Nordic security and defence cooperation has stood the test of time, different security policy outlooks and memberships in different organisations. Our five Nordic countries have a long tradition of close cooperation based on shared fundamental values and interests. We are ready to face new challenges together, building on our common experiences as Nordic Allies and Partners. Many of these challenges will be discussed at the NATO Chicago Summit next week.

Two decades of NATO’s cooperation with partner countries have been a success story. We have witnessed the transformation of NATO from cold war defence for its members to a security organisation which engage, involve and include non-members across the globe to an extent no one could imagine 20 years ago. We are pleased to see how NATO’s operational partners are becoming more and more part and parcel of political and operational decision making procedures. We have witnessed how NATO’s Partnership for Peace programmes has enhanced military interoperability between allies and partners in our common efforts in NATO-led crisis management operations. Our ambition is to continue to develop this cooperation in all fields, to the benefit of both allies and partners.

At times of financial austerity our Nordic defence cooperation sets an example on how to use scarce resources smarter and connecting our forces better.

Conceived at a time where savings were not such a dominant factor, Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) is a tested and proven concept. It has demonstrated how we all can contribute to cost-effective solutions that provide more capabilities and operational effect.

Examples of Nordic cooperation cover a broad spectrum ranging from exercises, education and procurement to capacity building and participation in international operations. Examples include our engagement in Afghanistan, capacity building in support for the Eastern African Standby Forces, Security Sector reform in the Balkans, Ukraine and Georgia, cross border training, exercises, veteran issues, human resources and joint procurement and cooperation on making Nordic defence forces greener and more energy efficient. It is in this spirit of Nordic Cooperation that we have made the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations available to NATO. The Centre, located in Stockholm, will ensure that gender perspectives are integrated into the planning, execution and evaluation of military operations.

Based on fundamental principles of inclusiveness, openness and transparency, the cooperation is yielding concrete results in terms of flexible and innovative solutions. It underpins our ability to field modern, flexible and relevant military capabilities in a national as well as in an international context. Concrete projects can be undertaken by all or two or more of the countries.

We must ensure that today’s financial crisis does not become tomorrow’s security challenge. NATO’s Smart Defence efforts as well as EU’s “pooling and sharing” point in the right direction. Improved multinational cooperation will not only enhance better use of national resources but will also be an important bulwark towards the spectre of renationalisation of security and defence policy. We are all committed to the ambition of continuing to develop the full potential of our cooperation, to the benefit of NORDEFCO countries, allies and partners. This entails looking seriously into the issue of pooling and sharing. The principles and flexible format of NORDEFCO will ensure that future “smart” ideas and initiatives can succeed. We are well under way in a study for closer cooperation on tactical air transport.

In NORDEFCO we have demonstrated how smart defence is carried out in practice. We believe this is an experience worth sharing in our world of new challenges.