"In my opinion, it is absolutely clear that at present, Finland should not apply for NATO membership. My position is that NATO membership would increase the risks to our foreign and security policy." The minister was quick to add however that as an independent country, Finland is capable of taking independent decision-making in security policy based on changing global conditions.
"We need to maintain good relations with the Nordic countries, especially Sweden. The foreign and security policy of the European Union should be reflected in our policies as well. And of course cooperation with NATO is also important," the minister added.
Rinne also noted that the recent drop in the Russian economy has negatively affected Finland's own economic prospects.
Recent polling by Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat also found that 54 percent of Finns believe that joining NATO would be a bad idea, even if Sweden decides to join the alliance. In addition, 72 percent noted that if the matter actually came up, it should be put to a nationwide referendum.
Earlier this year, Finnish civil society activists asked the country's Security Police to investigate whether the Finnish Government acted against the country's constitution in bypassing government and parliament officials by signing the NATO Host Nation agreement, which allows for assistance from NATO forces in emergency situations.