Helsinki has not been neutral for some time, says EU Commissioner for International Partnership Juta Urpilinen
Helsinki was finally about to join NATO, as it has been closely associated with the West for years, EU Commissioner for International Partnership Jutta Urpilinen – a resident of Finland – told Germany’s RND media group on Monday.
The Nordic nation has maintained a neutral status since the end of World War II. However, it formally submitted a bid on May 18 to join the US-led military bloc.
Urpilainen, who was head of Finland’s finance ministry between 2011 and 2014, believes his country’s neutrality has gradually eroded in the meantime.
“Finland was not really neutral. Over the years, we have become more and more integrated with the West. “ He said. After Finland joined the EU in 1995, it joined NATO “A normal next step,” EU officials believe.
Urpilainen said it had also decided to join the military alliance “Well thought out and well prepared.” Since the issue was discussed at all levels up to individual municipalities.
However he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
“Before Russia invaded [Ukraine], Most people thought they could be good neighbors with Russia. Only 20% of Finns were in favor of joining NATO. Now more than 70% are in favor, “ The EU commissioner noted that the country’s environment had changed almost overnight.
Now, the general feeling is that joining the military bloc will strengthen Finland’s position, Urpilainen said, adding that it was important for Helsinki that its neighbors in Sweden also decided to join NATO.
Finland, which shares a 1,340 km (832-mile) land border with Russia and fought against the Soviet Union in 1939, has maintained its military neutrality since the end of World War II. Sweden has been militarily neutral since 1814, a generation after its last costly war with Russia. Residents of both countries have historically opposed joining NATO, but public opinion has changed sharply since Russia launched its military campaign against Ukraine in February.
Moscow has criticized the two countries’ decision, pointing to the growing threat on its western border as a result of previous NATO expansion. Last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia would build 12 new military units in its western region to counter the growing threat.
The two Nordic countries submitted their bids in early May, but faced opposition from Turkey, a major NATO country that claims that both Sweden and Finland are considered terrorists, such as members of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).