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4th Feb 2023

Nordic Nato candidates seek no opt-outs on nukes

  • Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin welcomed Sweden's Ulf Kristersson for the annual Nordic Council in Helsinki (Photo: Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org)
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Finland and Sweden will not ask for any preconditions before joining Nato — or object to hosting nuclear bases or weapons.

This was confirmed by their prime ministers in a joint Nordic Council press conference in Helsinki on Tuesday (1 November).

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Finnish social democrat prime minister Sanna Marin said her country "shouldn't put up any preconditions or shut any doors" before becoming a member of Nato.

"This isn't something that we are actively discussing now. We are waiting to become members and then these kinds of matters can be discussed," she said, regarding nuclear weapons on Finnish territory.

Sweden's conservative prime minister Ulf Kristersson echoed his Finnish compatriot.

"Finland and Sweden should draw exactly the same conclusions," and "embrace" all of Nato's capabilities, he said.

The head of Sweden's armed forces, Micael Byden, in a separate press conference on Tuesday confirmed that Sweden initially should refrain from making any reservations regarding cooperation on nuclear weapons.

"To draw red lines even before we're becoming a member only creates obstacles and frictions," he said.

The two Nordic countries currently await ratification of their Nato bid by Turkey and Hungary. All other Nato countries have approved their membership in a speedy procedure following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Kristersson confirmed that a meeting with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is planned but he did not give a date.

Hungary is expected to ratify the Finnish and Swedish Nato membership in mid-December.

The Nordic Council is the official body for formal inter-parliamentary cooperation in the region. The council has 87 parliamentarians as members from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland.

When the Nordic Council was founded 70 years ago, in 1952, foreign and defence policy could not be discussed.

"Foreign and defence policy was a taboo when Finland joined the Nordic Council. It was actually the Soviet Union's demand for Finland to be allowed to join", explained Lulu Ranne, vice chair of the Nordic council presidium.

"The international atmosphere is now even chillier than during the cold war", Finland's president Sauli Niinistö said when addressing the Nordic parliamentarian assembly.

"For the Nordic countries it means further deepening of our cooperation. Our interests are often similar", he said. "Our critical infrastructure is cross borders and we must protect it together".

Regarding nuclear defence Niinistö hesitated before also saying: "The situation for the time being is that we are waiting for membership and then we will see what happens".

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