Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin have spoken out in favor of their country joining NATO “immediately”. In a joint statement on Thursday, the two endorsed membership in the western military alliance. This would strengthen Finland’s security and the entire alliance at the same time, declared the Nordic country’s two most important politicians.
It is expected that the EU’s northernmost country will decide to formally apply for membership in the coming days – probably on Sunday. This step would be a direct consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting changed security situation in Europe. For Finland, which has been non-aligned for a long time and shares a border with Russia that is more than 1,300 kilometers long, such a decision would be historic.
Before the country can join NATO, all 30 current members must agree. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had recently signaled several times that there was broad support for this within the alliance.
Niinistö and Marin’s government ultimately decide together on the NATO issue, but they involved parliament in the decision-making process. On the way to a decision, the government had already submitted a security analysis to the Riksdag in Helsinki in April, in which the advantages and risks of possible NATO membership were highlighted. However, the analysis did not include a position for or against such a membership.
Finland and neighboring Sweden are already close partners of NATO, but have not yet become official members. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked an intense NATO debate in both countries. In the population there was a clear change of opinion towards a possible accession to the alliance. In a recent poll by the Finnish broadcaster Yle, 76 percent of respondents were in favor of Finland joining NATO.
During a visit by Marin and the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to the closed meeting of the federal cabinet in Meseberg near Berlin, Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently promised German support for the countries joining NATO.