Prime Minister Marin to attend European Council and visit Luxembourg

Source: Government of Finland
Prime Minister Sanna Marin will attend a special meeting of the European Council in Brussels on 9 and 10 February.
The meeting will focus on Ukraine, the economy and competitiveness, and migration.
After the meeting, the Prime Minister will visit Luxembourg.
The European Council is expected to continue the discussion on the EU’s economy and competitiveness at its March and June meetings.
In Luxembourg, Prime Minister Marin and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel will discuss topical EU matters and the bilateral relations between Finland and Luxembourg.
This will be Prime Minister Marin’s first visit to Luxembourg.
Inquiries: Jari Luoto, Director General, EU Affairs Department, tel.
+358 50 468 5949, Saara Pokki, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel.
+358 50 478 6363 and Rami Kurth, Communications Specialist (EU Affairs), tel.
+358 50 465 7963, Prime Minister’s Office

Finland to send emergency aid to victims of earthquake in Türkiye and Syria

Source: Government of Finland
Finland will be sending EUR 1 million in humanitarian assistance to Türkiye and Syria through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The support will be used to provide food, shelter, medical supplies and psychosocial support to people who lost their homes in the two countries.
The rescue effort was launched quickly following the devastating earthquake that struck southern Türkiye on Monday 6 February.
More than 5,000 people died and more than 20,000 were injured in Türkiye and Syria.
 
“The scale of human distress is immense in the region, and fear of aftershocks makes it worse.
Finland wants to help quickly those affected by the disaster.
Turkish and Syrian teams of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society are already helping people on the ground, for example by providing meals and emergency shelters, and Finland supports their work,” says Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.
 
Finland’s support will be delivered to the region by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
IFRC has launched emergency appeals for EUR 70.
6 million to support affected people in Türkiye and Syria.
The collected funds will allow IFRC to provide food, shelter, medical supplies and psychosocial support, among other help, to people who lost their homes in the two countries.
Turkish and Syrian teams of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society are already helping people on the ground, and Finland supports their work.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs also supports the Finnish Red Cross on an annual basis to ensure its capacity to quickly mobilise response to disasters and crises.
The earthquake struck in a region that is politically fragmented and controlled by many different groups.
Moreover, 4.
1 million people in north-western Syria were already in need of humanitarian assistance.
Poor communication connections, unreliable electricity supply and collapsed road networks make it difficult to monitor the situation and deliver relief.
In addition to humanitarian assistance, Finland is sending experts to Türkiye to assist in rescue and relief work.
The experts will be deployed through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism: https://intermin.
fi/en/-/finland-sends-expert-assistance-to-turkiye-
 

Voluntary forest protection popular among forest owners – record funding for fixed-term environmental forestry subsidy agreements Duplicate 1

Source: Government of Finland
Last year the Finns designated about 4,700 hectares of forest for permanent protection under the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland METSO.
About 90 hectares were protected for 20 years.
The aim of the METSO Programme is to establish 96,000 hectares of new protected areas by 2025.
This year there is a record amount of funding available for environmental forestry subsidy agreements.
By the end of 2022 almost 89,000 hectares had been protected, which means that 93% of the protection target had been achieved.
The area covered by environmental forestry subsidy agreements and nature management works was about 3,800 hectares.
This means that 73% (59,800 hectares) of the target of 82,000 hectares had been achieved.
 
“It has been great to see how many Finnish forest owners are willing to protect biodiversity and improve the state of forest nature by voluntarily offering their forests for protection.
METSO Programme is reaching the target set for protection, and I wish to thank all forest owners who have designated areas for protection over the years”, says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo.
Last year about 3,600 hectares of forest habitats were protected by ten-year environmental forestry subsidy agreements.
Nature management works were carried out on about 157 hectares of private forests.
 
“Forest owners are willing to use the means available under the METSO Programme to protect forest biodiversity.
This is most valuable.
Fixed-term protection agreements are flexible for the forest owners and they seem to maintain their popularity.
Adequate funding for voluntary forest protection must be secured in future as well,” says Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Antti Kurvinen.
Figures: Implementation of the METSO Programme in the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and the Finnish Forest Centre 2008–2022.
The figures of the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment do not include 13,000 hectares of forest protected by Metsähallitus under the METSO Programme in 2014, but this is also counted towards the implementation of the METSO Programm
In 2022 the compensations paid to landowners for measures to protect biodiversity totalled about EUR 43 million, of which about EUR 34 million concerned permanent protection and EUR 9 million were used for fixed-term environmental forestry subsidy agreements and nature management projects.
Hundreds of forest owners protected their forests permanentlyThe number of decisions made on permanent protection was 450.
This means that hundreds of forest owners have ended up protecting their forests as permanent conservation areas under the Nature Conservation Act or sold their forests to the State to be designated as nature reserves.
The largest are, about 1,000 hectares, was protected in the area governed by the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Southwest Finland.
The average size of the protected sites is about 10 hectares.
Last year, the average compensation for permanent protection was about EUR 7,200 per hectare.
Environmental forestry subsidy agreements still popularForest owners continue to submit considerable numbers of requests for surveys concerning nature sites that are valuable for biodiversity.
Last year almost 1,300 ten-year environmental forestry subsidy agreements were concluded.
The funding available for the subsidies last year was not adequate to meet the amount of funding applied for, and part of the payments were transferred to this year.
Growing numbers of actors in the forest sector have assisted forest owners in drawing up environmental forestry subsidy applications, and in 2022 such actors prepared applications concerning more than 900 hectares.
The average size of sites covered by environmental forestry subsidy agreements is just under 3 hectares and the average compensation to the forest owner for a ten-year agreement was about EUR 2,200 per hectare.
The compensation varies between regions, depending on the regional average stumpage price used in the calculation.
Aim to protect at least 3,700 hectares permanentlyThe total area left to meet the target for permanent protection by 2025 in the METSO Programme is just about 7,000 hectares.
The aim for permanent protection this year is at least 3,700 hectares.
In permanent protection the main focus will stay on sites located in southern Finland, but valuable forest sites will be protected throughout the country.
 
The Ministry of the Environment promotes forest protection with a separate appropriation that is targeted, in particular, to areas not covered by the METSO Programme, i.
e.
to northern Finland.
Such a separate appropriation was granted for the first time in 2020 and the funding allocated to forest protection in the 2023 Budget is EUR 9 million.
With this appropriation the means of the METSO Programme will be used to carry out voluntary forest protection, but the actions and results will not be counted towards the implementation of the METSO Programme.
 
Record funding for ten-year environmental forestry subsidy agreements this yearNow is a good time for forest owners who are interested in fixed-term protection to offer valuable nature sites to be included in the METSO Programme.
The aim is to conclude environmental forestry subsidy agreements for as large an area as possible, at least 4,000 hectares, and to undertake nature management of habitats on at least 100 hectares.
The Finnish Forest Centre advises forest owners on how to apply for the subsidies.
For this year about EUR 13.
6 million will be reserved for fixed-term environmental forestry subsidy agreements and 2.
2 million for nature management projects that will also implement the measures of the METSO Programme.
This is almost twice the amounts reserved for these in the previous years.
Nature management projects promote water protection, improving the state of habitats and the emergence of post-fire and burned habitats.
The Forest Centre offers projects that have been prepared in advance to be implemented through public calls for applications.
This year there will be two calls for applications.
With respect to environmental forestry subsidy agreements and nature management we are behind the targets set in the METSO Programme.
Reaching the target set for 2025 requires that the funding stays on the same level in the next couple of year.
Adequate resources must also be available for the planning of nature management projects, preparation of applications and processing of decisions.
 
Voluntary forest protection under METSO Programme to continue until 2030The new Nature Conservation Act will provide the legislative framework for action programmes concerning voluntary nature conservation.
The new Nature Conservation Act will enter into force 1st June 2023.
Besides the METSO Programme, voluntary action to protect biodiversity is taken under the Helmi Programme focused on the restoration and management of habitats.
 
The continuation of the METSO Programme until 2030 is included in the Government Resolution on the Helmi Programme.
The content and new targets of that term of the METSO Programme will be specified in 2025 at the latest.
Inquiries:Esa Pynnönen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Environment
tel.
+358 295 250 386
[email protected]
Ville Schildt, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
tel.
+358 295 162 190
[email protected]
More information about METSO and voluntary forest protection: fi/en/frontpage” class=”yja-external-link”>metsonpolku.
fi 
 

Finland sends expert assistance to Türkiye 

Source: Government of Finland
Finland is rapidly sending a team of experts to Türkiye to assist in rescue efforts following a major earthquake.
The experts will be deployed through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
A major earthquake took place early on Monday morning in south-eastern Türkiye and in Syria.
The earthquake was measured at magnitude 7.
4–7.
8.
The earthquake has caused immense damage.
Both countries have reported collapsed buildings and large numbers of fatalities and injuries.
The clearing of wreckage is underway, and it is feared that the number of victims will rise.
Türkiye has requested international assistance and experts to assist in the search for people.
Finland and many other countries have pledged to send support to the region.
Türkiye requested expert assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
  Finland is sending experts to Türkiye to assist in rescue work and support tasks.
 
“The situation in the area hit by the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria is very serious.
I would like to express my deepest condolences to all the victims of the earthquake and their families and friends.
It is vital that expert assistance reaches the destination as quickly as possible to help in rescue efforts.
We are also preparing other forms of assistance, because the destruction and need for assistance are considerable.
We are working closely with other EU countries in providing assistance,” says Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen.
 
In addition to expert assistance, Finland is also looking into the possibility of sending other forms of assistance, such as any material assistance, to the affected area in Türkiye and Syria.
Assistance provided through the EU Civil Protection MechanismAny country can request assistance via the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism if it faces a crisis that it cannot handle alone.
These crises can be natural or human-induced disasters, such as major accidents, technological, chemical and environmental accidents or terrorist acts.
Requests for assistance are coordinated by the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), operating under the European Commission.
Assistance provided through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is based on the national resources of the EU Member States.
The assistance may take the form of specialised rescue teams or expert and material assistance.
The Ministry of the Interior decides on the provision of international assistance in the field of rescue services.
Finland has actively provided expert assistance across the world in the event of earthquakes.
Inquiries:
Pekka Tiainen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Interior, tel.
+358 50 456 4477, [email protected] (international civil protection missions)
Pauliina Eskola, Director of International Affairs, Department for Rescue Services, tel.
+358 295 488 263, [email protected] 
Mikko Jalo, Special Adviser to the Minister of the Interior, tel.
+358 50 304 8522, [email protected]
 

Government measures in response to earthquake in Türkiye

Source: Government of Sweden 2

The Government is taking swift and resolute action in response to the earthquake that hit Türkiye and northern Syria today, through support measures and in its role as holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The Swedish Presidency today took the initiative in convening the Council’s Integrated Political Crisis Response mechanism (IPCR) regarding the situation in Türkiye and Syria. The aim of the IPCR meeting was to rapidly coordinate overall EU support to the affected countries at political level. It is essential that support meets the established needs on the ground following an initial evaluation of the situation.

In the first instance, the Government has immediately allocated SEK 7 million to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the initial response in Türkiye and Syria. The Government will decide on additional funds in close coordination with Türkiye, the EU, the UN and the IFRC once the needs become clearer.

“Sweden will now immediately send much-needed support that will make a difference directly on the ground. The Government stands ready to decide on additional funds in the near future when the needs are clearer,” says Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency has received a request for assistance from Türkiye and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The Agency is currently preparing possible support measures, including tents, temporary emergency shelters and expert assistance in the areas of water, sanitation, energy, logistics and construction.

“We will be able to contribute in areas where Sweden has particular expertise. Our support must be enduring,” says Minister for Civil Defence Carl-Oskar Bohlin.

Sweden is monitoring developments and is maintaining close contacts with Türkiye at different levels, including political level. Earlier this evening, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs received the Turkish Ambassador and expressed the Government’s condolences to Türkiye.

Minister Harakka opened Business Finland’s 6G seminar

Source: Government of Finland
Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka opened, on 6 February 2023, the Elements of 6G Unleashed organised by Business Finland and 6G Finland.
The recent progress in the research and development of 6G at the national and European levels was discussed in the event.
Finland is a leader in developing mobile technologies, including more efficient 6G networks.
In his opening speech, Minister Harakka emphasised the cooperation between democratic countries in developing and utilising technology.
– Our core values, individual freedom and fundamental rights, must be guaranteed in the regulation and standards of 6G technologies.
Safety and climate protection must also be taken into account from the very beginning, says Minister Harakka.
He met with the European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, who delivered the closing remarks.
Minister Harakka and Commissioner Breton discussed cyber security, the intercontinental data cable and the EU’s competitiveness.
– The EU’s cyber capabilities are emphasised in the current security situation.
At the same time, the green and digital transitions go hand in hand; one doesn’t exist without the other.
As to green production planning, it is worthwhile to invest where Europe has the competitive advantage.
6G enables climate industry.
The Commissioner was also interested in the new Arctic data connection planned by Finland, says Minister Harakka.
Inquiries:Johanna Juselius, Special Adviser to Minister Timo Harakka, requests for interviews with the Minister, tel.
+358 295 342 141, [email protected]
Kaisa Kopra, Senior Specialist, tel.
+358 295 441 8005, [email protected]
businessfinland.
fi/en/whats-new/events/2023/6g-bridge-program-launch-elements-of-6g-unleashed” class=”yja-external-link”>Business Finland: Elements of 6G Unleashed (the event will be recorded and made available for viewing afterwards)

Government taking strong action against disinformation and rumour-spreading campaign

Source: Government of Sweden

Since December 2021, disinformation has been spread concerning Swedish social services taking Muslim children into care without a legal basis. According to the Swedish Psychological Defence Agency, there are no indications that the campaign will cease in the near future. Social services employees are being threatened and, in the worst case scenario, this risks leading to children in Sweden not receiving the social support to which they are entitled. The Government is now taking several measures to counteract the disinformation that is being disseminated.

Rumours and disinformation are being spread, mainly on social media, about Swedish social services kidnapping Muslim children without a legal basis. The Swedish Psychological Defence Agency considers the campaign to be one of the most serious in a long time, that it will not end anytime soon and that long-term measures are needed to counteract disinformation and rumour-spreading. Social services are the backbone of the Swedish welfare system, and their work to protect children and youth from neglect or mistreatment is crucial. The Government is now taking several measures to counteract the disinformation.

“This type of disinformation campaign has devastating consequences when social workers can no longer carry out their important work. It affects children who are neglected or mistreated. The Government is therefore proceeding with a series of new measures on several fronts, to push back against disinformation and strengthen social services,” says Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

“I’m pleased that the Government has listened to the needs we have raised to respond to threats and violence against people working in the welfare sector, and is now working on several of the measures we proposed,” says Peter Danielsson, President of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions.

Measures to counteract disinformation

  • The Swedish Psychological Defence Agency will be tasked with strengthening capacity to respond to influence campaigns.
  • The National Board of Health and Welfare will receive an enhanced mandate to counteract rumour-spreading and disinformation about social services. The mandate includes close dialogue with the Swedish Institute, the Swedish Psychological Defence Agency and the Swedish Agency for Support to Faith Communities.
  • The penalty for violence or threats against public officials should be tougher, and insulting a public official should be criminalised. The Government will give supplementary terms of reference to the inquiry Åtgärder för att minska offentliganställdas utsatthet (‘Measures to mitigate the vulnerability of public sector employees’ (Ju2022:02)). This also includes drafting proposals for enhanced protection of public sector employees’ personal data. 
  • A proposal for consideration by the Council of Legislation will be adopted, to enable the use of security officers in more instances, such as at social services offices.

“I want to make it clear that Swedish legislation does not discriminate on the basis of sex or religion. I also want to make it clear that Swedish social services do not kidnap children. Social services are the last-resort safety net of the welfare system. This disinformation campaign is therefore unacceptable, and the Government is taking a strong stand against the disinformation and the spreading of rumours,” says Minister for Social Services Camilla Waltersson Grönvall.

“It is unacceptable that police and social workers, for example, are being subjected to violence, threats, harassment or undue influence because of their profession. By extension, this also constitutes an attack on our society. The Government has therefore taken the decision to give the inquiry more stringent supplementary terms of reference so as to seriously strengthen the protection of public sector employees,” says Minister for Justice Gunnar Strömmer.

More about the measures

The Swedish Psychological Defence Agency should strengthen its resilience to malign information influence against social services

The Government is tasking the Swedish Psychological Defence Agency with strengthening resilience to malign information influence against social services. The mandate includes coordinating with relevant authorities in other countries that are being targeted with similar influence campaigns. The Agency should also regularly produce in-depth status reports concerning malign information influence, and advise affected actors on strategic communication to respond to identified information influence activities.

Amendment of the National Board of Health and Welfare’s mandate

The National Board of Health and Welfare has previously been tasked with counteracting rumour-spreading and disinformation about social services. The Government is providing an additional SEK 4 million for 2023 and amending the mandate. The National Board of Health and Welfare should now reinforce its efforts through enhanced dialogue with relevant actors, and work for enhanced awareness about the work of social services. It is of the utmost importance that the National Board of Health and Welfare is present and communicates facts where disinformation is disseminated.

Inquiry to strengthen protection of public sector employees

The Government has adopted supplementary terms of reference for the inquiry on measures to mitigate the vulnerability of public sector employees (Ju2022:02). Under the supplementary terms of reference, the Inquiry is to present legislative proposals that make the penalty for violence or threats against public officials stricter, and introduce a new offence targeting insults towards public officials. The Inquiry is also tasked with presenting legislative proposals to reduce the exposure of public sector employees’ names in decisions and other documentation of measures, and stronger protection of personal data concerning public sector employees and their close relatives.

A new act concerning security officers

The Government has decided to refer a proposal to the Council on Legislation for a new act concerning security officers. The proposal concerns more flexible and increased use of security officers, and security officers should also be granted more powers, including – if certain conditions are met – transporting certain people in custody, destroying confiscated alcohol and conducting body searches to determine people’s identity.

Enormous humanitarian needs after earthquake in Türkiye and Syria

Source: Government of Norway

‘This is an immense tragedy. My condolences go to all those who have lost loved ones, and I am sending warm thoughts to all those who have been injured or affected’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

The destruction after last night’s earthquake is catastrophic. Credit: OCHA

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been in contact with the Turkish embassy in Oslo and has communicated that Norway stands ready to assist in the relief effort.

‘It is already clear that the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria last night has generated enormous humanitarian need. The death toll is high. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning a green light to send personnel from Norway in the next 24 hours,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

This year, Norway is providing a total of NOK 500 million in funding to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF). This funding can be used where needed.

‘Norway already provides support to the UN, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Norwegian humanitarian organisations to enable them to respond immediately,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is maintaining ongoing contact with Norway’s embassies in the region to determine how Norway can best provide assistance.

‘We will stay in touch with our humanitarian partners throughout the day to gain a better overview over Türkiye’s and Syria’s needs on the ground. Given the scale of the damage from the earthquake, we will assess the provision of additional support as the impacts of the situation become more clear,’ said the Foreign Minister.

Overview of the earthquakes in Turkey. Credit: USGS

Social development and sustainability, employment and decent work on the agenda of UN CSocD session

Source: Government of Finland
The 61st session of the UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD61) will be held in New York from 6 to 15 February 2023.
Finland will be represented at the session by Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Sarkkinen and Youth Delegate Hung Ly.
Finland, the International Labour Organization ILO, the African Union and UN Women will organise a side event focusing on social protection and the effects of climate change.
 
The priority theme for the 61st session of the UN Commission for Social Development will be creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The session will also address the social impacts of multifaceted crises.
”Social sustainability is an essential part of the goals of the 2030 Agenda.
Strengthening it is important in the current global situation marred by numerous crises,” says Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Sarkkinen.
 
 Perspectives of young people on employment, decent work and education
Minister Sarkkinen and UN Youth Delegate of Finland Hung Ly will deliver Finland’s address in the general discussion.
 
“The opportunities for the most vulnerable people to access education and find decent work must be actively improved.
We need multi-level cooperation and targeted programmes now more than ever to guarantee security and opportunities for everyone.
It is a human rights and security issue,” says Youth Delegate Hung Ly.
 
The side event organised jointly by Finland, the International Labour Organization ILO, the African Union and UN Women will discuss social protection as a way of supporting those poor and vulnerable people who are losing their livelihood or income as a result of climate change.

 
The UN Commission for Social Development is the key UN body dealing with the social dimension of sustainable development.
The main task of the Commission is to monitor the implementation of the outcome of the Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development (1995).
It also participates in monitoring the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Finland is a member of the Commission for a fixed period.

 
Finland’s UN Youth Delegates work as links between young people in Finland and the UN, represent young people at the UN General Assembly and promote the visibility of UN matters.
 
Inquiries:
Jiri Sironen, Special Adviser to the Minister, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected]
Timo Voipio, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected]
Hung Ly, UN Youth Delegate [email protected]
un.
org/development/desa/dspd/united-nations-commission-for-social-development-csocd-social-policy-and-development-division/csocd61.
html” class=”yja-external-link”>For more information about the The 61st session of the UN Commission for Social Development, please visit the UN website

 

Prime Minister’s speech at the Leangkollen Security Conference

Source: Government of Norway

One year of brutality and war crimes, of millions fleeing their homes. One year of families being torn apart – by bombs hitting apartment buildings in Kyiv, in the trenches at Bakhmut, and on the battlefields in the East.

And, while the Ukrainians are contending with the horrors of war, the war also has an impact on our daily lives. It has changed Europe and reminded us of what is at stake. We are at a turning point in European history.   

Previously, we talked about a world order under pressure. Now we have a world order under attack. For Norway, this has profound implications. International law is our first line of defence. Our security, prosperity and freedom all rest on a rules-based order. Where might does not mean right. Where sovereign states – be they large or small – can choose their way forward.  

Russia has created a deep divide between those who support Ukraine’s self-defence and the current regime in Moscow. But – the result has been greater unity. Unity amongst allies. And unity amongst democracies that understand what is at stake. A fight for Ukraine´s freedom and territorial integrity – but by extension –, a fight for our security, and our principles and values.

Friends,

The war has not turned out the way Russia expected. Russia has failed to reach its objectives. The Ukrainians’ self-defence is impressive. Their courage and morale inspiring.   

And the past year has revealed major weaknesses in the Russian defence. We need to learn from all lessons possible from that. Corruption and distrust within the armed forces. Inadequate training, incompetence and low morale. Flaws in leadership, intelligence, and interoperability.

Make no mistake, we should not underestimate Russia’s military capacity. Thousands more can be mobilised. All these young men, older men as well, are being thrown into conflict. The number of causalities is staggering. Russia has large stockpiles of military equipment and the capacity to produce more. We expect new Russian offensives. They may be imminent. In the coming days and weeks.

The aim is to wear out the Ukrainian people and divide those who support them. Russia shows no sign of letting up. The Russian President seems intent on a protracted war and believes that he has time on his side.

The challenge goes to democracy. We cannot let Russia once again experience the lessons from Georgia in 2008 and Donbas and Crimea in 2014. We must learn from our mistakes.

So let me be clear: We must continue to support Ukraine. We have imposed historic sanctions on the Russian regime, that over time will weaken the Russian ability to sustain the war effort. We have received large numbers of Ukrainian refugees. I commend all the Norwegian municipalities, from the small to the biggest, that have received the largest number of refugees since the World War II. It has happened in a pretty harmonious way. You should take som inspiration from that.

And, last year Norway provided over NOK 10 billion in civilian and military support. When I talk to president Zelenskyi, he always stresses the following: their most pressing need is military support. In response, we announced last week that we – together with allies – will donate Leopard tanks. The latest addition to a steady flow of increasingly advanced weapons that we have provided. Training is under way, and we will coordinate that delivery with our allies. I think that it is critical important that we improve coordination. The worst thing in a war-zone is that you get bottlenecks which are not well managed. And I will commend allies for making great progress in that coordination. And we should really put an effort into that.

Ukraine’s needs are immense. Therefore, we will shortly, only in an hour, announce to parties in parliament, a significant, multi-year support package. We will finance humanitarian assistance to the millions of people forced to flee.

We will support rebuilding of infrastructure, help maintain continuity in the economy, and provide assistance to local authorities. This is the ballot and major effort of helping Ukraine repairing their systems. As they are being deliberately taken out, especially in energy. And our pledge will have a substantial military component. In the average of 50-50, at least this year.

Committing to a multi-year package enables us to give predictability to the Ukrainian government and its donors and partners. And not least send the message to the Ukrainian people, that we are ready to stand by them, for as long as it takes.

Friends,

We are all feeling the effects of this war. If the world produce 10 pieces of bread. Three of them would come from the Ukrainian and Russian region. Just signalling what a challenge this is to people far beyond Europe.  

Eenergy supply is under pressure; inflation is soaring. Food insecurity has increased globally. And if Russia succeeds in its destructive aims, this will have a dramatic impact on our security. The war therefore has some larger strategic implications. And we should start reflecting on them. Not only on a day to day basis, but try to see the underlines – where are we heading with this. There is analytical work ahead, dear friends. And I commend this conference for setting this agenda.

Let me turn to some of the challenges as I see them:

First, a new dividing line is descending on Europe. A new iron curtain between East and West. The implications for Europe are hard to overestimate. A Russia in self-imposed isolation is bad news for all of us. So is a Russia that plummets into chaos and instability. Not least for Russians themselves.

Russia’s warfare creates a deep uncertainty about its intentions and its future relations with its many neighbours. I reminds me of one lesson I was growing from my seven years as foreign minister, dealing a lot with Russia, discussing with other neighbouring countries. I came to the conclusion that Russia does not really have one neighbourhood policy. It has policy with neighbours. Depending on what neighbour it is. And when I meet my dear colleague from Estonia, who is a neighbour to Russia, she has a different story and experience, than I have as a Norwegian Prime Minister. The strength of Nato is that we are pooling these experiences. And backing each other with these different stories, that we can tell. Norway is for it’s part the only neighbour of Russia that has never been at war with Russia. The normal opening when we talk about relations, is that we have lived in peace for a thousand years. And we have to draw lessons from that.  

We do not choose our geography. We have to deal with Russia, now and in the future. We must ensure that we can have contact and practical cooperation on border matters, sea rescue and fisheries management.  And, we must maintain lines of communication to avoid misunderstandings and unintended incidents in the High North. But our relationship with Russia cannot return to normal until Russia takes responsibility for its actions.

Our aim is still to maintain stability and predictability in the High North. This is in the interest of both Norway and our allies. But no area is unaffected by the current security situation. Regular Russian military activity now takes place against an unusually serious backdrop. Uncertainty has increased. We must be prepared that the security situation close to us may deteriorate. 

Russia continues to use covert means, digital attacks and extensive intelligence activities; also against Norway. Be that against universities, hospitals, municipalities, and even parliament. We are following the situation closely. Norway is NATO’s eyes and ears in the north.

We have strengthened Norwegian preparedness. We are increasing military presence and coordinating our activities with allies. We do this, I believe, in a sensible way. We still maintain the vision of high north, low tension. This is the best way to ensure that we leave behind a firm, yet predictable footprint.

And let me be clear: Norway poses no threat to anyone. The Nordics poses no threat to anyone. And the same goes for NATO. We are there for securing our lives and security.

Second, the past year has reminded us of the value of partnerships and alliances. Finland’s and Sweden’s applications for NATO membership are the clearest expression of this.

They have sought the security of the Alliance, to avoid being left alone in the proximity of an unpredictable Russia. It strikes me as important that the president of Finland sends a signal in this direction before the invasion. And he did that after president Putin laid out his vision for what kind of Europe he wanted to see. That was really what started that last phase. That led to Finland’s application. Important I think.

Finland’s and Sweden’s decisions to join NATO are historic. It fundamentally changes Nordic cooperation. NATO will be stronger by accepting Finland and Sweden as members. They fulfil all the criteria of new member countries. And they bring important new contributions to Allied security. By way of example: Norway, Sweden and Finland combined will have more than 200 modern fighter jets. When operated seamlessly under Allied command, that is a force to be reckoned with. 

The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO will change the strategic outlook in our part of the world. Stability will be  improved. Links between the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic will be reinforced. The Baltic will come into our strategic focus, which traditionally has been oriented west and north towards the North Atlantic and the Barents Sea.

Let me underline that this has not happened from scratch. In the last 15-20 years we have deepened cooperation. On defence. On security. And in the late 80’s we could not even discuss security matters in the Nordic family. We have come far. So we start on a very good basis. And all the prime ministers have instructed all the ministers of defence, to go through the whole area and spectre of potential cooperation. And I take note of the reports that this work is progressing.

This is positive for Norwegian security. And we are not starting from scratch. And we will take it forward.

Norway has offered to assist Sweden and Finland on their path way to membership in any way we can. Regarding the current impasse in ratifications, let me say this: NATO is there to enhance the common security of all its members. That also extends to the many members of the Alliance who stand to benefit greatly from Finland and Sweden joining. We agreed in Madrid that we would welcome Sweden and Finland. We laid out the criteria. They fulfil, and more than to be expected. And we expect without further delay that remaining Allies will ratify the accession protocols.

Thirdly, I would like to address Russia’s manipulation of the European energy market. It has been a deliberate Russian strategy, set in motion well before the actual outbreak of war. Gas prices started to rise in the summer of 2021. Stockpiles in Europa was half full or half empty. And who owns those stockpiles? That moment it was Gazprom owning them.

The aim has been to hit European industry and households – in order to weaken solidarity with Ukraine. And divide democracies.

Norway’s response has been to facilitate increased production by the companies on the Norwegian continental shelf. This has added approximately 100 TWh of supply in 2022 to Europe, on top of approximately 1200 TWh already supplied. We have helped our European partners to fill their reserves ahead of the winter. Norway will continue to be a reliable partner, now as Europe’s largest supplier of gas. Let me also mention, because there is a debate in Europe about oil and gas production in the arctic. Half of that extra delivery of gas comes from Snøhvit, Melkøya in Hammerfest. Which is deliberately in the arctic. So if you want to limit import from the arctic, well that’s a bad choice. Don’t do it.

We support measures to stabilise energy markets. We are paying a price ourselves by high electricity prices, especially in the south. We are also playing an active role, alongside European partners, in the long-term solution to Europe’s energy shortfall – a massive scale-up in renewables such as ocean wind. Europe’s green transition is being turbo-charged, gradually but effectively disabling energy as a weapon. This will happen fast, and it’s as paradox that the war is actually pushing this development strongly. And we acknowledge that, as a country that now has large revenues from oil and gas, we have a special responsibility to contribute.

These developments bring Norway strategically even closer to our European partners. They affect our security and broaden our responsibility. We know that a deliberate attack or sabotage against the pipelines to Europe would have severe ramifications. Norway has about three big land installations. Nineteen installations on the shore, and 9000 km pipelines to Europe. The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines was a stark reminder.

Therefore, together with allies, we have increased presence and preparedness around offshore installations and other critical energy infrastructure in Norway. Together with Germany, we have initiated the establishment of a new NATO centre to improve the protection of critical subsea infrastructure.

My fourth and final observation is that we must also manage to look beyond Ukraine. As we are dealing with the war and its consequences on our own continent, we must not turn ourselves to turn inwards.

We must acknowledge the effects of this war beyond Europe’s borders, and understand how the war is perceived. Beyond Europe.

There is a genuine reluctance to pick sides. Western countries come with a mixed bag of history. Russia and other large countries are actively blaming the West for the war and its negative global ramifications. We need to counter that narrative. Not by lecturing, but by engaging with and sharing our perspective. And by taking concrete action to reduce soaring inflation, and decrease food and energy insecurity. All of which can translate into security risks – and lead to instability, conflict and migration pressures. Reaching all the way to Europe.

And that is why our proposed contribution to Ukraine, as I was referring to and will share with Parliament later today. This will be accompanied by an allocation to countries in the Global South severely affected by the indirect consequences of the war. This will mean increased Norwegian support for humanitarian efforts and the fight against hunger in countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Dear friends,

Let me close with two points that give grounds for cautious optimism.

First, support for Ukraine is not waning. Despite the costs of support and the ramifications of the war, public opinion in the West remains steadfast in advocating military and financial aid. Sovereignty and freedom are abstract concepts – until someone tries to take them away. The democracies of the world are no longer able to slumber complacently. We are wide awake taking decisive action. In support of Ukraine and in defence of our values.

Second, to those who say time is on Russia’s side: Putin’s Russia looks to an imagined past and is rewriting history to justify an unlawful war. We view things differently.

We look towards the future. Towards a Europe where democratic states can live in peaceful co-existence. And we can again draw a European security order based on rules that give safety and freedom for small and big alike.  

Debate on the future after World War II started far earlier than the end of that war, in 1941-1942. Before anyone had a precise outlook on how that would end. We need to take that discussion now.

Towards a world where we settle our differences through political means, not by brutal, 20th century style warfare. And even 19th century. And 18th century. I have no doubt that our vision is the most attractive. Time is on our side. We will prevail.