July 16, 2024

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President Stubb visited Brussels: National defence and international cooperation go hand in hand

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President of the Republic of Finland Alexander Stubb visited Brussels on 9–10 April 2024.

At the beginning of the two-day visit, President Stubb met with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell and Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Croo on Tuesday 9 April. The topics discussed during the meetings included European security, support for Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East.

On Wednesday 10 April, President Stubb met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The topics of discussion included the situation in Ukraine and the forthcoming NATO summit in Washington D.C. President Stubb also met with President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola and President of the European Council Charles Michel. The programme also included a meeting with European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen.

A new era of defence

On Wednesday afternoon, President Stubb spoke about the new era of defence at a conversation event of the Friends of Europe think tank.

President Stubb said that, in addition to providing direct support for Ukraine, we must ensure that we modernise our own defence forces.

According to President Stubb, Finland is currently in the process of changing its mindset from “a credible and independent defence” to “a strong defence as part of the alliance”. “My message to our armed forces and military establishment is clear – national defence and international cooperation go hand in hand. It is not “either or”. It is both.”

President Stubb hoped to see Finland in the core of NATO.  “We are in the geographic margins of the alliance and therefore we must be in the institutional core,” the President said. “We are a big pillar of the defence of North-Eastern Europe.”

EU and NATO are two sides of the same coin

According to President Stubb, the EU and NATO are at least the two sides of the same coin. The Union should use the tools that are the exclusive competence of the EU – such as trade, competition and currency – in tandem with and in support of security and defence policies.

The visit is President Stubb’s first working visit to Belgium. The previous President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö made his latest visit to Belgium in April 2023 to attend the ceremony to mark the accession of Finland to NATO.

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