HELSINKI, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- The defence ministers of Finland, Norway and Sweden signed a joint Statement of Intent (SOI) when convening in Lakselv, Norway on Wednesday, announcing wider military cooperation, according to the Finnish Ministry of Defence.
Signed by the ministers Antti Kaikkonen of Finland, Frank Bakke-Jensen of Norway and Peter Hultqvist of Sweden, the SOI defined the level of the joint aims of the three countries. It outlined the common ambition of the three countries as "to be able and ready to conduct operations in crisis and conflict if so decided."
"In order to improve our interoperability and readiness to give military support between us, we will undertake the necessary preparations, aiming at enhancing our defence capability and serve as a deterrent from aggression," the SOI noted.
The SOI noted that it is not "a legally binding commitment under national or international law" and does not "substitute for or invalidate any existing defence agreements, arrangements or memoranda of understanding among the participants."
Finnish Defence Minister Kaikkonen noted in the press release that the defence cooperation between the three countries supports the aims of the wider Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) to work together in the conditions "of conflict, a crisis or peace."
NORDEFCO is a collaboration among the Nordic countries in the area of defense. Its five members are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
Kaikkonen said that the cooperation between the three complements the current cooperation between Finland and Sweden, and the bilateral cooperation between Finland and Norway.
Kaikkonen told the Finnish News Agency STT that the trilateral agreement does not change the relationship of Finland or Sweden to NATO. Finland and Sweden are enhanced cooperation partners of NATO, while Norway is a member. Enditem