Wednesday

8th Feb 2023

Finland moves to join Nato in historic step

Listen to article

Finland must apply to join the Nato military alliance "without delay", Finnish president Sauli Niinisto and prime minister Sanna Marin jointly said on Thursday (12 May).

It is a historic policy shift, as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, for Finland which shares a 1,300km border with Russia.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Nato membership would strengthen Finland's security. As a member of Nato, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance," their joint statement said.

"Finland must apply for Nato membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days," they said.

Marin's Social Democratic party will announce its decision on Saturday, with the five-party coalition government in Helsinki expected to follow on Sunday.

"We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days," the joint statement of the president and the prime minister said.

Finland's foreign minister Pekka Haavisto named five issues behind his country's decision to the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee on Thursday.

The unpredictable behaviour of Russia, Moscow's readiness to put pressure on neighbours, widespread talk in Russia of the use of unconventional weapons, including nuclear and chemical weapons (even though use of such weapons is prohibited by international agreements), are the key reasons why Finland's decided to join Nato, he said.

The rules of warfare are not respected by Russia, Haavisto pointed out, and the existing European security architecture has not been working in this case, he added, as reasons for joining.

The foreign minister noted that Russia's aggression "altered the European and Finnish security environment".

Finnish public support for joining Nato has risen to record numbers over recent months, with the latest poll by public broadcaster YLE showing 76 percent of Finns in favour, and only 12 percent against.

Support for membership used to hover at only around 25 percent for years prior to the war in Ukraine, according to Reuters.

Finland fought the then Soviet Union during World War Two, repelling an attempted invasion in the 'Winter War' of 1939-40. Finland lost around 10 percent of its territory in the subsequent peace agreement.

"Finland decided to join the Alliance. Nato is about to get stronger. Baltics about to get safer," Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said welcoming Helsinki's decision.

EU Council president Charles Michel tweeted that it was a "historic step, once taken, that will greatly contribute to European security. With Russia waging war in #Ukraine it's a powerful signal of deterrence."

Sweden next

After Finland, Sweden is also expected to apply to join the 30-nation alliance in the coming days.

Sweden's ruling Social Democrats are expected to decide on Sunday whether to overturn decades of opposition to Nato membership.

Russia has repeatedly warned both countries against joining the alliance, warning of "serious military and political consequences."

When asked about the Kremlin's reactions on a possible Nato membership Niinistö said on Wednesday that Russia should take its own responsibility.

"If the case is that we join, well, my response [to Russia] would be that you caused this, look at the mirror," Niinistö said.

Finland's speedy decision started in March with the government ordering a security policy review and delivered a report for parliament to discuss in April, while also holding discussions with all parliamentary groups to secure backing.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has previously said it would be possible to allow Finland and Sweden to join "quite quickly".

However, even a quick membership process would take 6-12 months.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday signed agreements with both Sweden and Finland to come to their aid with military resources if they were attacked.

Finland builds momentum toward Nato bid

Finnish MPs have got the ball rolling on a week that's expected to culminate in a tectonic shift in Nordic security — Finland and Sweden's decision to apply for Nato membership.

Russia warns against Finland and Sweden Nato bid

Finland is expected to kick off a debate on the country's potential Nato membership. But Russia has clearly voiced opposition towards any potential enlargement of the western military alliance.

Opinion

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

Opinion

Sweden and Finland Nato decision is right for Baltic

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a threat to all Europe, particularly the Baltic. Sweden and Finland must join Nato to secure peace in the Baltic Sea, write the leaders of the EPP Nordic and Baltic delegations in European Parliament.

Opinion

Europe is giving more aid to Ukraine than you think

'Europeans need to pull their weight in Ukraine. They should pony up more funds.' Such has been the chorus since the start of the war. The problem is the argument isn't borne out by the facts, at least not anymore.

Latest News

  1. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  2. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  3. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  4. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule
  5. The man who won't stop filing info requests until every EU doc is public
  6. EU hands Libya coast guard boats ahead of migration summit
  7. Eleven suicides daily — Spain's not-so-silent pandemic
  8. The return of Lula means now is the time for EU-Mercosur deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us