We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo
Simon Coveney

Minister for Foreign Affairs to visit new NATO candidates Finland and Sweden today

Coveney will meet the the Foreign Affairs minister of Sweden and Finland while also meeting the Defence minister in Helsinki.

THE MINISTER FOR Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney is visiting Finland and Sweden for talks with Government ministers in both countries.

During his visit Coveney will meet with Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto, with Finland’s Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen and with Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde.

Coveney said he will use this opportunity to discuss Russia’s war against Ukraine, the security situation in Europe, Ireland’s presidency of the UN Security Council, as well as Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Journal has recently reported on Finland and Sweden‘s move away from neutrality and towards NATO membership. Turkey has been a stumbling block in the way of their membership.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the visit is also an opportunity to build on the strong framework provided by the Nordic Strategy through which Ireland aims to deepen its bilateral and multilateral engagement with the Nordic region including Finland and Sweden.

“I am delighted to get an opportunity to visit with my counterparts in Helsinki and Stockholm. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is having a widespread effect globally and is a key issue for EU Member States.

“It is important that we continue to foster and develop our bilateral relations in order to meet the ongoing challenges we face together,” Coveney said. 

Coveney said that the “absolute necessity” for strong bilateral ties has never been more important.

The minister will also visit the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Helsinki and host a working dinner with representatives from a number of Swedish think tanks and academic institutions.

He will also attend a meeting with the Chairpersons of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees in the Riksdag Parliament is planned while in Stockholm. 

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland Coveney spoke of the shift in focus by both Finland and Sweden in their non-aligned status – he said a similar debate will happen in Ireland. 

“I’m sitting in Helsinki this morning. This is a country that up until a few months ago, consistently for decades, had no more than about 20 to 25% support for NATO membership, and now has probably about 70%, if not more support for for NATO membership were in Parliament to 200 only as people voted against joining NATO.

“So we’ve seen a huge shift in public support and political support because of what’s happened in Ukraine and because of Russian aggression, and fear of, of loss, what that means for the future.

“Of course, the debate in Ireland is very different because I don’t think the broader public in Ireland feel a direct threat from Russia to Irish sovereignty and security in the same way that that is the case here in Finland.

“But undoubtedly, there is debate happening across the European Union, whether it’s in Finland and Sweden, where I’m where I am today, or indeed in many other countries, where there is a lot of discussion now around how the EU secures its future. And, and protects its people and Ireland needs to be part of that debate,” he said. 

Coveney added that he was set to bring “a very significant memo to government” recommending a significant increase in expenditure on defense.

He said that there was “a very clear evidence base” for great investment in Irish national security following the Commission on the Defence Forces.

“And we need to move ahead as well with an open mind I think on broader debates around what neutrality means today, versus what it might have meant 10 years ago, or five years ago or even six months. ago, because that debate is changing.

“It’s moving on in the European Union and we need to be part of the thing…” he added. 

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel