Nordic Countries to Further Strengthen Defence and Security Cooperation

The Nordic Prime Minister met on Monday in Oslo: (from left) Sweden's Magdalena Andersson, Finland's Sanna Marin, Norway's Jonas Gahr Støre, Denmark's Mette Frederiksen, and Iceland's Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Photo: Roger Holmsen/Office of the Prime Minister, Norway)

The Nordic Prime Ministers want an even closer cooperation regarding defence and security. Relevant areas for stronger cooperation are air defence, logistics and supply, as well as joint training and exercises.

On Monday, all the Nordic Prime Ministers met in Oslo, Norway.

At the top of the agenda was the development of the Nordic cooperation on defence and security in connection with Finland and Sweden's imminent membership of NATO.

"The Finnish and Swedish NATO applications enable us to view Nordic defence in a larger, more binding context. We will cooperate and assist each other as allies in the event of a crisis or war. A united Nordic region in NATO will provide us with a stronger voice in the Alliance, and will give our shared values greater visibility and impact," said Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor) in a press release. 

During the meeting, the Prime Ministers agreed on a joint statement on defence and security.

Aims towards extended integration

The statement asserts that Nordic defence and security cooperation is to be further developed by building on existing structures, such as the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO), but also by realizing the potential in becoming allies in NATO.

An overarching aim is that the Nordic region shall be the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030.

In the statement, ambitions are expressed to strengthen the cooperation on air defence, logistics and supply, as well as joint exercises and training in close coordination with NATO and Allies. The pursuit of positive synergies in harmonising national and NATO defence plans is also mentioned.

Joint efforts to build more resilient Nordic societies are also on the agenda, through shared situational awareness, cooperation in total defence, security of supply, and resilience against hybrid threaths.

Exploration of possibilities

In addition, the Nordic Prime Ministers announced a major review of the potential for further deepening defense and security cooperation.

"Today, we agreed on giving our Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ministers of Defence, and Chiefs of Defence, mandate to review the entire spectrum of cooperation among the Nordic countries to see if we can go even deeper and maximize our common interests, so that we Prime Ministers can take it into consideration," said Gahr Støre in a press conference after the meeting.

New initiatives for development of the Nordic cooperation has also already been taken.

Following an Nordic Chiefs of Defence meeting last week, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, have established a framework for entering binding cooperations across the countries regarding defence materials and security of supply.

The Ministers of Defence also agreed that the cooperation within NORDEFCO shall be reviewed and updated in time for a united North in NATO. A Norwegian-Swedish-Danish agreement on operational cooperation from last fall shall also be updated. This is reported by Forsvarets forum.

Cold Response can become a Nordic exercise

Furthermore, Norway has recently taken the initiative to develop the Norwegian-led winter exercise Cold Response to become an exercise with the whole Nordic region as an arena.

This was also discussed by the Chiefs of Defence in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, when they met last week, according to the Norwegian Armed Forces.

"I see some people using the term 'Nordic Response' already. The idea is to have a larger joint exercise, where we train for the defence of both the Baltic Sea and the High North at the same time. Finland and Sweden are also interested in joining Cold Response and Norway's tradition of organizing large-scale exercises," says general Eirik Kristoffersen, the Norwegian Chief of Defence.

The Cold Response exercise is carried out every two years, and was most recently carried out this winter with NATO allies, as well as Finland and Sweden.

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated into English by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.