EU Defence and Foreign Ministers hold back-to-back Helsinki meetings

The meetings are held at Finlandia Hall as part of Finland's rotating six month Presidency of the European Council.

Detail from EU Defence Ministers group photo showing Antti Kaikkonen (L), Federica Mogherini (C) and Jyrki Katainen (R), Helsinki August 2019 / Credit: TPK

It’s the sort of logistics ballet the Finnish civil service prides itself on being able to handle with aplomb.

From Wednesday evening to Friday afternoon EU Defence Ministers and Foreign Ministers are meeting for back-to-back, and sometimes overlapping, talks at Finlandia Hall.

The Defence Ministers were up first, with their event hosted by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Finland’s Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Centre).

On the agenda for talks were new technologies, artificial intelligence AI, the effect of climate change on defence and security, maritime safety, and hybrid threats – a joint session with the visiting Foreign Ministers.

“The world is changing at an ever-increasing pace. We need a shared vision for the future of EU defence” said Kaikkonen in a video message.

“This is why we have prepared jointly with European External Action Service a future- oriented agenda” for the Helsinki meetings, he added.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) talks to reporters outside Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, 29th August 2019 / Credit: TPK

Foreign Ministers tackle Brazil, Middle East and Arctic 

Meanwhile the Foreign Ministers tackle the bulk of their agenda on Friday at the annual ‘Gymnich’ meeting.

They’re looking at Middle East issues and the Arctic but the issue of wildfires in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil was added to the agenda for discussions just last week.

“We are living in a more and more uncertain world. A truly united European Union is more important now than ever. We are sharing our common European values” says Haavisto.

The ministers will also have lunch with human rights defenders to show solidarity with their causes.

“For Finland the issue of human rights, rule of law, democratic values, rights of women are very very important” Haavisto adds.