Nordic cos reach agreement on tightening cooperation, including with Baltics

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Photo: Meelis Meilbaum

The Nordic countries have agreed to tighten cooperation, including with the Baltic countries, the Norwegian daily Aftenposten reports.

Defense ministers of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark as well as the foreign minister of Iceland signed an agreement which would be published in the biggest Nordic newspapers in coming days.

The agreement includes military exercises, preparing for cyber attacks and exchanging intelligence information, the ministers said in the article published by Aftenposten.

Defense analyst Janne Haaland Matlary told the paper that for non-NATO states Finland and Sweden the cooperation seems to be preparation for joining the alliance. According to her Finland and Sweden cannot get closer to NATO without becoming members.

"Finland and Sweden have decided to carry out joint exercises according to NATO standards which is a step toward the alliance. But at present there is no political cause for them to become members. The general atmosphere isn't frightening enough and membership would require a referendum," the political scientist said.

According to the ministers Russia has shown that it is ready to use military power to reach political goals, although it would bring along a breach of international law. The security of the neighboring regions of the Nordic countries has deteriorated in the past year due to Ukraine events, the ministers said.

The five ministers consider Russia's behavior worrisome in many ways. They added that Russia has acted provocatively also near the borders of the Nordic countries and several border breaches have taken place in the Baltic countries.

"Russia is trying to cause disputes between different countries and organizations like NATO and the European Union," the ministers said.