Finnish leaders ready to join NATO, bid expected on Saturday

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Finland has come one step closer to joining NATO. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday approved their country’s membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Finns are expected to apply for membership on Saturday.

“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security,” the president and prime minister said in a joint statement. They also write there that their country must apply “immediately”. “We hope that the necessary steps to make this decision will be taken quickly in the coming days.”

Since the war in Ukraine, Finland’s voices have been raised to join NATO in order to protect the country from the Russian threat. Finland shares a 1,300 kilometer border with Russia. “The war in Ukraine has affected our security, but there is no immediate threat,” the Finnish leaders wrote.

Finland’s ruling party will announce its position on Saturday. There already appears to be a majority in favor of membership in the Finnish parliament. This is probably also the case in Sweden. Sweden’s ruling party is expected to make a decision on Sunday.

Three out of four Finns are now candidates for entry

Finland and Sweden did not join NATO before in order to maintain good relations with Russia (and before that the Soviet Union) and to remain neutral. The opinion of many citizens changed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Three out of four Finns are now in favor of joining NATO. Moscow has already threatened to attach “political and military consequences” to any membership.

The two Scandinavian countries already work closely with NATO on the military level, but the thirty current member states will first have to agree to join. According to General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, this is not a problem and Finland and Sweden could soon join them.

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