Speech from Carl-Oskar Bohlin

Speech by Minister for Civil Defence at the Hanaholmen Initiative

Published

During the Hanaholmen Initiative in Helsinki on November 1, Minister for Civil Defence Carl-Oskar Bohlin gave a speech on Swedish-Finnish cooperation for civil defence. The speech was held at Hanaholmen Konferenshotell.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me first say thank you for inviting me to this Initiative Summit. Actually, this is my first visit abroad as minister of civil defence.

We can now see a deteriorated security situation in our neighbourhood and in Europe in the light of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Sweden will therefore intensify the build-up of Sweden’s total defence. This situation also underlines the necessity of a strengthened crisis preparedness. According to that, the government of which I belong, for the very first time appointed a minister of civil defence, and I am determined to continue and speed up the development of civil defence and crisis preparedness in the coming years.

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The civil defence consists of many different actors, agencies, companies, organizations but also citizens. It also consists of a variety of societal functions, almost everything from water supply to healthcare and not to mention the area of highly current interest, energy supply.

Civil defence and military defence need to be developed in a co-ordinated fashion, and there should be coherent planning for Swedish total defence. Crisis preparedness and civil defence should therefore be seen as mutually reinforcing.

A coordinated, effective direction for the Swedish total defence also facilitates co-operation with other states and organizations.

Sweden and Finland have had a close dialogue in many years and on many different levels. In the Nordic framework The Haga Initiative states goals and ambitions for deepening the Swedish-Finnish bilateral cooperation within civil defence and crisis preparedness.

The goal is to strengthen the resilience in our countries – individually and together – and to enhance our common interests within the areas of preparedness, civil defence, and rescue services.

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Since we have so many common challenges the strategic solutions must develop in cooperation with others. In international cooperation and dialogue when it comes to prevention, Sweden and Finland together can influence both within EU as well as other international entities. The deepened cooperation on civil protection, civil preparedness and rescue services between our countries is essential in these times of a new security environment.

The letter of intent about strengthened cooperation and exchange of information in the field of civil preparedness and rescue services that our countries signed last year gave an important signal to actors within our crisis management systems that it is time to step up our common efforts to increase cooperation.

I have been informed that, both on ministerial and agency level, there is a focus on areas where we have bilateral interests.

I am looking forward to meeting your Minister of internal affairs Krista Mikkonen in the near future to continue to follow up the work.

Many factors that facilitate our daily lives also makes us vulnerable.

The digital area gives us many opportunities, but also risks. An increased focus on information’s- and cyber security is of the essence.

The close relationship between our countries has a very long history, and our cooperation within many different areas is unique.

I also want to stress that Defence cooperation between Sweden and Finland has been ongoing for several years and the Hanaholmen initiative is an opportunity to further strengthen the cooperation also within the civil defence.

One of the cooperation areas that we have discussed is supply preparedness. Our Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and your National Emergency Supply Agency (NESA) have regularly exchange when it comes to security of supply. I appreciate the steps taken to strengthen this important area.

Another area that I want to highlight is the CBRNE, where I have understood we collaborate where possible in the development of rescEU resources.

Regarding Host Nation Support (HNS) the work is on-going in the Nordic Haga context and I believe we could develop this even further in the bilateral context. Finland also gave us valuable support during the wildfires in 2018.

The internal and external threats that our societies face today are complex.

Sadly, the security situation in our part of the world has severely worsened since February the 24th. In this new security environment, we also have a new, common initiative were our two countries endeavour together – the NATO application that Sweden and Finland made together will also increase our common ability, and already have.

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On the 1st of October Swedish agencies entered a new structure for civil defence and crisis preparedness. It includes among many things the introduction of six geographic state-government areas for civil defence and ten different sectors for important societal functions. Each sector is led by one appointed agency. The aim is to strengthen our resistance to handle peace-time crises as well as high alert.

The investments and efforts that Sweden now are making in civil defence aim to strengthen resilience in such functions as:

healthcare and welfare, transport, and energy supply, among others.

Another part of the work to ensure the most important societal functions is strengthening information security and cybersecurity and reducing vulnerabilities. An important component of this is the establishment of a cybersecurity centre, and a new agency for our psychological defence.

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I would like to stress that in crises as well as wartimes, citizens engagement in,  and trust in society is crucial. 

As well as agencies, the state and government have our responsibilities, the individual also have a responsibility to be prepared.

We could all observe that during the covid-nineteen, where both citizens and enterprises did great contributions to the society.

We need to take advantage of that engagement; we want people to feel that they are part of the resilience in the society. We want to increase the resilience and the defence will. For example, how long can your household last during a long shortage of electricity? How prepared are you and your family? Our both society’s preparedness for crises is a god preparation for even worse times.

The individual is also an important part of the preparedness. That is why all 16-year-olds in Sweden now receive information from the agency MSB about their roll in the total defence, and that they, from the year they turn 16, can be claimed to serve.

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We have, as many of you know, a Defence Bill stated by the Swedish Parliament, covering mainly the period 2021-2025.

The Bill constitutes the strengthening of Swedish defence, both military and civilian defence and me and my government is determined to work for an even increased phase of work.

Spending on civil defence is proposed to increase gradually to approximately 420 million Euro by 2025.

Finally,

I am looking forward to following your work and your discussions, I hope you have rewarding stay here, and best wishes in your upcoming work!

Together we will enhance our common resilience!