Defense alliance: Prime Minister Sanna Marin expects Finnish NATO decision within weeks
Berlin, Brussels Ironically, two Scandinavian social democrats, who stand in the tradition of neutrality and the peace movement, now want to quickly lead their two countries into NATO. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin also visited Sweden’s Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm on Wednesday. Both countries are striving to jointly apply for admission to the Western Defense Alliance. The upcoming NATO summit in Madrid in June is a possible date.
Finland wants to decide on NATO membership “within weeks, not months”. Parliament will consider it next week, Marin said at a press conference with Andersson after their deliberations. According to Andersson, the Swedish government also wants a quick review of NATO membership.
It would be good if both countries came to similar decisions in terms of security. According to the “Svenska Dagbladet”, Andersson’s social democratic party has already decided to apply for membership and is pushing for submission before the Madrid summit.
>>Read also: Finland’s Foreign Minister: “We must now support Ukraine with all the weapons it needs”
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In Helsinki on Tuesday, the Finnish government submitted a security concept for the country, known as a “white paper”, to parliament. On this basis, the country, which at 1,300 kilometers has the longest border of any EU state with Russia, is to be advised on a possible NATO membership.
Worried about provocations by Russia
Concerns are growing in Finland that Russia could already torpedo the parliamentary debate on NATO membership with provocations. “When I see a Finn, I see a friend. If I see someone from a NATO country, Finland, I see an enemy.” Russian President Vladimir Putin told him that, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö reported recently.
Finland was once part of Russia as a province, but has been independent for a good 100 years. For a long time, Finnish-Russian relations were excellent and Helsinki was very happy with its neutral role. “But the war in Ukraine has of course permanently changed the attitude of the Finns to NATO,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green Party) told the Handelsblatt last week. “We had previously assumed that Russia would behave rationally. Now we see that when in doubt, they take a very high risk.”
Russia is ready to “use massive pressure with over 100,000 soldiers against a country. And Moscow is now even using words like the use of nuclear or chemical weapons,” said Haavisto. That’s why his country wants a “quick process” in the admission procedure and “keep the gray zone between application for admission and membership as short as possible,” said Haavisto on Wednesday.
According to surveys, more than 60 percent of Finns are now in favor of joining NATO. The great majority of Parliament is also in favour. NATO headquarters in Brussels is sending encouraging signals to both countries: “If they decide to apply for membership, I reckon that all allies would welcome them,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week. Sweden and Finland could “easily join” if they decided to do so.
How long the accession process would take cannot be precisely predicted because the decision has to be ratified in all 30 NATO member states. It therefore depends on national processes, some of which require parliamentary approval. The process lasted a year for the youngest NATO member, North Macedonia, which joined in 2020.
In Brussels, however, it is expected that things would go much faster for Sweden and Finland. Because Sweden and Finland are already the closest NATO partners. They take part in NATO manoeuvres, use NATO military equipment and are also involved in the exchange of information. They have been taking part in all NATO meetings on the war in Ukraine since the beginning of March.
The 36-year-old Sanna Marin has led a five-party coalition since December 2019, in which ten women and eight men sit next to her at the cabinet table. Magdalena Andersson, 55, has headed a social democratic minority government made up of eleven men and eleven women since November.
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