The Finnish Social Democratic Party, Party Congress in Lahti 3.-5.2.2017
A troubled world and unsustainable development
The ongoing military conflicts, terrorism, shaking up of cyber security, use of power politics in Europe, violations of international law, and show of force also visible in our neighbourhood have brought traditional questions of military security to the forefront. Finland is not under military threat. The reflections of military tensions in our neighbourhood require that also military security is adequately taken into consideration in Finland’s foreign and security policy. SDP considers it valuable that the basic questions of foreign and security policy in government reports have been discussed in broad consensus.
Paying attention to preparedness and provisions does not mean that Finland is preparing for war. Using language that trivialises warfare in media and in political speeches is both unfounded and dangerous, just like questioning reservists’ willingness for national defence. The best guarantee for Finland’s security is a well functioning and equal welfare state that takes care of all of its citizens, the solidarity of which cannot be shaken from the outside. Thus the increase of inequality and the shut-down of welfare services endangers both internal and external security.
The state of the world is, however, very alarming. The biggest challenges for Finland’s security, too, are a consequence of global unsustainable development. Social democracy works everywhere to strengthen global security and prevent the ecologically, socially and economically unsustainable development that threatens it.
Security policy must not be introverted preparation. Instead, it must be active influence toward solving and preventing crises and conflicts.
SDP does not accept the dramatic cutbacks in development cooperation that have weakened our possibilities to have a positive influence on global development – the need for which has continuously increased. Finland’s cutbacks in development have weakened our influence in the UN and other multilateral organisations and hit the effective development-generating operations of NGOs with particularly negative consequences. Our broadly valued know-how in military and civil crisis management must continue to be available to international organisations in conflict resolution.
Power politics and Finland’s security
In a world of increasing and indivisible interdependency, sustainability and security are not generated through power politics, attempts to close borders, or confrontations, but only through political, economic and cultural cooperation as broad as possible.
Russia, which has developed toward a path that is authoritarian and curtails democracy, has, for one, questioned this by its actions. After the inauguration of the new president, also the United States is decreasing its participation in multilateral cooperation, for example, in trade policy and implementing sustainable development. It is important that Finland, together with other Nordic countries, is active in strengthening stability and cooperation-based security. The possibilities of Nordic cooperation must be fully taken advantage of. We must respond to the interest generated by the success of the Nordic model by enhancing the performance of the model. At the same time, we must be ready to share experiences of the model with others to accomplish sustainable development.
There are emphasised expectations regarding the European Union to be able to assume a stronger role in global politics and the management of globalisation. SDP supports strengthening the capacity of the Union, including in the field of its own security and defence policy.
Finland’s defence is based on a national defence solution and military non-alignment. Our membership in the European Union, developing Nordic cooperation and a well functioning partnership with NATO are important in supporting this. From NATO’s Partnership for Peace we get information and training opportunities that serve in increasing the skills and efficiency of our own defence.
We participate in NATO’s open training activity for partners for peace for this purpose and, based on political consideration, from our own standing point select the exercises that we participate in when they do not increase international tension.
Finland does not have the assistance of the military alliance in a possible crisis situation, but neither does it have the obligation to participate in the operations or common defence of the military alliance.
International cooperation prevents crises. A credible defence and the possibility to receive help from other countries in a crisis are thus needed. Equally important is that we make sure that no-one has reason to doubt Finland’s capability and willingness to prevent the use of its territory for military purposes that are hostile toward other countries.
Finland’s tightening defence cooperation with Sweden has a special role in international cooperation. Social democrats in both Finland and Sweden have advanced it strongly. The aim of the cooperation of two militarily non-aligned countries is not a bilateral defence alliance, although this possibility should not be ruled out in the long run. The non-allied status of Finland and Sweden serves stability around the Baltic Sea well. A defence policy striving for reconciliation must firstly aim at avoiding serious conflicts and situations leading to the use of arms.
Ukraine, Syria and the Middle East
The conflict in Ukraine can be solved only by restoring Ukraine’s full sovereignty according to the Minsk Protocol. This requires also decisive reforms and weeding out corruption in Ukraine.
The human and material costs of the still ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria are horrendous. The continuing state of war in these areas forces millions of people to seek safety in neighbouring countries and beyond. Those in need of an asylum must be granted one. Only ending the wars and enabling a safe return for the refugees will resolve their situation. Terrorists must not be granted asylum or given the opportunity to operate anywhere. The cooperation of all states is needed both to end the conflicts in these countries and to prevent the operations of all terrorist organisations based on the principles of the rule of law, democracy, and respecting human rights.
Social democrats welcome the UN resolution concerning the situation of Israel and Palestine adopted by the Security Council in December. The last moments are at hand to proceed to lasting peace based on a two state model where Palestinians create their own viable state and Israel can live safely alongside it.
The European Union
The rise of nationalist and xenophobic forces in Europe threatens the achievements of European integration, its democratic value base and, in the worst case, the entire existence of the Union. The EU has to act as a counterbalance and reconstructive force to those problems from which populists derive their support. Social democracy acts consistently so that these forces, which undermine European unity and its democratic value base that respects human rights, are not given way to.
The wish of the Brits, expressed in a referendum, to withdraw from the Union must be respected. However, the coming negotiations must not be managed so that it would be impossible for the Brits to stay in the EU if they so wish after reconsideration.
The EU must be able to reform itself and its procedures. At the same time when unnecessary centralised regulation from the point of view of the operation of the market must be reduced, there are matters where we need tightening of the integration to secure stable economic development, prevent financial crises, stop climate change, and enable ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development. There must not be room in Europe for tax evasion, social dumping or discrimination of any population groups. Europe needs further more democracy, openness and decision-making that is comprehensible for the citizens. The Union has to be a strong and democratic actor.
Europe must be able to secure its influence in achieving better control of globalisation and to make sure that expanding free trade takes place on a stable basis and does not subject democratic decision-making to the will of big multinational corporations. A more effective common foreign and security policy of the Union is needed to solve and prevent many conflicts.
Despite international tensions, the cooperation of eight countries in the Arctic Council has worked well and polarisations reflected from elsewhere have not been transferred there. Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council is an important opportunity to act to secure and develop the possibilities of Arctic cooperation and to extend the utilisation of Finland’s Arctic know-how. The progress of climate change has opened up new opportunities of economic activity in Arctic areas and, at the same time, highlighted the vulnerability of Arctic nature. Northern sea areas must be an area of cooperation open for all, where the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples are secured, the vulnerable nature is protected, and the loss of biodiversity is prevented.
The role of the UN
SDP welcomes the election of former President of the Socialist International Antonio Guterres as the United Nations Secretary-General. UN faces growing expectations, and answering them requires the support of all countries to the Secretary-General and the execution of the principles of the UN Charter. It is not possible to achieve the objectives of sustainable development without the UN system functioning strongly and successfully.