The March/April 2022 Helsinki Visit of the Foreign Policy Academy

von Richard Forsén

In a KAS/Frivärld cooperation, a group of young Swedish-speaking experts and politicians visited the Finnish capital in the middle of the ongoing Finnish/Swedish NATO debate.

Between the 30th of March and the 2nd of April, KAS together with the Foreign Policy Academy (Utrikesakademin) of the Swedish foreign policy-oriented think tank The Stockholm Free World Forum (Frivärld) visited Helsinki, Finland.


Traveling to Finland from Stockholm by boat, the trip began with three lectures in the conference facilities of the ferry, beginning with a presentation of Finland’s foreign and defense policy by Maimo Henriksson, Finland’s ambassador to Stockholm. After Ambassador Henriksson, Patrik Oksanen, journalist and senior fellow at Frivärld, presented the modern history of Finland, from wars to the Cold War, between 1917 and 1995. Following Mr. Oksanen’s presentation, Olof Ehrenkrona, Sweden’s former Consul General to Mariehamn, Åland, spoke to the group about the history and complex diplomatic status of the Åland islands.

Arriving in Helsinki on Thursday morning, the 31st of March, the group was welcomed to the Swedish embassy to Helsinki by ambassador Nicola Clase, with Christer Ahlgren, Head of Intelligence at the Finnish National Police giving a presentation about the current state of organized crime in Finland. Following the lunch and lecture at the Embassy, the day’s second visit was at the Finnish Ministry of Defense, where defense minister Antti Kaikkonen (the Center Party) held a speech about the current state of relations between Finland and NATO. After finishing the visit at the Defensse Ministry, the group visited the nearby European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), where the group was presented some examples of the current state of information warfare operations in Europe. After checking in to the hotel, the first day in Helsinki ended with a dinner and dinner lecture at Svenska Klubben by Professor of History at the University of Helsinki Henrik Meinander, who spoke about the modern geopolitical history of Finland. Following Professor Meinander’s lecture, Susanna Ginman, head political editor of the Swedish-language daily newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet, spoke about the current political situation in Finland.

On Friday, April 1st, the group was welcomed to the party offices of the Swedish People’s Party (SFP), where Anders Adlercreutz, MP and head of the SPF party group in Finland’s parliament, the Eduskunta/Riksdagen, who spoke about the at the time ongoing Finnish NATO debate. Following Mr. Adlercreutz, the MP for Åland, Mats Löfström, spoke about the role of Åland’s single MP as part of the SFP party group, and the defense status of the Åland islands. Leaving the SFP party office, the group was treated to lunch by the Finnish Institute for International Affairs (FIIA), where they were welcomed by institute vice director Samu Paukkonen, Senior Researcher Matti Pesu, and Head Researcher Charly Salonius-Pasternak. Following lunch, the group discussed at length the NATO debate in Sweden and Finland with the present FIIA researchers. After the FIIA visit, the group met the Vice-President of Kokoomus Elina Valtonen at the Annex building of Parliament, where Valtonen spoke about her current work in the realm of EU politics and the Future of the EU. After this, the group met the foreign minister of Finland, Pekka Haavisto, at the Foreign Ministry offices at Katajannokka.

Rounding off the second day, the group together with invited guests enjoyed a common meal at Ravintola Emo, after which the majority of the group could enjoy some free time in Helsinki on Saturday, April 2nd, before returning to Stockholm with the 17:40 flight from Helsinki.