ASEAN Regional Forum to meet in Helsinki


Press release 51/2007
26 March 2007

Finland is organizing the semi-annual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which will take place at the Kalastajatorppa in Helsinki on 28–30 March. The meeting will focus on topical confidence building measures, security cooperation and preventive diplomacy between the member countries. The meeting is a continuation of Finland’s EU Presidency of the previous autumn. Over a hundred representatives of foreign and defence ministries from the 26 ARF member countries are expected to attend. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is responsible for the meeting arrangements, in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence.

The Ministry of Defence will host the first day of the meeting. With a view to formation of a joint picture of the situation, civil servants from the defence administrations of the ARF participants will discuss current events pertaining to security and defence policy in Asian countries, multinational peacekeeping and crisis management cooperation, and cooperation between civilian and military authorities. The chairman of the first day will be Brigadier General Arto Räty from the Ministry of Defence.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will host the remaining part of the meeting, when issues of international security policy, particularly in the Asian region, will be discussed – issues which, in the light of recent crises and conflicts, have become highly topical to Europe and to Finland. ARF cooperation is made particularly interesting by the fact that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is among the participating countries. In fact, efforts have been made to utilise the ARF as a means of binding the Democratic People's Republic of Korea more tightly to participating in interational cooperation and the country’s situation is likely to rise to the fore at the meeting in Helsinki. Esko Hamilo, Counsellor for Foreign Affairs from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will chair the second and third days of the meeting.

ARF cooperation was launched in Bangkok in 1994. During the past dozen years or so, the ARF has grown from security dialogue among 18 countries into Asia’s only comprehensive regional forum for cooperation in security policy. Today the forum has 26 members; in addition to Asian countries it includes, among others, the United States and Russia, which have an important role in Asian security issues. The European Union is also a member of the ARF, which at meeting is represented by the country holding the EU Presidency at the time in question. As a continuation of Finland’s EU Presidency of last autumn, Finland is now hosting the ARF meeting in Helsinki because the meeting could not held be during the autumn, for technical reasons.

Additional information: Project Assistant Irene Leino, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 6024, Senior Specialist Heidi Fransila, Ministry of Defence, tel. +358 9 1608 8124, (Opens New Window)