Tuesday 5/17/22
NATO-RUSSIA TENSIONS

Finnish parliament takes another big step towards joining NATO

The Finnish parliament's defence committee said on Tuesday it was in favour of joining NATO in order to ensure the country's national security

10/05/2022. The Defense Committee held a briefing on the changes in the security environment and joining NATO. Pictured is the chairman of the Defence committee. Petteri Orpo (kok). Photo: Hanne Salonen/Eduskunta.
The chairman of the Defence Committee of the Finnish Parliamen, Petteri Orpo. Photo: Photo: Hanne Salonen/Eduskunta.

The Finnish parliament's defence committee said on Tuesday it was in favour of joining NATO in order to ensure the country's national security.

The security situation has changed radically owing to Russia's attack on Ukraine, committee chairman Petteri Orpo (Kokoomus, rightist) said at the presentation of the committee's position, according to radio station Yle.

Finland and Russia share a 1,340 kilometre-long border.

The Finnish government had presented a security policy analysis nearly a month ago, in which it highlighted the advantages and risks of NATO membership.

A total of 10 Finnish parliamentary committees are to give their opinion on the matter, but the defence committee's is seen as carrying the most weight.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö was expected to issue his position on the NATO question by Thursday.

According to the newspaper Iltalehti, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP, social democrat) also will announce whether she is in favour on Thursday.

Sweden

Sweden is also weighing whether to join NATO, a question that has gained new urgency since Russia's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine began in February.

Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said on Tuesday that if Sweden and Finland join NATO, this would strengthen defence throughout the northern European region.

If the two countries do decide to join the group, this would enable joint defence planning within the alliance's framework and strengthen the north's joint military capabilities, Hultqvist told Swedish radio.

NATO membership would enable countries to benefit from each other's strengths and advantages and complement each other, he said.

Joint defence planning

Also, NATO membership and joint defence planning and surveillance of the Baltic Sea would reduce the risk of any adverse activity in the area, including the strategic island of Gotland.

Hultqvist, a Social Democrat, long opposed Swedish membership of NATO. While he has not stated his position recently, these latest statements may indicate a change of stance on the question.

He did say however that the Russian war has changed many things. "There is a before February 24 and an after," he said, referring to the date that Moscow's invasion began.

Sweden's governing Social Democrats plan to announce their stance on the NATO question on Sunday, in what is seen as a key indicator as to whether the nation will seek to join NATO in the near future.

Finnish parliament takes another big step towards joining NATO
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