Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur welcomes new Finnish counterpart

Hanno Pevkur (right) with Antti Häkkänen in Tallinn, Thursday, July 6, 2023.
Hanno Pevkur (right) with Antti Häkkänen in Tallinn, Thursday, July 6, 2023. Source: Ministry of Defense

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) has welcomed Finland's new defense minister Antti Häkkänen, expressing satisfaction that the long-running and ongoing strong defensive relationship between the two countries will continue.

Pevkur said Thursday that: "As good neighbors, defensive cooperation between Estonia and Finland has been tight over the years, while Finland's accession to NATO in April opened up new opportunities for further development here."

"As close allies and NATO eastern flank nations, we have a common understanding of the threats that surround us, hence the importance of Estonia and Finland developing their own defensive capabilities as well as defensive cooperation," Pevkur went on, via a ministry press release.

The minister made his remarks in the context of his first meeting with new Finnish opposite number Antti Häkkänen in Tallinn on Thursday, following the accession to office of the new coalition government in Helsinki.

The pair discussed bilateral defensive cooperation, regional security, next week's Vilnius summit, assistance to Ukraine, and EU defense support.

Minister Pevkur added that "Right now, for example, we are together with Finland taking important steps towards a better exchange of information, both to strengthen maritime security and other areas which would help improve the security of both countries."

"It is a great pleasure to note that in terms of defense policy, we are thinking on the same wavelength as Finland is, so it is important to develop further defensive cooperation based on this premise," the minister went on.

Bilateral defense cooperation between Estonia and Finland dates back to the early days of Estonian independence in the 1990s and the exit of occupying Soviet Russian troops in 1994; Finland, itself no stranger to aggression from the eastern neighbor, was instrumental in helping with the creation of a modern conscript and reserve military service system and military education in Estonia, while in more recent years, Estonia's northern neighbor has been key in the fields of training and of joint procurement – including the recent acquisition of South Korean-made K-9 Thunder self-propelled artillery.

In the past year, it has been Estonia's turn to take the lead in helping to smooth the way for Finland's accession to NATO. Estonia joined the alliance in 2004.

Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen has been in office since June 20 and is a member to of the National Coalition Party. He is a previous chair of the Finnish National Defense Committee, and from 2017 to 2019 he was Finland's justice minister.

Häkkänen's visit to Estonia was, along with a trip to Sweden, his first in his new, official capacity.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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