Finnish Defence Committee Calls NATO 'Best Solution' as Popular Support Soars to 76%
© AP Photo / Olivier MatthysFinland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.
© AP Photo / Olivier Matthys
Joining NATO would represent a historic move for the two Nordic countries, as Sweden has been non-aligned for more than two centuries and Finland adopted neutrality after its defeat by the Soviet Union in the Second World War. Nevertheless, opinion polls indicate expanding public support of the alliance.
Finland appears to have taken yet another a step closer to the NATO alliance, as the Parliament's Defence Committee announced it supported such a move, calling it the best solution for the country's national security.
In a concluding statement, the committee said that although the performance of the Finnish Armed Forces is good and the country's defence has been developed over decades, Finland is still a small country unable to provide an adequate deterrent to possible threats.
Only a single committee member from the Left Alliance expressed a dissenting opinion.
The committee's chairman, MP Petteri Orpo of the National Coalition Party, emphasised that though Finland's own defence capabilities had a good foundation, they were inadequate to tackle the changed security situation after Russia's special operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine which he claimed was an “invasion”.
The committee further noted that although Finland has engaged in extensive bilateral and multilateral defence cooperation, participating in those activities doesn't include security guarantees. Therefore, it remained unclear what kind of assistance the country would receive from present partners in a crisis situation.
The committee also concluded that as well as strengthening Finland's defence capabilities in the event of a crisis, and improving the country's supply of military equipment, NATO membership would significantly increase the likelihood of being “subject to military influence from Russia”.
A total of 10 committees are expected to submit opinions about Finland's possible NATO membership to the Foreign Affairs Committee, which will then draw up a final report. However, the Defence Committee's opinion undoubtedly carries special weight.
The debate over Finland becoming a member of the alliance has escalated in recent months as politicians have been galvanised by the deteriorating security situation in Europe. The campaign gained special momentum after Russia's campaign in Ukraine which Finnish media and politicians, in line with the rest of the West, portray as “attack”.
This trend has manifested itself in the public opinion as well. After a historic majority polled in favour of joining NATO in February, the share of supporters of the alliance has increased further to to 62 percent in March and now 76 percent in May. According to the chief executive of pollster Taloustutkimus, Jari Pajunen, NATO's popularity has seen an “accelerating arc” this spring. Before that, a majority of Finns had for decades opposed membership.
Meanwhile, decision-makers in non-aligned Finland and Sweden are set to announce their position on NATO membership within days. The alliance could thus add two new members right on Russia’s doorstep, leaving Moscow surrounded by NATO members in the Baltic region. Joining NATO would represent a historic development for the two Nordic countries: Sweden has steered clear of military alliances for more than 200 years, and Finland adopted neutrality after it was defeated by the Soviet Union in the Second World War.
Although NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, said that their applications will be processed with “minimum delay”, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last month Russia would have “more officially registered foes”, and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said both countries will “automatically find themselves on the NATO frontline”.
25 April, 07:49 GMT