Second, much has changed since 1989. As a result of the end of the Cold War, the Finnish and Swedish security policies are today in many respects closer to each other than they have ever been before.
Third, geopolitics explains many of the differences and similarities between Swedish and Finnish security policies. Despite the geographical and cultural affinity, geopolitics divided Finland and Sweden for the greater part of the twentieth century. The single most important factor was the Soviet Union. In fact, it is impossible to understand the policies pursued by Sweden and Finland without taking into consideration the strength and security interests of the eastern great power. The geopolitical shift caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union and its effect, in particular, on Finland's international position have created more equal opportunities for Swedish and Finnish security policies. Still, even though the Cold War is now over, the presence of Russia influences Northern European security and makes it distinct from security in many other regions of Europe. Russia has retreated from its historical position in Central Europe and is now far removed from the Balkans, but it is still very much a neighbour to the Nordic and Baltic states.
Fourth, even though the Nordic "sisters" pursued different policies in the inter-war period and during the Cold War, Swedish and Finnish securities were firmly interrelated.
Because of the geographical affinity, Swedish policy affected Finnish security and vice versa. Both countries took this relationship into consideration while shaping their respective policies. This interdependence still exists today. To some extent, it now also includes the Baltic states.
Both Finland and Sweden have committed themselves to the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the Union. As a consequence, neutrality has de facto been redefined in both countries to mean military non-alignment. Finland and Sweden take part in the deepening of the CFSP and in the development of the ESDF but they draw a distinction between crisis management and common defence. While the former is to be developed and pursued, the latter remains unacceptable to them. Maintaining the status of military non-alignment also determines policies towards NATO. Sweden and Finland regard the presence of the US and NATO in Northern Europe as important factors for balancing Russian power and they co-operate increasingly with the Alliance, but they have no intention of joining NATO at the moment. Public opinion remaining decidedly sceptical towards NATO membership is, for both, one of the key factors behind this policy.
Still, Russia remains important for Finnish and Swedish security. It is in the interests of both Sweden and Finland to work against new dividing lines emerging in Northern Europe. The reinforcement of the independence and international position of the Baltic states is also in the interest of Sweden and Finland, and both are pushing for Baltic EU memberships.
The geopolitical shift caused by the end of the Cold War changed the relationship between Finland and Sweden. Due to EU membership, Finland is no longer that dependent on Sweden and the countries can formulate their security policies more as equal partners. While Finland has moved to where Sweden has been for a long time, the Baltic states may now seem to have taken Finland's former place in this relationship.
The Baltics need Finland and Sweden for their security and the strengthening of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian independence. The Integration of the Baltic states into the European and transatlantic institutions is in the interest also of Finland and Sweden.
The independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania increases Finland's and Sweden's strategic distance from Russia. The reinforcement of their international position helps to avoid conflicts between the Baltic states and Russia, which could also easily affect Swedish and Finnish security. Much like the Swedish policy towards Finland during the Cold War, Finland and Sweden are now trying to strengthen their own security by strengthening the security of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They assist the Baltic states to help themselves - also by developing self-defence capabilities, push for their integration into Europe, and avoid taking measures that could complicate the position of the Baltic states.
One of the constraints for Finnish and Swedish NATO membership has stemmed from the position of the Baltic states. Were Finland and Sweden to join NATO without the Baltic states, it could be assumed to increase Russian pressure on the Baltic states and consequently decrease Swedish and Finnish security. Even if Sweden and Finland recognise the importance of Baltic independence to their security, they are not willing to commit themselves to take responsibility for the security of the Baltic states. Finland and Sweden do not consider themselves capable of taking on such a responsibility and emphasise, therefore, the importance of linking Baltic Sea security to European and transatlantic security.
Given recent developments, such as the possibility of NATO heading for a "Big Bang" enlargement process towards the East starting in 2002, the Nordics should obviously not put up (or be seen as putting up) obstacles in the way of Baltic NATO membership.
Despite the increasing similarity between the Finnish and Swedish security policies, there are still differences. Sweden shifted somewhat earlier than Finland towards open support for Baltic independence and by first taking the decision to apply for EU membership, while Finland seems to have moved ahead of Sweden later in integrating itself into the EU and in establishing links with NATO. Today, however, both countries co-operate extensively with NATO, with Sweden now going full speed ahead in converting its Cold War anti-invasion defence into a flexible and fully NATO compatible national and international projection force.
While Sweden strongly underlined three issues – enlargement of the Union, engaging EU citizens in the activities and future of the Union, and environmental issues, to be handled by the Union members together - Finland sees itself putting more emphasis than Sweden on deepening the EU and in belonging to the core of the Union.
Geopolitics and historical experiences help to explain these differences. Finland has a long border with Russia, whose future is uncertain, and changes in Russia would more directly affect Finland than Sweden.
Seeking protection is one of the motivations of Finland's policy on the EU and NATO. Membership of the EU, deepening the Union and co-operation with NATO, while still retaining the basic structure of its anti-invasion defence, are regarded in Finland as useful means to move the relationship with Russia into a multilateral context, to create reciprocity and to prepare for receiving outside assistance.
The Swedish emphasis on enlargement reflects a gradual understanding as a means by which to handle the Baltic Sea security problems, i.e. securing a European home for the Baltic states. The Union thus provides an instrument for regional stability and security building. While Finland may not regard joining NATO as a rational step due to the Russian negative reaction, military alliances per se do not belong to the Swedish vision of a better all-European security system.
In brief, although Finland and Sweden have taken similar steps in their security policies since the Cold War, the motivations for their policies are not entirely identical. The future relationship between Finnish and Swedish security policies will depend on their membership of the European Union. The relationship between their security policies will, however, also depend on the situation in Russia. If Russia moves closer to Europe and becomes a benign power, it is probable that the common elements in the two security policies - based upon their common history and geographical affinity -will be emphasised. If, on the other hand, things start to go fundamentally wrong in Russia, Finland and Sweden may be more likely to drift apart with their security policy choices. (from Finnish and Swedesh Security- Comparing National Policies, Bo Huldt, Teija Tiilikainen, Tapani Vaahtoranta and Anna Helkama-Rgrd)
1. Security and defence policy, written for Virtual Finland by Janne Kuusela, adviser; Ministry of Defence, International Defence Policy Unit;
2. Security in a Changing Europe: A Finnish View Minister of Defense of Finland Anneli Taina;
3. Finnish and Swedesh Security- Comparing National Policies, Bo Huldt, Teija Tiilikainen, Tapani Vaahtoranta and Anna Helkama-Rgrd.