistake: if Russia wins its terrible gamble, it will not be the only one to feel empowered. Others will also be tempted by the same dark agenda.
We need to draw the right lessons from the recent global challenges, wars and crises.
In increasingly critical areas of our societies – from medical equipment to new technologies to energy – we have become far too dependent on cooperation with regimes that do not share our common values.
Globalisation has lifted large populations out of poverty, and we must pursue it wherever we can. Finland stands as a prime example of how openness and global trade can make a nation stronger.
That said, openness and cooperation have not changed the world enough.
Our dependencies are becoming our weaknesses faster and in more important areas of our societies than we would have wished.
The right lesson for Europe is to build strategic autonomy in key sectors with its trusted partners. We are not building walls – we are seeking reliable solutions together.
I have had the great opportunity to address this important topic recently with key leaders such as the Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Fumio Kishida, the Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Narendra Modi, and many others. We need to discuss it with all of our partners and allies, especially Canada and the United States.
We and Australia should join our lifelines together. We see important potential in increasing cooperation with you in areas such as clean energy, critical raw materials and new technologies.
The European Union and Australia are currently finalising the negotiations for a new Free Trade Agreement. The Agreement needs to help us build resilient value chains and a common base for developing our skills and knowhow.
Businesses will be the final judges of how our markets integrate with one another, but standards, rules and financial incentives matter.
Importantly, as leaders, we owe it to businesses and consumers to be open about the long-term risks as we see them from our political perspective.
As we make important advances in science, research and innovation, there is an increasing risk that we will also create new dependencies.
Authoritarian regimes will try to exploit these dependencies and abuse the lack of a level playing field and reciprocity.
As digitalisation becomes a more and more important part of our most basic services, we must be able to trust technology.
Our common lifelines have to be based on solid cooperation in science, research and innovation as well.
The EU and Australia should develop a regular dialogue on the use of new technologies and their international regulation. The EU also has many instruments available in concrete terms, from its Global Gateway programme to Horizon Europe, a funding programme for research and innovation.
European Strategic Autonomy is as much about building resilience, deepening European integration and taking strategic responsibility for Europe as it is about being a good partner. Among our partners and allies, we owe this first and foremost to our most vital and long-term partner, the United States. We need to take better responsibility for our continent and in today’s globalised world, this means stronger partnerships than ever, based on trust.
It is very important to build level playing fields. We need to demand complete reciprocity from all trade and investment partners globally. However, the recent wars, crises and disasters have shown that this is not enough.
Open, democratic and progressive societies also need stronger strategic autonomy in critically important areas for their citizens, and this must be supported by trusted partnerships.
Cooperation among progressive democracies is now more important than ever. We need to defend our common values, universal human rights and democracy with new force, new determination. We need to build bridges across the Euro-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific regions.
This is the right time for the first ever visit of a Finnish Prime Minister to Australia. This is the right moment to strengthen our bilateral relations.
Source: Government of Finland