We are living in unpredictable times with new challenges and threats contributing to a sense of uncertainty in our societies. We are witnessing an increasingly challenging security situation both globally and in our neighborhood. In addition to the current Covid-19 pandemic and hybrid influencing, we should remember that other security threats persist.
Together, we have a responsibility to maintain peace and stability in our region. In order to meet our common responsibility for the security in our region, we must continue to strengthen our capabilities to act together.
In 2018, a new vision for the Nordic defence cooperation (NORDEFCO) was signed. The guiding aim of the vision is that the Nordic countries will improve their defence capability and cooperation in peace, crisis and conflict. We, the defence ministers of Finland, Norway and Sweden, on the 23 September signed a trilateral Statement of Intent which aims to enhance our operational cooperation. This will also support the aim of the NORDEFCO vision.
The new Statement of Intent outlines our common ambition to be able and ready to conduct coordinated operations in crisis and conflict. In order to fulfil this ambition, we will have discussions based on common security concerns in the region. The aim is to be able to coordinate present and future national operations plans. To realize this aim we will establish a strategic planning group among the countries. Exercises and table top exercises will support this work. We will also explore possibilities for common operations planning in certain areas.
One possible outcome from this enhanced cooperation is coordinated operations planning in areas of common concern, for example the northern parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden. We foresee an improved interoperability between our armed forces that enable common military action, if separately so decided. In the spirit of Nordic cooperation, Denmark and Iceland will be informed on a regular basis as the cooperation proceeds.
We are also developing solutions for efficient security of supply in times of peace, crisis or war. Finland, Sweden and Norway have concluded an annex concerning security of supply to the Nordic Agreement concerning Cooperation in the Defence Materiel Area. The annex is a legally binding treaty and entered into force on 11 June.
In light of the security situation, cooperation and unity among likeminded nations is paramount. The Nordic region is one of the world’s most integrated. The Nordic countries share a long history, similar economic and social models. We have well-functioning military cooperation among the Nordic countries. The geographic and military-strategic realities underscore the need for this cooperation to continue. Ultimately, the purpose of this cooperation is to jointly be able to meet security challenges also beyond peace-time. We have shared interests to defend.
We have over the years always found pragmatic and flexible ways to cooperate, allowing our defence cooperation to emerge and evolve despite our different security affiliations. We have cooperated successfully in exercises such as Arctic Challenge Exercise, Cold Response, Cross Border Training, Northern Wind and Trident Juncture. We will now build upon experiences gained from these exercises when enhancing our operational cooperation.
We believe in the strength of the Nordic defence cooperation. We must continue to stand together, confront the challenges and unite by the responsibility of maintaining peace and stability in our region. Our trilateral enhanced operational cooperation will be yet another important tool in fulfilling our common ambitions.