On the first weekend in September, 2015 a conference took place in Helsinki, Finland organised by the No-to-War, No-to-Nato campaign on the theme of NATO and Russian military activity in the Baltic Region. Here is the conference’s final declaration.
In Sweden before the Parliamentary elections in 2014, the Swedish Government signed the Host Nation Agreement with NATO. The implication of this signature was that NATO, in times of crisis and war, will be able to deploy military equipment and staff for training on Swedish soil. Since nuclear weapons are not directly mentioned in this Agreement, they might very well be included in the process, forcing Sweden to support the NATO nuclear policy.
In Finland, the ‘Memorandum of Understanding of Host Nation Support’ – the prelude to the Agreement – is little known by the public and, probably, also to most politicians. It is said that it is only a part of “a planning and review process” that concerns Finland. It consists of 57 points leading to an extremely profound commitment to NATO.
While even during the height of the Cold War, Finland and Sweden remained neutral, they are now, without much public discussion and debate, being forced further away from neutrality into a much closer relationship with the NATO Alliance and perilously close to full NATO membership. This process heightens tension in the Baltic Region as it encompasses an increase in war exercises and, consequently, the arms race.
Getting closer to NATO means a much increased defence budget. If Sweden and Finland finally join NATO this will result in a doubling of military expenditure – reflected in the already existing demands to increase the military budget to 2% of GDP.
The developments above are taking place while there is an alarming increase of mass migration of people fleeing countries at war. We are convinced and believe that wars must be immediately stopped in Syria and everywhere else. In Syria today 50% of the population are refugees in and outside the country. Resources must be used for humanitarian aid, adequate social welfare and eradicating the reasons forcing citizens to become war refugees. We must achieve security by working in unison with the various adversaries as there is no military solution in such a conflict. We have to create a climate of security for all with the tools of a just foreign policy and diplomacy, civil conflict prevention and resolution, dialogue and negotiations, international co-operation and foreign aid.
We need a new Helsinki Agreement. Helsinki I that took place forty years ago led to the OSCE – the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. A new such Agreement will have to incorporate people to people diplomacy, civil society and the peace movement as active participants.
We call on the Swedish and Finnish leaders to reject the idea of a Host Nation Support Agreement with NATO.
In 2016, we will plan a Conference on NATO/EU in Sweden and will be active at the NATO Summit in Poland.
Helsinki – September 6th 2015
The Conference on NATO and Russia in the Baltic Sea Area.