Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö rejected Russian demands that Finland never join the military alliance and Finnish PM Sanna Marin (SDP) said Finland can apply for NATO membership if it wants to and should keep options open.
Last month President Niinistö said NATO membership is between applicants and NATO—not Russia, with Finland retaining the option to join the alliance.
News agency STT asked the president’s view on president Putin’s suggestion that Russia gets ‘legal guarantees’ that the alliance would not expand eastwards. Replying by email, Niinistö said he saw no possibility for a deal like that.
“Decisions on new members joining will be taken by the applicant country and Nato’s thirty member states, and decisions on membership are for the applicant and Nato countries to decide,” wrote Niinistö.
“An important part of this picture is Nato’s so-called open doors policy, which preserves the possibility of membership for countries that fulfil the membership criteria. This principle was most recently reaffirmed during the Nato leadership’s visit to Helsinki in October,” said Niinistö.
Finland PM, we retain the option to join NATO
In addition to urging residents to get vaccinated against Covid, Prime Minister Sanna Marin‘s New Year’s message emphasised Finland’s possibility to apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
“Finland retains the option of applying for NATO membership,” Marin said as Russia has demanded the western alliance halt its eastward expansion.
“We should uphold this freedom of choice and make sure it remains a reality, as this is part of every country’s right to decide on its own security policies.”
She also said Finland would continue to intensify its European security and defence cooperation.
“It is one of the foundations of European security enshrined in the principles of the OSCE. We have shown that we have learnt from the past. We will not let go of our room for manoeuvre.”
Marin noted that the pandemic was not over yet and called on residents to get their Covid shots, saying the Omicron variant was a “cause for great concern.”
“If you have not yet been vaccinated, now is the time. Getting vaccinated is an act of responsibility and a way to protect yourself, your loved ones and all of society. By getting vaccinated, you can prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. It is a question of solidarity,” she said.
She noted that Finland’s management of the pandemic would continue to be a balancing act.
“We must be able to protect people’s health and avoid overburdening the healthcare system while also keeping society as open as possible.”
With county council elections due this month, Marin also urged people to make sure they vote for the new bodies that will assume responsibility for organising health and social services in the country.
“In the county elections, people will decide on basic services that are important for their everyday lives,” she said.
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