On January 19 and 20, British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted his counterparts from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the first Nordic Baltic Summit to consolidate an “alliance of common interests.”
Nordic Co-operation on foreign and security policy (2009) focused on:
• 13 areas of potential closer co-operation in the Nordic region, such as peace-building, air-policing and maritime monitoring, security in the High North, cyber-security, co-operation between foreign services and defence.
• Creating a military and civilian taskforce for unstable regions; a joint amphibious unit; a disaster-response unit; a coastguard-level maritime response force; joint cyber-defence systems; joint air, maritime and satellite surveillance; co-operation on Arctic governance; and a war crimes investigation unit.
• Strengthening Nordic co-operation and joint actions in cases of peace-time catastrophes as well as military threats.
• Achieving results on measures as common transport and logistics solutions for our forces in Afghanistan. Furthermore, include projects in the fields of education, training and defence equipment collaboration.
Mini NATO: According to analysts, the heightened activity of North Europe is explained by an increased interest in the Arctic and its natural resources.
The role of the United States The U.S. has broad and fundamental national security interests in the Arctic region and is prepared to operate either independently or in conjunction with other states to safeguard these interests. Interests include: missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security operations; and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.
• Last August the U.S. and Denmark participated for the first time in Canada’s annual Operation Nanook military exercise in the Arctic, although both fellow NATO members are involved in territorial disputes with Canada in the region.
• NATO has intensified its campaign to recruit Finland and Sweden into its ranks in recent years. Both nations supply troops for the Alliance’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, where Finland has suffered its first combat deaths since World War Two and Sweden in two centuries.
• Last year’s BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) exercise conducted with U.S., NATO and NATO partnership nations was held in Estonia and Latvia with over 3,000 troops and military hardware – including 36 ships and two submarines – from ten nations, among them Finland and Sweden.
• Finland and Sweden are the only non-NATO nations (they are Partnership for Peace members) to have joined Alliance states Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the U.S. in running the first multinational strategic airlift operation, the Heavy Airlift Wing at the Papa Air Base in Hungary used for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
• Last September 50 warships and 4,000 navy personnel from the U.S., Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Britain, France and Germany participated in the two-week Northern Coasts military exercise in and off Finland’s coast, the largest war games ever staged in Finnish territorial waters.
This region of Europe has everything to gain from a closer cooperation in defense between the Nordic countries and its Baltic neighbors. There are real issues, such as Arctic security, where such cooperation will be advantageous.
This month several high-level NATO officials travelled to Lithuania for the opening of a new Energy Security Centre in the capital. The facility, which “will contribute to international initiatives with a special emphasis on cooperation with NATO,” is to graduate to the level of a NATO Centre of Excellence like the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence established in nearby Estonia in 2008.
The Baltic-Scandinavian region, especially the Arctic at its northernmost extreme, is the last spot on Earth where alleged threats from Iran, North Korea, al-Qaeda and pirates can be invoked to justify unprecedented military expansion and integration. That the latter is occurring at a breakneck pace belies NATO’s and the EU’s claims concerning the rationale for collaborating with the world’s sole military superpower both at home and throughout the world.
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