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Tal av Peter Hultqvist: Warsaw Nato Summit – How to face new challenges in Europe and the Baltic sea region?

Publicerad

Folk och Försvar, Stockholm 25 maj 2016

Det talade ordet gäller

Distinguished guests,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on this important topic.

The upcoming NATO Summit will take place in a security environment that continues to be challenging. And these challenges affect us all.

First of all the security order that was established in Europe after the Cold War is challenged by Russia. The illegal annexation of Crimea is the first example in more than 70 years where one European state has occupied territory belonging to another state using military force. If we allow the annexation to become a status quo we make ourselves guilty of destroying one of the very pillars of the European security order as we know it. We see no signs that Russia has changed or that its positions have softened.

Moreover, there are no indications that Russia is planning to leave the Donbass region. Instead, Russia is building up its proxy army there, with 25 000 soldiers and more tanks than any EU Member State has. The intensity of the conflict in eastern Ukraine can be increased or decreased depending on what best serves the interests of the Kremlin at any given moment.

Therefore, it makes our response and our course of action all the more important. Time passes and other urgent security issues arise on our agenda. But we cannot accept what Russia has done. Our point of departure must be a realistic assessment of Russia, not wishful thinking.

It is important that the EU is united. Sanctions against Russia for its actions in eastern Ukraine cannot be lifted until Russia fully implements its Minsk commitments.

The Russian leadership views, and describes, the West as an adversary. Their massive propaganda effort directed against us shows this clearly. We see an increased Russian interest not only in the Baltic States, but in Sweden and Finland, including our relation to our partnership cooperation with NATO. From time to time we hear Russian officials making statements regarding the Russian nuclear capabilities.

Just recently, we saw dangerous and unprofessional behaviour by Russian aircrafts in the Baltic Sea, flying recklessly close to the USS Donald Cook. There are other similar examples, such as Russian naval vessels acting to interrupt the work of civilian ships laying an electric power cable from Lithuania to Sweden in March 2015.

We also see Russian military aircraft repeatedly flying in civilian airspace without active transponders. No matter the nationality of an aircraft or a ship, such actions must be condemned. This behaviour is dangerous and provocative. This is yet another example of Russia stating what she believes is her legitimate sphere of interest.

With this security environment in mind, Sweden is pursuing a two-tiered defence policy. We are reinforcing our military capability by increasing defence spending. Sweden increases exercises and training, both in terms of quantity and quality. Presence in air and at sea is also increased. Among prioritized capabilities are air defence and anti-submarine warfare. Moreover, we will permanently base a mechanized battle group at the island of Gotland.

At the same time, we are deepening the cooperation with other countries and organisations. By acting together in a predictable and consistent way, we contribute to peace and security in our part of the world. In light of the challenging situation, Sweden now seeks to strengthen cooperation on security matters within the EU, the OSCE, regionally in the Nordic and Nordic-Baltic setting, as well as in bilateral contacts. We do this from a platform of non-alignment.

For the stability in our part of Europe, American and NATO presence in our region is necessary. The US presence in the Baltic Sea Region is crucial and has a clear threshold effect.

Sweden has been and will continue to be an active partner with NATO. From a Swedish perspective, NATO has a key role to ensure stability in the Baltic Sea.

The changing security environment has prompted steps toward enhanced political dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO, Finland and Sweden. For example, we have proposed a bill to the parliament on Host Nation Support, an administrative yet important agreement which will make it easier for us to exercise together and to prepare for giving and receiving military help in a crisis situation. We want to have the same position as Finland in this regard.

In our partnership, we now focus on:

First, continued political dialogue on shared security challenges is essential in our cooperation with NATO. Looking towards the Warsaw Summit, we see a need to discuss mutually relevant issues regarding common security threats. Focus should be on substance, not on formats. From our perspective, the Baltic Sea security is a given topic also at the Summit.

Another relevant topic to address is the fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq. The conflicts in the Middle East, the root causes of the migration flows and the ugly face of terrorism cannot be stopped without solid transatlantic resolve to stand up for our values and the stability of our societies. An urgent common threat to international peace and security is Daesh and likeminded terror groups.

Second, common exercises in the Baltic Sea region continue to signal that we together take responsibility for the security. Swedish participation in the upcoming exercises Anaconda and BALTOPS are current examples of our ambition here.

A third area where Sweden and NATO can work closer together is by enhancing information exchange on planned activities in the region, to better coordinate our efforts. This would not only help us deconflict measures that we take on a national level with those taken by NATO, but in the long term it could also provide for a more efficient use of our resources.

To further reduce tensions in our neighbourhood, other areas for practical cooperation between NATO and Sweden and Finland could be explored:

Cooperation on situational awareness; sharing information would facilitate the development of an accurate common situational awareness in the Baltic Sea area.

Exchanging information on incidents and violations on national territorial borders would provide valuable input to the overall picture of the security in the Baltic Sea region, and help us respond in a more coordinated way.

Enhancing capability to cooperate in responding to hybrid threats in the region is yet another example. Facing hybrid warfare is primarily a national effort, and the re-establishment of the Total Defence is our main priority here. But building resilience against hybrid methods and sharing information are obvious areas where further cooperation between EU and NATO is also needed.

The future of regional peace and stability depends on keeping European and transatlantic unity.

We look forward to the opportunity to discuss these issues further at the NATO Summit in Warsaw.