Nordic defence ministers highlight readiness for joint operations

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - April 30, 2024
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Norwegian Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram wants stronger Nordic cooperation. Here from a visit to the Jaeger Battalion GSV in 2022. Photo: Atle Staalesen

Although all members of NATO, the five Nordic countries will continue to strengthen their joint NORDEFCO military cooperation.

It was a historical meeting, Norwegian Minister of Defence Bjørn Arild Gram underlined following this week’s NORDEFCO summit.

“In the Nordics we share a common history and geography, as well as basic values and security interests. Now, all of us are also members of the same alliance,” the minister said in a statement.

Photo: Torbjørn Kjosvold, Forsvaret

But the joint membership in NATO notwithstanding, the five countries do not intend to weaken their Nordic Defence Cooperation.

“The world faces serious security challenges and the international system is regularly put to the test. Therefore, we strengthen the Nordic defences cooperation in order to contribute to allied security in the years to come,” Gram underlined.

During the meeting, the defence ministers signed a document titled “Vision for Nordic Defence Cooperation.” It outlines ambitious plans for a strengthening of military interaction.

“The Nordic countries are prepared and able to conduct combined joint military operations to manage both present and future challenges together and with allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation,” the document reads.

“Nordic Defence Cooperation complements and contributes to European and transatlantic security and collective defence,” it adds.

Eight priority areas are outlined, among them smooth military mobility across the countries’ borders.

On the agenda is also the strengthening of a joint Nordic ability to conduct, and command, combined joint operations, as well as undertake common operations planning.

The five countries will also strengthen a joint defence industrial base, and also build joint resilience for crisis situations.

Among the priority areas is “total defence to secure adequate support from all sectors of society to the defence sector in all threat scenarios and situations.”

The Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It was established with the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2009.

As Denmark in early 2024 took over the rotating two-year presidency of the structure, the authorities in Copenhagen underlined that the Arctic and North Atlantic would be their upcoming priorities.

Increased focus on the Arctic and North Atlantic will be amongst Copenhagen’s priorities when it takes over chairmanship of the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) from Sweden on January 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.


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