Friday

1st Jul 2022

Opinion

Sweden and Finland Nato decision is right for Baltic

  • Nato HQ on the outskirts of Brussels. Sweden and Finland joining Nato would mean eight out of nine Baltic Sea countries being members of both Nato and the EU, with only Russia outside both organisations (Photo: Wikimedia)
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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created the biggest security-related crisis in Europe since the Second World War and the role of Nato in our common security has become more important than ever.

We welcome the decision by Finland to quickly apply for membership in Nato and hope Sweden will make the same decision this week. It would increase stability in the Baltic Sea Region.

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Russia has attempted to prevent Sweden and Finland from making their own political decisions by means of threats and violations of sovereignty.

It would be a huge mistake not to use the fast lane for Swedish and Finnish membership of Nato, a mistake that plays straight into the hands of Vladimir Putin. Allowing the Russian narrative of 'destabilisation' and 'sphere of interest' to lead us away from Nato membership is to buckle under Putin's propaganda.

As countries bordering an ever-growing authoritarian Russia and an ever more unstable president, we take the threat towards the Baltic states seriously.

Putin has repeatedly been talking about creating a new Russian empire. This would be a serious threat to Europe, and in particular to the Baltic Sea region.

The Baltic Sea is an important strategic region for our countries. We have a long and proud history of cooperation, trade and exchanges across the sea.

Today, we cooperate on economic development, environmental protection, energy, sustainability, and health. The cooperation enriches us. It must be defended.

Sweden and Finland already enjoy close cooperation with Nato and bilateral defence cooperation with Nato countries. However, the collective defence guarantee only applies to its members.

After escaping the iron grip of the Soviet Union, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania freely chose the EU and transatlantic cooperation. Membership of Nato and the collective guarantee from like-minded countries is the assurance of their continued freedom.

The same guarantee must also apply for Sweden and Finland. We can never compromise on the defence of our countries, our region and our democratic societies.

When considering the current situation, it is essential that the defence and security cooperation in the Baltic regions are extended and strengthened. The best option is to do so within Nato.

Nato defence capacity in the Baltic Sea region is strengthened with Swedish and Finnish membership. The experience and knowledge of Russia among the Baltic states and the capacity of the Swedish and Finnish military increase the stability of our region.

In addition, it would mean eight out of nine Baltic Sea countries being members of both Nato and the EU, with only Russia outside both organisations. It sends a very clear signal to Putin: we are united against his aggressions and illegal invasions.

The Russian aggressions are best countered by the Nordic and Baltic countries further increasing joint cooperation and making the security of the Baltic Sea a European and transatlantic interest. There is no space for naivety here. Russia remains a concrete threat to our region.

Our geographical location to Russia and the importance of the Baltic Sea for our countries require us to relate to a new reality, the post-24 February 2022-era. We have a common interest to secure peace in the Baltic Sea.

It is evident that the defence of the Baltic Sea Region includes Swedish and Finnish membership of Nato. We eagerly await the Swedish decision.

Author bio

All the authors are European People's Party MEPs from the Nordic and Baltic region. Tomas Tobéis head of delegation EPP-Sweden, Sirpa Pietikäinen is head of delegation EPP-Finland, Pernille Weiss is head of delegation EPP-Denmark, Riho Terras is head of delegation EPP-Estonia, Sandra Kalniete is head of delegation EPP-Lativa, Andrius Kubilius is head of delegation EPP-Lithuania.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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