Finland’s foreign minister said the government plans to propose NATO membership on May 15 and parliament will then discuss the matter.
“For the first time in history, the majority of the Finnish population supports NATO membership,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told a May 12 news conference in Helsinki. He said the Finnish government is expected to release a diplomatic white paper on May 15 with a proposal to join NATO.
The proposal is then submitted to Parliament for a vote. The Finnish Parliament is expected to start preliminary deliberations next morning.
Haavisto stressed that the NATO application process should be properly organized and subject to parliamentary debate. Finland will also set up a special monitoring committee for the process.
The Finnish government is in close contact with Sweden’s foreign ministry as Stockholm is also considering joining the US-led military alliance. Mr Haavisto said Finland is in further negotiations with European partners, including the UK, on ensuring security for countries applying to join the Union.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin earlier issued a joint statement in which they said the Nordic country “cannot delay” the process of applying to join the military union. The two leaders said that Finland, after becoming a member of NATO, will help strengthen “the entire defense alliance”.
At a press conference the day before, the Finnish president said “no one is against NATO,” despite Moscow’s warning that Helsinki “would have to face the consequences” if it tried to become a member of the military alliance.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned Moscow on the same day that Finland’s participation in NATO posed a threat to Russia’s national security. The Russian Foreign Ministry also warned that Moscow was “forced to take appropriate military, technical and other measures to deal with the threat.”
President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Marin toured 30 NATO member countries to seek support for Finland’s membership.
On May 12, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg promised that the military alliance would enable Finland to “access quickly and smoothly”. Germany, France and the United States have publicly supported Finland’s accession to the Union, while Britain has said it will directly support Finland’s bid process.
Surname (Corresponding AFP, CNN)