President Sauli Ninistটো and Finnish Prime Minister Sanaa Marin issued a joint statement on Thursday morning, confirming their nation’s desire to be part of NATO. The country refrained from requesting to join during the Cold War, but took a U-turn after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Dr. expressed such an opinion in the statement “As a member of NATO, Finland will strengthen the entire defense alliance.” The two officials said their country “Apply for NATO membership without delay.”
NATO claims to be a fully fledged defense agency, but Russia, which shares a 1,340-kilometer (833-mile) land border with Finland, views the bloc’s expansion as a threat to national security. Moscow warned that Helsinki would lose its status as a trusted mediator given its non-alignment position throughout most of the last century. It also said that Finland’s security would be compromised instead of joining NATO, as Russia would have to respond to the expansion.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which Moscow said was partly driven by NATO’s growing expansion in the country, has changed Finland’s public opinion in favor of joining the bloc. According to a recent poll, about three-quarters of the population favors the move.
A special government body is expected to meet this weekend to receive an official request from the two top Finnish officials and several cabinet members, which will then be submitted to the Finnish parliament for approval.
The request must be approved by the legal entities of each current NATO ally before Finland can become a member. Foreign Minister Pecca Havisto said this week that the process would not end before October and could take up to 12 months.
Fellow Nordic country Sweden is also a potential applicant, but there is some disagreement within the government over whether it should join NATO. The country has a tradition of non-alignment dating back to the Napoleonic Wars. Opinion polls show that almost half of Swedes are currently in favor of joining NATO.
Swedish Defense Minister Peter Haltkvist said earlier this week that if his country submitted an application to join NATO, he would like to process it with a bid from Finland.
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