Generals, admirals, fellow officers, ladies and gentlemen!
It is my utmost pleasure to welcome International reserve forces community here in Finland and open the CIOR summer congress in the freshest NATO member country.
Finland is famous for their strong will of defence - they demonstrated it effectively 80 years ago during Soviet Unions´s aggression against their small neighbour. What is more noteworthy – Finland has the largest number of reservist per capita. 80 per cent of Finnish young men go through reserve training every year and form Europe´s strongest reserve force.
As a president of reserve officers organisation I look at you with admiration and ensure that Finland with it´s reserve system is an example for many of us. Your full membership in NATO and in CIOR make us stronger and Europe safer.
The place where we stand here today is 180 kilometers from Russian border – the country which is responsible for brutal and illegal aggression against Ukraine, is committing war crimes and - according to some estimates - genocide every day. Russia´s neighbors know – aggression towards has come for last thousand years only from one direction – East. We can stand against evil only then if the whole nation participates in defence.
Foundation on any national defence is citizens´will to defend their country. To increase the size and capabilities of the reserves, there must be a better understanding and cooperation between military and civilian societies. People must be educated and involved more in defence issues. If citizens don’t understand their role in national defence, they don’t understand why resources should be allocated to the military and take the freedom and good life for granted.
Russia´s aggression against Ukraine has demonsrated that Russia is willing and able to use all resources including poorely trained reserves. On the other hand using reserves in most effective manner is one of the key factors of Ukrainian success in this war and has demonstrated that wars cannot be fought without trained reserve. However, over the last decades force planners in Europa have focused on well equipped expeditionary forces, not reserves. If we want to be successful in deterrance and stand against contemporary threats, considerably larger numbers of reserves is needed.
This year CIOR celebrates it´s 75th anniversary. Let me remind you that CIOR is one year older than NATO. This proves that reserve officers are always on frontline and willing to make make our societies more resilient. Reserve officers co-operation 75 years ago paved the way to defence co-operation between militaries. As our junior brother CISOR is celebrating it´s 60th aniversary, I take the opportunity to congratulate them and wish good luck to NCOs who are backbone of every military community.
Dear friends, during this week we will continue with discussions how to make reserve forces status and our organisation stronger. On behalf of three organizations, CIOR, CIOMR, and CISOR I wish you all productive discsussions, challenging seminars and symposiums and good luck to our sportsmen at MILCOMP.