Helsinki Security Forum conference spotlights Ukraine war impact and security situation in Europe

The Helsinki Security Forum conference organised by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs gathers prominent international security policy leaders and foreign policy experts in Helsinki on 29 September–1 October.
Helsinki City Hall and the nearby area.
Helsinki City Hall and the nearby area. Photo: Pyry-Pekka Kantonen

The Helsinki Security Forum, now held for the second time, is an invitation-only event that focuses on foreign and security policy. It consists of a closed programme for the participants, in addition to speeches and panel discussions that are livestreamed to a wider audience. This year’s conference will focus on the global impact of the changed security environment, as well as sustainability and defence capabilities, especially from the perspective of Northern Europe.

The core theme of the 2023 Helsinki Security Forum is “Deter, Defend and Secure – Europe in the Era of Radical Uncertainty”. Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine has changed Europe in an irreversible way, and the situation has consequences for global security. Europe is now experiencing a new era of radical uncertainty, one in which we need to address the question of how the region should be defended and secured. Promoting future security architectures, military capabilities and cooperation to address geopolitical changes is of paramount importance at present. 

The Helsinki Security Forum supplements other high-profile international security conferences by bringing international security issues that are especially important for Finland and our neighbouring regions into the discussion. This year’s conference speakers include NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Christopher G. Cavoli, Director of NATO’s Nuclear Policy Directorate Jessica Cox, EU Sanctions Envoy David O'Sullivan, Senior Fellow of Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, Finnish Defence Minister Antti Häkkänen, Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö is the conference’s patron.

The City of Helsinki is joined by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Finland’s Ministry of Defence and the Finnish defence contractor Patria as partners and supporters of the event. The Mayor of Helsinki, Juhana Vartiainen, will participate in the program along with other representatives of the city.

“As the capital city of a new NATO country, Helsinki wants to be an integral part of security cooperation in league with its residents, authorities and other partners. It is evident that safe and secure cities are not built alone within city organizations, for the changing operating environment demands even closer collaboration among all parties. Helsinki Security Forum offers an excellent environment for contemplating topical security themes. I like to think that the very name of the Helsinki Security Forum communicates the importance of the role of cities as a fundamental component of the international security environment,” said Mayor Vartiainen.